South Africa's experienced pacer Dale Steyn is likely to miss the first Test as national team head coach Ottis Gibson hinted that it would be a risk to field the rusty pacer in the first Test against India, beginning in Cape Town on Friday. (LIVE CRICKET SCORE ONLINE)
"Dale Steyn is fit again. But I don't know just yet whether we will see him this week," Gibson told reporters on Tuesday.
Steyn is coming back from an injury and played his last Test in November 2016.
He is fit but faces stiff competition for a playing eleven spot. The other pacers in the squad are Kagiso Rabada, Vernon Philander, Morne Morkel, Chris Morris and Andile Phehlukwayo.
"He has had a year's layoff. I don't think if we were to pick a three-man seam attack plus a spinner that you would want to put him in that three-man attack, in case something happens and that leaves the team vulnerable if he can't finish the game," Gibson said.
"That's not to say that he won't finish the game, but you don't want to take that risk in the first game of the summer. He will come into the discussion but it depends on the formation of the team that we put on the field."
The conditions here are expected to be drier than Centurion and Wanderers, where the second and third Test will be played. There is a strong possibility that Steyn makes his much awaited return at Centurion or Johannesburg.
"You're looking at three different sets of conditions (for the three Tests. Down here on the coast, the wicket tends to dry out quickly so you might play an extra bowler here," said Gibson.
"Further up into the Highveld, it might be different. We have to take each set of conditions as we find them now and then pick the best team for them."
South Africa's pace attack is certainly a lethal one and Gibson had little hesitation in saying that it is one of the best at the moment.
"This is a world-class bowling attack and we've got to come up with the best combination to win this match and then think about the next one.
"But certainly this attack, if all those guys are able to take the field then this will be up there with the best ones," he added.
South Africa hosts Australia after India. Gibson said the coming two series will give a fair account of where his team stands as it strives to reclaim the number one spot in Test rankings.
"In one-day cricket, I don't worry too much about rankings because it's built around a four-year cycle of World Cup cricket," the coach said.
"You can be number one in the world and you don't win the World Cup. It doesn't matter where you are once you go to the World Cup. In Test cricket it's different. You play a series against the best teams in the world and then the prize at the end of it is to reach the pinnacle and be called the best team in the world - even if it is just for a series or a week.
"The objective for this team is to try and get to No. 1. We feel strongly that if we win the next two series that will put us somewhere very close to being number one again. The next two series will tell us or take us somewhere towards where we want to go. Everybody understands what we are trying to achieve," the former West Indies pacer added.
(With PTI inputs)