It’s testing times

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April 21, 2017
It’s testing times

Aiden Markram and Yster Vernon Philander

Ageing Steyn and Vern recover for UK series

The Proteas are really wrapping up top Test performers Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander in cotton wool.

Chasing down India in the rankings is going to be a moerse mission, but winning the three-match series in England is a crucial step to that.

So much so that Steyn had already ruled himself out of the Champions Trophy just ahead of the series.

Steyn could easily have said that he was targeting the ICC tournament to be fit again after being sidelined since November.

This guy misses his cricket and a shot at lifting the first piece the Proteas have won since 1998 would have been a great way to cap his comeback.

But it’s simple to see where his priorities lie. And I for one can’t wait to see him steam in to bowl again.

On the English pitches and in humid conditions, Steyn is going to be a menace again with his famed swing bowling.

At 33, and with his recent shoulder surgery, the Phalaborwa Express may have lost some speed, but his skills and accuracy will probably make him as lethal as ever.

Touring with the SA A squad, he will have to build himself up.

He’ll have plenty of time with the limited-over games coming before two four-day unofficial Tests.

Hopefully by the end of those games, Steyn will be ready to bowl the Poms aan’ie brand.

He’s just a fiver away from becoming SA’s all-time leading wicket taker in the toughest format.

And you can bet he’ll be pumped up for that.

Big Vern, meanwhile, proved that he is back to his best in New Zealand, despite taking just two wickets.

He was at his economical best and built up the pressure for the others to pick off the Kiwis.

That’s not bad for a man who the critics had in their sights not too long ago.

With the Test squad not being named until a later stage, it’s going to be interesting to see who shines alongside Steyn in SA A squad.

Playing in English conditions and if they build up some confidence, I’m expecting to see some new faces when the Proteas proper take on the Poms.

Temba Bavuma has to prove himself again and Theunis de Bruyn needs some runs at international level.

But young SA A skipper Aiden Markram will be the one everyone is going to be looking out for.

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