Cricket World Cup 2019: South Africa can manage without Dale Steyn, says Faf du Plessis

Fast bowler could miss opening two matches of Proteas' campaign as he continues recuperation from shoulder injury

South Africa's Dale Steyn (R) and teammates take part in a training session on the eve of their opening match of the ICC Cricket World Cup against England, at The Oval in London on May 29, 2019.
 / AFP / Dibyangshu SARKAR
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Faf du Plessis is confident South Africa can cope with the absence of Dale Steyn from the start of the World Cup, and says his side plan to fight England’s fire with fire.

Steyn will likely miss at least the opening two matches of South Africa’s campaign as he continues his recuperation from the shoulder injury he suffered at the Indian Premier League.

“He is a big loss to this team, but we did expect it when we picked the squad,” South Africa captain Du Plessis said. “He was about 60 per cent when the squad was picked. A fit Dale Steyn makes our bowling attack a very strong one.

“There will have to be a little bit of chopping and changing to make sure we have a balance to take on England.

“One of our X-Factors that we have is that we have a strong attack in terms of pace.

“We will set up the team to make sure there are guys in there who will take wickets.

“There is no point trying to play a defensive style of cricket against England, because they can take any bowling attack on on their day.

“We want to be as positive as we can be with team selection.”

The absence of Steyn, who will turn 36 during this competition, means the Proteas attack will lean on young stars like Kagiso Rabada and Lungi Ngidi instead.

“KG [Rabada] doesn't need any guidance from me,” Du Plessis said. “I can try and speak to him a little bit from a tactical point of view but I certainly am not trying to tell him how to bowl. He knows much more than I do.

South Africa's captain Faf du Plessis gestures in the nets during a training session on the eve of their opening match of the ICC Cricket World Cup against England, at The Oval in London on May 29, 2019.
 / AFP / Dibyangshu SARKAR
Captain Faf du Plessis is leading a young South African side, but one that has experienced players such as Dale Steyn in it. Dibyangshu Sarkar / AFP

“It's just about letting him free. He's a world-class athlete and what people like him do best is they want a stage to perform. This World Cup will be a stage for KG to once again show the world what kind of bowler he is.”

Rabada and Aiden Markram are unique in this Proteas squad, having tasted World Cup success before – in the Under 19 version in 2014 in Dubai.

“The young guys on our team, their experiences of World Cup cricket is winning the World Cup – the U19 World Cup,” Du Plessis said.

“They are just excited to get going and get it started, and I think they will make a huge impact in this tournament.”

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