South Africa appear to have been handed a sizeable selection boost ahead of their forthcoming Test series against England, after influential fast bowler Dale Steyn came through a rigorous fitness exam unscathed.
The 32-year-old, who currently sits atop of the ICC's Test bowling rankings, had been considered questionable for the first meeting in Durban on 26 December after sustaining a groin injury in the first Test against India last month.
The issue kept him out of the remaining two matches as the Proteas were whitewashed 3-0 on the subcontinent, and there were even suggestions that the player could feature in his first domestic four-day contest since 2009 in a bid to aid the recovery process. However, after being put through his paces by the Cape Cobras fitness team, hopes remain high that he will be fit enough to return for his country.
"We were asked to conduct a fitness test on Dale by the Cricket South Africa medical team. He was required to bowl, field, sprint and also perform a clinical test," physio Shane Jabbar told the Cape Times.
"From our side, he has come through all the tests without any problem and passed the test. I am sure he will be undergoing further tests when he joins up with the national team."
While Steyn looks likely to return, South Africa will definitely be without the services of Vernon Philander for both the first and second Tests against England after he tore ankle ligaments during a football warm-up before the second match against India in Bangalore.
For the tourists, Steven Finn will be available for selection after joining the squad last week following his recovery from a stress fracture. The Middlesex seamer is expected to start the final warm-up match against South Africa A in Pietermaritzburg this weekend (December 19-20). England held a commanding lead of 467 in their first outing of the tour against an Invitational XI before a thunderstorm caused the match to be abandoned on the third and final day.