England Lions are set for a clash with Dale Steyn later this summer after his surprise inclusion in one of the South Africa A squads due to arrive in the coming weeks.
The 33-year-old, who has 417 Test wickets and had a long reign at the top of the ICC’s world bowling rankings, is ready to launch his comeback from the shoulder injury he suffered in Australia last winter.
He has set a target of playing in two of the A-team’s three four-day matches in England to stake his claim for a recall in the Investec Test series in July and August – when five wickets would lift him above Shaun Pollock as South Africa’s leading wicket-taker.
The four-day section of the tour, which follows a three-match one-day series against the Lions at Trent Bridge and Northampton, begins with matches against Hampshire at the Ageas Bowl from June 8-11, and continues against Sussex at Arundel from June 14-17 – before the climax against England Lions at the Spitfire Ground, St Lawrence from June 21-24.
The Lions then face the senior South Africa tourists in Worcester in a three-day match from June 29 – the Proteas’ last fixture before the first Investec Test at Lord’s.
Steyn is joined by several other players with senior international experience in the A-squads named by South Africa’s selectors for the one-day and four-day series.
Temba Bavuma, who has been included in the Test touring party, is in both squads, as are Theunis de Bruyn and Duanne Olivier, while off-spinner Dane Piedt is another familiar name in the red-ball squad.
The one-day squad will be captained by Khaya Zondo, with Aiden Markram, a 22-year-old who enjoyed a prolific domestic season for the Titans, leading the four-day party.
The Lions squad for the one-day series is due to be named on May 22, with a separate squad for the two first-class matches following in June.
England Lions fixtures, summer 2017
One-day series v South Africa A
Thursday June 1 – Trent Bridge
Saturday June 3 – Northampton
Monday June 5 – Northampton
Four-day match v South Africa A
June 21-24 – Spitfire Ground, St Lawrence (Canterbury)
Three-day match v South Africa
June 29 – July 1 – New Road, Worcester
South Africa A one-day squad:
Khaya Zondo (capt)
Jon Jon Smuts
Theunis de Bruyn
South Africa A four-day squad
Aiden Markram (capt)
Theunis de Bruyn