South Africa coach Ottis Gibson says fast bowler Dale Steyn will make a return to the Test side as soon as he regains his fitness.
The 34-year-old Steyn has not played any cricket for almost a year because of a shoulder injury he picked against Australia and has delayed his return to the field on several occasions.
He will get to bowl in a match situation when he takes part in the CSA T20 Challenge for his domestic franchise, the Titans, with the tournament set to get underway on 10 November.
Gibson will be hoping Steyn comes through the T20 competition in good nick to face Zimbabwe in the four-day day/night Test starting on Boxing Day in Port Elizabeth.
Should the paceman get through the Zimbabwe Test it would set him up nicely for the more challenging series against India and Australia next year.
Even though the speedster will only be bowling short spells, Gibson said he will take the bowler’s word on his readiness for Test cricket.
The Proteas mentor said: “He has got a lot of T20 cricket to play and he has also got a lot of time where we can build up his workload and see that he is 100% fit.
“He is Dale Steyn. He is not some average guy from down the road. He is one of the best bowlers the country has ever produced.
“If you look him in the eyes and you say, ‘Dale are you sure you can make it?’ and he says he can make it, then he is getting the opportunity.”
Gibson also confirmed that seamer Morne Morkel, who is currently out with a side strain he picked up in the Test series against Bangladesh, has committed his future to South African cricket.
There had been speculation that Morkel was seeking assurances about being part of the Proteas plans for the 2019 World Cup and had offers from various teams in England to take up a Kolpak deal.
On Morkel, Gibson said: “Morne is pretty committed to the Proteas over the next couple of years. Obviously, the World Cup is a big thing. He is well aware that there can be no guarantees with regards to that.
“When it comes to 2019, it will be form, fitness, conditions that sort of that. We had a good, honest discussion and he has committed his future to us over the next couple of years.”