Faf du Plessis faces the media ahead of South Africa's World Cup match Getty Images

Osman Samiuddin
Senior editor,

As far as a Plan A goes, South Africa's is a decent one: put Dale Steyn, Kagiso Rabada and Lungi Ngidi into an attack together, throw in Imran Tahir and sit back. As far as not being able to call upon your Plan A goes, two days out from your first match in a World Cup, against the hosts and favourites is not so decent.

South Africa will be without Steyn tomorrow and against the format's pre-eminent batting order, it is difficult to argue against Faf du Plessis' assessment that it is "a big loss". It is perfectly valid to counter that Steyn with the white ball is not quite as inarguably great as Steyn with the red ball. The counter to that counter is that in this squad, it means South Africa choose between Chris Morris and Dwaine Pretorius as replacement. Capable as both are, neither quite fills the X-factor Steyn's presence provides to the pace attack.

"Yeah, it is a big loss to our team," du Plessis said. "We did expect it when we picked the squad. He wasn't quite - probably about 60 per cent when the squad was picked; so we anticipated for this to happen.

"But yeah, Dale Steyn, a fit Dale Steyn, makes our bowling attack a very, very strong one. So tomorrow will be a little bit of chopping and changing to get a balance that we think can take on England."

Scrambling would not be quite the right way to describe South Africa's response - they are making a deal out of how not a big deal this tournament is - but it will require a reshuffle of the XI and, more importantly, strategy.

Coach Ottis Gibson and du Plessis are not alone around the world in thinking that England's batting fire must be combated by bowling fire: attack, look to take wickets, they come hard, you go harder. To that purpose Steyn is still important - his strike rate (31.9) puts him at eighth in the all-time list of ODI bowlers with at least 100 wickets and 100 ODIs.

"As I said, one of our X-factors, potentially we have is a really, really strong attack in terms of pace. Steyn, Rabada, Ngidi is a real, real threat in English conditions. So that changes. That's Plan A for the World Cup in terms of our balance, what we're looking to achieve. Now it's just a real reshuffle and looking to Plan B and C.

"For us as a leadership group, it's trying to find how can we be most attacking and trying to get wickets. Obviously that was with Dale included but that changed now, so we'll look at setting up our team to try to make sure we can get guys on the team that can get wickets."

Either Morris or Pretorius is an adequate fit, and they bring some depth to the batting as well. Morris hasn't played an ODI for South Africa for a year though he is quicker than Pretorius. An outside punt would be Tabraiz Shamsi's weird and wonderful left-arm wristspin, if for nothing else but the element of surprise and especially if you can recall Kuldeep Yadav's 6 for 25 at Trent Bridge less than a year ago.

But England worked him out pretty quickly and in a very limited sample size of eight innings over the last decade, they go over a run-a-ball against that genre of bowling. One of Morris or Pretorius it will be, neither of whom is Steyn.