Perth: Former captain Shaun Pollock thinks Dale Steyn will be remembered as the best Test bowler South Africa has produced even if he never gets back on to the pitch to claim the record as the country's most prolific wicket-taker.
The 33-year-old paceman fractured a bone in his right shoulder early on the second day of the first Test against Australia on Friday and Pollock said it was reasonable to question whether he would ever return to the Test arena.
"You'd have to," he told ABC Radio on Saturday. "Given how old he is, the nature of the injury, it's between six months and 12 months to recover, he'll have to have an operation, he'll have to have it pinned.
"It's a real blow for him."
Before he was injured on Friday, Steyn had already removed Australian opener Dave Warner for 97 to claim his 417th Test victim, four shy of the South African record held by Pollock.
"I've got a bottle of champagne in my hotel room I was going to present to him because I thought it was just a matter of time," Pollock added.
"He deserves to be the leading wicket-taker in our country. Since readmission he's been the ultimate strike bowler, the best Test bowler we've produced. He deserves the record so I hope he does bounce back."
Steyn said he thought it would take at least six months for him to recover and he would be in no great hurry to return, admitting he had probably rushed back too soon after suffering a shoulder injury in December.
"I didn't have the full time to recover... I've been dealing with this thing for quite some time now, so I probably should have taken a little bit longer," he told Channel Nine at the WACA.
"I was wanting to rush and get into that Twenty20 World Cup, I wanted to go to the IPL, I wanted to play. This is what I do. So I'll probably have to take the time this time and let it heal properly."
Steyn's absence leaves South Africa's remaining pacemen, Vernon Philander and Kagiso Rabada, with a heavier workload in Australia's second innings at the WACA.
"It's always going to be the case that you have to dish up a few more overs," Philander said on Friday.
"It's a responsibility well taken by the rest of the team and the squad, we will want to win the game for Dale."