Top of the Proteas’ list will be the fitness of their fast bowlers. Dale Steyn is still facing a race against time to be fit for the final Test in Delhi this week, but the prognosis on his fellow opening bowler Vernon Philander is less positive.
Philander returned home from India a fortnight ago after suffering an ankle injury in training prior to the start of the second Test in Nagpur. He is still hobbling around on crutches and will see a specialist later this week to ascertain the ligament damage.
Although there are still 26 days before the Boxing Day Test against England at Kingsmead in Durban, it is unlikely that the former world No 1 Test bowler will recover in time.
It would be a major blow to the Proteas’ chances of claiming a first Test series win over England in South Africa in more than a decade. Philander has a splendid record on home soil and after the current reversal in India, the world’s No 1 Test team will need their attacking arsenal fully fit to reclaim some crucial ranking points.
There is further reason for concern with Philander possibly even missing the second test at his homeground, Newlands. Test captain Hashim Amla would dearly want Philander in his team for the marquee test of the summer with his opening bowler having bagged 31 wickets in six Tests at an average of 19.93 at Newlands. There have been three five-wicket hauls in that period.
South Africa would be well advised to give back-up pacemen Kyle Abbott and Marchant de Lange a run in the final test against India this week. Good miles in their legs against quality opposition could prepare the duo should they be needed against England.
Equally, rushing Steyn back when he is not fully-fit may not be the wisest idea at this stage with another four-match series still to come this summer.
Young speedster Kagiso Rabada has also played almost non-stop across all formats this season and is in need of a rest.
The Proteas can ill-afford for their 20-year-old tearaway to break down now with an injury, especially with all the doubts surrounding their more senior fast bowlers.The Proteas’ current Test problems may not all be over once they board the plane from India for home next week.
Original source: Philander worry for Proteas