Image courtesy of: Zimbio
South Africa have been dealt a big blow ahead of the first Test against Pakistan on Boxing Day as they will be without the services of pace bowler Vernon Philander, who is currently recovering from a hairline fracture he sustained to his right thumb.
Philander had only recently returned to action following a lengthy recovery from a recurring ankle injury, which he hurt again during South Africa’s tour of Sri Lanka in July.
In October, Philander represented the Cape Cobras in a first-class game against the Dolphins, where he scored 104 and took three wickets.
He then went on to feature in the Mzansi Super League, where he played seven games for the Durban Heat.
“I really don’t even want to think about what would happen should there be another injury,” South Africa head coach Ottis Gibson was quoted by ESPNcricinfo as saying.
With Philander out and Lungi Ngidi sidelined until February due to a knee injury, South Africa will go into the Boxing Day Test in Centurion with three frontline pace bowlers in Duanne Olivier, Kagiso Rabada and Dale Steyn.
“If you look at where we are, Steyn, Rabada and Olivier become very important to us. We just want to manage them as best we can,” Gibson said. “We’ve seen how Dale’s been going. I don’t want to say we’ve seen a transformation because he’s always been a top player, but he’s back to full fitness and performing like the player of old. KG (Rabada) as always is very important to us.
“We’ve looked at a few bowling options over the past 14 months and we’ve got what we feel now is a very good bowling attack and group. You’ve got Steyn, Rabada, Philander, Ngidi and Olivier, who’s been in-and-out, but always in our thinking. That’s the making of a good attack in any form of the game. My job now is to keep them fit and fresh for them to be at their peak at international level.”