TELFORD VICE, Bulawayo
ALMOST seven months ago Faf du Plessis was dropped from SA’s test side for the fourth test against England at Centurion. On Tuesday he returned to the fold – as captain for the two tests against New Zealand this month.
Du Plessis’ dramatic reinstatement is a result of AB de Villiers being ruled out for at least six weeks with an elbow injury.
“I’m naturally disappointed to miss the test series against New Zealand, particularly because I have not missed a test through injury since my debut in 2004,” De Villiers was quoted as saying in a Cricket SA release.
“However, with an exciting summer of cricket ahead, it is obviously sensible to give my elbow time to heal properly.
“The Proteas finished last season on a positive note with a win against England in the last test and I am confident that, with Faf at the helm, the team will build on this success.”
Du Plessis is likely the best captain in SA cricket, and has had his leadership skills recognised by being handed the reins in the national T20 team.
But he is struggling as a test batsman, having last scored a century in December 2014. Since then he has mustered 317 runs at 21.13 in 15 completed innings, reaching 50 twice.
Had De Villiers not been forced out, Du Plessis might well have been left out again.
SA’s problems don’t end there, what with Morne Morkel out for up to six weeks with a back problem.
However, Dale Steyn is in the mix after missing six of SA’s last eight tests with groin and shoulder issues.
Wayne Parnell, who played the most recent of his four tests in February 2014, is the only member of the squad who was not involved in the England series.
Vernon Philander is back from an ankle injury that has ket him out of senior international action since November.
But the absence of De Villiers and Morkel are body blows to SA’s hopes of bouncing back from a summer in which they lost six of their eight tests.
“AB complained of pain in his left elbow while he was participating in the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) and subsequent MRI scans revealed an impingement of the joint capsule,” SA team manager Mohammed Moosajee was quoted as saying in the statement.
“He has since been released from the CPL and will need extensive rehab and treatment during a recovery period of between six and eight weeks.
“Morne has been suffering from mild back pain of which scans and further investigation by a specialist revealed a bulging disk. He will also require rehab and a recovery period of between four and six weeks.
“We are hoping to have both players fully fit and available for selection for the start of the one-day series against Australia in October.”
SA squad: Faf du Plessis (captain), Kyle Abbott, Hashim Amla, Temba Bavuma, Stephen Cook, Quinton de Kock, JP Duminy, Dean Elgar, Chris Morris, Wayne Parnell, Vernon Philander, Dane Piedt, Kagiso Rabada, Dale Steyn, Stiaan van Zyl.