TELFORD VICE at Old Trafford
GRAEME Smith has slammed the commitment of fast bowler Vernon Philander, who was ruled out of the fourth test against England on Friday with a back injury.
“He can’t seem to make it through series; his body is maybe not fit enough,” former South Africa captain Smith said on the BBC’s Test Match Special radio programme.
Philander came into the series with an ankle injury he sustained while playing for Sussex.
He suffered a bruised hand while batting in the first test at Lord’s and was hospitalised with a stomach virus during the third test at The Oval.
Smith, who was Philander’s captain in 23 tests, said the fast bowler’s lack of availability was a growing frustration for South Africa.
“It’s been an issue but it’s becoming serious, more of an issue,” Smith said. “You’re trying to build a team and if your senior players can’t get through tours then you’ve got a problem.
“He took a blow at Lord’s and it took a crane to get him back onto the field.
“There’s been too many times where you’re fighting to get him onto the field.
“If you think about South Africa’s line-up, unless Philander is fit they can’t go in without the extra bowler.
“Him not being fit influences a vast amount of strategy in terms of selection.”
Philander has played in 46 of South Africa’s 57 tests since he made his debut against Australia at Newlands in November 2011.
Seven of those 11 games have been played since he was ruled out of the last three matches of South Africa’s series in India in November 2015 with torn ankle ligaments.
Philander’s other withdrawals came before the Kingsmead test against Sri Lanka in December 2011, when he hurt a knee during net practice, ahead of the Adelaide test against Australia in November 2012, with a back problem, and because of a hamstring strain that kept him out of the St George’s Park test against New Zealand in January 2013.