Fitness concerns for AB de Villiers
AB de Villiers has been ruled out of Titans' Champions League semi-final against Sydney Sixers on Friday. De Villiers has not played a match in the tournament as he recovers from a chronic lower-back condition and did not pass his fitness test on Thursday morning.
"He is still getting a recurrence of lower-back pain," Matthew Maynard, Titans coach, said. The Titans were prepared to go into the match without De Villiers though, and do not see the latest development as upsetting to their plans.
What will be a concern, however, is whether De Villiers will be able to bat and keep wicket during South Africa's three Test tour of Australia, which starts in just over two weeks' time. De Villiers has been listed as the designated wicketkeeper and was instructed to take a three-week break after the World T20 to ensure he is able to fulfill that role.
The time period comes to an end on Friday but he has not been passed match-fit and there is no exact determination of how much more recovery time he needs. National management is keeping a close eye on the situation and expects De Villiers to be able to assume all his duties in Australia. "He will definitely be able to travel to Australia but we will have to take it day by day on tour," Mohammed Moosajee, team manager said.
Moosajee has been monitoring De Villiers' back condition since he took over the wicketkeeping role from Mark Boucher at the start of the tour of England. He does not expect De Villiers will be able to continue it permanently.
"AB has had this back condition for a while and we knew about it. We knew that it would never resolve completely but that he would have times where he would be completely fine and then bouts when it would come back," Moosajee said. "When his workload increases, it flares up. So in the long term, some strategic decision will have to be made."
The main decision is how long De Villiers will continue as wicketkeeper and who will be selected as the replacement. On the tour of Australia, Moosajee reminded that "we've got Thami Tsolekile as back-up so if something happens, he is there."
Tsolekile was nationally contracted in February, an indication that he would be part of the squad, and joined them when Boucher suffered a career-ending injury in England. He only played in the tour matches and De Villiers kept in all three Tests. It is believed that the national administration wants to re-introduce Tsolekile to international cricket at home, in what will be considered a less-challenging series against New Zealand in January rather than have him play against Australia first up.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent