Petersen set to test injury against Kent
Alviro Petersen will play in South Africa's second match of their tour to England against Kent, despite carrying an injury on his left foot but Marchant de Lange, the fast bowler, remains a doubt with a back problem. Petersen took no part in the two-day tour game against Somerset in Taunton after picking up the niggle during the squad's first training day on Saturday. However, in the interests of ensuring he has game time before the Test series he will be part of the team that plays in Canterbury.
"Alviro went for a scan yesterday and the results show a minor joint sprain but he will push on to play this weekend," Lerato Malekutu, South Africa's media manager told ESPNCricinfo. Petersen and his opening partner Graeme Smith have not batted together since March when they played in a Test match against New Zealand in Wellington. Petersen, though, has had competitive cricket since that tour as he represented Essex in the County Championship and scored a century for them against his former club Glamorgan.
Smith had his first outing since recovering from ankle surgery on Monday but scored just 10 before a booming drive took the edge and he was caught behind. Jacques Rudolph, who joined Smith at the top of the order in Petersen's absence, managed 5 and was out in the same way. Rudolph's form as an opener does not seem to have improved since he was also unsuccessful in that role during his Test comeback last November. He played five matches without a half-century and was moved down the order to No.6, allowing for Petersen to return to the top of the line-up.
Given the composition of the squad South Africa have brought with them to England, Petersen's fitness is crucial to their plans because they do not have another proven opener. If his injury worsens and he cannot play the first Test, Rudolph may have to do the job and it could allow for both JP Duminy, who has been tipped to bat at No.7 in the first Test, and replacement wicket-keeper Thami Tsolekile to feature in the starting XI.
De Lange's injury is less serious from a team perspective, because he was unlikely to be called upon unless there any of the frontline seamers became unavailable. It could, however, have an impact on his longer term availability which will concern South Africa's medical staff.
In his short international career, De Lange has already had more than one back problem. He also broke both his ankles as a schoolboy and was unable to represent South Africa at Under-19 level. "Marchant's back scan is scheduled for Thursday and we'll know more after that," Malekutu said.
South Africa have back up in the bowling department, though. Left-arm seamer Lonwabo Tsotsobe is part of the squad and played in the tour match against Somerset. Although Tsotsobe had a poor first spell, he returned to take 2 for 9 in his second burst and finished with figures of 3 for 46 in the first innings. He also bowled again on Tuesday for three overs, showing marked improvement from his time in Zimbabwe when he appeared wayward.
Allan Donald, South Africa's bowling coach was pleased with the strides Tsotsobe had taken. "We worked very hard on his intensity," Donald said. "That was the one thing that was missing in his approach - intensity. With that also comes a bit of shape and when he does that well, he gets a bit of swing."
Donald was also unconcerned about Morne Morkel, who was taken for 24 in his first over by Peter Trego conceded while conceding six an over overall and seemed to have gone backward from the progression in made in New Zealand and the IPL. "When you come on tour, the first thing you want to do is get that form, that confidence, that rhythm," Donald said. "I'm not displeased about the performance."
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent