England v South Africa, 2nd npower Test, Headingley July 17, 2008

Injured McKenzie doubtful for second Test

Cricinfo staff

Openers Graeme Smith and Neil McKenzie averaged 99.27 from 11 innings this this year © Getty Images

JP Duminy could get a chance to make his Test debut if Neil McKenzie doesn't recover from his groin strain in time for the start of the second Test against England in Headingley on Friday.

Mickey Arthur, the South African coach, said McKenzie's injury was not serious but the short three-day gap between the first and second Tests meant there wasn't enough time to recover. "I think it was prodding forward to Monty [Panesar] for nine hours that did it," Arthur said.

"I'm optimistic - I think he'll play. He had some ultrasound this morning and is going to do some strength and muscle activation this afternoon. He'll bat on Thursday and will do some training again tomorrow afternoon - and we'll put him through a fitness test on Friday morning."

However Arthur confirmed that if McKenzie didn't play, Duminy would open the innings with Graeme Smith and AB de Villiers would remain at No. 6. "Anything else would be two swaps for one, and I don't want to make two changes for one position. It will just be a straight swap."

McKenzie's absence could be a great blow to South Africa who are looking to gain a series lead after drawing the Lord's Test. Since his return to the South African Test side this year, McKenzie has averaged 79 from seven Tests, scoring two hundreds and a double-century. His opening partnership with Smith in those Tests gave their side a solid platform to build on - the two averaged 99.27 from 11 innings, with three hundred-run partnerships and four half-century stands.