Philander not ruled out of first Test
South Africa fast bowler Vernon Philander, who is recovering from a grade one hamstring strain, will only be fully assessed next week for his availability for the first Test against New Zealand. Philander is on the eighth day of a 10-14 day recovery program, and only has four more days to be declared fit.
He injured his hamstring during a first-class match between the Cobras and the Titans, where he only bowled five overs before leaving the field. Philander is in training with the national team, but isn't bowling to capacity yet. He is expected to be up to 80% fit by the weekend.
"He is still in the rehabilitation phase but is coming along nicely," Mohammed Moosajee, the team manager who is also a medical doctor, told ESPNCricinfo. "We are definitely not ruling him out." Should Philander not pass his fitness test, Rory Kleinveldt will replace him in the starting XI, having done the same in the Adelaide Test against Australia.
South Africa's other injury concern is Jacques Kallis, who required a three-week break after also sustaining a hamstring niggle in Australia. Kallis batted with a slight tear during the second Test in Adelaide, and did not field. But he had enough time on the physiotherapist's bed to play in the third Test in Perth, although he could not bowl.
He has not played any cricket since the team returned home from that tour, although his franchise, the Cobras, have played. The rest has served him well and Kallis should be fit to score the 20 runs he needs to bring up his 13,000 Test runs next Wednesday. "Jacques is now symptom-free and he is ready to go," Moosajee said.
New Zealand also have minor worries about the health of their squad. Middle-order batsman Dean Brownlie suffered a severe stomach bug and could not travel from Port Elizabeth to Cape Town with the rest of the team. He made the journey a day later, and although he was not named in the 12-man squad for the tour match, he was at the ground mid-way through the first day and is reportedly recovering well.
Opening batsman Peter Fulton's knee was given a trial run during the tour match after he suffered a recurrence of an old injury and he emerged without trouble. Fulton batted for an hour and six minutes and scored 39 runs. Colin Munro has stayed with the squad after the Twenty20 series as cover.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent