South Africa in Australia, 2005-06 December 29, 2005

Ntini doubtful for final Test

Cricinfo staff

Makhaya Ntini is unlikely to play the final Test in Sydney © Getty Images

Makhaya Ntini is in serious doubt for the third Test after suffering knee tendon damage in Melbourne this week. Ntini, who took 3 for 70 in the first innings and 0 for 17 yesterday, did not bowl today after the team's medical staff decided not to risk further damage to their strike bowler.

"A scan revealed he sustained an injury to one of the medial tendons of his left hamstring behind the knee," Shane Jabaar, the team physiotherapist, said. Ntini played in a game of frisbee during the side's warm-up this morning but Haroon Lorgat, the selection convenor, said they preferred to withdraw him from the attack, which suffered from the heavy hitting of Matthew Hayden and Andrew Symonds as Australia set a target of 366.

"Ntini is our strike bowler and we will not take any risks with him," he said. "We will only play him once he has fully recovered."

South Africa have received a better report from Justin Kemp, who injured his right shoulder during the first Test in Perth. Kemp scored a vital second-innings half-century at the WACA and Jabaar said he was making "steady progress".

The early arrival of Johan Botha, the off-spinner, to Australia may lead to a call-up for next week's final Test. Botha, 23, is a member of the tourists' squad for next month's triangular one-day series with Australia and Sri Lanka but has yet to play Test cricket.

Botha told AFP in South Africa, before leaving, "I'm not sure whether I'm going to be considered for the Test, or whether I'm just going for the one-dayers. But it's interesting that I'm going to Australia at this stage. It will be quite a challenge to walk into the series if I play in Sydney. But I'm not daunted -- this is the kind of thing you dream about as a kid."

Australia are expected to play Shane Warne and Stuart MacGill at Sydney, traditionally a spinner's paradise and South Africa may consider partnering Nicky Boje's left-arm spin with Botha. Lorgat told Australian Associated Press, "Yes, he (Botha) will be in our one-day squad but he's coming over a little earlier. He's the young kid on the block and we thought we'd give him a chance. He will arrive in the next day or two. We'll look at our options for the next Test."