De Lange ruled out of Champions League T20
South African quick Marchant de Lange has been withdrawn from the Titans squad that will play in the Champions League T20, and could be in doubt for the tour of Australia later in the year as he recovers from a lower-back stress fracture. De Lange sustained the injury in June and is expected to be match fit only by November.
He is currently in the final stages of a rehabilitation process with Titans physiotherapist Ian Repton and has started some gym work. De Lange will also undergo an examination of his bowing action to see if anything can be tweaked to prevent similar problems in future. National bowling coach Allan Donald, high performance manager Vincent Barnes, Titans coach Matthew Maynard and Repton are all on the case and working with de Lange to ensure he makes a successful return to international cricket.
"Where we are at the moment is that we have been sent some information from Allan and we are waiting on more footage before we will know if anything needs to be changed with Marchant's action," Barnes told ESPNCricinfo. "It's a slow process but we want to make sure he is properly ready."
De Lange hurt his lower back during the unofficial T20 tri-series between South Africa, Zimbabwe and Bangladesh in June but was included in the touring squad for the England Test series the following month. He travelled with the squad but didn't recover sufficiently and was sent home during the second tour match in Canterbury. Albie Morkel replaced de Lange, who was initially thought to need eight weeks to recover from spasms.
The time frame and seriousness of the injury grew once de Lange was assessed by Repton. "We did another scan when he came home and we found that he had a stress fracture of the lower back so we had to start a new process," Reptons said. "He has been through the whole program but we only expect him to be ready to play by the time the domestic one-day competition starts."
South Africa's one-day cup starts on November 2 and the Titans play in the first-match, against the Lions. The national team's three-Test tour of Australia coincides with that tournament. The squad is expected to be announced next week and will leave for a training camp on October 25 with the first Test starting in Brisbane on November 9. De Lange will likely miss out on the trip, especially as he would not have played any first-class cricket in months.
De Lange was said to be extremely disappointed when he was ruled out of the England tour and Barnes acknowledged that he may have similar "frustration" ahead of the Australia tour, more so because he has fond memories of playing against them. De Lange caught the eye of the national selectors when he took five wickets against the touring Australians in a warm-up match in October last year.
That performance saw him included in the South African squad to play against Sri Lanka later in the summer and made his debut in the Boxing Day Test in Durban. His 7 for 81 in the first innings made him the most successful debutant of 2011. In March, he was included in the T20 and Test squads to tour New Zealand. His last over heroics with the ball in the third T20 in Auckland earned him an IPL contract with the Kolkata Knight Riders, where he played three matches.
Although de Lange has played what Repton called "a lot of cricket," in the last two years, all parties agree that he was not the cause of his stress fracture. "I wouldn't say he was overbowled or it was caused by his workload," Repton said. "It could be a combination of other factors, perhaps his action and he has also just turned 21, so he was probably finishing his natural development. We will make sure it's not an issue going forward."
Barnes said de Lange has been "well managed," at national and franchise level and will continue to be monitored. Like Australian speedster Pat Cummins, who also came to the fore in last year's Australia-South Africa series, de Lange will have ample resources spent on him to ensure a stress fracture does not deprive the national side of his obvious talent.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent