Marchant de Lange set for comeback
South Africa's young quick Marchant de Lange will make a comeback to domestic cricket this weekend after an absence of close to eight months.
De Lange has been out of action since June last year with a stress fracture and is due to test his readiness for first-class cricket in a three-day amateur game between Easterns and Kwa-Zulu Natal in Chatsworth.
De Lange was due to play last weekend for Easterns against Boland on the strict condition that he would only play in the Twenty20 match that followed the first-class match. Rain stopped play before de Lange could bowl so his comeback was postponed to this week.
Physiotherapist Ian Repton has been working with de Lange since he was sent home from South Africa's tour of England in July. Then, it was thought that de Lange had overcome the injury which he picked up during South Africa's unofficial T20 tri-series in Zimbabwe. When de Lange complained of pain in the United Kingdom, he was assessed, deemed to be carrying an even more serious injury and given a three-month recovery period.
That was then extended to six months when Repton began working with De Lange and predicted he would only be back around Christmas. "It took longer than that for two reasons," Repton told ESPNcricinfo. "We had to try and get his action absolutely correct so that the injury does not recur and then we had to wait for the muscle memory to take hold.
"There is no point in him bowling a few balls with the new action and then reverting back to the old. We were willing to take as much time as we needed."
Repton has promised De Lange will return with a more efficient action, which will involve less pressure being placed on his lower back. "It will be a biomechanically better action," Repton said. De Lange has already been practicing in the nets under the watchful eye of Corrie van Zyl, Cricket South Africa's general manager of cricket.
With three first-class matches remaining in the season, it appears unlikely that de Lange will feature in that format this summer. "It is very important that he gets overs into the legs now, so he is going to start off slowly and then we will see how it goes," Repton said. De Lange has remained upbeat throughout, according to Repton, "because it was explained to him that this would take time and may not be simple to fix."
Rusty Theron, the Warriors quick, is suffering from the same injury and has yet to make his comeback after being out for the same length of time.
De Lange has played two Tests for South Africa and was 2011's most successful Test debutant with 7 for 84 against Sri Lanka in Durban. He was also becoming an important member of the Twenty20 side and bowled South Africa to a series win against New Zealand in March with his last over heroics.
But he has lost ground in the Test stakes since Rory Kleinveldt became the preferred reserve seamer. Kleinveldt has also played two Tests for South Africa and is now considered back-up if one of Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel or Vernon Philander is injured.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent