South Africa news July 14, 2013

Smith targets October return


Graeme Smith, South Africa's injured Test captain, is aiming for a return to action in the team's next Test series, against Pakistan in October. Smith suffered a recurrence of an ankle injury that has plagued him throughout his career in May and was ruled out of cricket for at least five months.

At the time, Smith was playing for Surrey and had to return home for surgery. He missed the Champions Trophy and will sit out of the upcoming limited-overs tour to Sri Lanka in order to make a full recovery. As matters stand, that looks set to be earlier than initial estimates with the trip to the UAE a definite possibility for Smith to make his return.

Smith has made "steady progress" according to South Africa's team manager and doctor Mohammed Moosajee and the management team are "aiming to have him for the Pakistan series". His cast came off two-and-half-weeks ago and he has been walking on crutches since the last week of June. He is expected to use them until the first week in August, when he should be able to walk on his own.

Smith's wife, Morgan, is due to give birth to the couple's second child this week. She wrote on a blog for You magazine that Smith has "just started rehab on his ankle so he is going to be mobile again pretty soon, which will be perfect timing for when the new baby arrives".

Although Smith is not captain in the shorter formats, his absence has been noticeable. South Africa have struggled to find a suitable partner for Hashim Amla in the 50-overs format and will head to Sri Lanka with that as one of their major concerns.

Their options are between Smith's Test opening partner Alviro Petersen, who was drafted into the Champions Trophy squad but did not play a game, and young wicketkeeper-batsman Quinton de Kock. Colin Ingram, who filled the role during the Champions Trophy, is not expected to continue in it.

While South Africa would value Smith's presence in the one-day team, it is far more important to them to have him for Test matches. Not only has he been the leader of the Test side for a decade but he led them to No. 1 in the world last year and has spoken about his ambitions to keep them there.

South Africa have not played a Test since defeating Pakistan 3-0 in a series at home in March and will make a return to the format after eight months in October. They play two Tests in the UAE, which will be new coach Russell Domingo's first longer-format assignment and Smith's presence would be a huge boost.

Moosajee confirmed the support staff are working toward that. "He has three months to go and we will have to take a call closer to the time but we are hopeful he will be able to play in that series," he said. "He is doing well so far and we will continue to monitor him."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Shahzad on July 18, 2013, 13:50 GMT

    Smith is a great captn & due to smith S.A is the no.1 test team of the world..

  • Chadley on July 16, 2013, 10:54 GMT

    A cricket education indeed is required to both yes @marktc. Smith is a valuable playa, in slips batting and captaincy. he may not be a Clark of Aus (who is a brilliant cptn) but he adds plenty of value to SA and that is excluding his cricket PLAYING ability. The meer presence of him being in the test team will boost the teams confidence, the higher your confidence the better you feel, the better you feel the better you do. im looking forward to seeing smith play

  • arthur on July 16, 2013, 10:11 GMT

    I think Saffas would need him more in Home series against the Indians

  • Mark on July 16, 2013, 5:23 GMT

    Singh1699...Are you serious? Why does Sachin not retire too, or anybody older than 30? Ditto to gibbs.175.....the national teams selects it's best cricketers, strangely that is how SA rose to number on on the test table....due to Smith's leadership and solid batting. Now, according to both of you, he is not worth much in the side and should be replaced. IF you cannot see the value Smith brings to the SA side, then perhaps a cricket education is required.

  • Harjinder on July 16, 2013, 4:46 GMT

    @SAm92 ....Please think one more time about Smith ....If SAF still need Smith ,board should call all retired players ..sorry

  • David on July 16, 2013, 2:15 GMT

    @ Shrekk. The Aussies are dead scared of playing Pakistan. We know that only their bowlers can play spin - look at the hammering India gave them. I don't think they fancy their chances against Rehman, Ajmal and friends. They saw what happened to England in the UAE, when they got whitewashed. Aus have had one whitewash this year. I doubt they'll risk another for a while. If Aus played in the UAE, who would their spin bowlers be? Right now their best seems to be the 19 year old kid, Agar, and he's their best because he was their top scorer. Remember, only their bowler's can play spin. Maybe their U19 squad would have a better chance against Pakistan?

  • Harjinder on July 15, 2013, 23:52 GMT

    I don't think SA need Smith anymore in Cricket ,especially in ODI....Smith already played his cricket.....Now give somebody a call ;ELGAAR ,ROSSOW ,ZYL,JENNINGS....

  • Steve on July 15, 2013, 17:34 GMT

    Smith has become quite injury prone past 3/4 years. No doubt, he is a SA legend both for batting and captaincy achievements eventually taking them to no.1 spot in tests. He is no longer an ODI or even a T20 regular which in a sense are better suited to him given his physical state than tests. SA selectors would be best advised to move on to the next generation of cricketers to replace him. He does deserve a fitting farewell for all his contribution though!

  • Alan on July 15, 2013, 12:34 GMT

    Of course he's aiming for a comeback in the UAE, I'd like a bat on the pitches there too.

  • Dummy4 on July 15, 2013, 11:09 GMT

    @shrekk : I'd love a pakistan aus test match!

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