SA wait nervously for Phangiso retest
South Africa have put a player on standby to take Aaron Phangiso's place in the World Twenty20 squad, but remain hopeful they will not need to replace the left-arm spinner. Phangiso's action was found to be illegal when he was tested on Friday after being reported during a domestic game. Phangiso will undergo five days of intensive remedial work before a second round of tests next Monday, three days before South Africa leave for the World T20.
"We had a conference call with the selectors last night and Linda Zondi will probably announce a replacement in the next couple of days should Phangiso not be able to go to the World Cup. We have put somebody on standby," Russell Domingo, South Africa's coach said in Durban, where the squad have assembled in preparation for their T20 series against Australia.
"He is going to put in a lot of work over these next couple of days. He has got about five or six sessions before he gets retested on Monday in Pretoria. Hopefully we will get a good report on Tuesday and Wednesday and he is able to join us on Thursday when we leave. We've got to try and rectify whatever we can over the next couple of days and hopefully he is deemed legal."
Phangiso will remain with the squad, but not be considered for selection for the first two matches. Instead, he will be working with spin consultant Claude Henderson and high performance manager Vincent Barnes to rectify his action. If his action is declared legal by next Wednesday , it is likely Phangiso will play in the third T20 at Newlands because Domingo wants to give "everyone game time," ahead of the World T20.
Should Phangiso's action still need work after Monday's tests, he will be replaced in the national squad most likely, but not conclusively, by another spinner. Currently, Phangiso is the only back-up to legspinner Imran Tahir and South Africa may want another slower bowling option in their squad. Their options, though, are limited.
Eddie Leie was the other spinner in contention for the World T20 squad but has been carrying a hamstring niggle in recent weeks. Leie's injury worsened on Sunday, when he had to leave the field after bowling 5.3 overs in the Momentum One Day Cup final. Dane Piedt, who had the best economy rate among spinners in the One Day Cup, could also be in contention, while the likes of Tabraiz Shamsi and Keshav Maharaj, who have played for South Africa A, may be considered too inexperienced for a major tournament.
Alternatively, South Africa may abandon the idea of another spinner and rely solely on Tahir, especially because the chances of playing two spinners in the XI are slim.
"We need to look at conditions there. When we played one-day cricket there, the only wicket that spun appreciably was the one in Chennai," Domingo said. "The others were good one-day wickets. Their one-day and T20 wickets are a little bit different to their Test wickets so we need to ask if it is going to deteriorate."
Given that is unlikely the pitches will crumble, South Africa may see Phangiso's possible unavailability as an opportunity to add an extra quick bowler such as Morne Morkel or another allrounder, like Albie Morkel, who were both left out initially.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent