South Africa in Sri Lanka 2013 July 18, 2013

South Africa sweat on Morkel, Tsotsobe injuries


Russell Domingo's first assignment as South Africa's head coach has just become tougher. Already without pace spearhead Dale Steyn, Domingo could find also himself minus both Morne Morkel and Lonwabo Tsotsobe, who picked up injuries in Sri Lanka.

Morkel bowled only three overs in the warm-up match against the Sri Lankan Board President's XI on Wednesday before leaving the field with a quad niggle. He was assessed today and was still experiencing tightness. He will have to be relooked at on Friday in order to determine his availability for Saturday's first ODI.

The concern over Morkel is that the injury has occurred in the same quad which was affected during the Champions Trophy last month. Morkel was ruled out of the tournament after South Africa's first match against India, in which he did not bowl his full quota of overs, and sent home for a three-week rehabilitation program. On the team's departure last Sunday, Mohammed Moosajee, the team doctor and manager, said Morkel had made a full recovery.

Tsotsobe's worry appears to be more serious. He did not play in the warm-up and CSA officials in South Africa confirmed he suffered a recurrence of the ankle impingement syndrome that plagued him last season. They said he was receiving treatment in Sri Lanka. They would not confirm whether a report in a local newspaper, which revealed Tsotsobe had traveled unfit, was true.

Instead, CSA only said, "all players have to be signed off by the medical committee." The Citizen reported that Tsotsobe was given the green light even though he failed a fitness test conducted pre-tour. Signs of Tsotsobe struggling were evident during the Champions Trophy. Although he played in all South Africa's games, he only bowled five overs in the semi-final against England.

Tsotsobe's franchise coach at the Lions, Geoffrey Toyana, confirmed to ESPNCricinfo that the left-armer was "in good shape" before the tournament. He was training at the Wanderers, bowling well and at full fitness. He has not had communication with Tsotsobe since then.

Should Tsotsobe only become available to play later in the tour, as The Citizen suggested, Domingo's options for the opening exchanges will be limited. He will have to choose from a largely inexperienced pack with Rory Kleinveldt, Chris Morris and Ryan McLaren as the only seam options.

With the first match on Saturday, there will be no time to fly in a replacement. If one is needed as the tour goes on, South Africa's choices are also not as vast as they would like them to be. Wayne Parnell, who is part of the T20 squad, is recovering from a groin niggle and will have to be re-evaluated before he leaves for Sri Lanka. It is unlikely he will be available for the ODIs.

Marchant de Lange and Kyle Abbott are involved with the South African A side that will play first-class matches against Australia A. Ostensibly, either of them could be pulled out and sent to Sri Lanka but de Lange is also in the final stages of complete recovery from stress fractures and Abbott's inexperience may only add to the existing worries.

Conditions may help ease the concern with South Africa likely to consider two specialist spinners in the starting XI. That would mean both Robin Peterson and Aaron Phangiso will play. JP Duminy also provides a slower bowling option.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Harjinder on July 20, 2013, 5:32 GMT

    Why ROry again and again ....where is Philander (call him in ODI s) Lange,Kyle Abott thus SA wasting golden players always ....that is why they could never win World cup.....

  • Dummy4 on July 19, 2013, 22:08 GMT

    This is a problem indeed... if we don't have our frontline bowlers, and can't even depend on backup (yet very promising bowlers) like de Lange and Abbott, what is left? Philander is a quality bowler, but not ODI's... perhaps the type of ball being used for the shorter versions of the game? Perhaps they need to fly another spinner like Tahir out, at least chance of an injury is much less for a spinner. Imagine Phangiso, Peterson, Tahir and Duminy all bowling 10 overs...

  • Dummy4 on July 19, 2013, 19:02 GMT

    Why rory is even being considered!

  • Dummy4 on July 19, 2013, 12:43 GMT

    @Nashalan Naidoo

    Vern isn't as effective in limited over matches. He has a List A and ODI bowling average in excess of 35. While I won't go as far to suggest that he won't be better NOW, given his success as a Test bowler, there is a massive gap in quality between his performances in first class cricket and those in limited overs cricket. It appears that he doesn't always get enough opportunity to build himself into a good rhythm when he only has a maximum of ten overs to bowl. I don't think he responds as well to the added unpredictability of the batsmen in the shortened version either - he seems to prefer to face a brick wall than an audacious, boundary-seeking batsman. He doesn't thrive on aggression like Dale Steyn does.

  • Dummy4 on July 19, 2013, 11:53 GMT

    Why oh why dont we include the vern in odis??? The man is a lethal weapon to have in the bowling attack. I think the proteas should have considered tahir also. We need quality spinners for sub continent pitches. My choice would be: Philander, Morris, Mclaren, Peterson, Tahir, Duminy although the selectors would most probably pick Kleinveldt, Morris, Mclaren, Peterson, Phangiso, Duminy. Still a good attack but Kleinveldt must find his rhythm right away and not a game or 2 later!

  • John on July 19, 2013, 9:03 GMT

    All these "meaningless tournament" comments have become a tasteless joke. 5 ODI's n 3 T20's are on the schedule. That is plenty of Cricket for this tour in my book if you ask me. Yeah Its unfortunate that we had to postpone those 3 test matches. But it doesn't take anything away from the excitement of the tour.

    So all these SA FANS, pls stop being so self righteous n hope that your team will try to improve their records in Sri Lanka coz you have your worst away records in Sri Lanka. ODI - 1 win n 9 losses .( TEST - 2 wins n 4 losses.) I predict SL winning the series 4:1. G'luck !!!

  • Dummy4 on July 19, 2013, 8:39 GMT

    Why Hardus Viljoen was not there in the first place only the genius that is Andrew Hudson would know.

  • Themba on July 19, 2013, 7:41 GMT

    @spot_on not so sport on regarding IPL unearthing South African Talent. How did the IPL know they exist without them being unearthed in SA..

  • Praveen on July 19, 2013, 6:05 GMT

    @highveldhillbilly : It actually took IPL to unearth your Saffa talents like Morkel and Rusty and not the Injuries. Take a bow IPL...

  • Praveen on July 19, 2013, 5:51 GMT

    Fully fit Steyn,Morris and Philander should get the job done in hand!!! Rest my case...