South Africa's captain AB de Villiers has been ruled out of the home ODI series and away Test series against Australia because of a persistent elbow injury. He will have surgery early next week and will need eight to ten weeks of recovery time.
"AB has failed to come through his fitness test this morning," Mohammad Moosajee, SA team manager said. "Although the physio strapped his elbow while he was batting and he did have some relief with some shots, the elbow pain has not gone away completely.
"When the initial injury was discovered, the issue was that he was having impingement with certain shots. With that in mind, we advocated a period of rest, he has seen the physiotherapist for treatment, he received some bio-kinetics and rehab, and also saw an elbow specialist for the infiltration of cortisone. In most cases, you get resolving of symptoms within six weeks. This did not take place, so we gave him an extra week to see if it would recover.
"This morning, he had a couple of throwdowns. The elbow was strapped and he had some symptom relief. He probably felt about 80% better than without the strapping. But knowing AB, the complete cricketer that he is, he wants to make sure none of his shots are restricted. With that in mind, we decided on surgery and to give him adequate time to recover so he doesn't hamper his career going forward.
"The recovery is anything between eight to ten weeks and we are hopeful he will recover for the Sri Lanka series in December."
De Villiers will sit out the five home ODIs - beginning on September 30 - and the three Tests in Australia in November, one of which will be South Africa's maiden day-night fixture. He also missed the two Tests against New Zealand in August and the one-off ODI against Ireland because of the injury.
Moosajee clarified that de Villiers' injury was not a tennis elbow, a condition that former cricketers Graeme Smith, Jacques Kallis and Sachin Tendulkar had suffered from during their careers. He said that the workload for top players was a concern and Cricket South Africa was looking into how to manage them better.
"In any sportsman's life, he is going to encounter some form of injury. There is no doubt that sometimes it's overload or overuse," Moosajee said. "But the load of cricket there is, is something CSA is looking at seriously.
"Generally, our season is eight to nine months. Most of the guys go and play in the IPL as well. We need to make sure the guys are injury free, that they have no niggles before we release them, and we need to make sure we restrict them from playing in the other leagues if they are carrying a niggle, or if workload dictates that they need a rest."
Rilee Rossouw will remain with the ODI squad for the series against Australia, while Faf du Plessis is likely to lead the Test squad in Australia. "Faf has led the team, he will do the same in the ODI series against Australia," Moosajee said. "And I have no doubt he will carry on for another series."