South Africa's love story with injuries Down Under

Replacing the injured JP Duminy during the 2012-13 tour, Faf du Plessis scored a match-saving debut hundred in Adelaide Getty Images

Lightning may not strike the same spot twice but bad fortune seems to be able to find South Africa several times, particularly on tours of Australia. There was a hand niggle to Kepler Wessels in the 1993-4 series and an elbow concern with Jacques Kallis in 2005-6, but neither of those had the ramifications of injuries suffered during their three most recent tours Down Under.


On the morning of the first Test in Perth, Ashwell Prince was ruled out with a broken thumb, leaving South Africa's middle order without one of its most level heads. Prince was struck by Makhaya Ntini in the nets the day before the game and underwent a morning fitness test but his discomfort in holding the bat meant JP Duminy had to debut.

Duminy had not set the ODI stage alight and was considered technically deficient against the short ball and spin but stunned doubters with a gutsy half-century in the fourth innings to win the match. He topped up on that with 166 in Melbourne, to keep Prince out of the side and secure a first series win for South Africa in Australia.


During fitness drills at the end of the first day's play in Brisbane, JP Duminy slipped and ruptured an Achilles' tendon, ruling him out of action for six months. Duminy was picked as an allrounder in the match after South Africa decided to field an all-pace attack so they were both a batsman and bowler short in the game, but with a rained-out second day, it did not matter much.

Faf du Plessis replaced Duminy for the second Test, blocked out an entire day, and scored a second-innings century on debut in a show of extreme stoicism to ensure the Adelaide Test was drawn and South Africa sucked the momentum out of Australia. They won the series in Perth.


Forty-two minutes before lunch on the second day, Dale Steyn went down on his haunches in his follow-through and clutched his right shoulder in pain. He left the field with Australia 166 for 1, just 76 runs behind. Steyn had some history with that shoulder - he broke it late in 2015 - and missed three of the four Tests against England as a result. Even before the diagnosis was made, it seemed Steyn would not be back.

Vernon Philander, Kagiso Rabada and Keshav Maharaj combined to bowl Australia out for 244, conceding a lead of only two. The three-man attack will have to do just as well a second time if South Africa are to take a series lead. It has not been decided who will replace Steyn in the squad - they already have two reserve quicks in Morne Morkel and Kyle Abbott - but whoever is called up could see this as their chance to establish themselves as Duminy and du Plessis did on previous tours. Steyn is likely to require surgery and could be out of the game for six months.