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Morkel injury boosts Pollock's chances

An injury to Morne Morkel during South Africa's opening tour match might re-open the door for Shaun Pollock to play in the first Test against Pakistan, starting from Monday in Karachi.
Morkel, who so impressed during the Twenty20 World Cup, only bowled two overs on the final day of the tour game, before going off with an injury to his left foot. Mickey Arthur, South Africa's coach, said that though an official prognosis from the team physiotherapist is pending, Morkel is a worry.

"Morne picked up a niggle on his landing foot today and it is a little worry because he is an integral part of our plans. He will have a fitness test tomorrow [Sunday] before we take any further decisions," Arthur said, before adding "Polly [Pollock] might come back into it."

The decision to drop Pollock, South Africa's leading Test wicket-taker and most experienced bowler in subcontinent conditions, was a surprising one, not least to the man himself. It was the first time in his career that he was dropped for any reason other than injury, South Africa deciding it was time to move forward and assess fresher talent. But as Arthur was keen to point out, the decision is not the end of the road for Pollock.

"It is a new era in a sense. We are blessed with a lot of depth in our fast bowling and it's time we had a look at the younger guys. We have a tough season ahead of us next year [series against India, England and Australia away] and we need to have a settled squad in place by then. So we need to see if the younger ones are good enough.

"We've got six good seamers on the scene and any can play at any time. We can rest one guy without damaging the team as we have variety. But at the same time, Pollock is an integral part of our squad and who knows, he might come back into it on Monday."

Pakistan has named two specialist spinners in their Test squad and murmurs from the National Stadium suggest a spinning surface may be prepared. Rizwan Ahmed, the legspinning allrounder, picked up seven wickets against the South Africans in the tour game, but at considerable cost, and wasn't the threat that a Danish Kaneria is expected to be. Arthur was confident, however, that his side would cope.

"Our batsmen are used to playing spin now," he said. "We played Anil Kumble and Danish on spinning wickets in South Africa and handled them fairly well and I am confident that our batsmen have the equipment and technique to handle that threat."