Graeme Smith, South Africa's captain, has been ruled out of the final Test against Australia after damaging his right ring finger during practice at the Wanderers. It is the same finger he injured in India last year, and means that he will miss his first Test since making his debut against Australia in 2001-02.
After an X-ray and a scan as well as a consultation with a hand specialist, Smith was diagnosed with a severe soft tissue injury to the distal part of the finger. He will wear a splint for 10 to 12 days, after which an assessment will be made regarding his recovery.
The injury means that Jacques Kallis will lead the side for the first time in what will be his 99th Test, with Boeta Dippenaar opening the batting with AB de Villiers. "It will be a challenge for him," said South Africa's coach, Mickey Arthur, about Kallis's promotion. "He's a quiet guy who gets in a bubble during Tests and sits on his own, but it might bring out the best in him."
Smith has struggled against the Australian bowlers this season, with just 242 runs in six Tests, including the ICC Super Series. His last half-century was against West Indies, at Antigua, last May, and since then he has managed a top score of 40 in the second innings at Durban.