South Africa's cricketers are not finding it easy to stay fit for the first Test against England at Port Elizabeth that starts on Friday, December 17. Six of them are suffering from illness or injury.

Boeta Dippenar has food poisioning while Graeme Smith, Zander de Bruyn and Andrew Hall are all a bit tender in the stomach, according to the Johannesburg-based newspaper The Star. Thami Tsolekile has tonsillitis and their front-line spinner Nicky Boje, who, unlike the others, did not go to India, is still recovering from surgery to remove a growth from the thyroid gland.

"We're taking it day by day, but we have to remember Nicky is also suffering a bit from the effects of the medication he's using," said Shane Jabaar, the team physiotherapist. "Nicky's heart-rate is still very high and he gets tired quite quickly, but we're giving him a chance to show he's ok. But we're certainly not going to push him."

Ray Jennings, the national coach, was also unwilling to say whether Boje will be fit for the first Test. "He's getting better, but we'll have a look at him in two days' time," he admitted. "He's mature and old enough to know if he's up to playing." But he also went on to say: "I'm not at all concerned about which 11 play."