Troublesome ankle could sideline Vernon Philander until November

Dale Steyn gets a congratulatory embrace from Vernon Philander upon becoming South Africa's joint leading wicket-taker AFP

Vernon Philander has begun bowling rehabilitation this week as he recovers from an ankle injury that could sideline him until at least November.

Philander has struggled with his ankle since twisting it against India in late 2015 and while the latest recurrence of the niggle will not affect his Test-playing ability, it may impact his chances of making a case for World Cup selection.

If fit, Philander would have been picked alongside Dale Steyn for the upcoming ODIs against Zimbabwe but he will miss out. Philander also cannot be considered for the white-ball trip to Australia in October-November but may have an opportunity to return during the T20 tournament that is due to be played from early November to mid-December. However, it's likely Philander will only make a comeback on Boxing Day, when South Africa host Pakistan.

Philander last played for South Africa in the first Test against Sri Lanka in Galle in mid-July, where the injury flared up. He did not play the second Test in Colombo and has not played any county cricket or in any T20 leagues since as he concentrates on recovery. Surgery is an option, but that would require a longer recovery time and CSA's medical team are opting for a more conservative approach.