Vernon Philander, Morris ruled out of first Test against Bangladesh

Philander is expected to start the second and final Test which begins on October 6.

Vernon Philanda of South Africa
Vernon Philander of South Africa. (Photo by Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images)

Vernon Philander is set to skip the first of the 2-Test series against Bangladesh as he has failed to recover from a back injury he sustained during the away Test series in England. All-rounder Chris Morris also sustained a back niggle and is set to miss the entire Test series as the injury will take ten weeks to heal.

Philander has been a crucial member of the Test side but his tryst with injuries has been a cause for a problem. During the England series, former captain Graeme Smith warned Philander to work on his fitness in order to prolong his career. The fast bowling all-rounder is targeting his return on September 28, when he will turn up for a first-class game to assess his fitness for the second Test.

“We’ve had a number of challenges on the fast bowling front,” Mohammed Moosajee, South Africa’s team manager, who is also a medical doctor, said. “The first to chat about is Vernon Philander. During the Test series in England, he dived for a ball and injured his lower back. His progress has been coming along well but he is only bowling at 80% capacity currently. The plan for him is to prepare for the four-day match against the Cobras beginning on 28 September. Should he come through that, he should be available for the second Test against Bangladesh. At the moment, he is only building up to full intensity so we are not going to risk him to play during the first Test.”

Opportunity for fringe players to stake claim

The squad for the 2-match series is expected to be announced after the conclusion of the first round of domestic first-class games which start on Tuesday. In the absence of Philander, Steyn and now Morris, Kagiso Rabada and Morne Morkel are expected to lead the South African attack. The likes of Wayne Parnell, Duanne Oliver, Andile Phehlukwayo and Beuran Hendricks will be looking to impress the selectors to grab that third seamer slot.

Morris is expected to be fit for the T20 series which will is scheduled for mid-October. “If he is symptom-free he might be available for the Bangladesh ODI series but the T20 series is more of a reality,” he said.

Dale Styen return not clear

No timeline has been set for a Dale Steyn comeback yet though the fast bowler has hinted that he will take the field during the Global T20 league in November. Steyn, 34, has already expressed his desire to play the game for another couple of years.

“For the past six weeks, the plan was very much to have him ready to start the four-day Sunfoil match for the Titans starting today but unfortunately last week he developed a strain to the muscle in his troublesome right shoulder,” Moosajee said. “We are not going to set an artificial timeline for Dale Steyn. The plan right now is to get him ready for competitive cricket when he is ready and we are hoping that it will be a slow and graduated return to full intensity bowling. In reality, the target will only be the Global T20 in November.”