Test captain Temba Bavuma and pace spearhead Kagiso Rabada, who were rested from South Africa’s white-ball matches against India to prepare for the two-Test series, will not play in a domestic first-class fixture as previously planned.
Bavuma and Rabada were due to turn out for the Lions against the Dolphins in Durban starting on Thursday, but the Lions confirmed that neither were available. “Bavuma has a personal matter to attend to and Rabada has a heel niggle,” the statement read, while adding that Lions coach Russell Domingo was “disappointed” not to have them in the XI.
Rabada’s injury, if serious, could leave South Africa without their entire frontline pace attack for the Tests against India. Anrich Nortje was ruled out of the series as he continues recovery from a lower-back stress fracture while Lungi Ngidi had to withdraw from the T20I series with an ankle sprain and is also not playing in the round of first-class fixtures that starts on Thursday. Rabada’s heel problem dates back to the ODI World Cup, where he was unable to bowl in the latter stages of the semi-final against Australia.
Two other quicks – Gerald Coetzee and Marco Jansen – have been released from South Africa’s T20I squad and will not play the ODIs against India as they take part in the first-class competition in preparation for the Tests. South Africa’s other bowling option, Nandre Burger, is part of the white-ball set-up and could debut in the third T20I at the Wanderers on Thursday. Wiaan Mulder, who is in the Test squad, is part of the ODI squad and also won’t play this round of first-class matches.
Bavuma has not played any cricket since South Africa’s ODI World Cup campaign ended in the semi-final against Australia on November 16, where he was carrying a hamstring injury. He last played a Test match in March, when South Africa played West Indies, and scored a series-winning 172 at the Wanderers. He is expected to be available for the Test series against India, which starts on December 26.