Good, bad and in­jured

Con­grats Faf, pity for El­gar and con­cern over Phi­lan­der’s fit­ness

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - STU­ART HESS

THERE was good news for the cap­tain, bad news for his pos­si­ble stand-in and mildly con­cern­ing news about one of South Africa’s pri­mary bowl­ing weapons as rain and bad light cur­tailed the Proteas’s prepa­ra­tions ahead of the first Test against Eng­land.

First the good news; with a well-lit and care­fully cropped photo, Faf du Plessis an­nounced via Twit­ter that he and wife Imari had wel­comed their first child. “Our big­gest bless­ing yet came in a small pack­age,” the Test cap­tain tweeted. There was no of­fi­cial word on whether he’d be head­ing back to London in time for the first Test. And that that will be fine with his team­mates and the squad’s man­age­ment for the pri­or­ity for Du Plessis right now must be his wife and their child.

In mat­ters on the field it was a bad day for the man who may stand along­side Joe Root at the coin toss if Du Plessis is ab­sent at Lord’s next Thurs­day, with Dean El­gar’ stay at the crease at New Road yes­ter­day last­ing just 18 min­utes in which he faced 10 balls and scored five runs. He was caught be­hind by Eng­land Lions ‘keeper Sam Billings off the bowl­ing of fresh-faced left-arm seamer Ge­orge Gar­ton in the fourth over of the three-day tour match at the home of Worces­ter­shire cricket.

The start of play had been de­layed by rain and in all barely 90 min­utes of play was pos­si­ble be­fore more rain and then bad light in­ter­vened with South Africa on 58/1 from 20 overs. Heino Kuhn will re­sume to­day un­beaten on 30 and Hashim Amla is 16 not out.

Of con­cern was the ab­sence of Ver­non Phi­lan­der who is still be­ing coaxed back to full fit­ness af­ter dam­ag­ing his an­kle while play­ing for Sus­sex two weeks ago. Ac­cord­ing to the South African team’s doctor Mo­hammed Moosajee, Phi­lan­der “is in the fi­nal stages of his rehab,” and is hop­ing to bowl at full pace by tomorrow, thereby prov­ing his fit­ness for the first Test, that starts next Thurs­day.

Chris Mor­ris was in­cluded in South Africa’s start­ing team for the match against the Lions in Phi­lan­der’s place, while The­u­nis de Bruyn will oc­cupy a po­si­tion in the mid­dle or­der.

Mean­while, a bit­ter pay dis­pute be­tween Aus­tralia’s crick­eters and the na­tional board ap­pears set to re­main un­re­solved by to­day’s dead­line, leav­ing more than 200 play­ers un­em­ployed and up­com­ing se­ries against Bangladesh and Eng­land in jeop­ardy.

Eleventh hour talks have failed to pro­duce a break­through this week and re­la­tions have soured to the point that the play­ers’ union is re­fus­ing to deal with Cricket Aus­tralia’s (CA) lead negotiator.

The Aus­tralian Crick­eters’ As­so­ci­a­tion (ACA) has de­manded CA’s long-serv­ing chief ex­ec­u­tive James Suther­land step up to the deal­ing ta­ble and help end a stand­off that could ul­ti­mately trig­ger a dam­ag­ing round of player boy­cotts.

The ex­ist­ing pay deal, known as the Mem­o­ran­dum of Un­der­stand­ing (MoU), will ex­pire at mid­night to­day, two days be­fore play­ers se­lected for an Aus­tralia A tour of South Africa are to re­port for a train­ing camp in Bris­bane.

CA has re­mained silent on Suther­land’s in­ten­tions but high per­for­mance boss Pat Howard has made the board’s po­si­tion clear.

Howard warned play­ers in an email on Wed­nes­day not to sign with other spon­sors or play in “dis­ap­proved” cricket in case it put them “at risk” of a po­ten­tial, fu­ture CA con­tract.

The stick­ing point re­mains the ar­gu­ment over a rev­enue share scheme which has un­der­pinned con­tracts for 20 years.

The model has helped make Aus­tralia’s crick­eters among the best paid in the world.

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