Good, bad and injured
Congrats Faf, pity for Elgar and concern over Philander’s fitness
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.