As the 2023 ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup draws near, South Africa’s crucial pace duo set to face a fitness test to ascertain their readiness for the marquee event.
The participation of pacers Anrich Nortje and Sisanda Magala in the World Cup remains uncertain, as they are yet to demonstrate their fitness ahead of South Africa’s departure for India on 23 September.
Both the players were named in South Africa’s 15-member squad for the blockbuster event, however, since then, they both featured in only one out of the five home ODIs against Australia – a series that the hosts won by a 3-2 margin.
Nortje featured in the second ODI and bowled only five overs before walking off the field due to back spams. He returned to the field in the second innings, scoring 10 runs with the bat while batting at No. 10 during the run chase. His back injury subsequently ruled him out for the remainder of the series.
While Magala, who is down with a knee injury, made his sole appearance in the third ODI against Australia, in which he bowled just four overs.
“We are continually taking stock as to where both of those players are,” Rob Walter, South Africa’s white-ball coach told ESPNCricinfo after the conclusion of the Australia series.
“The fact that they weren’t playing today with a week to go before we board the plane for the World Cup is obviously a cause for concern. We would have wanted them out there.
“There are complications around taking players that are injured into a World Cup because then you have to provide a medical reason to be swapped out,” Walter added.
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Hashim Amla and Faf du Plessis both scored centuries as South Africa posted 411/4 against Ireland at the 2015 Cricket World Cup.
If either of the pacers is deemed unfit for the World Cup, South Africa could consider turning to all-rounder Andile Phehlukwayo.
Phehlukwayo, who recently played in the second and fifth ODIs against Australia, showcased his skills by taking one wicket in each match and contributing a rapid 38* from 19 balls in the fifth ODI.
The final date for submission of World Cup squad changes to the ICC is 28 September.
South Africa’s initial World Cup squad: Temba Bavuma (c), Gerald Coetzee, Quinton de Kock, Reeza Hendricks, Marco Jansen, Heinrich Klaasen, Sisanda Magala, Keshav Maharaj, Aiden Markram, David Miller, Lungi Ngidi, Anrich Nortje, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Rassie van der Dussen.