There was some brightness amidst the gloom, with Lungi Ngidi spotted at the Wanderers on Friday putting in drills at the nets by himself. Photo: Gerhard Duraan/BackpagePix

JOHANNESBURG – The Proteas’ training camp that starts next week may involve very little training and more rest and recuperation, as they try and manage their wounded pack of fast bowlers ahead of the World Cup opener in three weeks’ time.

Kagiso Rabada had his Indian Premier League (IPL) stint with the Delhi Capitals ended this week, and will be returning to South Africa to have his back assessed.

Following injuries to Dale Steyn (shoulder), Anrich Nortjé (shoulder) and Lungi Ngidi (side strain), it was the last thing Ottis Gibson would have wanted to hear.

There was some brightness amidst the gloom, with Ngidi spotted at the Wanderers on Friday putting in drills at the nets by himself.

The big fast bowler spent around two hours bowling at a set of metal stumps, and there were no outward signs of any discomfort.

The rest will have to be assessed in the coming weeks, but Rabada’s injury – described as stiffness in his lower back – isn’t good news, especially given that it was a stress fracture that prevented him from playing any part in the IPL last year.

“Kagiso has a history with back injuries, and the CSA medical team is taking the best measures to ensure he is fully fit for the World Cup starting this month,” said Proteas team manager Mohammed Moosajee.

“He will consult with a back specialist upon his return, and proceed with a treatment and rehab programme.”

The troubling aspect of these injuries to the South African team’s fast bowlers is that they are not new, or in Nortjé’s case, have arisen shortly after he’s returned from a different injury.

As Moosajee mentioned, Rabada has had back problems previously, Steyn’s right shoulder is the same one that kept him sidelined for over a year from the back end of 2016, and Ngidi had a side strain last season which curtailed his progress shortly after it appeared that he’d established himself in the team.

The Proteas’ schedule for the World Cup means they simply can’t afford to take players to England unless they are fully fit from the start.

They play their opening three matches – against England in the tournament opener at The Oval in London on May 30, and against Bangladesh and India – within the first six days of the tournament starting, so everyone needs to hit the ground running.

The Proteas leave for England on May 19.

They play two warm-up matches, against Sri Lanka on May 24 and then against the West Indies on May 26.


Saturday Star

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