JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - DECEMBER 17: Graeme Smith during the South African national cricket team training session and press conference at Bidvest Wanderers Stadium on December 17, 2013 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Duif du Toit/Gallo Images)

Cape Town – Proteas Test captain Graeme Smith has been ruled out of the remainder of the RamSlam T20 Challenge as a “precautionary measure” ahead of the Australian Test series. Smith has suffered a recurrence of the ankle injury that put him out of cricket for close on five months last year and will undergo a rest and rehabilitation programme.

“Graeme has chronic ankle injury challenges. It is a long-standing issue and we are very cautious when it stiffens up like it has,” Proteas manager and doctor Mohammed Moosajee told the Cape Times on Thursday night.

“It is simply a precautionary measure with the Australian series being three Test matches back-to-back. We don’t think it would be wise to risk him in the RamSlam, especially with the other national players also taking the week off now. Graeme constantly needs lots of physio treatment, and if all goes well, he should be ready for the warm-up game in the build-up to the first Test.”

The Proteas Test unit have highlighted the importance of their preparation for the much-anticipated Australian series, with even a Test against Zimbabwe being mooted as a possible option.

Cricket South Africa chief executive Haroon Lorgat has been quoted as saying “our team are notoriously slow starters”, although the most likely scenario will see Russell Domingo’s World No 1 team face an SA Invitational XI.

Smith played in the Cape Cobras’ first three T20 Challenge matches, with a highest score of 47. But he will feel that he needs some more time out in the middle, especially with Australia’s menacing trio Mitchell Johnson, Ryan Harris and Peter Siddle lying in wait.

The skipper is not the only injury concern ahead of the first Test against the Aussies at Centurion on February 12. Vernon Philander pulled up with a “stiff back” on Wednesday after practising some big-hitting this week. Philander opted to miss the Cobras’ win over the Titans, with fellow national team bowler Rory Kleinveldt receiving a late call-up.

“Vernon’s had issues with his back before. That too is not a new injury, and similarly needs lots of physio treatment, rehab and rest,” Moosajee said.

AB de Villiers is also on the mend after requiring an operation to remove a plate in his hand. Moosajee is confident that the World’s No 1 Test and ODI batsman will be ready to do battle with the Aussies. “AB is coming along okay, it just needs time to heal,” he explained.

Cape Times