Biff on track for UAE tour

Graeme Smith (Gallo)
Graeme Smith (Gallo)
Cape Town – A critical decision on whether Proteas captain Graeme Smith will be able to tour the United Arab Emirates in October for a two-Test series against Pakistan will probably be made in the middle of next month.

This was revealed on Wednesday to Sport24 by Dr Mohammed Moosajee, the national team’s manager.

“As things stand, Graeme is very much in contention,” Dr Moosajee said. “His rehabilitation is on track and he is running and doing fitness drills diligently.

“He has been thoroughly assessed all the way along the road since (his ankle surgery) and all involved in the process are on the same page.”

The big left-handed batsman, 32, had the operation to the talus bone of his traditionally troublesome left ankle in mid-May, after cutting short his intended first season as Surrey skipper in England.

Generally the healing period is considered to be between four and six months and by the time the Proteas start the first Test at Abu Dhabi on October 14, Smith will have had around five months since going under the knife.

Assuming he does get the all-clear in fitness terms, Smith’s next challenge will be to ensure he is suitably match-sharp ... a tricky task as he has not played a competitive match since May 6, when he scored 74 in Surrey’s victory over Hampshire at The Oval in the county 40-overs competition.

Dr Moosajee confirmed that the Proteas would play a three-day warm-up game in the UAE ahead of the series, possibly the player’s only chance to get into suitable nick.

Being Cape Town-based, opportunities for “Biff” to get bat on ball outdoors have been impossible given the late winter conditions (particularly inclement ones recently, at that).

But Dr Moosajee said he was experienced enough to “know how to prepare” despite long-time absence from the crease.

Smith (@GraemeSmith49) tweeted on August 19: “Been 4 months since I last ran, felt good to do it again today. Another step closer to playing again.”

And two days later he added: “Just been on the anti-gravity treadmill ... pretty insane machine.”

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

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