No guarantee of Rabada return as Proteas ponder 'smart cricket decision'

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Kagiso Rabada (AFP)
Kagiso Rabada (AFP)
  • The Proteas won't unduly risk Kagiso Rabada just for the sake of gunning for a Test series whitewash against Sri Lanka.
  • Mark Boucher noted that the premier quick's conditioning remains a top priority and that risking another injury would be an injustice to him and the side.
  • Boucher added he'll be chatting to his Sri Lankan counterpart, Mickey Arthur, to gain some insight as to how to mitigate injury crises.

The Proteas might be angling for a Test series whitewash against a vulnerable Sri Lanka, but that quest won't necessarily translate into Kagiso Rabada's return for the second and final Test at the Wanderers, starting on Sunday.

South Africa's premier quick wasn't initially included in the squad for the series due to his continued recovery from a right abductor muscle strain before Cricket South Africa (CSA) announced during the third day's play in the first Test at SuperSport Park that the 25-year-old was joining the team's bio-secure environment in Irene.

Despite coping easily with numerous fitness drills given to him during breaks in the Test, the real issue regarding his conditioning relates to his bowling workload.

READ | NZ beat Pakistan and go top of the ICC Test rankings

"We don't know if KG's just back yet," said Mark Boucher, the Proteas' head coach.

"He's been out of the game for quite some time. Yes, because his name is Kagiso Rabada, you'd really want him to play, but you've got to manage his load.

"Over the course of the next three days, we'll see where he's at coming back from injury. It's about monitoring him. If he can play, then great, otherwise we'll play him in the first Test against Pakistan next month.

"If KG's in your side, it's a real bonus, but you want to manage him."

The plight of the Sri Lankans during the Centurion Test will also be a cautionary tale after no less than three of their frontline bowlers pulled up with muscle injuries, severely impacting the visitors' competitiveness.

Given that there's only one more five-day encounter on South Africa's programme before the adventure to Pakistan, Boucher said he'd have no qualms having a chat with his Sri Lankan counterpart, Mickey Arthur, is gaining some insight as to how to manage bowling resources.

"We'll chat over a Coke later and perhaps get some learnings from him so that we don't get ourselves into that unfortunate pickle as well," he said.

"It's just about treating these (Covid-19) with extra caution. Sometimes you just want to play a guy for the sake of playing him, simply because he's your top bowler.

"But you need to consider the workloads he's had, from the physical and mental side. All that comes into play. You've got to take the emotion out of it and make a smart cricketing decision.

"KG needs to get his workloads up so that he doesn't go into a Test match where there's a high risk of him getting injured again. Then we'd be doing not only him, but us as a team a huge injustice."

The second Test at the Wanderers starts on Sunday, with the first ball being bowled at 10:00.

Proteas squad:

Quinton de Kock (captain, Titans), Temba Bavuma (Lions), Aiden Markram (Titans), Faf du Plessis (Titans), Dean Elgar (Titans), Keshav Maharaj (Dolphins), Lungi Ngidi (Titans), Rassie van der Dussen (Lions), Anrich Nortje (Warriors), Glenton Stuurman (Warriors), Sarel Erwee (Dolphins), Wiaan Mulder (Lions), Kyle Verreynne (Cape Cobras), Migael Pretorius (Knights), Dwaine Pretorius (Lions), Lutho Sipamla (Lions), Raynard van Tonder (Knights). 

Sri Lanka squad:

Dimuth Karunaratne (captain), Kusal Perera, Dinesh Chandimal, Kusal Mendis, Angelo Mathews (only the England series), Oshada Fernando, Dhananjaya de Silva, Niroshan Dickwella, Minod Bhanuka, Lahiru Thirimanne, Lasith Embuldeniya, Wanindu Hasaranga, Dilruwan Perera, Suranga Lakmal, Lahiru Kumara, Vishwa Fernando, Kasun Rajitha, Dushmantha Chameera, Dasun Shanaka, Santhush Gunathilake, Asitha Fernando, Dilshan Madushanka

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