Injured Philander being managed with World Cup in mind

Vernon Philander (Gallo)
Vernon Philander (Gallo)

Cape Town - He has only played in 30 ODIs since making his debut back in 2007, but the Proteas still seem to be entertaining the thought of using Vernon Philander for the 2019 World Cup in England. 

The problem is that he is battling an ankle injury and he is not expected to bowl until early November. 

That means that he has been ruled out the upcoming limited overs series against Zimbabwe as well as a three ODI, one T20I trip to Australia at the end of next month. 

If all goes well, Philander will play international cricket again at the end of the year when Pakistan arrive for three Tests, five ODIs and three T20Is. 

A member of the Proteas medical team confirmed to Sport24 on Monday that Philander's ankle injury has been bothering him for a year and that it flamed up again in Sri Lanka, forcing him out of the second Test in Colombo. 

The injury is so serious that it could require surgery, but the medical staff are opting instead for a "conservative treatment" given that the recovery time after surgery would all but certainly rule Philander out of the World Cup. 

It suggests that he is part of the plans, and selection convenor Linda Zondi confirmed as much on Monday.

If Philander had been fit, he would have been included in the squad for the upcoming Zimbabwe series. 

Naturally one of the most accurate and devastating seamers in Test cricket, the thinking is that Philander could give the Proteas attack a significant boost in English conditions that have historically aided the seamers. 

He will, of course, need to show that he can fit into this Proteas ODI set-up before then and he is running out of time. 

Kagiso Rabada and Lungi Ngidi look all but certain to be backed by captain Faf du Plessis, while Dale Steyn makes his return to the ODI side for the three Zimbabwe fixtures. 

"When he was in Sri Lanka it was just important for us to see Dale getting through the matches and staying fit," Zondi explained.

"Now, against Zimbabwe, we want to see his performance and how his experience can fit into this ODI side."

Zondi added that if Steyn got through the Zimbabwe series as well as the tour to Australia unscathed and in good form, he would be in the World Cup mix. 

Next year's showpiece begins at the end of May. 

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