South Africa at sixes and sevens as Kallis struggles for fitness

Selectors divided over what to do if key all-rounder fails to make this week's first Test

With only two days left until the start of the Test series, South Africa appear to be in disarray. The balance, not to mention the health, of their team has been seriously affected by the injury to their star all-rounder Jacques Kallis.

It looks increasingly improbable that Kallis will have recovered sufficiently from a broken rib in time to take the field for the opening match at Centurion on Wednesday, but that is only half the trouble for the home side.

Their selectors are at odds about whether he should be replaced by an extra batsman or another, lesser, all-rounder. It is a conundrum with which England have become unhappily familiar down the years as they have attempted to come to terms with missing Andrew Flintoff.

Even now, the tourists are uncertain how they should approach this series – pack the side with batting or go into attack mode and select five bowlers – but that pales by comparison with South Africa's worries.

Kallis (below) initially injured his rib during the Twenty20 Champions League in India in October and then aggravated it while playing in the Champions Trophy. He has resorted to an oxygen chamber in an attempt to be fit in time for the first Test but fears are now growing that Kallis could miss the entire series and he has played a peripheral role in South Africa's training camp in Potchefstroom.

Rumours are abounding that one part of South Africa's selection panel would be willing to play Kallis solely as a batsman – reasonable considering he has scored more than 10,000 Test runs – but that others are unwilling to countenance such a proposition because of the complications it might cause down the order.

If Kallis fails to make it, South Africa have the option of playing their wicketkeeper Mark Boucher at number six and giving a first cap to Ryan McLaren, who is utterly unproven. Or they could also ask Alviro Petersen to make his debut as an opening batsman and push the redoubtable Ashwell Prince, who has been earmarked to open, down the order.

England can pretend as much as they like not to be concerned about the opposition's worries, but it is certain to lend perspective to their own selection doubts. It may also remind some of them of the series here five years ago when South Africa were similarly beset by the worst of all difficulties in team sports: not knowing what their best side was.

Then it was as much about quotas of black and coloured players as specific personnel but the effect was still dramatic. They came to the line thinking about who was in the team rather than what they should be doing in the match. It opened the way for a notable England victory in Port Elizabeth.

Perhaps it is understandable that South Africa are keen to concentrate on England's potential problems. Their captain Graeme Smith said yesterday that Kevin Pietersen could expect the sort of hot reception which became a minor tradition during the one-day series here almost five years ago. "He's made a lot of remarks about the country that I don't think he's ever apologised for," he said. "It's hard for people just to wash away those things and I think that's why people still give him a hard time. It creates a little bit of tension towards him."

It would be foolhardy to underestimate South Africa's team management of coach Mickey Arthur and Smith, who have taken them to the pinnacle of Test cricket in the last two years. But no Kallis is no picnic.

News
i100 In this video, the late actor Leonard Nimoy explains how he decided to use the gesture for his character
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
News
Robert De Niro has walked off the set of Edge of Darkness
news The Godfather Part II actor has an estimated wealth of over $200m
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade
radio The popular DJ is leaving for 'family and new adventures'
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower