South Africa have suffered an injury blow ahead of the 2023 World Cup as fast bowlers Anrich Nortje and Sisanda Magala have been ruled out of the tournament.
The fast-bowling duo underwent fitness tests after the five-game ODI series against Australia but were deemed unfit to participate in the quadrennial tournament. While Nortje is nursing a back injury, Magala has a knee injury, which was aggravated after the series against Australia.
Lizaad Williams and Andile Phelukwayo have been named as replacements.
South Africa's bowling coach Eric Simons believes Nortje's absence especially will hurt them due to his raw pace and intimidation factor. He also pointed to the calmness he adds to their bowling attack, especially on tough tracks in India.
Simons elaborated (via News24):
"Losing someone like Anas is a blow. His experience, his natural ability to bowl at the pace that he does, the intimidation factor that he brings to the opposition, the calmness that he brings and the leadership that he carries within the bowling unit is a huge loss. He is a key member of our attack and it comes as a blow, but also for him personally because there's a lot of frustrations about missing the World Cup, having put in as much effort as he has over the last while to get fit and to be ready."
The 29-year-old also missed the 2019 World Cup in England due to a fractured thumb and was replaced by all-rounder Chris Morris.
"I feel a lot for him" - Eric Simons on Anrich Nortje
Eric Simons expressed disappointment at the speedster missing yet another World Cup during the prime of his career. He said:
"The other thing about him is he's in the opposition's head and the more the opposition talk about our attack and members of our attack and planning how to deal with that ... he bowls at the pace that he does and has the ability to take the pace off with a similar arm action, which is a huge asset to us.
"I feel a lot for him because there are only so many World Cups you can play and to miss one is never great, particularly when you're in the prime of your career."