South Africa vs Australia 2018: AB de Villiers and Quinton de Kock set for series opener
However, skipper Faf du Plessis is a doubtful starter for the first Test at Durban.
What's the story?
Ahead of their upcoming home Test series against Australia, South Africa have received a major boost as the recently injured duo of AB de Villiers and Quinton de Kock are set to play in the first Test at Durban.
However, Proteas team manager Mohammed Moosajee has confirmed that skipper Faf du Plessis could be a doubtful starter as he continues his recovery from the finger injury. Middle-order batsman Temba Bavuma is likely to be unavailable for selection for at least the first Test.
"We've obviously had a lot of senior guys out injured and it's had an effect. But we are sure AB and Quinton will be ready for the first Test and we are hopeful Faf will be. When he (du Plessis) was diagnosed, we knew he would require four to six weeks recovery time, which takes us, at the earliest, to the first week in March. So we have to take it on a week-by-week basis and see how he is progressing. The same with Temba, though he might be out for a week more than Faf", Moosajee told ESPNCricinfo.
Currently embroiled in the limited-overs leg of the India series, South Africa have been hit hard by a slew of injuries. While de Kock injured his left wrist during the second ODI at SuperSport Park, de Plessis fractured a finger on his right hand during the first ODI at Durban.
The heart of the matter
South Africa's injury woes began during the third Test against India in Johannesburg. AB de Villiers injured his right index finger and was ruled out of the first three games of the six-match ODI series. After scoring a battling century, du Plessis broke his finger whilst attempting to catch counterpart Virat Kohli at the slip cordon in the opening ODI.
Quinton de Kock suffered his wrist injury during the second ODI in Centurion and has not played any further part in the limited-overs matches since then. Meanwhile, de Villiers returned to action for the fourth ODI in Johannesburg. Ahead of the fifth ODI, he took a blow to his left knee. Even though the veteran right-hander played in the last two matches, the injury meant that he was sidelined from the T20I series.
Bavuma, whose last appearance for South Africa came in the one-off Test against Zimbabwe, fractured a finger on his right hand during a List-A match for Cape Cobras. It is also understood that legendary pacer Dale Steyn will not be available for selection until at least the third Test against Australia at Cape Town. The experienced fast bowler had suffered a left heel injury during the first Test against India at the same venue.
South Africa have two matches left in the T20I series against the visiting Indian team. They will take place on Wednesday and Saturday. After a four-day break, the Proteas will begin a four-match Test series against Australia. The first Test is scheduled to be held in Durban from March 1 onwards.
While the return of de Villiers and de Kock will be welcome news in the South African camp, the team management may be in tenterhooks regarding the availability of captain du Plessis for the Durban Test. With Australia bringing a strong lineup to their shores, the Proteas cannot afford to begin the series without their regular skipper.