Vernon Philander. Picture: REUTERS/SIPHIWE SIBEKO
Vernon Philander. Picture: REUTERS/SIPHIWE SIBEKO

If SA are to rescue the Test series against Sri Lanka at St George’s Park starting on Thursday‚ they will have to do so without star seamer Vernon Philander.

Proteas coach Ottis Gibson on Tuesday confirmed Philander had been ruled out of the must-win second Test against the tourists with a hamstring injury.

“Vernon’s got a grade 1 hamstring strain‚” said Gibson. “This is the last Test match of the summer and he’s pretty much out for 10 to 12 days‚ which rules him out of this Test match.

“There is still a lot more cricket like the [domestic] Momentum One-Day Cup this season so I suppose that’s where he will have to play his cricket for the rest of the summer.”

Gibson did not confirm who will replace Philander but did say that allrounder Wiaan Mulder stood a chance of earning his first Test cap‚ calling him a “like-for-like” replacement.

“Mulder went and played a game for the Lions and he’s back now with us. We will look at the conditions and then we will try make the best decision for the team. Obviously‚ Mulder would be a like-for-like replacement for Vernon‚ so that it something that we will consider as well‚” said Gibson.

SA are 1-0 down in the two-match series after Kusal Perera scored an astonishing career-best 153 not out in the first Test in Durban to lead his team to a dramatic one-wicket victory at the weekend.

Gibson laughed off talk of seeking revenge in the second Test saying his team just needed to concentrate on playing better cricket in Port Elizabeth.

“There’s absolutely no focus on revenge. We are just focusing on playing a little bit better perhaps. When you look at what happened in Durban you have to give them a lot of credit.

“When I left home on the morning of the game‚ I didn’t see that happening to be honest. But credit must go to them and the way they played ... especially Perera ... he rode his luck early on but then he settled down and played really well.

“We threw everything at him and he withstood all of that. We bowled spin‚ we went around the wicket‚ over the wicket‚ we bounced him‚ we tried to york him.

“We did everything. And that’s the nature of sport‚ sometimes‚ somebody has a day and he then makes a personal best score to win a Test match.

“History is sort of littered with performances like that and obviously when it happens against your team it’s tough to take but I just think you got to give him credit for the way he played as well.”

The St George’s Park surface is expected to have a fair amount of grass come the toss on Thursday and the Proteas team management will need to decide whether or not to play spinner Keshav Maharaj or opt  for Zubayr Hamza or Theunis de Bruyn to bulk up the middle order.

The one factor in the Proteas’ favour is that they have not lost a Test at St George’s Park in the last six‚ winning five and drawing one.

“We have good memories of playing here. Last year [against Australia] was an outstanding Test match and we expect the same in the next match. The thing for us and sport in general‚ is there is always another opportunity to put things right and we are all very eager to get things started on Thursday‚” said Gibson.


Proteas squad:

Faf du Plessis (capt)

Hashim Amla (Cobras)

Temba Bavuma (Lions)

Theunis de Bruyn (Titans)

Quinton de Kock (Titans)

Dean Elgar (Titans)

Zubayr Hamza (Cobras)

Keshav Maharaj (Dolphins)

Aiden Markram (Titans)

Wiaan Mulder (Lions)

Duanne Olivier (Knights)

Kagiso Rabada (Lions)

Dale Steyn (Titans)