All bad news for South Africans

WHETHER it was bad luck or bad management, South Africa had a very bad day. By the end of it, Jaques Kallis had a strained hamstring and coach Gary Kirsten was forced to defend the decision to take a holiday between matches.
Nanjing Night Net

Kallis was last night cleared to bat in this Test with a grade one hamstring strain, but he will not be allowed a runner under ICC rules, and his influence with the ball has already been badly missed.

The bad news started at breakfast time, when Kirsten was informed that paceman Vernon Philander had woken up with back spasms and could not bend.

The coach phoned Rory Kleinveldt, the only spare fast bowler in the squad.

Disaster struck in the first session when Kallis, the champion all-rounder and South Africa’s most pivotal player, pulled up lame during his fourth over, collected his hat and sunglasses and walked off.

He joined Philander at hospital for scans on his hamstring. ”We’re waiting for those results and we hope he’ll be ready for the next Test,” Kirsten said.

The 37-year-old had taken the wickets of Ed Cowan and Ricky Ponting, and things unravelled for the South Africans almost from the moment he left the field.

Captain Graeme Smith, short of bowling options, had no choice but to persist with inconsistent leg spinner Imran Tahir, whose 21 overs went for 159. Tahir’s confidence looked shot when David Warner and Michael Clarke feasted on his bowling after lunch.

Kleinveldt is still searching for his first Test wicket, while Faf du Plessis’ first ball, a full toss from the part-time leggie, was heaved into the construction zone by Warner.

Kirsten described the day as one of the toughest of his tenure, but defended the preparation. Players dispersed to the Great Barrier Reef and the Sunshine Coast instead of the nets, while Kirsten himself flew home to South Africa to spend time with his young family.

”It’s not an exact science,” Kirsten said. ”You can always find a way to criticise, but we’ve had a long year and the second and third Test matches coming up are back to back.

”We had two really big days of training coming into this Test match and two top-up days, and Vernon Philander actually commented it was the most he’d bowled in preparation for a Test, so maybe he bowled too much and that’s why he got the injury.”

Kallis, given his age and workload, sat out South Africa’s final, optional training session. ”Jacques Kallis has earned the right to prepare the way he needs to prepare,” Kirsten said.

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