Smith keeps a finger in the pie

Skipper braced for emergency

Graeme Smith made a mercy dash to Melbourne yesterday, but he was back with the Proteas early this morning, ready to bat in an emergency.

The Proteas captain yesterday consulted two Australian sports medicine specialists, Frank Burke and Greg Hoy, on his painful tennis elbow injury that he has been suffering from for the past 10 months. He also has a broken pinky finger on his left hand, which will make batting painful. In spite of these injuries, the skipper is ready to go out to bat if his country needs him in this third and final Test against Australia, where South Africa are battling to avoid defeat having wrapped up the three-match series with victories in the Perth and Melbourne Tests. South Africa ’s position in the Test is precarious. They were 118 adrift on the first innings and before the close of play yesterday, Australia were able to extend that lead to 151 without losing a wicket. On a Sydney pitch that has three lines of cracks running parallel with the wicket, it will be difficult to chase any total of more than 200. It was off one of these cracks that a ball from Australian left-armer Mitchell Johnson bounced awkwardly on Sunday and struck Smith on the left hand, breaking the little finger. Yesterday Burke undertook the gory procedure of injecting Smith’s blood into his painful right elbow. This procedure is designed to stimulate the circulation of blood in the elbow and thereby help speed up the healing process. Smith has already admitted that there is an element of risk in the process, but he and team management consider it preferable to surgery, which could keep him out of action for far longer than the expected six weeks. The captain hopes to recover in time to lead the team when Australia arrive in South Africa in the middle of February. The first Test is at the Wanderers on February 26. Smith was meant to return to South Africa on Thursday and have the procedure on his elbow in Pretoria soon afterwards, but as a result of being hit on the knuckle of his left pinky it was decided that he should fly to Melbourne where he will also seek advice on the best course of action for his knuckle. Neil McKenzie is captaining the team in his absence. Paul Harris made it clear at Sunday night’s press conference that if Smith needed to bat in the South African second innings, he would do so. “If we need 10 to win I think he’ll go out there,” said Harris. Mark Boucher supported such a move by the skipper. Boucher, who made a top score of 89 in South Africa’s first innings and featured in a stand of 115 with Morne Morkel for the sixth wicket to pass the follow-on target of 246, said: “He [Smith] almost certainly won’t play any part in the game, unless we need two or three runs to win. “If that’s the case, I will be the first one pushing him out the dressing room door.”

Luke Alfred in Sydney

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One Response to “Smith keeps a finger in the pie”

  1. Hope that he recovers in his injury. He is a good player and it saddens me if he retires early in his career due to his injury.

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