New South Africa coach Ottis Gibson faces a fast bowling crisis ahead of the two-test home series against Bangladesh that starts on Sept. 28, as he plots a path to return the side to number one in the International Cricket Council’s five-day rankings.
West Indian Gibson left his post as England bowling coach to take up the top position with South Africa, but already faces a challenging start with several top performers sidelined by injury.
Dale Steyn’s return has been delayed again, this time indefinitely, after he suffered a set-back in his recovery with a strained muscle in his problematic shoulder.
Vernon Philander has also been ruled out of the first test, at least, with a back problem sustained in the recent 3-1 test series loss in England, while all-rounder Chris Morris will miss both games also because of a back injury.
Promising youngster Lungi Ngidi, who burst onto the scene in Twenty20 cricket earlier this year, is also out until mid-October with a stress fracture in his back.
It means Kagiso Rabada and Morne Morkel are the only two fit seamers with significant test experience, leaving Duane Olivier, Wayne Parnell and Andile Phehlukwayo to likely fight over the other two positions in the side.
Injuries aside, Gibson feels he has the players to return South Africa to the top of the test rankings.
Gibson says he is well aware of Cricket South Africa’s transformation targets that means the national side, across all formats, must select on average through the season six non-white players per game, two of whom must be black African.