CRICKET: South Africa's ODI and Test captain AB de Villiers is in doubt for the five-match one-day series against Australia and perhaps the tour down under because of an elbow injury.
De Villiers has pulled out of the one-off match against Ireland Sunday to recover from the injury that kept him out of the New Zealand Tests.
The 32-year-old faces a fitness test next week.
If he fails he will miss the ODI series against Australia and will have to have surgery that will sideline him for up to eight weeks and force him to miss South Africa's Test tour of Australia.
Losing de Villiers for both the ODI and Test series would be a huge blow for the Proteas, with the right- hander ranked the top batsman in one-day cricket and equal sixth in the Tests.
South Africa's team manager, Mohammad Moosajee, blamed the injury on overuse, conceding the cluttered cricket calendar might have caused the problem.
"We refer to it as overload, whether that's doing too much and playing different shots, or related to overuse,” he said.
"When he plays certain cricket shots, he gets excruciating pain in the left elbow.
"If he does not come through the fitness test, a date for surgery will be set.
"If he has surgery, he will be out of the Test series.”
Australian coach Darren Lehmann said his team had more than de Villiers to worry about, denying that the Proteas relied too heavily on their captain.
"I think de Kock, Amla, Duminy, Miller, Steyn, Abbott, du Plessis ... all those would argue with you a little bit,” Lehmann said before he received news of the injury.
"We know we have to curtail AB at some stage.
He's a class player so he's going to get some runs, it's just the amount of runs. Hopefully it's not too many to be perfectly honest.”
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