South Africa have called up all-rounder Chris Morris for their Cricket World Cup squad after a hand injury ruled fast bowler Anrich Nortje out of the tournament, in the latest setback for the injury-plagued side.
Nortje fractured his right thumb while practising in the nets and will need six to eight weeks to make a full recovery, a media statement from Cricket South Africa confirmed on Tuesday.
“Anrich sustained a fracture to his right thumb during a net session in Port Elizabeth on Monday. He immediately consulted a hand surgeon and underwent surgery to stabilise the joint and will, unfortunately, be sidelined for up to eight weeks,” team manager Mohammed Moosajee said.
“It is an unfortunate and freakish injury, especially because he had made a successful recovery from the shoulder injury he sustained during the series against Sri Lanka.”
Morris has not played One-Day International cricket for South Africa since February 2018, but is a regular in the Twenty20 set-up and is well-regarded for his swing and ‘death bowling’ in the final few overs when batsmen aim for big hits.
He can also be a powerful lower-order batsman, able to easily clear the boundary ropes.
His record in 50-over cricket is modest though, with 35 wickets in 34 matches at an average of over 40, while he averages less than 20 with the bat.
“Chris has always been in our plans and is our next best option with the ball,” South Africa selection convener Linda Zondi said.
“He has the pace and death-bowling skills which will be vital in the UK, and also gives us that depth as a deadly finisher with the bat.
“We have had concerns around his injuries and workload capabilities, but this is an opportunity for him to make a mark on the biggest stage.”
South Africa’s build-up to the World Cup has been marred by injuries to key players – especially in their fast bowling attack.
Lungi Ngidi dropped out of the Indian Premier League before it began with a side strain, while Kagiso Rabada (back) and Dale Steyn (shoulder) were both withdrawn from that competition due to injury concerns.
The trio are likely to all start if they can prove their fitness, and it would be a massive blow for the team’s chances if they fail to do so.
South Africa open their World Cup campaign against hosts England at The Oval on May 30.
(Reporting by Nick Said; Editing by Hugh Lawson)