Smith to miss ODI series, McKenzie to stay back

South Africa will be without their injured captain Graeme Smith in the two T20 and five ODIs against Aus and Johan Botha would lead the side in his absence

updated: January 01, 2009 09:53 IST
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South Africa will be without their injured captain Graeme Smith in the two Twenty20 and five ODI matches against Australia and Johan Botha would lead the side in his absence, coach Micky Arthur said on Thursday.

Consequentially, Neil McKenzie would stay back with the ODI squad in Smith's place, he said.

"We have decided to send Graeme home after the Sydney Test to give him the best chance of getting ready for the home series (against Australia)," Arthur said.

"He will have the blood injection as soon as he gets back and we think that by following this course of action as soon as possible after Sydney, we will give him the best possibility opportunity of being fit for the home series," he added.

Smith will undergo a new medical process that has not been used in South Africa before, of having blood from his arm injected directly into the tear, Cricket South Africa said in a statement.

On how the team would look on paper minus its regular captain, Arthur said, "It does give us an opportunity with our ODI side. As I have always said, our one-day side is still a work in progress, it is still a young side, and we are giving an opportunity to some younger guys to stake a claim. We are looking to build our one-day side over the next two years which obviously culminates in the next World Cup on the sub-continent in 2011.

"So it will be a slightly younger one-day side. Johan Botha will take over as captain and we will keep another wise head in the dressing room in the form of Neil McKenzie. He will stay as cover in the batting department and we think that is the best route to go."

"It is unfortunate to lose your captain but we need to give him the best opportunity to be ready for the Test series in South Africa," Arthur said.

The coach also revealed how much pain Smith had to endure to get through the Test series.

"It is amazing what he has endured. He is four or five cortizone injections down the line. We thought the cortizone was going to work but that is not going to be the case. He has basically been getting by on cortizone since Edgbaston.

"He goes through a huge amount of discomfort and it seems to get a lot worse when he reaches 40 or 50. It almost gets to a point when he can't grip the bat with his top hand any more.

He is desperate to play at Sydney and make it a great match for the team and for South Africa. He has a very high pain threshold," Arthur said.

Meanwhile, vice-captain Ashwell Prince is not a certainty for the final Test against Australia at the SCG. The left-hander had a hit in the nets on Wednesday but a final decision on his fitness is likely to be taken only tomorrow.