South Africa skipper Graeme Smith will not play in the one-day series against Australia because of a prolonged elbow injury, coach Mickey Arthur said.
As a result, spinner Johan Botha will captain the one-day side and out-of-form Test opener Neil McKenzie will remain with the one-day side as a standby batsman.
Arthur said Smith has batted in enormous pain in the first two Tests of the three-match series against Australia, getting through on cortisone injections and scoring 48, 108, 62 and 75 to take his side to an unassailable 2-0 series lead.
Arthur rated Smith only a “90 per cent” chance to play in Saturday's third Test against Australia here.
“I know there has been a lot of speculation as to the state of Graeme's elbow,” Arthur was quoted as saying in the Australian media. “We are sending him home after Sydney.”
Smith's early departure from the Australian tour gives the left-hander the chance to have blood taken from his arm and injected into his elbow to allow growth hormones to help heal the injury.
Arthur said the operation hadn't been performed in South Africa before and may need to be first done in Australia, with a second injection back home in South Africa.
“We want him to get right for the home series and we think by sending him home straight away and getting these injections, it will give him the best opportunity of being ready for the Test series in South Africa (against Australia starting Feb 26 in Johannesburg).”
Australia's five-match one-day series against South Africa begins in Melbourne Jan 16, preceded by two Twenty20 games Jan 11 and 13 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) and the Gabba.