Faf du Plessis critical of Vernon Philander’s overall fitness and absence


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Faf du Plessis delivered a withering assessment of Vernon Philander’s overall fitness following South Africa’s series defeat in England and told the wider public it is time to move on from the prospect of AB de Villiers ever returning to Test cricket.

Speaking after the 3-1 loss, the Proteas captain was simply asked about the frustration of the back spasms suffered by Philander that ruled him out a final Test that could have levelled the series and opted to make a point about his conditioning.

“Vern needs to work on his fitness. It’s happened too often he doesn’t play a full series and I have spoken to him about that and he’s accepted the challenge that he needs to improve,” said Du Plessis, who was denied a senior bowler he described as the world’s best in seaming conditions, having dominated England’s top order with 10 wickets in the first three Tests.

In the last of those, a 239-run defeat at The Oval, Philander struggled throughout after suffering from a stomach virus that had him spend one night in hospital on a drip. Nevetheless Du Plessis expected the 32-year-old to be ready for Old Trafford once clear of this illness only for a niggle the captain considered minor to crop up.

Graeme Smith, South Africa’s former captain, was first to query this early in the 177-run defeat that followed and, when asked if it was justified, Du Plessis replied: “It’s fair that you need to play a lot of cricket for your country and be available for selection. I think Vern will agree with that.

“Too many times the team has gasped ‘Vern could be injured again’. So he understands from a fitness point of view with important series coming up, Australia and India at home, he needs to be fit to get through all eight Tests.”

In Morne Morkel and Keshav Maharaj South Africa had two bowlers who stepped up across the duration of the tour’s Test leg, claiming 19 and 17 wickets respectively (the former was named their player of the series by England). But a glass-jawed top six that returned only one century from Dean Elgar and a single batsman averaging over 40 in Hashim Amla, was culpable.

The continuing absence of De Villiers was felt. Unquestionably one of the greatest batsmen South Africa has produced, the 33-year-old remains the limited overs captain and a Twenty20 freelancer but is currently taking an indefinite sabbatical from playing the Test arena that has now run 18 months and appears only a statement away from official retirement.

Talks between De Villiers and Cricket South Africa about his future are due to come soon, offering a glimmer of hope that he may be coaxed into the challenge of two upcoming marquee home summer series against India and Australia. But Du Plessis, among his closest friends from schoolboy to professional cricket, is doubtful.

He added: “We all know how good AB is and we missed him but we’ve spent too much time talking about, ‘When is AB going to come back?’

“The hope of him coming back is something I think we need to move past … and we need to find someone else who can fulfil those roles. Obviously you don’t just replace those players. If AB comes back, it’s a huge bonus. But I don’t expect it.”

Laura Muir refuses to enter Caster Semenya debate after heartbreak

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Laura Muir was close to tears after missing out on a world championship 1500m medal by seven hundredths of a second to South Africa’s Caster Semenya.

Muir had led for much of the race but ran out of gas down the home straight and was beaten to bronze by Semenya, the Olympic 800m champion. South Africa’s Semenya later attempted to shut down debate over hyperandrogenism, the medical condition she has which is characterised by excessive levels of male sex hormones such as testosterone.

Athletics’ world governing body, the IAAF, is putting together a case to convince the court of arbitration for sport that Semenya’s condition gives her an unfair advantage over her rivals. Semenya could be forced to undergo hormone replacement therapy or face being unable to compete in the future.

“I really don’t have time for nonsense,” she said. “I do not think about something that might happen in eight months. I don’t focus on the IAAF. It’s not my business. My business is to train hard and see what I come up with in competition.”

Muir refused to be drawn into the complex debate round Semenya’s participation in these championships. “I’ve not got anything to say about that,” she said.

The race was won by Kenya’s Faith Kipyegon in 4min 02.59sec while experience proved valuable for the 30-year-old American Jenny Simpson who ran an exquisitely judged race to take silver.

London 2017 organisers have ordered a floor in one of the hotels used by competitors to be quarantined after an outbreak of gastroenteritis.

Botswana’s Isaac Makwala, a medal prospect in the 400m, was given medical dispensation to withdraw from the 200m heats after throwing up in the call room.

A number of other athletes staying at the same hotel also have gastroenteritis, including the Ireland 400m hurdler Thomas Barr. “I’m gutted to have to withdraw from the semi-final. My whole year has been focused on the world championships. To not be able to go out and compete for Ireland is beyond disappointing.”

An organisers’ statement read: “Those affected have been supported by both team and local organising committee medical staff. In addition we have been working with Public Health England to ensure the situation is managed and contained.

“As a result, further advice and guidelines have been issued to team doctors and support staff – standard procedure for such an occurrence where a number of teams are occupying championship accommodation.”

Michael Clarke flies young Nepalese spinner to Australia to train at his academy

The young leg-spinner from Nepal Sandeep Lamichhane is currently staying with a local family as he prepares to play for Michael Clarke’s club.

Sandeep Lamichhane,16, from Nepal impressed Michael Clarke recently during his coaching spell in Hong Kong. The former Australian captain was impressed with the leg-spinner’s outstanding potential and that promted him to allow Lamichhane to train at his academy at Sydney and play for his club.

Sandeep Lamichhane

“It is a really exciting opportunity to have such a talented Nepalese cricketer travel this distance to come and test his skills and improve his game at my academy. Sandeep is a fantastic young man who enjoys his cricket and is extremely passionate about the game,” said Clarke, who sponsored the boy to get him to Australia.

Lamichhane who has already represented Nepal under-19s is staying in Sydney with a local family as he prepares for the upcoming season where he is going to play for Pup’s club Western Sydney.

“Thank you very much @MClarke23 for your kind words and for inviting me to Australia. Looking forward to give my best,” Lamichhane tweeted on Tuesday.

Manchester City eyeing nothing less than a win in Manchester derby: David Silva

Table-topper Manchester City sit marginally above Manchester United on goal difference after both sides won their first three league games but the Citizen swill miss Sergio Aguero for the crucial clash on Saturday.

Nothing less than victory will do for Manchester City in Saturday’s feisty Premier League derby against Manchester United, playmaker David Silva has said.

David Silva

Silva, who scored both goals in Spain’s friendly win over Belgium last week and two more against Liechtenstein in their World Cup qualifier on Monday, has featured in all of City’s league games this season under manager Pep Guardiola.

Table-topper City sit marginally above United on goal difference after both sides won their first three league games.

“It’s going to be a very beautiful game. The two teams arrive to this game having taken good results and after making wholesale changes in every sense,” the 30-year-old told Spanish radio station Cope.

“We’ve started the season very well and it should be a great game. But we won’t be playing for a draw. We will go out to win the match.”

City have won three times and drew one in their last five top flight meetings with United at Old Trafford.

“It’s a ground where in the last few years things have gone okay for us. We know they are a very difficult rival – but we won’t settle for a draw,” Silva added.