Bavuma fears the worst for Maharaj’s World Cup hopes as spinner’s surgery looms | Sport


Proteas spinner Keshav Maharaj when he injured his Achilles tendon.

Proteas spinner Keshav Maharaj when he injured his Achilles tendon.

At Buffalo Park, East London

  • Proteas Test and ODI skipper Temba Bavuma said Keshav Maharaj’s freak injury against the West Indies on Saturday was too much for him to look at.
  • Bavuma was in close proximity to Maharaj on the field when the unfortunate injury took place on the stroke of lunch at the Wanderers last week.
  • Maharaj will undergo surgery on his ruptured Achilles tendon on Friday, which will give an indication of how long his recovery will be.

Proteas Test and ODI skipper Temba Bavuma said Keshav Maharaj’s freak injury was too much for him to look at after he realised the severity of the spinner’s Achilles tendon rupture last week.

Maharaj ruptured the body’s strongest tendon when he began to celebrate the leg-before wicket of Kyle Mayers which had been upheld after review on the stroke of lunch on the fourth day of the second Test against the West Indies at the Wanderers.

Maharaj, who was initially pigeonholed as a Test-match tweaker, advanced his bowling game to a point where he was consistently challenging Tabraiz Shamsi for the main 50-over spin-bowling slot.

The left-arm spinner’s injury absence, which will see him miss out on a county stint with English county club Middlesex, saw Shamsi return to the ODI squad for the West Indies series that starts on Thursday.

Surgery on Friday will reveal the extent of Maharaj’s absence.

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Bavuma recounted the emotions the team experienced when celebrating their 284-run win on Saturday, while also knowing that their crack spinner will be out of long-term service.

“That was quite tough and, in seeing Keshav sitting in his spot with the moon boot and crutches, we were trying to celebrate the moment of winning the match and the series, but also knowing that one of our main players will be out for quite a while,” Bavuma said.

“It was tough for us emotionally, but Kesh is a strong character and will bounce back better than what the surgery diagnosis will be.

“When it happened on the field, I was probably the closest person to Keshav and I honestly don’t know what happened.

“I saw him try to celebrate and he fell, but I didn’t think too much of it to be honest, but when one of the players tried to hold his foot, it was the way that it was.

“I stepped away because I don’t like to be close to those kinds of things, but it’s a bit of a tough one with Kesh, to be fair.”

Bjorn Fortuin was presented to the media at Buffalo Park on Tuesday – a sign of match-day ability – and while the Lions spinner admitted he’s not in Maharaj’s class, he still offers a like-for-like replacement who can bat.

Tristan Stubbs, who hasn’t made his ODI debut, wheeled away his off-spinners on the practice square while Shamsi also got the ball to turn.

That didn’t serve to allay Bavuma’s fears of Maharaj’s missing out on the World Cup, should the Proteas qualify.

The World Cup will be held in October and November in India, which significantly increases Maharaj’s importance to the national team.

In the 2011 World Cup in India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, Robin Peterson, Johan Botha and Imran Tahir were subcontinental trump cards successfully used by then-captain Graeme Smith.

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Bavuma seemed resigned to losing Maharaj for the longer term before Friday’s pending surgery and the expected diagnosis on a recovery period.

“We’re not sure when he will be back, but I think he also understands that life goes on and the decision-makers within the team will know whom they’ll need to consider,” Bavuma said.

“Kesh would have been a big player for us going into the 50-over World Cup, but that opens up an opportunity for someone else.

“What’s happened to Kesh is quite sad though.”

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