Cricket: Smith included despite fitness worries

Graeme Smith for South Africa Test

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Graeme Smith has been included in South Africa’s Test and one-day squads to face Pakistan, despite growing concerns over his fitness.

South Africa face Pakistan next month, but Smith is still recovering from ankle surgery after he had to cut short his season in the County Championship with Surrey.

The left-handed opener had pins inserted to repair a stress-fracture after picking up the injury in only his fourth appearance for Surrey. Despite the injury and rush to regain his fitness, South Africa’s chief selector Andrew Hudson hopes he can make next month’s tour to the United Arab Emirates.

He said: “We should have a definite picture on the status of Graeme’s recovery from surgery within the next two weeks. We will obviously be monitoring his condition very carefully and do not want to overload him too much during the early stages of his return.”

Also returning to the squad is Dale Steyn after he missed the tour of Sri Lanka due to injury. Jacques Kallis is back in the one-day squad for the first time since 2012, and there are also recalls for Imran Tahir, Wayne Parnell and Vernon Philander.

Speaking about their inclusions, Hudson said: “Both Imran and Wayne had good tours to Sri Lanka in the T20 series while we want to give Vernon the chance to show us what he can do. He and Wayne are both good lower-order all-rounders and have the ability to contribute significantly in the batting department as well.

“We have retained the 15-man Test squad that has served us so well over the past couple of years.

“They have impressed not just with the results but with the depth in the squad and a notable feature has been the manner in which players have put up their hands when we have had the inevitable injuries.”

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