AB de Villiers will captain the Proteas in their day-night Test against Zimbabwe, starting on Tuesday in Port Elizabeth, after Faf du Plessis was ruled out because of a viral infection.
It is an unwelcome burden for De Villiers, who is making his return to Test cricket for the first time since January 2016 after a self-imposed sabbatical.
The South African management is hopeful Plessis will be fit in time for the first Test against India, which starts 5 January in Cape Town.
The Proteas captain has been out of action since late October when he sustained a back injury against Bangladesh and took no part in the Ram Slam T20 Challenge.
‘Faf has been making steady progress from the respective back and shoulder injuries and until last week was on track to make a comeback in this match, said Dr Mohammed Moosajee, South Africa’s team manager.
‘He developed a respiratory tract infection, which delayed his recovery this week, and subsequently made it difficult for him to make a full recovery in time for the match.
‘He will continue to receive treatment and rehab from our physiotherapist, Craig Govender, and we are hopeful he will recover in time to lead the team for the first Test match against India.’