South Africa have been dealt an unfortunate blow after former captain Graeme Smith was ruled out of the ICC Champions Trophy 2013 with an injury to his left ankle.
Scans revealed a stress fracture to the ankle with which he has had trouble with in the past, including undergoing surgery last year, although it still caused him to miss matches in March and he did not take part in the 2013 Indian Premier League.
Smith was just four games into a three-year spell as Surrey captain, scoring his second half-century for the club during the Yorkshire Bank 40 match against Hampshire earlier this week.
"Graeme has been troubled by left ankle pain over the last few months and despite extensive treatment and physiotherapy, it has recently deteriorated significantly while playing for Surrey in England," Cricket South Africa team manager Dr. Mohammed Moosajee said.
"He underwent a rescan of his left ankle in London on Wednesday, and it was determined that since his last scan, the condition has progressed to a stress fracture. Surgery will be required, and he has been advised to follow a rest and rehabilitation programme over the next four to six months.
"This unfortunately rules him out of the upcoming ICC Champions Trophy in England and Wales and the selectors will name a replacement in due course."
Smith added: "It's a big blow for me personally to be missing out on the Champions Trophy next month. The ODI squad is creating something special and I was looking forward to being part of that family.
"I will no doubt be supporting from my living room and I know the players, under AB’s leadership will be giving all that they can during the tournament."
With South Africa already due to miss the services of Jacques Kallis, who opted out of the tournament due to personal reasons, Smith's absence leaves the squad even more short of experienced top order batsman.
Options for his replacement could include Alviro Petersen, his opening partner in Test cricket, Quinton de Kock, who opened when he missed the final ODI against Pakistan, or Henry Davids, who has played four Twenty20 Internationals at the top of the order.
© Cricket World 2013
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