File photo of South Africa's Test captain Graeme Smith. (Getty Images)
Johannesburg: Graeme Smith has been ruled out of the Champions Trophy in order to have surgery on a chronic left ankle problem, leaving South Africa without two senior batsmen at next month's tournament after Jacques Kallis made himself unavailable for personal reasons.
Smith needs surgery after being diagnosed with a stress fracture in his ankle and will also have to rest for four to six months, South Africa team manager Mohammed Moosajee said on Thursday. The opening batsman, who had only recently joined English county side Surrey as its new captain, had scans that confirmed the diagnosis on Wednesday and would return to South Africa from London to have the procedure.
"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," Moosajee said. Smith had surgery on the same troublesome ankle a year ago, and it is considered a long-term issue that needs to be managed.
Surrey said Smith had arrived with the ankle problems at the start of the English season following "a hard winter's cricket with the Proteas."
"It's a big blow for me personally to be missing out on the Champions Trophy next month," said the 32-year-old Smith, who has been South Africa's Test captain for almost a decade. "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."
Cricket South Africa said it would name a replacement for Smith in due course. The Champions Trophy one-day tournament in England and Wales runs from June 6-23.