Morne Morkel will be sidelined for four to six weeks after sustaining a grade-two tear of the left abdominal oblique muscle. Morkel will miss the rest of the series against Bangladesh, which includes the second Test that starts on Friday in Bloemfontein, three ODIs and two T20s. He is also in doubt for the first two weeks of the inaugural T20 Global League, which starts on November 3. Morkel is contracted to Pretoria Mavericks.
Uncapped seamer Dane Paterson has replaced Morkel in the Test squad. He is likely to serve as back-up to a pack that will be led by Kagiso Rabada, and includes Duanne Olivier and Andile Phehlukwayo. Left-arm seamer Wayne Parnell is the other reserve bowler in the group. Parnell passed a fitness test last Wednesday after he was named in the squad despite being injured for the opening round of first-class matches. He could be considered ahead of Paterson.
Parnell has not played a Test since January and has not had any red-ball cricket since April after spending some parts of the winter at the CPL and not with the South Africa A side. Paterson was part of the A side and played in one of the two unofficial Tests against India A and has been playing for the Cobras this season. He has six wickets from two matches at 33.00 and is not the leading seamer in the competition so far. Shadley van Schalkwyk of Knights has eight wickets at 22.87 and also enjoyed a larger haul than Paterson last summer, but he has not been considered.
Morkel's injury adds to a growing list of concerns dogging South Africa's quicks. They are already without Dale Steyn, who continues to recover from a shoulder injury, and Vernon Philander and Chris Morris, both of whom will only resume playing later in October and the talent pool appears to lack depth.
Test captain Faf du Plessis had no answers when asked who he thought could come into contention, since he has not played much franchise cricket. "It's difficult to talk about all the domestic bowlers that are around," he said. "I haven't seen enough to make a fair call on what I think the standard of bowling is and who the best seam bowlers in the country are."
Some names that may be mentioned in the coming weeks include Dwaine Pretorius, Beuran Hendricks and Wiaan Mulder and South Africa may need all of them ahead of a long summer. Following the Tests against Bangladesh, South Africa go straight into the six-week long T20 Global League, a one-off four-day game against Zimbabwe from Boxing Day, a three Test, six ODI and three T20 tour against India and four Tests against Australia, and will need as many resources as they can find.