Proteas fast bowler Anrich Nortje has been ruled out of the World Cup due to a hand injury. The fast bowler fractured his right thumb while practising in the nets and will need six to eight weeks to recover.

It is a gutting moment for the 25-year-old Nortje, who had forced his way into the 15-man squad despite playing just four ODIs.

The Warriors paceman only recently recovered from a shoulder injury sustained against Sri Lanka back in March. South Africa’s team manager Dr. Mohammed Moosajee broke the news earlier today and also revealed that all-rounder Chris Morris has been drafted in as a replacement.

However, there has been some good news for the Proteas after it was revealed that three out of five other injured players have now made complete recoveries.

Moosajee revealed that JP Duminy, Lungi Ngidi and Tabraiz Shamsi are all fit and raring to go. Slightly concerning though, is the fitness of Kagiso Rabada and Dale Steyn, who will be monitored closely in the coming weeks.

The news of Rabada’s back problem will however be of concern to Proteas fans. The fast bowler, who is widely regarded as South Africa’s biggest trump card for the World Cup, returned home early from the Indian Premier League last Friday.

This after scans on a back complaint last week prompted the national management team to recall him from his stint with the Delhi Capitals where he had bowled himself top of the charts in the IPL and also led his team to the play-offs.

Moosajee is confident the fast bowler will be fit for the global spectacle, but says they are treating his situation with caution.

Rabada himself moved to allay fears over his back when he took to Instagram over the weekend to provide his followers with an update.

He wrote: “Regarding my back, I’m good – precautionary is all.”

South Africa face England in their World Cup opener on May 30 in London, the first of three matches in a busy opening week.

Proteas physiotherapist Craig Govender says it is difficult to say whether Rabada will be fit to play in all three games, adding that they are doing everything possible to make sure that will be the case. – Report by Thahir Asmal