Thursday, December 10, 2009 , Posted by D S Gurung at 7:03 PM

Urgent Kallis turns to oxygen aid

JACQUEST KALLIS is using an oxygen chamber to try and speed his recovery from the fractured rib that has threatened his participation in the opening Test against England at Centurion Park.

Kallis suffered the injury during the Champions League Twenty20 in October and was ruled out of the recent one-day series. It is a race against time to get him fit for the opening five-day encounter, with some suggestions that he may struggle to make the starting XI in any capacity or be unable to bowl during the four-match series.

However, South Africa coach Mickey Arthur was not ruling out one of his key players and was still holding onto hope that he can play a part with the ball. He echoed Mike Proctor's view after the convenor of selectors said Kallis was 50-50 to appear at Centurion Park, although Arthur was more positive about Kallis' prospects as a batsman.

"We certainly haven't ruled him out of bowling during the series and we are still working hard with him ahead of the first Test," Arthur told Cricinfo. "He has been using an oxygen chamber to try and speed the recovery and is doing extensive rehab every day.

"At the moment the best-case scenario is that he bats and bowls at Centurion which is probably 50-50, the next best is that he just bats which is probably around 60-40 and the worst case scenario is that he is only fit for Durban."

Kallis would not be the first player to use oxygen therapy to aid recovery from injury. Simon Jones underwent similar treatment in 2005 when he was trying to be fit for the final Ashes Test although the process was ultimately unsuccessful for him. The benefit of the chambers is that they can supply 100% pure oxygen which helps the body fight injury compared with the normal air which contains only about 20% oxygen.

Kallis played in the second Twenty20 international against England before the extent of the rib injury was confirmed. He will be fully assessed when the South African squad meets up in Potchefstroom on Friday for a three-day training camp. "Our priority was the Test series which is why he was pulled from the one-dayers so he didn't do further damage," Arthur said. "We will have a far better idea of where we stand on Sunday."

Arthur also confirmed that Dale Steyn was progressing well after his hamstring injury and that the paceman bowled six overs in the nets on Wednesday. Steyn was ruled out of the final two ODIs but now looks set to lead the pace attack alongside Makhaya Ntini, who will reach 100 caps, and probably Morne Morkel.

Andrew McGlashan is assistant editor of Cricinfo


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