South Africa coach Rob Walter said on Tuesday that injured Temba Bavuma will not receive preferential treatment because he is the team captain.
The 33-year-old batsman hopes to be fit for the ICC World Cup 2023 semi-final against Australia in Kolkata on Thursday after straining his right hamstring against Afghanistan last Friday.
“No one is bigger than the team at the end of the day. That applies to Temba and everyone else,” said Walter after a practice session in the Indian city.
“Being skipper will not give Bavuma extra protection if the injury does not heal sufficiently and inhibits his play.”
Bavuma took part in a floodlit training session at Eden Gardens on Tuesday and did not show any signs of discomfort.
But Walter warned that there are still hurdles the skipper must clear before he can lead South Africa into a match that will decide who faces India or New Zealand in the final.
“We still need to check him out in the high-speed zones as we progress from when the injury happened to the rehabilitation that has taken place during the past 72 hours,” said the coach.
“Each day brings some new elements to test before deciding whether he is ready and match fit to play in the semi-final. The progression has been positive, which is awesome.”
Walter said he is not overly concerned about the modest current form of Bavuma, who has scored 145 runs in seven innings at the global showcase.
“Temba has not scored the runs he would have wanted to at the World Cup. However, when I watch him train and play I sense a big score is just around the corner.
“We are not part of the conversation about Temba being dropped. He is one of our best batters this year.
“That said, he is not undroppable, nor is any other member of the squad. No one is bigger than the team.
“Hopefully, we will be able make a call on Temba before Thursday. In an ideal world, you do not want to wait that long, but I need to give him the best chance to play for his country.”
If Bavuma is ruled out of the showdown with Australia, his place will be taken by Reeza Hendricks, a right-handed batter.
South Africa believe the Kolkata pitch will take spin, and may bring in left-arm spinner Tabraiz Shamsi at the expense of Lungi Ngidi or Gerald Coetzee.
Current form favours South Africa after a 134-run victory over Australia in the pool stage of ICC World Cup 2023, but all four previous semi-final appearances by the Proteas have ended in disappointment.
And two of those exits, in 1999 and 2007, were against Australia.
Rain is forecast for Kolkata on Thursday and Friday, the reserve day, and if both days were washed out, South Africa would progress to the final on net run rate.