Johan Botha has been ruled out of the unofficial Twenty20 tri-series between South Africa, Zimbabwe and Bangladesh with a knee injury. Botha was due to captain the side in AB de Villiers' absence but will not make the trip because of a blow he suffered to his left knee during the last week of the IPL, which ended in May. He is in the fourth week of a six-week recovery process.
"I got a ball to the knee and didn't think much of it but I was told to go for an MRI when I got home," Botha told ESPNcricinfo. "The damage got all the way to the patella [knee cap] and although I can cycle and do most things, the South Africa management was concerned that if I got hit on the knee again or was injured during fielding, that would prolong the recovery [period]."
Hashim Amla will now the lead the side and Botha admitted to being disappointed that he could no longer fulfil the role. "Even though I was only captaining because AB wouldn't be there, I was really looking forward to it," he said.
The series is part of South Africa's preparation for the World Twenty20 in September but Botha said he is not concerned that he will be short of game-time come the tournament, as there are still three Twenty20s against England ahead of the event. "The Zimbabwe series is important, but for me it may have been a little far out in terms of time. Hopefully, I'll play in England and get some cricket in there before Sri Lanka. In terms of team combinations, it is disappointing to miss the Zimbabwe series, but I'll still play before [the World Twenty20]."
Botha will be released from his national contract after the World Twenty20 to captain South Australia for two seasons, so the tri-series may have been his last opportunity to lead the South African side. Botha and CSA came to a mutual agreement that the offspinner would be allowed to take a break from domestic cricket in South Africa, because the opportunity to captain an Australian side was thought to be "too good", to turn down. Botha will still be considered for future South Africa series, though he will not play his domestic cricket at home.