A recurring ankle injury has ruled South Africa batsman Graeme Smith out of June's Champions Trophy, Cricket South Africa said on Thursday. Smith will have to undergo a surgery on the troublesome ankle after scans have revealed a stress fracture.
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Cricket South Africa has also confirmed that he will be out of action for 4-6 months. Meanwhile, CSA will name Smith's replacement for the last edition of the Champions Trophy soon.
Earlier, it was confirmed that Smith was to return home this week from English county cricket duties at Surrey and an operation may sideline him for several months.
Losing Smith for the one-day international championship in England and Wales is a massive blow for perennial tournament 'chokers' South Africa after all-rounder Jacques Kallis declared himself unavailable for selection.
A left ankle problem forced Smith to miss the last ODI against Pakistan at Willowmoore Park near Johannesburg last March, which South Africa won for a 3-2 series success.
The injury is also a blow to Surrey with Smith scoring 48 against Middlesex in the county championship and 74 against Yorkshire in a 40-over competition after a slow start which included a 67 and three single-figure exits.
Johannesburg-born Smith, 32, has hit 6,917 runs in 190 ODI appearances for the Proteas at an average of 39.07 and his highest score of 141 was against England in the Champions Trophy at SuperSport Park in Centurion four years ago.
(With AFP inputs)