SOUTH Africa suffered a bitter blow on Friday night when batsman J.P. Duminy was ruled out for the series and beyond with a ruptured Achilles tendon.
Duminy was injured soon after stumps on day one, when he slipped over while doing shuttle runs on the field with the South African fitness trainers. The No. 7 batsman will miss between three and six months, and the Proteas will name a replacement in the squad on Monday.
South Africa will bat one short in the first Test and will also miss Duminy's part-time spin, having entered the Test without a specialist spinner.
The Proteas ended the opening day of the series thoroughly on top of Australia, but the shine was erased from their commanding hold over the Australian bowlers when Duminy slumped to the ground and had to be carried away.
The 28-year-old had been on the field stretching his legs out after a day spent watching his teammates pile on the runs and took a fall on the Gabba grass. ''He obviously slipped and hurt his ankle doing a training run. It's his left ankle. He's just been rushed off to the hospital,'' a Proteas spokeswoman said before the diagnosis was confirmed.
Despite the tourists' dominant position, losing Duminy will be a blow. A star of their 2008-09 tour, when they won the series 2-1, he has only this year regained his place in the South African side and, due to their abundance of quality batsmen, found himself at No. 7 in the order.
His extra value lies in his right-arm off-spin, which had become more important when South Africa surprisingly opted on Friday to leave out leg-spinner Imran Tahir in favour of a fourth fast bowler, the debutant Rory Kleinveldt.
''We're pretty comfortable with our bowling attack and our team. Rory obviously coming in, we felt that he offered more and we were in a great position to leave a guy like Imran out and a superb position to have a guy like Rory as back-up for us,'' opener Alviro Petersen said earlier. ''We felt that Rory obviously could offer some more on that wicket this morning when we got here. It wasn't as hard as we thought it would be and it probably lessens the load on Jacques Kallis as well.''
The underrated Petersen admitted he was taken aback by Australia's bowling tactics, which largely failed to trouble South Africa's top four.
It was Petersen's own loose shot, from an unremarkable Nathan Lyon off-break, that cost him his wicket. ''I was surprised they didn't bowl as much short balls as we expected,'' he said.
Before the diagnosis on Duminy, South Africa had left the Gabba with its tail up.
''It's a good start for us,'' Petersen said. ''It's important that we start again, make sure that we put today behind us. We've got a few more batters to come in. Hopefully we can get a decent first-innings total and put some pressure on.''