THE Proteas’ chances of beating Australia in their one-day international (ODI) series in September improved on Thursday when the No1 ranked team lost two of its key players to injury.

Batsman Shaun Marsh was named in the squad despite having broken a finger in August during Australia’s tour to Sri Lanka‚ and the injury is not healing as efficiently as hoped.

“Unfortunately due to the fracture being in the joint of the finger we have decided to take a more conservative approach‚” the Australian team’s physiotherapist‚ David Beakley‚ said.

Allrounder James Faulkner was fully fit until a fitness session in Sydney on Thursday. “James suffered a low-grade calf strain, which we expect to take three to four weeks to recover‚” Beakley said.

Marsh last passed 50 in an ODI four innings ago and is ranked 85th among batsmen in the format‚ but he scored a century in the third Test against Sri Lanka a month ago.

Faulkner‚ the third-ranked ODI allrounder‚ was Australia’s second-highest wicket-taker in the 50-over series in Sri Lanka.

Both players were ruled out of the tour‚ which starts on September 27 with an ODI against Ireland in Benoni, before SA and Australia clash in five matches from September 30. Usman Khawaja will fill the vacancy created by Marsh’s withdrawal but Faulkner will not be replaced.

Thoughts that the Australians might call up resting fast bowler Mitchell Starc to make up for the loss of Faulkner were dashed on Thursday.

“Mitchell was taken to hospital in an ambulance suffering a deep laceration to his left shin after colliding with some training equipment‚” Cricket Australia chief medical officer John Orchard said. “Fortunately there were no bone fractures or tendon damage to his leg and he underwent surgery to clean the wound and received 30 stitches.”

But South Africans who hope their batsmen will not have to deal with Starc in the Test series SA will play in Australia in November will be disappointed. “He will remain in hospital for the next few days to minimise movement to his leg and will use an extension brace for the next two to three weeks until his stitches are removed‚” Orchard said.

“At this stage‚ barring any complications‚ we are hopeful he is on track to play at the start of the Australian summer.”

Starc is ranked fourth among Test fast bowlers.

TMG Digital