South African captain and star batsman AB de Villiers failed a fitness Test on Tuesday and will undergo elbow surgery which will force him to miss home and away series against Australia.
Cricket South Africa announced on Tuesday that a left elbow impingement injury had failed to respond to rehabilitation and treatment, ruling De Villiers out of a five-match one-day series against Australia, starting in Centurion on Friday, as well as a three-match Test tour of Australia in November.
It is hoped he will be fit for a home series against Sri Lanka, starting on 26 December.
"Unfortunately AB de Villiers has failed to come through his fitness test this morning," Proteas team doctor Mohamed Moosajee said on Tuesday.
"Although the physiotherapist strapped his elbow while he was batting and he did feel some relief with some of his shots, the elbow pain hasn't resolved completely.
"We have tried the conservative management of rest, physio, rehab and cortisone infiltration into the elbow, but that has not yielded the results that we would have liked.
"We are scheduling surgery for him early next week and are hopeful that we'll get him back in action before the Sri Lanka series over Christmas," Moosajee added.
"When the elbow was strapped, there was some relief. I think he probably felt 80 per cent better than without strapping, but we thought that the best decision for now would be to get surgical management and give him adequate time to recover so it doesn't hamper his career going forward."
Moosajee said although the selectors would decide on a replacement captain, he believed they might want Faf du Plessis, who captained the side against New Zealand and is set to do the same against Australia, to continue.
Responding as to whether this was a big blow for the Proteas in the peak season, Moosajee said: "Naturally it is a big blow, as AB is our ODI captain and having his experience in the middle order (is important) but there is a significant amount of talent in the reserve and it creates opportunity for somebody else to put their hand up and I'm sure whoever comes in to take his place will make use of that opportunity."
De Villiers, 32, has already missed a Test series against New Zealand last month and last Sunday's one-day international against Ireland. Faf du Plessis will captain the side in the one-day series against Australia and will almost certainly lead the side in the Test matches in Australia.