Cape Town - Protea skipper AB de Villiers could be ruled out of the three-match Test tour to Australia in November.
South Africa team manager Dr Mohammed Moosajee said in a media conference at Wanderers Stadium that De Villiers has been struggling with a left elbow injury, which had him out of the New Zealand Test series and the Irish ODI game on Sunday.
De Villiers is also in doubt for the upcoming five-match ODI series against Australia, which starts on September 30 in Centurion.
"About six weeks ago he (De Villiers) was diagnosed with a left elbow injury," said Moosajee.
"Sometimes, this does settle with the conservative approach of rest, rehab and the cortisone infiltration, but unfortunately, in AB’s case it hasn’t been so and with that in mind we’ve given him an extended period of rest which is another week."
De Villiers picked up an elbow injury while playing for Barbados in the CPL. He continued to play with his injury in the Caribbean triangular series, which saw the Proteas fail to make the final.
"Obviously he needs to pass a fitness test, that elbow needs to stand up to the rigours of international cricket," continued Moosajee.
"If, at the time, he does not come through a fitness test then a date for surgery will be set and if he does go for surgery then you are looking at a period of six to eight weeks rest.
"So for now we hopeful that he can play some part of the series, if he doesn't then surgery becomes the next option," he added.
"If he has surgery, then he’ll be out of the Test series (in Australia)."
This could be a major blow for the Proteas without their skipper and arguably one of their best batsmen as they struggle to climb their way up the Test rankings and to their former glory.
In the ICC rankings, De Villiers is the top ODI batsman and third on the list for Test batsmen.
Faf du Plessis stepped in as skipper for the New Zealand Tests, which South Africa won 1-0.