JUST one match into their tour of England, SA are no doubt wondering when the next calamity will strike, and that with the first Test exactly a week away.
The enforced retirement in Taunton on Tuesday of wicketkeeper Mark Boucher, a 15-year veteran of the national team and the epitome of the hard-boiled South African way of cricket, was enough to have rocked the most settled side.
But with Alviro Petersen battling a foot problem and Marchant de Lange nursing a sore back, the Proteas' problems are mounting.
The touring squad will also have an eye on the home front, where Cricket SA's (CSA's) board will discuss the resignation of acting CE Jacques Faul at a meeting in Johannesburg tomorrow.
Boucher's loss is difficult to quantify, not least because of its significance. In fact, whether he is succeeded by AB de Villiers or Thami Tsolekile is at this stage a smaller concern than how a team whose senior members have been visibly affected by their comrade's dramatic demise will respond to his absence.
Until Imran Tahir bowled Gemaal Hussain after lunch in the match against Somerset on Monday, sending a bail flying into Boucher's left eye and rupturing his sclera, the native East Londoner was at once a silkily skilled wicketkeeper, a gritty batsman and an icon in a side that draws a significant amount of their strength from their leadership.
De Villiers moved behind the stumps after Boucher was helped off the field and Tsolekile has been named as Boucher's replacement in the squad.
Head coach Gary Kirsten, who is the selector on tour, and bowling coach Allan Donald have voiced their support for De Villiers, who keeps wicket for SA in the shorter formats, to don the gloves in the first Test at the Oval in London next Thursday.
That would seem to be at variance with the thinking in February, when CSA put Tsolekile under contract. "He's a far better player today than he was two or three years ago - he's much more mature as a cricketer and he was a unanimous choice," selection convener Andrew Hudson said at the time.
A fully fit Petersen would be a certainty to open the batting with Graeme Smith next Thursday. He should be able to do so, but it will be vital that he is able to play in the three-day tour match against Kent in Canterbury, starting tomorrow.
Petersen missed the Somerset game and a scan on Monday revealed a minor joint sprain.
De Lange, who will get a scan today, would have to bowl his way past Vernon Philander, Dale Steyn, Morné Morkel and perhaps Lonwabo Tsotsobe to make the XI, so the focus on his fitness is less intense.
Donald said the race to be ready for the Test series was feverish.
"When you come on tour and you realise you only have five days of cricket before the Test series starts, everyone wants to find confidence, form and rhythm. That sort of thing doesn't happen overnight, but I'm not displeased about our performance (in the drawn two-day game against Somerset)," he said.
"We stuck at it and kept coming and answered questions."
One of those questions would have been about Tahir.
"The one thing we've been speaking about is patience - Imran wants to take a wicket with every ball," Donald said. "Thankfully, the great man (former Pakistan leg spinner Abdul Qadir, Tahir's mentor, whom he visited in Pakistan last month) has spoken to him about patience, how to set up people and the role he plays in the team. He did that beautifully in this game."
Petersen will probably play tomorrow, De Lange's back should hold up, and Faul might be persuaded to withdraw his resignation. But nothing can bring Boucher back.