Since readmission to international cricket in 1991 South Africa have been in need of a spin bowler who can win them matches. Their weight may finally be over next season when Pakistani spin bowler Imran Tahir qualifies to play for South Africa.
There were times early after readmission when South Africa went with an all pace attack, no matter what, often not choosing a spin bowler at all. They realised that variation was key to success and began their search for a spin bowler. Pat Symcox, Paul Adams and Nicky Boje were the bowlers that made the biggest impact but often found themselves being used defensively rather than as wicket takers. They were used to tie down an end or to give the quickies a rest. It is fair to say they were not utilised to their best ability.
In Paul Harris, in Test matches, and Johan Botha, in ODI’s, South Africa have identified two spin bowlers who will be given opportunities to play significant roles in the team. With the next World Cup in the sub continent the need for spin bowlers to play an active part in the team have increased, if South Africa hope to make any impression in the tournament.
Harris and Botha have both done good jobs for South Africa and have been fixtures in recent Test and ODI teams. However this should not stop the search for a match winning spin bowler, in terms of bettering the squad, and increasing competition. That search has brought forward Imran Tahir. The Pakistani spin bowler, capped at “A” level, has been playing for the Titans for the last few seasons, has settled and married a South African wife, and as of next season will be eligible to play for his adopted country.
Tahir has been a success in South Africa, where he plays with Harris for the Titans, and has just come off a fantastic personal season in English County cricket. His first class bowling average is an impressive 25,07 with a best of 8/76. Clearly South Africa would do well to draught him in as soon as possible. Whether it is as a front line spin bowler, used in an attacking manner, or as part of a spin duo with Harris on spin friendly pitches, the adopted South African is an exciting option for the team to look forward to.
South Africa famously lost KP to an adopted country, one he now leads, it seems like they will be taking advantage of the same system to increase their spin options.
pic from cricinfo.com