Kirsten has faith in Tahir
Johannesburg - Proteas coach Gary Kirsten feels leg-spinner Imran Tahir has the potential to become a decent Test match cricketer.
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Tahir fared much better in the recent Test match against Australia at the Wanderers after a disappointing debut in the first Test at Newlands.
He took three wickets in the first innings and only one in the second, but it was a big wicket for South Africa when he dismissed Usman Khawaja (65) at a time when the Pakistani-born batsman was heading for his maiden Test century.
"Imran definitely got something going that we can all be excited by and he will continue to develop and grow as a Test match cricketer," said Kirsten.
"We all know how different it is coming from first-class level into the international arena because the mental demands are so much bigger."
Kirsten said expectations were much higher at the top level and it was important for newcomers to be given a good run to prove themselves.
"We all expect big performances from them, but sometimes it doesn’t happen straight away.
"They’re all good enough cricketers and they need to know that they’re not being watched every minute of the day and that after two bad performances they’re out.
"I don’t think that’s a healthy environment and we need to let them settle in - some guys it will take longer than others."
When he took over as coach, Kirsten said he was worried about the depth at domestic level, but he was pleasantly surprised to find a lot of talent waiting in the wings.
"The fast-bowling reserves are quite exciting and there are three or four of them who could be knocking on the door," he said.
"It’s very healthy for South African cricket that we have competitiveness with both bat and ball."
South Africa host Sri Lanka in December with the first Test starting in Centurion on December 15.
While it is good news for the domestic franchises to have their international players back for the one-day competition, no further four or five-day cricket will be played before the tour commences.
"I’ve thought of a whole lot of different ways to make sure these guys have got some game time because we’ll have some guys who won’t have played any cricket for three weeks.
"There’s not a whole lot I can do about it. It’s not ideal, but we’ve got to manage what is dished out at us."