Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer
Cape Town – If playing at Test level
remains the ultimate goal for most ambitious cricketers even in this age of
lucrative counter-attractions, then Imran Tahir can look back on some
particularly hard yards to reaching that landmark.
The Dolphins leg-spinner and Cape Cobras
all-rounder Vernon Philander on Wednesday became South Africa’s first debutants
since Lonwabo Tsotsobe was introduced to the five-day international arena
against West Indies at Port of Spain in June last year.
Aged rather closer to 33 than 32,
Lahore-born Tahir, who has already represented the Proteas with some success in
ODIs at the last World Cup, can certainly be said to have earned his spurs in
His “major teams” list on Cricinfo is a
more formidable one than most, now comprising as many as 20 with the addition
of South Africa.
He has also bowled as many as 27,345
deliveries in first-class cricket en route to reaching the highest level
against Australia at Newlands, since his appearance on the scene in 1996/97.
Tahir boasts 585 wickets at an average of
25.18 and economy rate of 3.23 which is extremely decent for an exponent of his
His suitcase has been delivered, as it
were, to various destinations since his grassroots days in Pakistan, including
three English counties and as many South Africans provinces/franchises –
Easterns, the Titans and most recently his current base of the Dolphins.
He is also the first specialist leg-spinner
to be fielded by South Africa at Newlands since Glen Hall as far back as
January 1965 against England – it was the Pretoria-born player’s only Test
appearance and he later committed suicide in 1987, aged 49.