Cricket World Cup 2011
Proteas pin hope on spinners
Imran Tahir (Gallo)
Delhi – The South African camp has so much faith in its spinners at the Cricket World Cup that Johan Botha, Robin Peterson and Imran Tahir could all play against the West Indies.
The Proteas take on the Windies on Thursday in their first group match of the tournament and, according to Botha, his team’s highly-rated pace attack may play second fiddle for once.
“It’s very exciting that we are in the position for the first time to be able to pick three spinners in the same team,” said Botha.
“But it didn’t just happen overnight. Robin, Imran and myself worked very hard to get to this point.”
Botha and company trained for the first time in the Indian capital on Monday after about a week in Bangalore. While heavy rain delayed their session for an extended period, the touring side still trained for about four hours at the airport base.
“After a rest period of about two weeks it was necessary to prepare properly for our first game,” said Botha.
“The wicket here will probably have a lot less bounce than in Bangalore, but then a much bigger responsibility rests on the shoulders of our spinners to be able to turn the ball a lot more.
“We will have a more attacking role here and have to take wickets, whereas in South Africa we look to limit the runs.”
That may well mean that one of Dale Steyn, Morné Morkel and Lonwabo Tsotsobe have to watch the action from the sidelines in the Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium.
“All three of us bowl well in the power plays and because we complete our overs very quickly, 10 or 15 overs pass the batsmen by in the blink of an eye. The number of spinners we choose will depend on the conditions, the wicket and our opponents. But it’s fantastic to have that option.”
Botha says that the Proteas’ recent success in the home one-day series against India had given the spin-trio’s confidence a further boost.
It also suits South Africa that they are not considered the favourites this year.
“We were the favourites in 2003 and 2007, and it put the guys under immense pressure. This time all the attention is focused on India, Sri Lanka and Australia.”
He said that the Proteas already have their plans together for the match against the Windies, a team they have lost to twice before in the tournament (in 1996 and 2003).
“We are fully aware that they have a number of match-winners, but we will be ready for them,” said Botha.