Tsotsobe relishes opportunity
Mirpur – Lonwabo Tsotsobe did more than just help ensure South Africa finish at the top of Group B in the Cricket World Cup with his excellent bowling performance against Bangladesh on Saturday.
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The 27-year-old leftarm-seamer destroyed the Tigers’ top order with figures of 3/12 and again proved to the national selectors that he is up to the standard of leading pacemen Dale Steyn and Morné Morkel.
Tsotsobe had to make way for an additional spinner in the touring team’s first Cup match against India in spite of an excellent 12 months in the Green and Gold.
In those 12 months, “Lopsy” took 30 wickets at an average of 18.63 compared to Steyn’s 25 (at 21.32) and Morkel’s 37 victims (18.48).
A couple of excellent performances by Imran Tahir also meant that Tsotsobe had to carry drinks against the Netherlands, England, India and Ireland.
He ultimately got his first opportunity against the Tigers with South Africa already assured of a place in the quarter-finals. Steyn and Morkel were rested.
“Of course it’s not fun to sit on the sidelines while your team-mates play in a World Cup,” said Tsotsobe.
“Up until now the team has had excellent combinations and done well. The players that are not playing regularly, including myself, understand the situation.”
He said there had been nerves prior to bowling his first delivery after not playing a match in almost two months.
“It was not easy to slot into a team playing so well straight away, but I worked exceptionally hard in the nets the past month and was reasonably sure that it would go well,” said Tsotsobe.
“I’m delighted with my performance and it just goes to show that hard work will always be rewarded and motivates me to fight for my place in the starting eleven every day – even if I don’t play in the next game.”
He added that he was not under pressure to build on the success achieved by Steyn and Morkel at the tournament.
“I know what I’m capable of and I believe the rest of my team-mates know as well. Even so, it’s nice to know that I can step into their shoes,” he said.
Tsotsobe said that his experience of the country’s pitches had helped. He toured Bangladesh with the national team in April last year and played at the Sher-e-Bangla Stadium on more than one occasion. South Africa will play New Zealand in their quarter-final there later this week.
“The wickets are on the dead side and aren’t really conducive to pace bowling, but you can get wickets if you are prepared to put in that bit of extra work and really bend your back,” he said.
“And if it continues to go this well, I will have nothing to complain about.”