Proteas inspired by Tahir

2011-02-17 22:38
Imran Tahir (Gallo Images)

Eduan Roos

Bangalore – Imran Tahir has not just boosted the Proteas’ hopes of winning the World Cup, but also brought the best out of Robin Peterson.

The 31-year-old left-arm spinner admitted to Sport24 on Thursday that Tahir’s meteoric rise over the last few months had fired him and third spinner Johan Botha up.

“I enjoy bowling with him and Johan because we are learning a lot from each other. Imran and I are a similar age and he is undoubtedly playing the best cricket of his career. Hopefully I can say the same after the tournament,” said Peterson.

Tahir, a born Pakistani, got South African citizenship at the end of 2010. He got his first chance in the Green and Gold in the World Cup warm-up match against Zimbabwe. He grabbed it with both hands by taking three wickets and also impressing in the warm-up game against Australia.

Even so, Peterson has been the tour squad’s leading wicket-taker with five, among them three of the world champions’ highly-rated batsmen.

Peterson, whose place in the side has always been questioned since his debut more than eight years ago, believes his recent success is down to the new-found faith of the Proteas in their slow bowlers.

“It has taken South Africa long to embrace spinners as an attacking weapon in one-day cricket, but it has finally happened,” he said.

After just 40 appearances over that period and all but impressive figures on the world stage, his inclusion in the squad for this year’s World Cup has again raised eyebrows.

However, Peterson has learned to take the criticism on the chin.

“I don’t play for my critics, but for my country and the people who have always believed in me. It’s not my fault that I was not in the starting team more often. I could never really relax and be myself because I always had to wonder whether I would play in the next game,” he said.

That has all changed since his return to the side in October – after more than three years in the wilderness.

“I have decided to do things my way – to try and turn the ball as much as possible and get wickets. I don’t expect to take five wickets every time, but I try to bowl at a good length because that always gives you a chance of getting the batsman out.”

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