SA in West Indies
Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer
Prince cranks up Test claim
Cape Town – Ashwell Prince appears to have run into some timely form as he prepares to join the Proteas for the Test series leg of their West Indies tour later this week.
The left-handed batsman, who is desperate to reclaim a regular berth in the South African middle order after a mostly unsuccessful experiment as an opener, struck 78 on Sunday in his final County Championship match for Lancashire (against Yorkshire at Headingley) before joining Graeme Smith’s squad in the Caribbean.
He has had an up-and-down stint for the Manchester-based side in recent weeks, but these first-innings runs in a rain-affected match took him to exactly 450 in the competition and an average of a touch over 40.
South Africa play the first Test at the revised venue of Port of Spain, Trinidad, from June 10-14 after the game was shifted from volatile Kingston, Jamaica because of security fears.
Prince is likely to be competing with presently out-of-touch JP Duminy for the No 6 spot in the Proteas order, with Mark Boucher almost certain to regain the wicketkeeping gloves for the five-day fixtures and a top five very likely to comprise Smith, Alviro Petersen, Hashim Amla, Jacques Kallis and AB de Villiers in that order.
Duminy was dropped for the third one-day international but recalled for Sunday’s dead-rubber fourth at Dominica and scored a solid but less-than-fluent unbeaten 32 off 38 balls as the Proteas made heavy weather in the closing stages of securing what ought to have been a clinical triumph to go 4-0 up.
He may take some comfort from at least being there at the finish and finally getting some meaningful crease-time – but the challenge of the determined, vastly experienced Prince now looms large for the Test phase.
Meanwhile Imran Tahir, the journeyman leg-spinner who will belatedly qualify for South Africa in December and turn out for the Dolphins in 2010/11, also had a hugely productive weekend, bagging eight for 114 for Warwickshire as they bowled out visitors Durham for 379 at Edgbaston.
It was the 31-year-old’s best first-class analysis in England and the first ever eight-wicket haul by a spinner against Durham, the county champions.
The Daily Telegraph commented: “(Tahir) bamboozled Durham with his googly … there was little threat at the other end.”
South Africa will have Paul Harris and Johan Botha as their main spin options in the Caribbean Test series, but Tahir may well provide a welcome attacking option with his unorthodox fare from the South African mid-summer.