Proteas

Dane Piedt smashing down Proteas Test door

2019-01-25 11:36
Dane Piedt
Dane Piedt (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - It is not easy being a spin bowler in South Africa, particularly on the Test stage. 

Just ask Keshav Maharaj

The 28-year-old has been a breath of fresh air for the Proteas, providing the perfect balance between defence and attack to give skipper Faf du Plessis a seriously valuable weapon in the longer format. 

Maharaj has been described by many as the most promising Test spin bowler to have come out of South Africa since readmission, but even that hasn't been enough to guarantee a place in the starting XI. 

At Newlands and then the Wanderers for the 2nd and 3rd Tests against Pakistan earlier this month, Maharaj was left out as the Proteas went in with an all-seam attack. It is a strategy that it is looking increasingly attractive given the nature of the wickets being dished up when the Proteas play at home.

The two Tests against Sri Lanka next month will be played in Port Elizabeth and in Durban - wickets that are likely to take to spin. 

Maharaj, almost certainly, will return to the side but for the first time in a long time he has some competition for that place. 

It comes in the form of Dane Piedt, who has been simply sizzling for the Cape Cobras in the 4-Day Franchise Series this season. 

Piedt is top of the wicket-taking charts by a country mile, having snapped up 52 scalps in 2018/19 at an average of just 25.19

Cobras team-mate Dane Paterson is second on that list with 33 wickets. 

Piedt was at it once more this week, claiming match figures of 13/142 as the Cobras beat the Titans in Oudtshoorn to stay top of the table heading into the final round of fixtures. 

The go-to man in the Cobras attack, Piedt has bowled a staggering 454.5 overs in the competition and is a massive part of the reason the men from Cape Town are challenging for silverware.

Piedt credits Cobras coach Ashwell Prince for his dream season so far, saying the former Proteas left-hander has brought about a fresh mental approach that places a large emphasis on playing positive cricket. 

He has also focused on "getting a bit more side-on" in his action - a tweak that Piedt believes has been key to his success. 

The Proteas will play the two Tests against Sri Lanka in February before turning their attention completely to the 2019 World Cup, but their first action after that tournament is a tour to India for the opening round of the highly-anticipated ICC Test Championship in October. 

That series will require more spin options than Maharaj, and it is safe to assume that Piedt has played himself into those plans with as dominant a domestic season as you are likely to see. 

He has surely moved ahead of Tabraiz Shamsi and Shaun von Berg - taken to Sri Lanka in 2018 - in the Test ranks. 

"National ambitions will always be in the back of your mind as a cricketer," Piedt told Sport24 on Friday.

"But I'm trying to just focus on the Cobras and winning cricket matches for them. We are a franchise that develops a lot of Proteas, and if we are doing well and winning silverware then the rest will take care of itself."

Piedt does, of course, have Test match experience with seven caps to his name between 2014 and 2016. 

Injury, though, stunted that progress and while Piedt was sidelined Simon Harmer was given a run in the side before the arrival of Maharaj effectively put the South African spin conversation to bed.  

"I consider myself lucky to have seven Test matches to my name. A lot of people would give anything just to have one," Piedt said. 

"Keshav is a world class bowler and he has been superb for South Africa. He deserves his place.

"I don't lie awake at night thinking about what might have been if I didn't get injured. The injury came at the wrong time, but things happen.

"I am loving my cricket with the Cobras and if an opportunity to play Test cricket does come around again, then I will take it with open arms."

 

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