Town - It is not easy being a spin bowler in South Africa, particularly on the
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
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
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
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
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
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
He has surely moved ahead of
Tabraiz Shamsi and Shaun von Berg - taken to Sri Lanka in 2018 - in the Test
"National ambitions will
always be in the back of your mind as a cricketer," Piedt told Sport24 on
"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."