Proteas: Call for Shamsi Test nod

2016-07-21 06:40
Tabraiz Shamsi (Gallo Images)

Cape Town – He would probably be the quirkiest, most unorthodox South African Test spinner since Paul “Gogga” Adams if summoned to duty any time soon.

But at least two influential critics back an opportunity for Tabraiz Shamsi, the Titans’ left-arm chinaman bowler, in the Proteas’ five-day plans.

Paul Harris, the SuperSport pundit who was also the country’s usual first-choice and often lone spinner over the period between 2007 and 2011, would even like to see Shamsi leapfrog the primary Test incumbent, Dane Piedt, into the side for the looming home mini-series against New Zealand.

The first of two Tests is at Kingsmead in Durban from August 19 and the second scheduled for Shamsi’s home ground, SuperSport Park in Centurion, from August 27.

Another television critic, the former national selector and one-cap Proteas off-spinner Shafiek Abrahams, similarly gave a thumbs-up for an extension of Shamsi’s limited-overs role for South Africa – he earned maiden caps in the recent Caribbean ODI triangular – into the more extended arena at some stage.

Harris said on the Inside Edge chat show he felt Shamsi, 26, gave the Proteas good strike possibilities and that he had proved his worth at first-class level; he possessed healthy variety including a deceptive wrong ‘un.

The 37-Test Harris, always renowned as a pressure-builder and game-stopper even if he wasn’t enormously prolific in the wickets column, believes Shamsi would be freed to play an attack-minded role if the national side recalls Vernon Philander, the traditionally accurate seamer who is swiftly on the mend from long-term injury and “holds” a Test match reliably once he has had his initial assault with the new ball.

Johannesburg-born Shamsi has played 68 first-class matches – although some are in the second-tier provincial competition – and boasts 272 wickets at an average of 24.90 (economy 3.44).

The Proteas seem likelier to keep their faith as frontline spinner for the moment in Piedt, the Cape Cobras off-spinner who has earned five Test caps and picked up 22 scalps at 35.31; his own first-class average is 29.07.

While not having things entirely his own way in the just-completed two-game series between SA ‘A’ and their Zimbabwean counterparts, Piedt captured 4/19 in the short-lived, series-deciding second innings of the home side at Bulawayo when they were skittled for 133.

The one reservation Abrahams said he had over a possible Test call-up for Shamsi – he would personally stick with Piedt for the time being -- was his busy commitment in recent times to Twenty20 cricket; he has been playing for the St Kitts and Nevis Patriots in the Caribbean Premier League.

Piedt and Shamsi went head to head in Paarl at the tail-end of the 2015/16 Sunfoil Series season in April and, although in the losing cause in a tight encounter, the former earned greater individual bragging rights by claiming 7/106 for the Cobras in the Titans’ second knock.

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

Read more on:    proteas  |  tabraiz shamsi  |  paul harris  |  cricket

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