Cape Town - Paul Adams is the lone, post-isolation
specialist spinner in Tests to be ahead of seemingly major find Keshav Maharaj
in the wickets column after six appearances for the South African national
That says plenty about the impact the tall, lean left-armer - man of the match in the Proteas’ second-Test conquest of New Zealand in
Wellington - has made since his debut against Australia at Perth in November.
Maharaj played the starring role in cleaning up the Black
Caps for only 171 in their second innings at the Basin Reserve on Saturday, en
route to an eight-wicket triumph and 1-0 series lead with one match to play at
The KwaZulu-Natalian earned a personal best innings haul of
six for 40 (match figures eight for 87), coming hot on the heels of a prior
“five-for” in Dunedin - he is the leading wicket-taker across the sides in the
series with 13, ahead of New Zealand’s Pretoria-born fast bowler Neil Wagner
His strides in guile and suitable temperament at this level
have been plain to see, and the statistical rewards are just as obvious;
Maharaj now sports 24 scalps after six Tests at an average of 23.12 and economy
rate of 2.80.
So the 27-year-old is striking the perfect balance for his
skipper Faf du Plessis so far between strike potential and the ability to keep
a healthy check on the scoring rate.
There was extraordinary hype, understandably, when a
youthful Adams burst onto the Test scene as a callow teenager in 1995 with his
unique frog-in-a-blender action and quirky pointing of his head to the sky as
he released the ball.
He was - at least initially - just as hard to fathom by
batsmen as a result, which goes a long way to explaining his early strides in
destructive terms at the premier level of the game.
Adams, after six Tests, already boasted 27 wickets, although
he had only notched one five-wicket haul by then, one down on Maharaj (six for
55 against India at Kanpur).
He regressed progressively as the novelty of his action wore
off, and ended his “chinaman” career with a still-decent 134 wickets from 45
Tests at 32.87.
Maharaj is significantly more orthodox, but mixes up his
lines, angles and pace suitably to be a handful as an attacking factor, while
already showing that he can put in solid graft from one end as a holding
element when circumstances demand it.
He is not far off Adams in the wickets column after
half-a-dozen Tests, only trailing “Gogga” by three at the equivalent juncture
He is also ahead of all other front-line SA Test spinners in
that regard in the post-1991 era, with retired fellow left-armer Paul Harris
next with 23 dismissals after six Tests, and still active off-spinner Dane
Piedt (added to the SA squad for possible inclusion as an extra slow bowler at
Hamilton) just behind that figure on 22.
Most wickets after
six Tests by post-isolation SA spinners (with full career figures also
27: Paul Adams (career: 134 wickets at 32.87, economy 2.98,
24: Keshav Maharaj (career: 24 wickets at 23.12, economy
2.80, 6 Tests)
23: Paul Harris (career: 103 wickets at 37.87, economy 2.65,
22: Dane Piedt (career: 24 wickets at 36.04, economy 3.46, 7
21: Claude Henderson (career: 22 wickets at 42.18, economy
2.83, 7 Tests)
18: Nicky Boje (career: 100 wickets at 42.65, economy 2.96,
16: Imran Tahir (career: 57 wickets at 40.24, economy 3.50,
14: Robin Peterson (career: 38 wickets at 37.26, economy 3.37,
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