Proteas’ Maharaj: Only eclipsed by ‘Gogga’

2017-03-20 12:53
Keshav Maharaj (AP)

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 side.

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 Hamilton.

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 with nine.

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 of development.

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 provided):

27: Paul Adams (career: 134 wickets at 32.87, economy 2.98, 45 Tests)

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, 37 Tests)

22: Dane Piedt (career: 24 wickets at 36.04, economy 3.46, 7 Tests)

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, 43 Tests)

16: Imran Tahir (career: 57 wickets at 40.24, economy 3.50, 20 Tests)

14: Robin Peterson (career: 38 wickets at 37.26, economy 3.37, 15 Tests)

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing


Read more on:    proteas  |  keshav maharaj  |  paul adams  |  cricket


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