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SA 'not writing Tahir off'

2012-12-05 14:23

Cape Town – Embattled leg-spinner Imran Tahir is still earmarked to have a role in the Proteas’ Test plans despite his mauling by the Australians at Adelaide Oval recently.

Tahir was predictably dropped from the decisive third Test in Perth after his nought for 260 analysis a game earlier, and left-arm spinner Robin Peterson’s six-wicket success at the WACA clearly gives him the inside lane for selection for the first Test against New Zealand at Newlands from January 2.

But at a post-tour media briefing along with coach Gary Kirsten at that venue here on Wednesday, Test captain Graeme Smith said: “We are certainly not writing Imran off – he’s going to play a key part for this Test team going forward somewhere.

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“Our challenge is to get his confidence back up; he has a good idea of what he needs to work on. Hopefully he’ll come back here and see a lot of success in the first-class game again.”

But he also dropped an understandably heavy hint that Peterson would keep the specialist spinner’s slot for the time being.

“I think Robin has put in a strong performance (in Perth). The wickets that he got for us were a key factor in that game. He provides an all-rounder option as well.

“He has been around the squad for a period of time now and fought his way back into all environments. Robbie was also one of our most successful performers at the ICC World Twenty20.”

Kirsten, for his part, took the opportunity to offer encouragement to Dean Elgar, the left-handed batsman who became the first South African to record a pair on debut since tail-ender Allan Donald at Bridgetown, Barbados, in 1992.

“You can’t read anything into his (under-performance at Perth) at all. Just because he doesn’t perform in one Test match certainly doesn’t mean that he not a valuable part.

“He’s with us because he’s done exceptionally well at first-class level over a period of time and as much as we can we’ll give him a really good opportunity.”

Especially assuming that veteran all-rounder Jacques Kallis is able to bowl again soon following his hamstring injury, giving the Proteas back their fifth option on that front, there is probably a fair chance Elgar will play against the Black Caps in the New Year Test. 

Judging by his words at the press conference on the team’s ability to field a No 7 batsman, given the luxury of Kallis and wicketkeeper AB de Villiers effectively being two all-rounders in the top five, Kirsten is keen to keep the batting particularly well stocked.

“I think one could argue that that’s our X-factor at the moment ... that we can pick a No 7 batsman in our Test side.

“It certainly helped in some of our very crucial Test matches both in England and Australia. There might come a time where we need to look at it another way, but at the moment (as the XI is structured) we regard that as our X-factor.”

Kirsten also told Sport24 there was a “possibility” of De Villiers getting some respite from the glove-work during the home one-day obligations this season against New Zealand and then Pakistan.

“It hasn’t been discussed among the selectors yet. We’re having a meeting some time next week. It certainly is a possibility; his workload is pretty hectic at present.

“But he’s also only kept in six Test matches and I thought he kept outstandingly in Australia. As good as I’ve seen, so I was really encouraged by that.”  

Probed about whether Thami Tsolekile, who has been the reserve Test wicketkeeper on the visits to both England and Australia in recent months, would get an opportunity at some stage, Kirsten said: “It’s difficult to say. I feel that our Test team is the flagship of South African cricket and it has had incredible success because we have players with a lot of experience, and a team that has great balance.

“I certainly wouldn’t want to take our results (as a current combination) lightly, though that’s not to say nobody else can play.

“Anyone can play in the Test team, but our combination at the moment is a very successful one. We come back very proud and as No 1 side.

“We do make every effort to give guys opportunities in all forms of the game at Proteas level. We think long and hard about selections, (but) this team can stand tall about what it has achieved.”

He said trying to unearth an eventual replacement for the ageing, multi-talented Kallis was among priorities.

“Yes, we’ve got to work on that, without a doubt. Jacques is loving his cricket at the moment and is keen to keep playing so we want to encourage that.

“We’ve got to be mindful that we need to broaden our base and I’ve been encouraged by some new guys who have come in during this series.

“Without having Jacques might affect our balance in a way but we’ll deal with that when the time comes. We’ll certainly keep the old dog on the road for as long as possible!

“We need to consider (scaling down) his bowling -- it was good to play in a Test match a few days ago where he has batted only; a chance to see what we could do with just three seamers, and it went exceptionally well, I thought.”

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

Sport24

Comments
  • dragonfire47 - 2012-12-05 14:33

    I should hope not, we need him on the sub continent, that's where he is so dangerous, before we got knocked out he was the highest wicket taker in the last world cup

      dhirshan.gobind - 2012-12-05 15:56

      Merchant De Lange!

      thomas.cannon.712 - 2012-12-05 21:55

      I agree you don't throw players away after a poor showing in one test match!! However Elgar was so bad he didn't need his bat as he didn't seem to know what to do with it!!!! He was so out of his depth he looked like an average club player!! We have a super team but how much better can they be if they could field!!! This has to be the worst fielding side in two decades!!!

  • priyal.pillay - 2012-12-05 14:43

    Also think we need to persevere with him. All these years we've been hoping for a good legspinner, we shouldn't just trash him now. Tahir needs consistency. Doesn't build up enough pressure with his deliveries. Obviously has the talent but needs to come to the party. No place for passengers in this No1 team. Back to 1st class cricket if need be

  • bambanani.mdzimba - 2012-12-05 14:46

    OK

  • nhlapop - 2012-12-05 14:47

    That would be a big mistake. We really need him

  • bobese.manyani - 2012-12-05 14:48

    For Thambi Tsolekile you says this Kirsten "I feel that our Test team is the flagship of South African cricket and it has had incredible success because we have players with a lot of experience" need I remind you that Thami has got that experience too. And to Dean you say this "as much as we can we’ll give him a really good opportunity.” Will you please do the same for Thami give him a real opportunity?

      priyal.pillay - 2012-12-05 15:04

      Im afraid Thami's not good enough bobese

      thebe.motshwadira - 2012-12-05 19:24

      Thami wouldn't have been included in the squad if he wasn't good enough. Too many uninformed opinions get thrown around on sport24, philander was also 'not good enough' before his recall last year

  • jason.marriott.75 - 2012-12-05 14:51

    Elgar got 1 chance in a test and really he has shown he is good enough domestic cricket to get more chances. Tahir averaging over 50 per wicket over many tests in test cricket that isn't good enough especially considering he is meant to a wicket taker. We might as well have a holding bowler at 30-35 per wicket.

  • sulaiman.galant.7 - 2012-12-05 16:18

    Quinton de Kock for 1 day and 20 over wicketkeeper.

  • singh.shalin - 2012-12-05 17:11

    The team is fine as is. De Kock can maybe replace Elgar. We've been performing despite Tahir, not because of him. How a 31 year old with so much of experience can bowl so many no-balls, and not land the ball in the same place twice, is beyond me. At this age he should have perfected his craft, not still be learning it. Robbie P has shown that he can do a better job, on a pitch that was not spin-friendly, and he should therefore get the chance.

  • andile.nokhetshe - 2012-12-05 17:53

    I am getting a sense that Smith said whatever he said to make Tahir feel better since he (Tahir) can't be told straight that there is no place for him in the team anymore.

  • gavin.rooy - 2012-12-06 10:58

    Tahir needs game time with SA A team for sure. He is lacking confidence and is not really a bad bowler. the only thing that concerns me about Tahir is the fact that batsmen can read his wrong one. Most of his test wickets have also been lower order batsmen. Unfortunatley we do not have a world class spinner in SA and is something we need to start identifying at school boy level.

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