SA gamble on uncapped Tahir for World Cup
Cape Town: Uncapped leg-spinner Imran Tahir was on Tuesday named in South Africa’s 15-man squad for the Cricket World Cup in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka from February 19 to April 2.
Selection convener Andrew Hudson said that the Pakistan-born Tahir was a ‘unique talent’.
Asked why Tahir had not been included in any of the first three matches in the current one-day series against India, Hudson said that he should play before the end of the series.
“It’s difficult for us to carry two spinners in South African conditions but we’ll possibly look to start him some time soon,” said Hudson.
Off-spinner Johan Botha has been the only specialist spin bowler selected so far in the series.
Tahir, Botha and left-armer Robin Peterson will form South Africa’s spin attack.
“The selection of three specialist spin bowlers is essential for the conditions we expect to encounter at the World Cup and it is not a worry that Tahir has not played an ODI,” said Hudson.
“His record both in South Africa and England speaks for itself. We know exactly what he offers us.”
Only four of the squad - captain Graeme Smith, Jacques Kallis, AB de Villiers and Peterson - were part of South Africa’s campaign in the 2007 World Cup in the West Indies, where South Africa reached the semi-finals.
Kallis is recovering from a side strain and bruised rib but is expected to be fit by the start of the World Cup.
Notable omissions are veteran wicketkeeper Mark Boucher and hard-hitting all-rounder Albie Morkel, who both had reputations as strong finishers in the closing overs of one-day games.
Morne van Wyk, who shone in a Twenty20 match against India, was chosen as the back-up wicketkeeper to de Villiers, while Hudson said that Colin Ingram, who has been batting at number three against India, had been selected to fill the number seven role when Kallis returns to the side.
Hudson said the squad consisted of seven specialist batsmen, three specialist spin bowlers and four specialist seam bowlers, with Van Wyk completing the line-up as a wicketkeeper who could also play as a top order batsman.
“Kallis provides an additional seam bowling option as do ‘Faf’ du Plessis and JP Duminy in the spin bowling department,” he said.
Graeme Smith (capt), Hashim Amla, Johan Botha, AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, Faf du Plessis, Colin Ingram, Jacques Kallis, Morne Morkel, Wayne Parnell, Robin Peterson, Dale Steyn, Imran Tahir, Lonwabo Tsotsobe, Morne van Wyk.