Shamsi cleared for international take-off

Times Media


TELFORD VICE, Cape Town

THE rise and rise of Tabraiz Shamsi reached cruising altitude on Friday when he was picked in the SA squad that will jet off to the Caribbean next month to play in a one-day tournament against West Indies and Australia.

Just weeks ago the left-arm wrist spinner, 26, was a respected bowler on the franchise scene, where he took 41 wickets at 19.97 for the Titans in the first-class competition last season – the best performance by a slow bowler. But was he more than that?

Part of that question was answered 15 days ago, when Shamsi was named to replace the injured Samuel Badree with Indian Premier League (IPL) outfit Royal Challengers Bangalore.

He wasted no time making an impact, dismissing Ajinkya Rahane, Brendon McCullum and David Warner in his first three matches. Warner’s wicket had Shamsi dancing in the outfield, a move the disapproving Australian labelled “a bit fancy”.

And now he has a place in a national squad, which might surprise Shamsi himself considering the queue he put himself at the end of during an interview with Times Media last month: “There’s Dane Piedt, Keshav Maharaj, Eddie Leie, Simon Harmer and myself, so I think the future of spin bowling is quite strong.”

More objective observers might wonder if Shamsi’s selection is justified considering he played in just four of the Titans’ 10 matches in last season’s limited overs competition, taking four wickets at 54.25 and at an economy rate of 5.86.

But the impact he has made in the IPL and his performance in last year’s Caribbean Premier League – where he was joint fifth among wicket-takers and twice took four wickets in a match – helped him crack the nod.

“He has shown what he can do in the T20 leagues against international batsmen,” a Cricket SA statement quoted selection convenor Linda Zondi as saying.

Leg spinner Imran Tahir and left-arm spinner Aaron Phangiso were also selected, which Zondi said was part of SA’s planning for the future: “Spin bowling is becoming an increasingly important part of both limited overs formats and we are only just over a year away from the Champions Trophy in England.”

Wayne Parnell, who was mauled for 85 runs in nine overs in his last ODI, against India at the 2015 World Cup, has earned a recall on the back of finishing third among wicket-takers in the franchise one-day tournament last season.

“Wayne has the ability to become a quality allrounder for us and, like Tabraiz, he is being rewarded for outstanding domestic form,” Zondi said.

Faf du Plessis was picked despite a broken finger that required surgery and that, according to SA team manager Mohammed Moosajee, could see him ruled out of SA’s first match, against West Indies in Guyana on June 3. 

But there was no room for Davids Miller and Wiese and, conspicuously, Dale Steyn.

“In the short term our immediate focus must be to get back among the top ranked test nations and for this reason we are resting Dale Steyn for this tour,” Zondi said.

“He is vital to our ambitions in the longest format and he is going to have a heavy workload in the months ahead with home and away series against New Zealand, a home series against Sri Lanka and a test series in Australia which is where we need to perform.

“He is certainly not out of the ODI picture and could well feature in the home series against Australia later this year.”

You might have thought Steyn is getting all the rest he needs at the IPL, where he had played in just one of Gujarat Lions’ 10 games.

SA squad: AB de Villiers (captain), Kyle Abbott, Hashim Amla, Farhaan Behardien, Quinton de Kock, JP Duminy, Faf du Plessis, Imran Tahir, Morne Morkel, Chris Morris, Wayne Parnell, Aaron Phangiso, Kagiso Rabada, Rilee Rossouw, Tabraiz Shamsi.

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