Spin­ners mark the be­gin­ning of a cy­cle

CityPress - - Sport - HEINZ SCHENK sport@city­press.co.za

An abun­dance of real tal­ent or a sausage ma­chine?

Ac­cord­ing to pre­vi­ous Proteas spin­ner Paul Adams, the 11 bowlers – seven of whom are be­gin­ners – who were in­vited to be part of Cricket SA’s (CSA) an­nual spin­ners’ train­ing camp are in­dica­tive of an emerg­ing group who will of­fer the na­tional Test team a wealth of choice.

“I think it’s im­por­tant to note that we are at the be­gin­ning of a cy­cle,” Adams told City Press’ sis­ter pub­li­ca­tion Rap­port. “In the past two years op­por­tu­ni­ties have started to open for spin­ners to es­tab­lish them­selves in the Proteas team. Guys like [the Co­bras’] Dane Piedt and [the War­riors’] Si­mon Harmer have been given a few chances. But there is no clar­ity on the Proteas’ pre­ferred spin­ner.”

Piedt and Harmer raised eye­brows in the 2013/14 cam­paign with 45 and 40 wick­ets re­spec­tively, but over­all spin­ners’ wicket hauls at lo­cal level re­main very ir­reg­u­lar.

Ke­shav Ma­haraj, the Dol­phins’ left­hand spin­ner, was last sea­son’s lead­ing spin­ner with 36 wick­ets. He jointly took the fifth most wick­ets. His bowl­ing av­er­age of 29.38 is also rel­a­tively ex­pen­sive, but – some­what more wor­ry­ing – this was the best of any spin­ner who gar­nered more than 20 wick­ets.

Are spin­ners of Test qual­ity not sup­posed to pick up wick­ets cheaply?

“Of course that’s the ideal, but I’m not sure it’s al­ways fea­si­ble in lo­cal con­di­tions. Sev­eral in­ter­na­tional spin­ners re­ally strug­gled in Test se­ries here. It’s not easy to be a spin­ner in South Africa. We tend to sin­gle out play­ers as an at­tack­ing or de­fend­ing spin­ner. I think it’s about flex­i­bil­ity, to vary your at­tack as a bowler in line with the state of the game,” said Adams.

Vin­nie Barnes, a one-time Proteas bowl­ing coach and CSA’s high per­for­mance man­ager, doubts whether pitches specif­i­cally pre­pared for spin­ners will boost their de­vel­op­ment.

“It is dan­ger­ous to pre­pare con­di­tions for a spe­cific group of play­ers. You don’t want to jeop­ar­dise de­vel­op­ment seam­ers and bats­men by favour­ing spin­ners. I ac­tu­ally think it is en­cour­ag­ing if a spin­ner like Ke­shav takes 36 wick­ets at an av­er­age of 30. It shows a spin­ner who can work hard for a re­ward.

“Wick­ets are not easy for a spin­ner at the high­est level,” he said.

Aaron Phangiso said South African cricket must be pa­tient with the de­vel­op­ment of its spin­ners.

PHOTO: DEAAN VIVIER / PHOTO24

OP­TI­MIST Adams

Re­tired spin­ner Paul

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