Tahir keeps get­ting bet­ter

In the twi­light of his ca­reer, smil­ing spin­ner still has so much to of­fer

Diamond Fields Advertiser - - SPORT - LUNGANI ZAMA CRICKET WRITER

YOU’VE prob­a­bly al­ready seen it on so­cial me­dia, and it should re­ally come as no sur­prise, but the le­gend of Im­ran Tahir con­tin­ues to grow and grow.

Af­ter the cam­eras had stopped rolling at Buf­falo Park on Tues­day night, Tahir took Zim­babwe’s Bran­don Mavuta out to the mid­dle, and showed him a few point­ers on the in­tri­ca­cies of leg-spin. Tahir didn’t have to do it, but he was more than happy to.

Mavuta, young and raw, would have been thrilled to get the ex­per­tise, be­cause wrist-spin re­mains the sin­gle most dif­fi­cult craft in the sport. In the mid­dle of a se­ries be­tween the two na­tions, he had the world’s best leg-spin­ner giv­ing him some handy hints.

Tahir has en­joyed a re­mark­able re­turn to in­ter­na­tional ac­tion against Zim­babwe, with plenty of wick­ets, and the in­flu­ence that he has be­come renowned for. Even at the ten­der age of 39, Tahir re­mains a bun­dle of joy in whichever team he turns out for.

They love him in English county cricket, as they do in the Caribbean. Even in In­dia, eter­nal foes to his na­tive Pak­istan, they have come to em­brace him in the IPL.

Tahir is crick­et­ing cool, de­liv­er­ing the most tem­per­a­men­tal trade, with the big­gest smile on his face.

He gets so ex­cited that he oc­ca­sion­ally for­gets when he is on a hat-trick. Which has been rather com­mon of late.

They say that leg-spin con­trol ma­tures even later than bats­man­ship. It truly is that dif­fi­cult to mas­ter.

The great Shane Warne ad­mit­ted that it was only in his lat­ter years, when he spun it less - but con­trolled it al­most at will - that he felt truly at ease with his bowl­ing.

Tahir is cur­rently in that place, rev­el­ling in be­ing able to call upon his full arse­nal. He doesn’t sweat the half-track­ers like he used to, safe in the knowl­edge that he will come back with a wicket-tak­ing of­fer­ing soon enough.

For all his ex­ploits on the field, Tahir’s value off it is be­com­ing even more sig­nif­i­cant to South African cricket.

He knows that even his seem­ingly end­less sum­mers will soon di­min­ish into a per­ma­nent play­ing win­ter, and he will rest his mag­i­cal mitts.

Be­fore then, though, he has a job guid­ing the next gen­er­a­tion into to­mor­row.

Tabraiz Shamsi is his cur­rent project, the heir ap­par­ent to the spin­ning throne in lim­ited-overs fare for the Proteas.

Tahir has had as many din­ners with him as they have shared nets, be­cause much of what they do is in the mind; hold­ing your nerve when bat­ters are try­ing to take you apart.

You can rest as­sured that, be­yond the Mavuta mas­ter­class in the mid­dle, Tahir made time for Shamsi be­fore lights out on Tues­day.

In­creas­ingly, that leg-spin­ning shoul­der to get on is be­com­ing as im­por­tant to South African cricket as his wick­ets.

En­joy him while he is here, be­cause he is one of a mag­i­cal kind.

*Im­ran Tahir has been rested for the fi­nal T20 in­ter­na­tional against Zim­babwe on Fri­day.

Im­ran Tahir has been in pro­lific form for the Proteas against Zim­babwe.Pic­ture – Ryan Wilkisky Back­pagePix

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