Is there any good reason why Tahir is still being selected for the SA side?

2014-07-25 00:00

WORKING for a living is tough. It’s a necessity and in the world of professional sport it is no different. Indeed, it’s more demanding.

This is a world where performance counts. There is no place to hide as the media, through television, newspapers, Twitter and social networks keep the world informed of how things transpire. Stats also add value as they never lie and paint their own picture of a great, mediocre or plain horrible career.

Unfortunately, in the world of international cricket, this is what life is about. It’s not just Big Brother watching, it’s the whole world and it can be cruel.

Sport involves humans, not machines, and there will be moments of brilliance followed by days to forget. The key for anyone wanting to perform is to make a name for themselves and be remembered. It calls for character, confidence, belief — chutzpah.

In a sport such as cricket, time at the top as a player is limited. Time is of the essence and inconsistent performances cannot be afforded a free ride on the back of a captain’s belief or a team’s encouragement. When it’s time to step up to the mark, it’s time to perform. That’s why a player is there in the first place, that’s what the country being represented expects.

Which brings Proteas followers to the Imran Tahir question. Why is he still being selected for the side?

Let’s get brutal and honest and admit he has never performed to what was expected of him. His most memorable contribution was in the UAE last year against Pakistan when his eight wickets enabled the Proteas to share the two-Test series. That was it. That has been it. Nothing else to write home about in a career of 15 Tests to date and we should rightly be terrified if that total continues to move upwards.

Being a leg spinner as such, his rise into the Protea squad and qualifying to represent South Africa was met with high anticipation. He was seen as the answer to our spinning quandary, but in a cruel reversal of fortune, is now a headache.

He continues to fail. He continues to be given chances. Waist-high full tosses, leaking runs and allowing batsmen to settle is not what Test match pedigree is about. All the hard work done by bowlers at the other end is shattered within a few overs of Tahir’s tasty treats. When Duminy, the back-up spinner, picks up wickets and Tahir battles to bowl six dot balls, the gods are sending a subtle message.

At 35 it’s time for Tahir to return to the provincial stud to see out his days. Dane Piedt waits in the wings. He is young, he is learning, he has something to prove. Let’s work with him, let him develop and let’s see what he can do. A breath of fresh air often does wonders.

As a parting shot, for Protea skipper Hashim Amla to say he rates Tahir as one of the world’s most skilful leg spinners — that must be the joke of the week. It’s plain to see the captain is protecting his charge and is prepared to carry a liability in the team, in many instances, to their detriment.

Closer to home, why don’t we replace him with Daryn Smit of the Dolphins? He is only 30 and can bat. Oh, and he is a leg spinner too. How exciting.

He could win us Test matches.

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