Tahir excited at possibility of joining Proteas after getting SA citizenship

2011-01-03 00:00

IMRAN Tahir’s 2011 got off to the best possible start, as he learned that he was now eligible to be selected for the Proteas, after Home Affairs granted him South African citizenship by naturalisation last Friday.

The KZN Dolphins spin wizard has been on tenterhooks for months, as he waited for the confirmation that he can at least be in the frame for selection to his adopted country.

“I was very happy when I got the good news, and now I just want to keep doing what I have been doing for the Dolphins this season,” he told The Witness yesterday.

Cricket South Africa CEO Gerald Majola confirmed that Tahir would now be in the selection frame, having satisfied the governement’s requirements to become a citizen.

Tahir had a rough December, as he was taken ill by a virus on the eve of the Dolphins’ SuperSport Series clash against the Cape Cobras in Paarl on December 16.

“I don’t really know what happened, because one day I was fine, and then I was vomiting, and coughing and really sick,” he recalled.

“I obviously couldn’t play that match, and only now I have got back to full fitness,” he said excitedly.

The leading wicket-taker in domestic cricket this season now wants to pile on the scalps, as he hopes to catch the eye of the national selectors.

With over 500 wickets in first-class cricket, he is a proven strike bowler.

“This is what I want to do, and now I just have to do my best and hope that I get selected.”

The Proteas, currently playing their last Test of the summer, would add a new dimension to their attack if they suddenly picked the leg-spinner to complement the likes of Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel.

The current spin option in the Proteas line-up, Paul Harris, relies more on containment.

Tahir, however, is an out and out strike bowler, as Dolphins patrons will happily attest.

Even English superstar Kevin Pietersen waxed lyrical about the 30-year-old’s exploits during his short stint for the Dolphins at the start of the season.

“He is the real deal, and if handled properly he can win any team matches,” Pietersen said of the former Pakistan A cricketer.

But, for now, Tahir will be doing his best to help get the Dolphins back to winning ways. They face the Warriors this week in the SuperSport Series, and Tahir cannot wait to get back in the middle.

“Obviously it’s been an exciting few days, but now I just want to help the Dolphins get back to winning ways. If I am bowling well for them, then who knows?”

The Dolphins have lost the services of Ravi Bopara, after the Englishman was called up for England A duty, and Graham Ford’s charges will be looking to show a marked improvement from their dismal end to 2010, when they got thrashed by the Cobras in three days.

“We’ve had a couple of good practices, and then a two-day break over the new year. But we will be back in training [today and tomorrow], before leaving for Port Elizabeth on Wednesday.”

Fully recovered from his mystery bug, Tahir will be hoping to spin his web around the Warriors as he did when he faced them at the PMB Oval in October.

On that occasion, the Warriors just held on for a draw, with their tail-enders hanging on despite a rampant charge by Tahir.

He will be out to finish the job this time.

He is now a marked man.

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