Cape Town – If debutant “mystery spinner” Tabraiz Shamsi plays an influential role for South Africa over the remaining days of the third Test against Australia at Adelaide Oval, it is unlikely to surprise former Baggy Greens skipper Ian Chappell.
The television commentator believes the infusion of the left-arm chinaman bowler -- albeit at the reasonably undeserved expense of more conventional left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj -- sums up a welcome trend in positive selection throughout the series, already in the bag for the Proteas as they are 2-0 up.
Chappell has often lamented what he regards as a general conservatism in SA cricket in the past, but the frank critic says the tourists’ brains trust have been bold in handing the Titans-based player a maiden cap in the day/night Test.
Shamsi has only sent down two overs thus far, late in the floodlit final session of day one, but could come increasingly into the dead-rubber Test – the Proteas’ first experience of the pink ball at the highest level – for effectiveness as it develops.
“South Africa’s selections in this series have been pretty aggressive; more aggressive than you’d expect of them,” said Chappell. “Shamsi being included here continues that.”
He said the 26-year-old had intrigued him in what he had seen of him, either in practices or his activity for the Proteas at other levels of the game thus far.
“He bowls at a decent pace, but also not too flat, and gets a bit of loop.”
Almost inevitably, Chappell was moved to compare him with Paul Adams, the last spinner of similar primary hallmarks that the Proteas employed at Test level, in 45 games between 1995 and 2004.
“I wouldn’t quite say he has the same frog-in-a-blender action; he doesn’t turn his head completely away as he delivers (as Adams did), though he does duck a bit.
“Something in (Shamsi’s) action changes when he bowls his wrong ‘un, and I can’t entirely (pick) it.”
Maharaj made steady strides as the lone specialist spinner in the respective victories over the Aussies at Perth and Hobart, but Shamsi’s likely additional X-factor probably swayed his debut on Thursday.
He is already handily “in the game” as his invaluable runs (18 not out) as the No 11 batsman helped century-maker and captain Faf du Plessis add 39 runs for the unbroken 10th wicket before Du Plessis declared SA’s first knock at 259 for nine to facilitate a short bowl at the Aussies before stumps.
History shows that spinners traditionally have a solid role to play at Adelaide Oval, and that even applies to relatively infant day/night Tests already: seven scalps fell to slow bowlers in the fast-moving inaugural pink-ball Test between the Australians and New Zealand last season, despite the advantages also offered to the quicker men.
Nathan Lyon, the Baggy Greens’ off-spinner, might have had a couple more wickets, with better luck, than his 1/45 (Kagiso Rabada stumped) on Thursday, and it is still only two years ago at the same venue that he picked up career-best match figures of 12/286 against India.
Chappell, meanwhile, also lauded on day one the gritty qualities evidenced in the Du Plessis century – his second in two Test appearances at the ground.
“The crowd may regret having booed him as he came out to bat (following his central focus in the “Peppermintgate” controversy) … he was angry about what happened to him and came here determined; the booing only made him more so.
“He’s that sort of character, that sort of guy. He should be South Africa’s permanent captain now.”
Chappell added that Du Plessis wasn’t the first to get a raspberry at Adelaide Oval: “I’ve seen them boo Australian teams too, at times, but this crowd also enjoys fighting cricket and (acknowledges) it.”
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