- Proteas spinner Tabraiz Shamsi, despite his own success, has pleaded for patience with the struggling national team.
- The 31-year-old points out that South Africa were always going to have a hard time replacing the raft of stalwarts that retired recently.
- He says his ranking accolade is nothing but a bonus as all he wants to do is perform consistently for his country.
Tabraiz Shamsi might be riding a wave of personal success at the moment, but pleads for patience when it comes to the struggling Proteas he represents.
Recently installed as the number one-ranked bowler in T20 Internationals, the 31-year-old left-arm wrist spinner has seen his stock soar, in stark contrast to the national team.
The passionate Shamsi, however, believes the side is, to a large extent, copping unfair criticism for inconsistent performances over the past two years, primarily because of a rash of retirements of senior players such as AB de Villiers, Morne Morkel, Hashim Amla and Vernon Philander.
"I feel like we are in a good space at the moment," he told specialist Pakistani website PakPassion.net.
"Our national teams are going through a transition and people who are outside of the cricketing circle might not just understand that if you take out the best five or six players of any team it will take time for the new guys to come in and find their feet.
"We are comfortable where we are at because we know that the type of players we have - all we need now is just a little bit of time to play together."
Ironically, Shamsi has been one of the few previous fringe players in the Proteas setup to have truly grabbed the opportunity of more game-time, a factor he cites as arguably the main reason why he's become so effective in the shortest form of the game.
The bonus of a prestigious ranking though is exactly what it is ... a bonus.
Mankad. . .mankad and keep on mankadding until batsmen learn to stay behind the line just like bowlers have to keep their foot behind the line while bowling— Tabraiz Shamsi (@shamsi90) May 2, 2021
And if in the heat of the moment, somewhere down the line if I end up STEALING a few yards as a non striker MANKAD ME TOO! https://t.co/LDt7gcpzRe
"It's not something that I actively looked for. To be honest I just wanted to play regularly for my national team and for the first three or four years of my international career, I just played the occasional game here and there because Imran Tahir was around," said Shamsi.
"In 2019 because it was a World Cup year, I started to get more opportunities in the T20 format because we were playing our regular team in the 50-over matches and playing the back-up players in the T20 format to give us experience and that's where it started.
"All I wanted to do was to play, bowl and be the best bowler on the day and that’s how I try and play every single game and slowly I started climbing up the rankings. It wasn’t until we played England before Covid-19 caused havoc when I broke into the top 10 that I realised that the small things I had been working on and doing were actually paying off."
Given how he had to help carry an inexperienced South African attack in the latter stages of last month's white-ball series against Pakistan, it's tempting to ask him whether there are some mixed feelings about the IPL now being postponed after team-mates like Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi and Anrich Nortje left midway through the Pakistani assignment.
"It is what it is, and you just have to get on with the job," said Shamsi.
"The team that was selected consisted of players who have done well in domestic cricket and they are very good players. It was a good opportunity for us to give more experience to other guys and if you look at our T20 team we are relatively inexperienced including myself."