LONDON – It’s Thursday lunch-time, and Tabraiz Shamsi is all dressed up. Stamford Bridge is calling, and he intends to make the most of his last day off.
“I’m not a Chelsea fan, but I’ve heard it’s one of the better stadium tours around,” he says matter-of-factly.
“You never know when you’re next going to be here, so you might as well make the most of these days,” he says poignantly.
In the classic tradition of a wrist-spinner, Tabraiz Shamsi has a face that is as legible as his wrong ’un is indistinguishable to most batsmen.
His emotions for life’s rough decisions are the same as for what goes on in the middle.
And so, you don’t have to wonder how he took the decision to leave him out of the Proteas squad for the Champions Trophy.
“It was a bit of a shock,” he puffs.
“I was told a week before, but it still was very disappointing, you know.”
A month on, and it still hurts, and you can see him bristling at the missed opportunity. Shamsi lives for the game, for taking wickets and being central to the plot.
Instead of preparing for the top-eight team tournament, he went off on tour with the SA A side. Results were not pretty, and Shamsi admits that the going was tough.
“Our warm-up games before the one-day series were rained out. That didn’t help,” he points out. “When we did play, you could say that the England Lions caught us cold, and they were also in the middle of their season,” he pointed out.
It’s not an excuse, he maintains, but an obstacle that had to be overcome. He adds that the individual performances – if not the collective – have started to come as the tour has gone on.
The A side is into the four-day portion now, and Shamsi has switched to the Proteas set-up for the T20 series. Naturally, he is very keen to make an impression.
“If I get a chance, yeah.”
The last few months have taught Shamsi not to take anything for granted. That said, he remains very optimistic about the role of the leg-spinner in modern cricket.
“You always have a chance to get wickets, because guys are always looking to get after you.”
That attacking intent plays into his hands, and he expects England to be similarly forthright in their approach. Happily, he relishes the challenge.
The three-match series is a chance for Shamsi to put forth his case again, and the well travelled chinaman bowler remains cheerful about the future.
Having seen the likes of Imran Tahir and Brad Hogg thrive well into their 30s and 40s, he knows there is time on his hands.
“I know there is time, and playing in leagues like the IPL and the CPL has been great.”
Amongst other things, it has introduced him to some of the world’s biggest hitters, so he sees mates 22 yards away, instead of hard-hitting bullies out to break him.
It’s a small thing, but it makes a big difference in the psyche of a wrist-spinner.
Shamsi has been around the world in search of his place, so he is certainly not shy of fronting up and proving himself.
He was hurt by bring dropped at the 11th hour, but he has resolved to do more, be more.
He could do worse than going down the Kings Road, to see Chelsea’s lair.
A year ago, they were in the doldrums, embarrassed and in tatters.
A year on, they are champions of England, and on the up.
Shamsi would like to think some of that Chelsea magic rubbed off on him during his stadium tour.