Proteas spinner Imran Tahir will be a big weapon for South Africa when the World Cup comes around in the UK at the end of the month, says Vincent Barnes. Photo: BackpagePix
Although a lover of all things fast, Vincent Barnes believes South Africa have all their bases covered for this year’s World Cup.

Barnes spent eight years with the Proteas from 2003 honing the skills of the finest fast bowlers in the land.

However, he also has an appreciation for the slower turners of the ball, having particularly enjoyed South Africa’s tactical switch in the 2011 World Cup.

During the tournament held on the subcontinent, the Proteas employed three spinners  sometimes even four when all-rounder JP Duminy was also called upon to turn his arm over  with great effect.

Although they were ultimately bundled out at the quarter-final stage, the Proteas had dismissed each team they encountered until then within the allotted 50 overs.

Although this year’s event, starting in 21 days time when the Proteas face hosts England at the Oval, is being played in vastly different conditions, there is a feeling that spin will again prove pivotal.

There is certainly statistical evidence to support this theory. Six of the leading 10 ODI bowlers are spinners, all of them being of the wrist-spin variation.

One of them is, of course, the Proteas’ very own Imran Tahir, nestling in at third spot behind Afghanistan wizard Rashid Khan.

Tahir, who is retiring from ODIs after the World Cup, will have an able sidekick in Tabraiz Shamsi for company in the United Kingdom, which gives Barnes the confidence that Faf du Plessis’ team are well equipped.

“Spin has always been a weapon in one-day cricket,” Barnes told Independent Media from Melbourne yesterday.

“It will be very conditions dependent, but there is every chance that pitches could be very dry. I remember the World T20 back in 2009 when we encountered very dry pitches because it was a very hot English summer that year. This World Cup is being played over the same time period and the spinners will definitely come into play.

"Immy is world class. He is a proven match-winner for a long period of time, and Shammo has also being doing well recently. They can trouble any batting line-up.”

But where does that leave South Africa’s much-vaunted pace attack, especially as coach Ottis Gibson is a staunch advocate of fast bowling?

“Don’t get me wrong, spin will play a role, but the Proteas’ strength has always been its pace attack. They have wonderful bowlers in Dale Steyn, Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi and now Chris Morris too. Those guys are genuine fast bowlers,” Barnes said.

“Pure pace is an asset to any team. And remember, the matches will be spread around the UK. There is always a bit of cloud and drizzle around in Cardiff and Durham and that’s where the wickets may be a little spicy, offering the faster bowlers some seam movement.”


Cape Times

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