JOHANNESBURG – The top two wicket-takers and the best seven economy rates in this season’s CSA T20 Challenge all belong to spinners.
Is that a trend? Two rounds of games in the competition is perhaps too early to make a definitive judgement. What it does suggest is that the country’s pitches are getting ‘tired’ going into the seventh month of the season.
Lower and slower tracks are inevitable given the length of time on which they have been played and the fact that some many matches have taking place. It means teams have to go against the grain of what is supposedly the traditional South African method of bruising quick bowling.
The cunning and craft of spinners has been the dominant factor in the opening week of a competition that doesn’t seem to be capturing the imagination of the public - yet anyway. But there could still be benefits for South African cricket further down the line.
That it should be the spinners grabbing the spotlight, will force coaches, captains and batsmen to alter their thinking. Already the likes of Bjorn Fortuin at the Lions and Gregory Mahlokwana - who bowls with both arms - have opened the bowling.
In Wednesday’s thumping win against the Cobras, the Titans’ leg-spinner Shaun von Berg did a handy Shane Warne impression, ripping one leg-break from outside the leg-stump so far, that it was called a wide outside off-stump.
Batsmen will need to challenge themselves to do more than just knock singles around against the spinners. It was the trap into which the Cobras fell on Wednesday until Vernon Philander and Rory Kleinveldt produced some big hitting at the end to get the Cape side to 150.
But there will need to be a more bold approach from batsmen in the remaining weeks of the tournament if it is not to become one dominated by tweakers.
For South African cricket in general this early spin dominance is a good thing; with a Proteas Test tour to India in October, some players could be putting their names in the national selectors’ minds with an eye on that trip or even the SA A tour in the winter.
Of course next year there’s also the World T20 tournament and players making an impression now, may well put themselves into early consideration for that tournament.@shockerhess