Imran Tahir has served the Proteas with distinction since the 2011 Cricket World Cup, but he says “there is a stage in your life where you have to make big decisions”.
Tahir announced his big decision on Monday, which will see him leave the one-day international arena at the conclusion of the 2019 World Cup in the UK.
The Pakistan born and raised leg-spinner will turn 40 in three weeks’ time, and it will herald the beginning of the end for the energetic tweaker, who wears his South African heart on his sleeve every time he takes to the field.
And, of course, when he grabs a wicket!
“I would love to play for as long as I can. But there is a stage in your life where you have to make big decisions. This is one of those big decisions, it is definitely the biggest decision of my life,” Tahir said.
“I also feel there are a couple of good spinners in the country who need the opportunity. We are fighting for the same spot, but looking to the future, they will have more opportunities to play for South Africa.”
Tahir was one of the surprise omissions from the contracted list of Proteas for the next 12 months, which was announced at the weekend – along with JP Duminy, with the latter having given up red-ball cricket.
Tahir showed in taking 3/26 against Sri Lanka on Sunday that he still has the ability to perform at the highest level, and he will hope for a grand last hurrah in the 50-overs arena at the World Cup.
He will still continue to play in T20 Internationals, in order to compete in that upcoming World Cup as well.
“I have always wanted to play in the World Cup. It would be a great achievement for me to play for this great team,” Tahir said.
“I have a mutual understanding with Cricket South Africa, and going forward, I decided that I would finish at the World Cup – that is why I am contracted until then.
“After that, Cricket South Africa has allowed me to go and play around the world in various leagues, but I would also love to play T20 cricket for South Africa.
“I think I have the ability and can play a role in T20 cricket for South Africa. I am grateful for the opportunity.
“I felt really good (at the Wanderers on Sunday). I always want to take wickets in every game that I play, and it happened yesterday. I am grateful that I played my role for the team.”
The second Sri Lanka ODI is at Centurion on Wednesday (1.30pm start).@ashfakmohamed