Long tour will benefit the Proteas, says spinner Tabraiz Shamsi
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JOHANNESBURG – While he’ll be spending nearly two months away from home, Tabraiz Shamsi believes he and the Proteas will derive great benefit from that lengthy period on the road.
The Proteas were due to arrive in St. Lucia early on Wednesday, with three days of quarantine to follow before they can start preparations for the two-match Test series against the West Indies. The first of those Tests starts next Thursday.
Shamsi is in both the Test and T20 squads, so he’ll stay on in the Caribbean and then head to Ireland where South Africa will play three ODIs and three T20 Internationals. “It’s 57 days away from family, spouses and children. You put that human element to it and think about that, it's hard for anyone to do. We have jobs to do, and that is what we will focus on but it will be very taxing. But you look at what opportunities there are, and there is a lot to look forward to on the field.”
Shamsi was named T20 International Cricketer of the Year on Monday, following a season in which he rose to no.1 in the T20 bowling rankings, a position he still holds. “That ranking was not something I was actively looking at,” said the 31 year old left arm wrist-spinner. “I don’t think anyone understands how they work, I was more chuffed to be no.2 during the series in Pakistan just after we’d won a game there. The no.1 world ranking came when we weren’t actively playing. I don’t even think I’m the best bowler in my team. It is nice, but it is something I will only look back on after my career. What I really want is to win the World Cup for our country.”
Shamsi will be critical to that campaign, wherever it takes place. As of now, the Board of Control for Cricket in India, wants to be given more time to decide if it can host the tournament, if not then the United Arab Emirates is the most likely destination.
Either way, being in the Caribbean will benefit the Proteas. “All our games have been played in South Africa recently. Normally in the West Indies, the pitches are slow, although generally St Lucia is one of the quicker wickets in the Caribbean. But it’s a nice challenge to play in different conditions and fine tune our game plans.”
Shamsi is one of the few players in the South African squad who is familiar with conditions in the West Indies having played a few seasons in the Caribbean Premier League T20 competition.
“The role of the spinner is very important in the West Indies,” said Shamsi. “They play high octane cricket. Having played a few years in the CPL, I know a spinner can turn a game. They have brought all their big names back which will be nice for us to test our skills against.”
South Africa’s record in the T20 format has been poor since Mark Boucher took over as coach in 2019, winning just four out of 16 matches. Although the side is missing Faf du Plessis, Chris Morris and Imran Tahir, there’s still enough firepower to make everyone believe they are capable of winning a series in the Caribbean, albeit against what will be a very powerful West Indies team.
“We know what the guys are capable of in the squad and that gives us confidence. They may not be experienced internationally, but we’ve played a lot of cricket domestically. I think we are going to surprise a few people,” said Shamsi.