Proteas spin bowler Robin Peterson.

Robin Peterson used to be a victim of South Africa’s confusion regarding spin bowling. Captains and coaches wanted someone who could contain while Peterson reckoned he should attack more.

When he conceded runs, captains shivered and coaches scowled. Always a talented bowler, he was never able to establish himself in either the Test or limited over sides, until two seasons ago. Someone – then captain Graeme Smith or even temporary coach Corrie van Zyl – had a thought that perhaps they should actually listen to Peterson, let him attack and see what happened.

He ended last year’s World Cup as South Africa’s leading wicket-taker with 15, opening the bowling with great success in one group match against England, and is now an established member of the ODI side. There were several key moments in the second ODI against England – Hashim Amla’s innings naturally being the outstanding feature – and it is Peterson’s double strike in consecutive overs in the bowling power play that put paid to England’s chances.

First Ian Bell, who had started in blistering fashion by scoring 45 off 41 balls, was flummoxed by one that spun past his outside edge and crashed into the off-stump. Then in Peterson’s next over, Ravi Bopara, having produced some elegant strokes, holed out to cover.

England never recovered and Peterson once more underlined his importance to the side.

“Belly seems to be getting out to spin quite a bit of late and we just thought that with the conditions suiting me, why not let me have a go, and having got him out a few times in the past, I’m quite confident bowling to him,” said Peterson who finished with 2/51 from nine overs.

“I like to think wickets instead of containing people and it’s probably the way one-day cricket has gone these days, the only way to control the run rate is by taking wickets all the time.”

AB de Villiers had talked about how he wanted his bowlers to play with an attacking mindset, and Peterson carries that order out better than most. “He is still learning but he’s got an attacking mindset,” Peterson said about South Africa’s limited overs captain. “I like his positive thinking, he’s always backing us bowlers to get wickets and doesn’t mind going for the odd boundary in the pursuit of getting wickets.”

De Villiers was also full of praise for the “younger” players who have been picked for the one-day series. Dean Elgar playing his first full match did okay with the bat, sharing a 44-run partnership with Amla, then taking a spectacular catch on the boundary before claiming a wicket with just his third ball in international cricket.

Wayne Parnell bowled with far more zip than has been the case for a few years, as did Ryan McLaren making his first start in an ODI in two years. “I was very impressed with most of the young guys. Parnell, Elgar and McLaren really stepped up,” said De Villiers.– The Star