Imran Tahir in action for the Dolphins against the Cobras in January. Photo: Chris Ricco/BackpagePix

DURBAN – Though he enjoyed a winter’s break, Imran Tahir remains central to South African World Cup plans. Closing in on 40 years of age, Tahir is still as fit as a fiddle.

His boundless energy has been a fixture in the Proteas’ set-up since 2011, but even he knows that the end is nearing.

“If we win the World Cup, then I will probably call it,” he said of his international career. “I am the kind of guy who wants to leave with respect,” he said in Bloemfontein.

The Proteas arrived in Bloemfontein and their first port of call was the playing surface, ahead of the second one-day international against Zimbabwe today.

The first match in Kimberley was played on a wicket that took everyone by surprise. There was assistance for the quicks, and some tennis-ball bounce, which made scoring tricky.

“It was a tough wicket, for both teams,” came the diplomatic reflection from the veteran spinner.

 Imran Tahir still gets excited when he puts on the Proteas jersey although he is approaching the twilight of his career. Photo: John Davidson /
Imran Tahir still gets excited when he puts on the Proteas jersey although he is approaching the twilight of his career. Photo: John Davidson /

The leg-spinner still played his part on Sunday, rushing through the defences with his bag of tricks. It was a welcome reaction to national colours for Tahir, and he said that he had missed it during a busy winter.

“I played in England, played in the Caribbean, so I was not resting. I would rather play than have a rest. Now, I am more than happy to have the shirt back on. I have no words,” he beamed.

He added that he still kept an eye on his mates from afar, as they had some mixed fortunes in Sri Lanka.

“I watched whenever I had a chance. I was really busy but I kept an eye on the boys. It is nice to see the other spinners coming through, and I am looking forward to share my knowledge with guys like ‘Shammo’ (Tabraiz Shamsi).

“I always try to help wherever I play around the world. I am really excited that we have another mystery spinner in Shammo. I am more than happy to help anyone who wants to talk about spin,” he added.

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Knowing he is getting on in years, Tahir is also looking to maintain the level of fitness and agility required to live in the Proteas side.

“I have been working really hard on my fitness because we have so many really fit guys in the team and I need to maintain standards.”

Looking to today's match, Tahir is looking forward to another stern test from Zimbabwe. Though Zimbabwe may be limited in their resources, they are not short of tenacity.

They almost snuck an upset in Kimberley, and they have at least one man who has been looking forward to coming to the sleepy city of Bloemfontein.

Captain Hamilton Masakadza was a student in Bloemfontein, so it is a homecoming of sorts for him.


The Mercury

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