South African spinners loving the new role

South African cricketer Johan Botha (centre) celebrates after taking the wicket of West Indies cricketer Chris Gayle during the Cricket World Cup match at the Feroz Shah Kotla Cricket Stadium in New Delhi on February 24. South Africa may boast deadly fast bowlers Dayle Steyn and Morne Morkel, but the speed-loving Proteas are falling in love with spin.

New Delhi: Feb 28, 2011

South Africa may boast deadly fast bowlers Dayle Steyn and Morne Morkel, but the speed-loving Proteas are falling in love with spin. Slow bowlers Imran Tahir and Johan Botha claimed six West Indies wickets between them in their opening World Cup win on Thursday, with Botha even being tossed the new ball.

Fellow spinner Robin Peterson, who went wicketless in that game, believes that South Africa now fully appreciate the significance of the slow men in the pursuit of a first World Cup.

The 31-year-old Peterson told the Press Trust of India South Africa had previously relied on pace. “The mindset has changed now. All the guys are excited about it and there are spinners at home who can do a job. Now we have three quality spinners who can perform at this level and they are confident enough to play at this level.

“Obviously when you come to the subcontinent, the captain looks at you to be the attacking option. But we have got three spinners now. In the past we only had one. Now they can use the spinners in short bursts, more attackingly.”

Peterson admitted that it was a challenge to bowl against quality batsmen on subcontinental tracks. “I wish I was born in India. It’s a dream to play in India. In the subcontinent, you have the best conditions for your bowling. All three spinners in the squad will love it.”

Despite Peterson’s enthusiasm, bowling coach Vincent Barnes said that his side would not use the same strategy all the time at the World Cup and that the bowling combinations would depend on playing conditions.

“We have got to look at the conditions coming up. We have got a couple of day matches, obviously morning and freshness of wicket do come into play,” he said, ahead of the next game against the Netherlands in Mohali on Thursday.

Tahir, JP Duminy and Steyn all missed training on Sunday, but their absences were shrugged off by team management.

“Imran has an upper respiratory tract infection and rested as a precaution,” team manager Mohammed Moosajee told cricinfo. “JP developed lower back stiffness after the last game and was also rested. Dale bruised his right side after a collision during today’s warm-ups and was removed from the rest of the practice by the physiotherapist Brandon Jackson to undergo treatment.”

Leg-spinner Tahir took 4 for 41 in the win over the West Indies and will have another key role in the game against the Netherlands.

Barnes said: “I hadn’t seen a lot of him before but I got to spend time with him during the India series and he has been unbelievable in the set-up.”