A toast to Tahir

December 23, 2016 Imran Tahir

Imran Tahir should have been one of the first names on the ODI Team of the Year list.

The ICC Teams of the Year can be misleading if you weren’t aware that the period counted is actually between 14 September 2015 to 20 September 2016.

Virat Kohli’s exclusion from the Test side, for instance, makes more sense when you take away his double hundreds. If you’re Adam Voges, a calendar year average of 38 becomes an absurd 90 in the ICC window. In fact, there’s probably no batter more deserving to be in the Test side based on that period.

But that’s if you’re going purely by stats. So if the judging panel, comprised of Gary Kirsten, Rahul Dravid and Kumar Sangakkara, did go by stats, then it’s a crying shame that Imran Tahir has to carry the hypothetical drinks by being named as 12th man.

The stats will tell you that he’s taken more wickets than any other bowler in ODI cricket in that period. He took an excellent 28 scalps from 16 matches at an average of 27.14. The spinners that got the job ahead of him were Indian all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja and West Indian mystery spinner Sunil Narine.

The judges factored in averages for a lot of the selections, and it’s becoming an increasingly important stat due to the increasing disparity in Tests played between nations. England, for example, have played nine more Tests than the Proteas this year. That’s why we still get to see Dale Steyn in the Test team of the year – His 14 wickets from four matches came at an average of 15. A Test Championship would sort out this nonsense, but that’s an argument for another time.

My point is, that’s why Narine got selected ahead of Tahir. Jadeja is probably in there for his usefulness with the bat at No 8. But Narine’s 16 wickets from 10 matches came at an average of 22.31, with a considerably better economy rate than Tahir’s. What they seem to have overlooked however is the strike rate. Tahir took more wickets per balls than Narine, and that’s exactly what you want as a captain – a leg-spinner constantly looking to attack.

If you find this all a bit frivolous, instead just take a moment to appreciate Tahir’s efforts in this format over the past year and a bit.

It’s been a largely successful period in the 50-over format for the Proteas, and boasting world-class options with the ball, Tahir is always right up there in the wicket-taking charts. His 7-45 in the Tri-Nation series against West Indies in June was one of the great performances in world cricket this year. They were the best figures by a South African in ODI history and the ninth-best of all time. In that spell he also became the quickest South African and fifth-quickest of all time to reach 100 ODI wickets.

After being dropped from the Test side pretty much for good towards the end of last year, he’s had to make an impact in the shorter formats to stay relevant in the international arena, and at 37 years old that’s no easy task. If personality and fight were attributes included in the ICC’s judgment, then Tahir would have waltzed into the team.

He celebrates each wicket as if it’s his last. ‘He’s an absolute go-to man,’ Faf du Plessis said after the whitewash victory against Australia. ‘He’s the reason why we are where we are.’

And who can forget his heated exchange with David Warner in the fifth ODI? ‘I only get aggressive if the opponent says something to me that requires me stand up for myself, and that’s exactly what happened at Newlands,’ he told me a couple of weeks ago. ‘Things are fine now, but if I see him again I’ll remind him that he owes me 40% of his match fee!’

He didn’t even give the Boks mercy in the Legacy Cup. Every ball he bowled was as good as any ball he’s bowled for the green and gold all year. That’s just the nature of his competitive spirit.

He may not have cracked the nod for the ODI world XI, but, in a year in which many consider to be the one of the worst in recent memory, Imran Tahir can toast to what has been one of his best. A can of coke or a glass of water, of course.



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50 comments
Alastair Graham
Alastair Graham

Why is adam voges in the ODI team and not viral kolhi - does not make sense

Gavin Byl
Gavin Byl

The man wears his heart on his sleeve. The pride to play the game and to play for SALE with no arrogance, is a lesson to many players out there.

Salman Ally
Salman Ally

its very disappointing that he is not included there... but we will always support him... best spinner in da modern era.. brings back da game from da dead n is our lethal weapon to every batting line up... #Lucky to be related to him :)

Leon Verster
Leon Verster

The most passionate cricketer I can think of.....

Fred Van der Vyver
Fred Van der Vyver

Not only a tremendous cricketer, but his enthusiasm added a breath of fresh air to the Proteas!

Abida Kahaar
Abida Kahaar

Imran Tahir u the master of spin n a real sportsman neva a dull moment wen u on the field n 4 dat i salute u

Letebele Maikhoso
Letebele Maikhoso

Fewer batsmen can connect Imran.His googly,only great great batsmen can read that.

Anele Swimming-pool Nkamana
Anele Swimming-pool Nkamana

I believe he should hv won the ICC cricket award of the bcz his simple been our best player nd Won us Matches

Yaghya Yaya Abrahams
Yaghya Yaya Abrahams

Lol the test team they chose is a joke lol..4aussies?captain by an english?Steyn?only 1 indian??lmao

Matthew Mansfield
Matthew Mansfield

Very unfortunate to not have made the starting 11. His attitude towards the game is something that all players can learn from and feed off during game time. My only critism of Tahir is the fact that he uses his "googly" too often! He bowls it at least once per over, if not twice per over. It's becoming a delivery the batsman is always anticipating. What made Shane Warne so fantastic is the batsman had no clue when he was bowling "googly, flipper, topspinner etc.

Cebo Vilakazi
Cebo Vilakazi

If I may disagree with you......his googly and flipper are his wicket. taking balls. He turns to them to give his team the wickets they need. Too much is never an option.

Matthew Mansfield
Matthew Mansfield

Didn't imply he was trying to be like Warne, however, in terms of leg spin, there is none better than Warne, so why not learn all you can from the way he bowled. Also, I don't dispute Tahirs googly is deadly, but bowling it too often will most certainly dilute it's effectiveness to surprise batsman.

Likhaya Mgangxela
Likhaya Mgangxela

True Matthew Mansfield whats sad is that Immy is in twilight years, to me in Tests it felt like he was always trying to get a wicket & not looking to build up to 1 with the Topspinner or Googly being the Crescendo so to speak. Otherwise a brilliant bowler & all round south african lol

Cebo Vilakazi
Cebo Vilakazi

Each player is different. Don't get sucked in to the fallacy of players copying each other. I agree that learning from one another can take place but isn't necessary. Tahir is different to Warne. Not much surprise in international cricket nowadays with all the analysis around. Warne did leave behind a legacy of immaculate accuracy but to ask every subsequent leg spinner to do the same is ludicrous. Warne was special and so is Immi bhai

Olebogeng Lekalakala
Olebogeng Lekalakala

The test team is rubbish!!! How many tests did Dale in 2016? As for Allister Cook to captain the test team what a joke.

Tyron Azevedo
Tyron Azevedo

Steyn played 5 tests. As for Cook, I nearly fell off my chair laughing when I saw his name

Bonile Mtshiyo
Bonile Mtshiyo

I like this guy when he take the wickets. ...With his goggles.....&when he celebrate. .....I totally agree.....this guy is the master! !

Jimmy Alexander Neil
Jimmy Alexander Neil

We can safely say we will have more players next year as the way england and aussie have been hammered will rule out most of there players

Khan Hugo
Khan Hugo

Thank you to all our players for the wonderful game of cricket. Be well all of you.

Herman Smythe
Herman Smythe

I totally agree. Imran, has not adopted South Africa, instead he came from Pakistan and made South Africa his own - he is more patriotic towards South Africa, that those that are born here. I salute you Imran Tahir

Sipho Ramoreti
Sipho Ramoreti

A man who wants to achieve sumthin in evry game he plays. I become so emotional when I c him celebrate. He enjoys playing cricket.

Herman Smythe
Herman Smythe

Sipho Ramoreti yes indeed. He celebrates with his heart on his sleeves and does the celebration with passion, and that alone brings emo emo.tion

Neville Govender
Neville Govender

I just think that he should of been given a longer run in the test arena!!!

Sunveer Sunny Maharaj
Sunveer Sunny Maharaj

There's no better limited overs spinner in the world than tahir. Ranked 1 in t20s and 2 in odi's and performs on a consistent basis

Colin Koekemoer
Colin Koekemoer

You can't compare....Jadeja gets wickets in all formats. Tahir only when batsmen are attacking him (limited overs). And Jadeja scores big runs....

Lubabalo Lue Gift Skhosana
Lubabalo Lue Gift Skhosana

Tahir gets wickets in all formats too .Not his fault captains can't use him in tests.He's an attacking spinner.

Sibongiseni Mlaba
Sibongiseni Mlaba

We are talking ODI 's here ...Tahir is the better spinner in that area of the game

AlbertHofmann
AlbertHofmann

Tahir only takes wickets when batsmen attack him?? What non sense. 

Colin Koekemoer
Colin Koekemoer

Tahir is good but not a better all round player than Jadeja. I didn't bring Jadeja into the conversation. Some idiot tried to compare and you simply can't.....

Francois Fafa Groenewald
Francois Fafa Groenewald

he is easily the best spinner we have produced in the modern era because he actually turns the ball

Francois Fafa Groenewald
Francois Fafa Groenewald

he played franchise cricket for a couple of years and came through the ranks.that counts as produced

Matthew Mansfield
Matthew Mansfield

Don't leave out Johan Botha. He was key for us in many games! He could turn it and was a great kappie

Danny B Sithole
Danny B Sithole

Tom you always write good stuff man, I enjoy going through your piece