The Proteas have a gem in Simon Harmer and would do well to polish him in the coming years.
What more could you ask for from a spinner on debut? Harmer’s recent performance (3-71 and 4-82) at Newlands was nothing short of inspiring. What impressed me was the way he restricted the West Indies’ scoring, and also picked up wickets.
South Africa must invest in Harmer going forward. Some will say that there were cracks in the Newlands pitch that offered him some assistance, and that it’s too soon to make a judgement about his ability. I disagree. There was enough in that performance to suggest he will be an asset to the Proteas in future, and that he will become more dangerous in years to come.
What Harmer doesn’t possess at present is a doosra. He got a few deliveries to go straight on at Newlands, but I’d like to see him developing a ball that goes away from the right-handed batsman. Harmer’s variation was good at Newlands, but if he can add this weapon to his armoury, then he will become very difficult to play against.
I wrote before the start of the series that the Proteas need to include a spinner regularly in their lineup. I felt Imran Tahir was the man to invest in, given the fact that he’s a leg-spinner and does have the ability to bowl with variation.
However, after the Test in Port Elizabeth where Tahir bowled with too much variation, that option may now be shelved. Tahir will battle to get back into the mix now that the Proteas have Harmer and Dane Piedt at their disposal, as well as an effective part-timer like JP Duminy.
I also mentioned Morné Morkel in my column last week. I maintain that he has been one of the best bowlers of the series, even though he didn’t take that many wickets.
Dale Steyn was good at Newlands, but Vernon Philander was below par. The track at Newlands was a touch slower than what we’ve seen in previous Test seasons, and that didn’t suit him. That said, Philander has dropped a yard of pace, and I think this may be the problem.
On the batting front, Alviro Petersen has failed to take his chances over the course of the series, and he had to go. There were a few batsmen who put their hands up over the three Tests, and I’m sure Stiaan van Zyl will be involved going forward. Temba Bavuma didn’t get much of a chance, but may need to make way when Duminy and Quinton de Kock return from their injuries.
AB de Villiers was magnificent with the bat once again. His wicketkeeping, however, was absolutely shocking. He dropped a couple of catches at Newlands and generally I thought he didn’t move that well behind the wicket.
I don’t blame him, though. He has a bad back, and it’s difficult to keep wicket after you’ve scored 148 and spent such long time at the batting crease. I’ve heard that he may be rested for the limited overs series, and that is the best decision with the Proteas’ World Cup campaign in mind.
De Kock should be back in time to keep in that tournament, which should allow De Villiers to concentrate on his batting. In the meantime, however, the keeping duties must be handed to somebody other than South Africa’s premier batsman.
Graeme Pollock played 23 Tests for South Africa, scoring 2256 runs at an average (60.97) that remains second only to Don Bradman’s. He was voted South Africa’s Player of the 20th century in 1999, and inducted into the ICC Hall of Fame in 2009.
Due to a series of health problems that have impacted on his financial position, Pollock is now reaching out to fans in hope of some support. If you are able to contribute to his Trust in any way, please do not hesitate to call his agent Basil O’Hagan on 083 4124459 or make a deposit, however small, to the following Trust Fund.
Name of Account Holder: Rudolf Buys & Associates Trust
Name of Bank: Standard Bank
Account Number: 281 464 359
Branch: Fourways Crossing
Branch Code: 009 953
Type of Account: Trust Account
Ref: Mr G Pollock