I reckon Imran Tahir should be South Africa’s first-choice spinner when the selectors pick a squad for the Proteas’ tour of Bangladesh in July.
Tahir had a very good World Cup and is doing well in the IPL too, where he has taken 13 wickets in eight matches to date.
One of the big challenges for the outgoing selection panel when they sit down to pick a squad will be to find the right spinners.
I think Tahir should be the first-choice spinner. His accuracy has gotten a lot better lately and he will do a job for us. The pitches in Bangladesh should also help him.
If the selectors are consistent, they will take Aaron Phangiso, who didn’t play a game in the World Cup, to Bangladesh as well. Dane Piedt and Simon Harmer are the other spin options to consider.
With the Test team very much settled at the moment, the only real point of contention is the second opening batsman spot, which was vacated when Alviro Petersen retired last year. Stiaan van Zyl did well lower down the order, but is a top order batsman and, after scoring a hundred on debut, deserves a chance to open the batting with Dean Elgar.
Lions captain Stephen Cook is the other candidate to open the batting. He is technically good and a very solid batsman. He is a very good alternative to Van Zyl and also deserves a chance to be part of the national setup.
The bowling attack picks itself, though I am worried about Vernon Philanders general fitness. Kyle Abbott and Marchant de Lange should be the back-up options to Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Philander. Dane Paterson has done very well for the Cobras, but it might be wise to give him another domestic season before considering him for the national team.
The selectors would also do well to include Kagiso Rabada in the squad and maybe give him an opportunity here and there to see how he goes.
I would possibly look at resting Steyn for the whole tour so he can get over his niggling injuries and have a proper rest, before coming back fit and strong again. The selectors should view the tour as an opportunity in that regard with a eye on the future.
It’s difficult to get a world class all-rounder these days. They don’t make them like Jacques Kallis anymore, but I wouldn’t be too quick to throw away someone like Wayne Parnell. He may be better suited to Test cricket where he can get away with bowling more loose deliveries. He needs to do a bit of work though and make sure he can produce good performances consistently.
I think the ODI squad is okay for now and I wouldn’t change too much for this tour.