South African cricket’s spin-bowling stocks are arguably at an all-time high, but there is one area where prospects are a little thin on the ground.
All of South Africa’s established franchise wrist-spinners are 30 years old or older. With the international trend now being to play at least one wrist-spinner in every limited-overs international, it should concern director of cricket Graeme Smith that the pipeline is not producing quality options.
It isn’t quite panic stations, given that Tabraiz Shamsi has only just turned 30. But should he be ruled out or suffer a dip in form he is likely to be replaced by one of the plethora finger-spinning options.
Shamsi has been the clear top performer on the domestic scene when it comes to wrist-spinners, with Imran Tahir not playing for the Dolphins much over the last few seasons. Shamsi also kept Shaun von Berg out of the Titans team at times before the 33-year-old leg-spinner moved to the Knights. Von Berg was included in South Africa’s Test squad for the tour to Sri Lanka, but was not handed an international debut.
Eddie Leie is now also 33 years old and has not added to the two T20Is he played in 2015. The journeyman leg-spinner has flitted about the franchise scene without really settling, and it doesn’t appear as though he will deliver on his promise.
The Titans were sitting on the lions share of wrist-spinners, sporting von Berg and Shamsi prior to the former’s move to Bloemfontein. Despite Von Berg’s departure, Shamsi’s form has still limited opportunities for former South Africa Under-19 left-arm wrist-spinner Thomas Kaber.
Kaber has performed consistently for Northerns in provincial cricket, but has spent most of his career on the cusp of the franchise scene. The Warriors’ Dyllan Matthews, who has represented the Nelson Mandela Bay Giants in the Mzansi Super League, is also a hot talent.
In the current South Africa Under-19 pool of players, 18-year-old Nonelela Yikha is one to watch. He missed out on the Under-19 World Cup squad, but made his List A and first-class debuts for Border. Yikha has a lot to learn in the leg-spinning craft, but the former Hudson Park High School skipper could be the future of South African wrist-spin.
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