Bowling consultant Paul Harris has implored the Proteas batsmen to afford spinner Keshav Maharaj a big first-innings total to work with during this week’s third Test against England at St George’s Park in Port Elizabeth.
The hosts’ first innings amounted to a mere 284 all out in the first Test at SuperSport Park in Centurion and 223 in the second at Newlands in Cape Town. They won the first match and lost the second.
‘Without a good first-innings total, it’s difficult for a spinner to really get stuck in. As a spinner, you need the batsmen to stand up so you can bowl to more attacking fields and have a more aggressive mindset,’ said Harris.
Left-armer Maharaj has bowled 90 overs this series, but taken just five wickets and averaged over 57.
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‘He is a hard worker and he can bowl long spells. He takes it seriously and he wants to improve and if he can get 10 to 20% better than what he is, why not?’
Maharaj is faced with staunch competition from fellow left-armers Senuran Muthusamy and George Linde for the specialist spinners berth in the Proteas Test XI. The Dolphins’ Muthusamy and Cape Cobras’ Linde took 10 and 11 wickets, respectively, in last week’s round of 4-Day Domestic Series fixtures.
‘It’s sometimes harder to keep your spot than it was to get into the side because you always have a target on your back. It’s good to have that and I don’t think it will negatively affect Keshav,’ concluded Harris.
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