Former South Africa left-arm spinner Robin Peterson says the Proteas should consider playing two wrist-spinners in the opening match of the 2019 World Cup against England, writes JOHN GOLIATH.
The perception that the fast bowlers are going to enjoy the early summer conditions in England was debunked during the recent series between the World Cup hosts and Pakistan. The bat dominated the series, with England going past 340 runs in the last four One-Day Internationals. They successfully chased 358 and 340 respectively in two of the matches.
Pakistan also scored over 300 in three of the matches, but England clinched the series 4-0 because of their destructive batting, pounding the Pakistan attack to all corners during the series.
After the previous World Cup, England decided to adopt a more aggressive approach with the bat. They go hard from the start and try to keep that momentum throughout their innings. They also bat really deep, with many big hitters at the back end of their line-up.
Peterson, who was the Proteas’ leading wicket-taker at the 2011 World Cup, with 15 wickets at an average of 15.86, believes spin holds the key for the South Africans against the England’s much vaunted batting line-up at the batting friendly Oval.
South Africa have picked veteran leg-spinner Imran Tahir and left-arm wrist spinner Tabraiz Shamsi in their World Cup squad, while JP Duminy has also been known to make key breakthroughs with his off-spinners.
‘The white ball hasn’t been swinging in England, and there wasn’t any reverse swing during the England-Pakistan series,’ said Peterson, who will be doing television work in the United Kingdom during the tournament.
‘Spin could be the way to go against England, to have a bit more mystery and variation against teams who go hard. With wrist-spinners you have an opportunity to pick wickets in the middle overs.
‘You have to take wickets against England, because they have dangerous players all the way down to No 10. Two wrist spinners at the Oval wouldn’t be a bad idea, because it’s quite flat.’
However, Peterson believes that the Proteas will probably pick all-rounder Chris Morris for the match if speedster Dale Steyn doesn’t recover in time from his shoulder injury. Morris, who was a late inclusion in the squad for Anrich Nortje, will share the ball with fellow seamers Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi and Andile Phehlukwayo and the wily Tahir.
Off-spinner Duminy, who took at hat-trick in a World Cup quarter-final match against Sri Lanka in Australia in 2015, will then have more responsibility to turn his arm over.
‘Morris is a bowling all-rounder and a backup for the fast bowlers. So he will likely play if Dale is not available,’ Peterson said.
‘At some point JP will have to play more of a role, especially against teams such as the Windies with a lot of left-handers.
‘JP’s main job this tournament will be to bat well and win games with the bat. But towards the back end of the tournament, when you expect the pitches to be a lot of drier and used, I think JP could be an attacking weapon.’
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