ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / News
World Cup 2011
Tsotsobe aims to be his own man
Firdose Moonda in Chennai
February 11, 2011
South African left-arm seamer Lonwabo Tsotsobe is many things. To some, he was a surprising pick for the national team who has finally lived up to his promise, to others he is a surprising wicket-taker who often snags the biggest of names by sheer persistence and accuracy, to his team-mates he is the self-proclaimed fashion king of the squad with the best dress sense. One thing he is not, is Makhaya Ntini.
"I am not trying to get people saying that I am," Tsotsobe said in Chennai, where the South African team are preparing for the World Cup. In front of a crowd of, mostly foreign journalists, it was a statement that was met with stifled giggles. You can't really blame them, because of the face of it, Tsotsobe is a direct replacement for Ntini for two obvious reasons - he is the only black African in the side and he is a bowler.
Behind the face, Tsotsobe explains why he is not like Ntini. "I am a totally different bowler to Makhaya," he said. Exactly right, especially since Tsotsobe himself regards his slower ball, that delivery that Ntini could never quite master, as his biggest asset. Personality wise, they are two different characters with Tsotsobe a soft spoken, gentle man compared with Ntini's larger-than-life personality.
Tsotsobe can't change the fact that, like Ntini, he is the face of black, African cricket in the team and he recognises that Ntini "did a lot for cricket in the Eastern Cape and the black community," but now he is ready to build his own legacy. Starting at this World Cup.
Tsotsobe went from being a bowler no-one expected to move the world, to being the one that rocks South Africa's world now. He has been a surprisingly consistent wicket-taker, despite not getting above 135 kilometres per hour too often. "I can't hide away from critics," Tsotsobe said. "All I can do is turn what they say into something positive and use it to push myself harder."
After ending the series against Pakistan as the second highest wicket-taker and highest wicket-taker in the series against India, Tsotsobe's pushing has been working, although he says he has not made too many adjustments to the way he usually does things. "I haven't changed anything too much, just been working hard."
The most important element he brings to the South African attack is variation. "He shapes the ball away," Morne Morkel said of his fellow paceman. "It means we know have another different style of seamer, since I get bounce and Dale gets swing."
The trio will form a powerful three-pronged attack for South Africa, and Morkel believes they can have an impact, despite subcontinental conditions favouring the spinners. "Even though the spinners can play a striking role here, it's still important for us to keep up the pressure upfront and hopefully the ball will do the talking."
Tsotsobe echoed Morkel's words, that even though spinners are likely to benefit most from the tracks in India, the quicks will still have an important role to play. For Tsotsobe, part of that role may be showing how unlike Ntini he is, so the comparisons can fade over the course of the next few weeks.
Slow left-arm spinners generally do well in T20s, plus he can also bat a bit. Then why doesn't he stop runs, take many wickets, or bat quicker in the IPL?