Imran Tahir withdrawn from South Africa squad
Barely a day after they named him in the squad for the crucial final Test against England, South Africa's selectors have withdrawn Imran Tahir, the uncapped legspinner, owing to issues over his eligibility for the country.
Tahir, who was born in Lahore, qualified for South Africa on April 1, 2009 as he is married to a local woman and a Cricket South Africa spokesman said his withdrawal was due to issues with his residency paperwork. "His permanent residence papers have not come through yet, so we will just have to put him on hold until they do," he said.
It is unlikely that Tahir would have featured in the final Test, but Mickey Arthur is known to be keen to assess the legspinner ahead of the tours of India and the West Indies and this situation is likely to be cleared up in time for the India trip in February.
Tahir's original selection was a shot across the bows for Paul Harris, the current No. 1 spinner, after his disappointing display in the second innings at Newlands as South Africa finished one wicket short of victory for the second time in the series.
Although Harris took three wickets in the final innings at Newlands, his length was erratic and he delivered several full tosses. He was out-bowled by JP Duminy, whose part-time offspin sparked England's collapse with the wickets of Paul Collingwood and Matt Prior.
Duminy's offspin has been more than handy during this series, fetching him six wickets at 26.50, compared to Harris's 11 at 40.36. Mike Procter, the convenor of selectors, admitted there was concern over the form of the frontline spinner.
"To a certain extent, yes. Paul Harris has done well for South Africa over the years and it is a little disappointing when your frontline spinner wasn't able to extract more on a wicket that turned," Procter told Cricinfo. "We want to look at Tahir for the future as well. He hasn't been around the squad before and he could be useful in the series to come. He's only been playing amateur cricket really this season, he's at the Titans but he's moving at the end of the season."
However, Tahir's inclusion comes at a time when he isn't making first-team appearances for the Titans. He is set to move franchises at the end of the season, having played just two of the eight Supersport matches this campaign for a return of seven wickets at 51.
With the domestic season currently in MTN40 mode, Tahir was not part of the Titans side and has been playing most of his cricket for Easterns in the amateur three-day tournament. His form has been impressive with 36 wickets at 15.61. Tahir was prolific for Hampshire in his recent stint in county cricket, claiming 52 wickets at 32.90. He played two matches for Pakistan A back in 2005, and has also featured for Middlesex and Yorkshire.
South Africa's squad is now down to 14 names and includes left-arm fast bowler Wayne Parnell, who was released from the squad for the first Test in Centurion, in favour of Friedel de Wet. De Wet, however, has been struggling with a back injury that required an injection on the final day at Newlands. He was noticeably down on pace throughout his last-day spell, and his place in the XI will depend on the outcome of a scan. Makhaya Ntini was another name in the frame for a last hurrah, but his latest omission has all but confirmed his international retirement.
South Africa squad Graeme Smith (capt), Hashim Amla, Mark Boucher, AB de Villiers, Friedel de Wet, JP Duminy, Paul Harris, Jacques Kallis, Ryan McLaren, Morne Morkel, Wayne Parnell, Alviro Petersen, Ashwell Prince, Dale Steyn.
Andrew McGlashan is assistant editor of Cricinfo