Australia in South Africa 2008-09 April 6, 2009

Arthur praises vibrant Parnell

Cricinfo staff

Mickey Arthur, the South Africa coach, has praised the rookie left-arm fast bowler Wayne Parnell after his four-wicket haul floored Australia at Centurion. In his second one-day international Parnell returned figures of 4 for 25 on his way to the Man-of-the-Match award and Arthur felt it was a performance that justified the selectors' faith.

"I'd heard of him through his school career and I'd watched him at Under-19 level," Arthur said. "I thought he was very impressive."

Last week Parnell, 19, became the youngest player to be handed a national contract by Cricket South Africa. He led the Under-19 team to the final of the World Cup in Malaysia last year and was fast-tracked to the national team during the one-day portion of the tour of Australia this season.

"He came into our squad with minimal domestic experience, and he's fitted in like a glove," Arthur said. "He's responded unbelievably well to what [bowling coach] Vinnie Barnes in particular wants to do with him in terms of his bowling. He's very vibrant around the group and he's a very good fielder.

"He can bat, although he's had very little opportunity with the bat, but he can take the game away from the opposition. He's a general allrounder."

Arthur was also cautious about pushing Parnell early in his career. "I think we'll handle him like we did JP [Duminy]," he said. "JP travelled with our squad for a year and a half before he actually made his Test debut. He was given all the exposure and all the training and so he was ready when the opportunity arose. We're going to give him every opportunity to grow, but also not push him too early."

South Africa's captain Graeme Smith was also excited about what he saw in Parnell. "He's a young guy with a lot of potential," Smith said. "He showed that, and we're excited for him. He deserves all the success he gets but he knows that it's a long road going forward. Hopefully he can build up to another exciting performance on Thursday."

Parnell was included for the second ODI at Centurion at the expense of the veteran Makhaya Ntini and Smith was excited about the alternative of having a left-arm fast bowler opening the attack. "He and Dale [Steyn] found a nice balance between them and offered a little variety. It's nice to have a few left-armers coming through in South African cricket - it provides you with a few tactical options."

Parnell was delighted to hear words of praise. "That's a huge plus," he said. "But I know I have to work hard. For me, I think I have to commit myself 100%, and also stick to the basics. If you stick to the basics, you'll be successful more often than not."