South Africa news January 1, 2011

Imran Tahir eligible to play for South Africa

ESPNcricinfo staff

Imran Tahir, the Nashua Dolphins legspinner of Pakistani origin, has been granted South African citizenship by naturalisation and is now eligible to play for the country. Tahir has also fulfilled the ICC's regulations for representing his new country, having not played for the country of his birth at any level for more than 4 years.

Tahir, 31, has been one of South Africa's most prolific domestic bowlers in recent times, with 535 first-class wickets at 25.09 from 127 matches. He was picked in the South Africa Test squad to play England in January 2010, but was left out at the last moment owing to issues over his residency paperwork. Those problems have been resolved now.

"Imran has made South Africa his home and has been married for some time to a South African," Gerald Majola, CEO of Cricket South Africa said. "He has been a leading wicket-taker in the top South African domestic competitions for the past few seasons and is highly respected by both his colleagues and his opponents. He certainly becomes a contender for selection to the Proteas squad now that he has met all the government, ICC and CSA regulations regarding his new nationality."

Tahir, however, won't be considered for the Cape Town Test against India that begins on January 2. "That will not be fair on anyone since the squad has prepared, but he will be considered for the one-dayers," CSA's convenor of selectors Andrew Hudson told ESPNcricinfo.

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