South Africa news May 16, 2012

Tahir seeks Qadir's help before England series


Imran Tahir, the South African legspinner, will prepare for the much-anticipated Test series against England with long-time mentor Abdul Qadir. Tahir is set to travel to Lahore to meet Qadir for personalised training before the national team heads to England in July, with the No. 1 Test ranking in their sights.

"It will be a very big series and if I do something special it will be one of the biggest achievements of my life," Tahir said at the Wanderers Stadium, his new domestic home. Tahir will represent the Lions franchise in the 2012-13 season, having moved there after two seasons at the Durban-based Dolphins. "I am not very similar but I am almost the kind of bowler which he [Qadir] was in his time so I want to get his help."

After the hype that surrounded Tahir's Test call up, he has performed below expectations. In his seven Test matches he has played for South Africa, claiming 18 wickets at an average of 37.05, and has not been the answer to South Africa's spin problem he was predicted to be.

In his defence, Tahir has had to battle in unhelpful conditions. Apart from seamer-friendly surfaces, two of the Tests he featured lasted only lasted three days and only two others went to five days. Instead of playing his natural game as a wicket-taker, Tahir has had to perform a more defensive role.

Both Gary Kirsten and Graeme Smith praised him for his ability to adjust, which Tahir said helped ease his worries about meeting expectations. "I had too much pressure on me to do something really good," he said. "But I had a lot of support from the boys and the management, especially the captain. He had to put the right field to defend because if I had gone for many runs, I would have been under more pressure."

When wickets did not come, Tahir resorted to the tactic of using as many variations as he had in his repertoire and earned nothing but criticism from those who thought he was trying too hard. He dismissed the notion of desperation and said that he is only hoping to make the most of being an international cricketer. "If I am playing for my country, I love to try as hard as I can. Inside I am always cool but no-one can see that," he said. "I want to try hard and make sure I don't relax and lose concentration and bowl a bad ball. I enjoy it that way."

Still, Tahir acknowledged that he has some work to do on some of his deliveries and will consult with Qadir to assist him. "He [Qadir] said anytime I need help I should talk to him but I feel it's better if I see him rather than talk to him on the phone," Tahir said. "He is a legend and he can help me big time. He can change small things. I think he can make me a better bowler than what I am now."

Tahir is also hopeful that the familiarity of playing in England will allow him to have more of a say in the course of the series. Tahir has spent some part of the last 12 years in the country. He played club cricket for eight season and county cricket for four. He is comfortable with the pitches and knows many of the English players, although he does not think their recent form against spinners will be something he can hope to exploit too much further.

"I've played with a few of the guys and against a few. They are a good team but I'm sure everyone is up for it. We want to beat them and take their place [at the top of the rankings]," he said. "I don't think they have been so bad against spin, apart from one series against Pakistan. We have to respect them. It's not going to be easy for us to beat them."

While the seam attacks of both sides are expected to headline the contest, there has been some suggestion that the difference will be in the quality of the spinners. Former England captain, Michael Vaughan posted a message on Twitter last week which read, "England's bowling attack is the best in the world. Would not swap it for any other. Not SA. Swann is the difference. Cheers."

Tahir refused to take the bait. "I won't say anything until we beat them. That's how we will prove him wrong."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on May 18, 2012, 19:40 GMT

    I disagree with some of the comments on here. Morkel is great in English conditions. Steyn is better than Anderson overall, but Anderson has been swinging it prodigiously both ways for England against the Windies, and I haven't seen Steyn swing it in to the right hander like Anderson can. Stuart Broad looks like a schoolboy, but is a very good bowler. And lets face the facts, much as I can't stand Swann, he has far better stats and experience than Tahir. As for 1st change seamers, England have the edge again, with plenty of tricky medium fast bowlers lining up. The England batting lineup is also potentially devastating, but SA are better on paper. Its going to be a very challenging series, make no mistake. Lets hope SA rise to that challenge.

  • Dummy4 on May 17, 2012, 19:46 GMT

    Why not Tahir take advice from Ramesh Powar?He is better spin bowler than Quadir.If Tahir learns from Quadir some new faces in english side will hit him for 3 consecutive sixes for sure.Becasue same was done with Quadir by Sachin when he was a little boy.Ramesh powar never got hit for 3 consecutive sixes.

  • rahul on May 17, 2012, 13:31 GMT


  • Khehla on May 17, 2012, 11:37 GMT

    It is true that Tahir hasn't had conditions that suit him but I thonk his woes run deeper than that. He doesn't spin his leggies enough and overuses the googly to bamboozle batsmen. If he could learn to spin the leggie more he would be a whole lot more dangerous and wickets will eventually come. But on the other hand he has done well to curb his natural instinct of attacking for the betterment of the team and in essence has let Kallis bowl more aggressively to claim wickets. As a Saffer I can somewhat agree that England has a better bowling attack but SA has a better pace attack and a better balanced bowling attack with Kallis as the fifth bowler. Onto the batsman on paper the SA top six is better than the English one but the SA attack has the tendency of firing together and failing together which has been why we fail to win as many tests as we should. And the SA B (England) team also benefits from having a strong tail that bails them out at times.

  • Dummy4 on May 17, 2012, 11:11 GMT

    Vaughan is talking rubbish. We all know Pakistan have the best and most varied bowling attack in the world not England but their batting lets them down.

  • dj on May 17, 2012, 9:23 GMT

    there no dispute that Tahir is a very talented bowler, but too many excuses are being made why he is not taking wickets - Sri Lanka's spinner was their most successfull bowler on SA pitches so why not take that into consideration also. Personally I think he has had ample time to settle into the team and maybe Qadir would give him the confidence to outfox his opposition because that is what he lacks.

  • Mayan on May 17, 2012, 7:55 GMT

    "England has the best bowling attack in the world" Yes, it is just fine with us Saffers if you keep on believing that, Mr. Vaughan. Our batsmen and our bowlers, especially, will do their talking on the English playing fields. There we will soon find out if England or South Africa has the best bowling attack in the world. The English will still wish that they have never heard the name Imran Tahir!

  • Jabulani on May 17, 2012, 7:36 GMT

    Imran is a good spinner. It is hard to take wickets in SA as a spinner. Its also good that he is seeking help.The CSA dont employ Qadir as a consultant for the spinners. The fast bowlers have a coach, so the spinners should also have a coach.

  • sowmi on May 17, 2012, 6:43 GMT

    Imran Tahir is certainly a promising spinner. Sad that he has not had many pitches which have assisted spin. He had an immediate impact in india during the world cup and should be a handful on turning tracks. Also the English are not particularly known for their prowess against quality spin bowling.

  • Aswin on May 17, 2012, 4:07 GMT

    i rate tahir highly is good enough to get well-set batsmen out hopefully south africans wont expect him to bowl like shane warne every single day

    though english bowlers performed well in asia I feel south africa are a better bowling unit


    hopefully they will pick marchant de lange ahead of morne morkel morkel is not suited for english conditions

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