Sun, 2nd Jun 2019
Standard Bank Proteas leg-spinner, Imran Tahir, is set to become only the second specialist spinner after Nicky Boje to play in 100 One-Day Internationals (ODI) for South Africa when he takes the field in the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup match against Bangladesh at The Oval on Sunday. Tahir has been a spearhead of the Proteas’ attack since making his debut at the 2011 Cricket World Cup on the sub-continent, with a career tally of 164 wickets at a strike-rate of 31.
“It feels really special,” he said ahead of the occasion. “If I look back I played my first game at the 2011 World Cup, it has been an amazing journey. I always dreamt about it but I never thought I would be here one day playing in my 100th game for South Africa. It is an absolute honour to have been given the opportunity by Cricket South Africa and the lovely people from South Africa, I am grateful to everybody.
“This means a lot to me, I could never express this in words,” he added. “I am a guy who has come through a lot of hardships, I lost my parents without them seeing me play international cricket. This is special to me, especially for my family. I haven’t seen my brother and sister for the last two years but they understand that this game I am playing is important to me. If I look back I am proud. I dreamt of this but never thought I would play with the legends and youngsters in this team.”
Tahir became the oldest South African (40 years 64 days) to play in a World Cup match during the Proteas’ opening match against England on Thursday, but admits he is ‘proud’ to be the oldest member of the squad.
He has re-written the records books on a number of occasions throughout his eight-year career. He holds the record for the best ODI bowling figures for South Africa (7/45), is the fastest South African bowler to 100 wickets, and more recently, become the first spinner to bowl the first over of a World Cup match.
“I am the kind of guy who likes challenges,” he said. “I like to think that my captain can give me the ball in any situation and I will be the first guy to say yes. That was the plan against the team we played in the first game, I’m not sure what is going to happen in the next game. I am fully prepared and will be ready to bowl in any situation.”
The match against Bangladesh is the Proteas’ second league match, and Tahir has stressed the importance of dusting off the opening loss to England and focusing on the next challenge of a long league format tournament.
“It’s a competition where we have to play a lot of games,” he explained. “We have only played one game so we can’t go and have ten meetings and blame the batsmen or the bowlers. We are a team that believes in each other and enjoys each other’s success. We will look back and realise the mistakes we have made but we need to look forward to the next games we are going to play.
“No team can give you a guarantee that they are going to win the World Cup. One thing we can promise is that we will give everything that we have got for the country and the culture of our team. That is the promise that I can give. Results are not in our hands, we have been working hard, we will learn from the mistakes we will make and which we did make. We will come back stronger,” he concluded.
The match is scheduled to start at 10h30 local time (11h30 SAST).