Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Imran Tahir: So right even when it's wrung'un




In the history of South African cricket, no spinner has taken more One Day International wickets than Imran Tahir. It isn't particularly close to be honest. He has 149 wickets, no other spinner has 100. He is also currently the leading T20 international wicket-taker in South African history. In other words, in international cricket, he's our greatest ever white ball spinner. He is also, with the ball at least, the most likely reason we will leave England with a world cup, or at the very least our pride intact. See for a bowler to lead a team to a world cup, they need to commit the perfect crime. If 15 years of watching CSI has taught me nothing else, its that to commit the perfect crime, one needs three things. Motive, means and opportunity.

Motive. That's the want to. The desire to achieve something improbable. Tahir doesn't just just have the motive to win a world cup. He has the motive to take tail-end wickets against Zimbabwe in a meaningless ODI. The man plays with a passion very rarely before seen. He loves the game and you can bet your last dollar that he will want to drop his mark as an international cricketer, on the biggest stage in ODI cricket. Certainly, for cricketers who never distinguished themselves as Test cricketers (Tahir had an okay, but not great career), a cricket World Cup presents the most realistic shot at immortality. It is a consequence of the fact that the World Cup is the Sun around which  the white ball cricket world revolves that games against Zimbabwe, where you take a brilliant fiver, or even against Australia, where you go head to head with a rampant David Warner and just about get over the line, simply have no consequence. It would be harsh to call them meaningless, but they aren't events which a person harkens back to, in the way every single AB de Villiers tribute seemed to mention thast he once batted 200 balls without a fifty. The World Cup is where immortals are made, for ODI cricket, and you can bet that Imran Tahir wants that shot at immortality.

Means. Its no good to just want to be an immortal. You have to have the ability.It's like a crime. No matter how much you may want to be a mastermind criminal, it helps nothing without the skill to achieve. Boy oh boy, does that Imran Tahir chap have skill. There is absolutely no difference between his googly and his stock ball. They come out the exact way, and then you just gotta play a game of dice with your wicket as you play for turn and hope you guessed correctly the side it will turn. As with everything in international cricket, it does get better the longer you are facing him, but initially anyway, it really is like facing a genius toying with you. The guy goes at less than five in an era where England have reset the record total twice, and you'd certainly back them to reset it again in the next twelve months. The best part is, you know that Imran will show up in the world cup. After all, the man averages 16.11 in ICC tournaments. Even if you minimise that to exclude teams not in the next world cup (the so-called minnows), that average actually drops to a scarcely believable 15. He does average an above-his-average 29 in England, but that's off a small sample size, and I can assure that if South Africa are in the business end of that tournament.. well, Tahir will be worth his weight in gold.

Opportunity. Well, this is his last world cup. This is the last chapter for the great man, much like it is for so many of our cricketers who are essentially modern day legends. He better use it

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