Ask any coach or selector about having to try and pick a player from a bunch to try and fulfil one particular role in any side and they’ll tell you that it’s a nice problem to have.
It’s arguably one of the most used terms in interviews in the build-up to a squad announcement or team selection and now it’s something that will no doubt pop up in interviews regarding the South African cricket side as the spinners battle to stake a claim.
With the Proteas gearing up for a number of assignments on the subcontinent the competition amongst the spinners at the disposal of the selectors has begun to intensify.
For the tour to Bangladesh, Aaron Phangiso has been included in all three squads and will be joined by Simon Harmer in the Test setup, Imran Tahir in the one-day squad and his Highveld Lions teammate Eddie Leie in the T20 fold.
The South Africa A side is also making a trip to the subcontinent with a limited overs series in India, and two unofficial four day Tests against India A and there’s competition within the spin ranks with Leie and Keshav Maharaj, in the limited overs squad.
Maharaj has been rewarded for his performance at domestic level by joining Dane Piedt, who made his Test debut for the Proteas late last year before a shoulder injury kept him out of action for six months, in the four day outfit.
“We’ve got quite a young crop of spinners in our system currently. It’s a great opportunity for them to grab that berth going on tours to the subcontinent. It will be a new opportunity for them, an experience where hopefully they learn,” Paul Adams, who claimed 134 Test wickets during his career, said of the situation this week.
Adams and another former Protea tweaker, Nicky Boje, were drafted in to assist at a spin camp held in Pretoria this week.
“It’s been really good,” Adams said of the proliferation of spin bowling across all forms of cricket in South Africa.
“It’s been nice to watch and see how the game has evolved in that sense with spin bowling in terms of playing it and bowling in general. We always make a conscious effort to try monitor what our spinners are doing around the country and in domestic four day games,” he added before touching on the competition for places in the respective squads.
“We’ve got a young group of guys who will look to grab the opportunities as they come. It’s just up to one who is going to put the most consistent performances in. A lot of internal competition amongst them which is always very healthy for me to make sure that they stay on top of their game.”
Adams toured the subcontinent on a number of occasions with the Proteas and is well aware of what can be expected when the Proteas take to the field in the two T20 internationals, three limited overs matches and two-Test series. The first assignment is the T20 series beginning on July 5.
“It’s very different to our conditions. Things happen quickly off the surface. You get purchase and the ball reacts. One of the main things also is that their batsmen play differently. You’ve got to make sure you are tactically aware about things,” Adams, who once took 10 wickets in a Test against Bangladesh in Chittagong in 2003, said.
“When they get out in the middle hopefully they can recognise the situation and understand where their strengths lie and make sure that they work together as one.”