For years South African cricket has been regarded as a bastion for fast bowlers.
Through each of the generations there have been standout quicks who have had the ability to run amok and decimate opposition batting lineups.
But there’s a definite change of tack with regards to the upcoming tour of India and the selectors have been spoilt for choice with an abundance of spin options. So much so that there are three specialist spinners in the Test squad.
For that portion of the tour, which sees the Proteas feature in four Tests to go along with five one day internationals and three T20s, berths have been awarded to incumbent Simon Harmer while Imran Tahir and Dane Piedt earned recalls.
Tahir last featured in a Test against the West Indies at the end of last year while Piedt, who played a solitary Test against Zimbabwe before a serious shoulder injury, has made his way back into contention after a successful tour as part of the South Africa A squad in India last month.
“We’re excited. When you look back five years ago we struggled with spinners and now we’ve got volumes of spinners who are coming through,” Linda Zondi, convenor of selectors, said at yesterday’s squad announcement.
It remains to be seen whether the Proteas will take the bold step in including two spinners in the match XI so it may be the case that the three tweakers will be vying for one position in the team with the likes of JP Duminy and Dean Elgar used as part-time options.
The last time South Africa opted for two spinners in a Test was in a two Test series against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates in 2010 when Paul Harris and Johan Botha both featured.
“To go with three spinners is vital for the captain and coach to have enough options,” said Zondi.
“Piedt and Harmer are perceived as holding spinners and we’ve got Imran who is attacking. For us, we’re confident that we’ve got three spinners, something we haven’t done in a long time, and I think it’s a positive message from the selection panel that we are trying to pick players based on the conditions where we are going,” he added referring to the playing surfaces expected on the sub-continent.