New cap Shamsi on cusp of great things


It’s a good mix; a clatter of quality cricketers, a smattering of stunning islands, and a gaggle of spectators following them around for a few weeks.

It should, in many ways, be an intimidating setting for one to make their international bow, but new Proteas’ cap Tabraiz Shamsi will probably be even more relaxed than some regulars.

In a funny way, he is almost going home, because his stints in the Caribbean Premier League have allowed him to settle into the “next level”.

While many scoff at the likes of the Indian Premier League as nothing more than a parade of expensive stars – and a handy finishing school for the host country’s future stars – the truth is that the slog-marathon has also accommodated and harnessed emerging talent from other countries.

Players who are marginalised back home have been treated like gold-dust by certain franchises, and the confidence that has given them has ultimately benefited their native countries.

Likewise, South Africa’s latest spin option has thrived from being able to do his thing without pressure, around the world.

Shamsi counts Windies skipper Darren Sammy and T20 World Cup hero Carlos “Remember the name” Braithwaite as two of his closest buddies, and no one was more chuffed for him than the pair, when he got the call to replace Samuel Badree in the star-studded Bangalore stable.

That he has now spent a month in the company of the Royal Challengers wouldn’t have hurt, either, as he would have had invaluable time with his national captain, AB de Villiers, as well as several of the biggest names in the game.

It can’t hurt having Messrs Kohli, ABD and Gayle as net-buddies.

It really is funny how the game works out, sometimes.

About five years ago, Shamsi was toiling away in Pietermartizburg, of all places, trying to make a name for himself with KZN-Inland.

As he and many others will attest, the lot of a spinner in South African cricket is fickle, because you are just one bad spell away from obscurity.

Ironically, it has been T20 cricket that has breathed new life into the role of a spinner.

The one format once feared to be the death of the spinner has been quite the opposite, actually.

South African cricket, unsurprisingly, has taken a bit longer to catch up with the ways of the world, relying on a pace-heavy attack for longer than circumstances and patterns dictated.

But times they are a-changing.

Imran Tahir is established as the Proteas’ primary weapon in coloured clothing, and spin provided what little joy there was to be had in the recent T20 World Cup campaign.

That Shamsi has been plucked as suddenly as he has suggests that maybe the Proteas are ready to dance to the rhythms of the modern, limited-overs game, where mystery often trumps simplicity.

As with most wrist-spinners, Shamsi has had a long and winding road. Born in Gauteng, he has made his name via Maritzburg, in Chatsworth, then Durban, Benoni, Pretoria, St Kitt’s, and, finally, Bangalore.

Shamsi now finds himself on the cusp of big things. At 26, he is a baby by spin standards, especially considering that one of his heroes, the supposedly age-less Brad Hogg, is on the wrong side of 40 and still ripping it.

When Shamsi gets a wicket, he has made it a habit to do a ‘bus-driver’ celebration. Over the last month, his happy bus has got more and more passengers, and South Africans will hope the trend continues.

In the modern game, a spinner is no longer at the back of the bus fretting about the next spell. He is at the wheel, steering the tempo of the game and revelling in it.

Tickets, please!

New Proteas’ cap Tabraiz Shamsi will be relaxed heading to the West Indies this week… in a way he’s going home,

Original source: New cap Shamsi on cusp of great things