Tahir a challenge for de Villiers?

Category : News

Imran Tahir is being saved as a secret weapon by South Africa for use in next month’s World Cup, but the opposition are not the only people he will catch by surprise.

Wicketkeeper AB de Villiers has yet to stand behind the stumps to the Pakistan-born legspinner in a match situation.

Adjusting to a wrist spinner, may prove a “challenge,” according to Daryn Smit, who is the wicketkeeper at the Dolphins franchise that Tahir plays for in domestic cricket.

Tahir only moved to the Dolphins this season and Smit said he learnt to keep to the legspinner by playing against him previously.

“I was lucky because I was able to pick him when I was facing him and that helped me when it came to keeping to him.” Tahir’s biggest variation from the legbreak is his googly, which is also his wicket-taking ball.

“The only way to pick it is to watch how it comes out of the hand,” Smit said, indicating that it is not easily read off the pitch.

“That’s the real difficulty, because you can’t be going one way for the legbreak and then he’s actually bowling a googly.” Even though Smit adjusted quickly to keeping to Tahir in the first-class competition, he still found it testing to do the job in the MTN40 limited overs tournament because of the number of day/night games.

“Imran is harder to pick up at night, especially when he makes subtle changes with his hand,” Smit said.

“Against a black sight-screen and under artificial lights, it takes some getting used to.” Three of South Africa’s six group stage matches are day-night affairs, including the opening match against West Indies.

Both their warm-up games will be played under lights, so de Villiers should have at least one opportunity to get used to Tahir in the dark.

It appears that de Villiers has a tricky job ahead of him, but Smit is confident in his ability to adjust to Tahir, having known de Villiers since his youth.

“A lot of people say AB is a part-time keeper, but I know that he isn’t.

At Under-19 level, I was the first-choice ‘keeper and he was the back-up and he was a good keeper,” Smit said.

de Villiers is not the only one who will have to adjust to having Tahir in the side.

South Africa have not had an aggressive spinner since Paul Adams and Graeme Smith will have to learn how to manage Tahir.

“He is an attacking spinner and that means he is going to go for runs.

It may mean setting slightly more defensive fields,” Smit said.

He advised that a little bit of risk, in allowing Tahir to concede a few runs, will go a long way because “every time he bowls I feel he’s got a chance to take a wicket.” While Smit is looking forward to seeing how Tahir fits into the South Africa side, the bulk of his anticipation is reserved simply for watching his team-mate make his debut.

He said that everyone in the Dolphins squad is eager to see Tahir bowl on the international stage.

“In this one-day series [against India], we waited for the starting line up every game to see if he was there.

We all know what a matchwinner he can be and we know he will do well.” Although Tahir has no international experience, Smit thinks he is more than ready to step up to the big stage.

“He has over 500 wickets at first-class level and even though it is very different to international cricket, the years of experience will have set him up well.

The conditions in the subcontinent should suit his bowling style.

“If he offers the national team half of what he’s offered the Dolphins, they’ll do well.”

Source: Yahoo! Sport – January 26, 2011

South Africa’s De Villiers is the man to watch out for

Category : News

It is highly probable that a lot of you dear readers will brand me ‘parochial’ after reading this column. I am, however, more than confident that my stand will be vindicated when the World Cup gets under way. No, I am not saying India will win the World Cup or anything like that. Predicting the winner is a different ballgame and I don’t want to get into it right now.

Let me put on my prophecy hat for a moment. I strongly believe (just wait and watch) that wicketkeepers will play a crucial role this time around. Yes, every team has a wicketkeeper. What’s more, you can’t drop him. And even if you do, another one will take his place. The point I want to make here is that wicketkeepers will call the shots in the quadrennial showpiece.

Adam Gilchrist and Mark Boucher are no longer playing ODIs, but they have left a great legacy. I still remember — it wasn’t very long ago — the manner in which Gilly decimated the Sri Lankan attack in the World Cup final. Now that’s what an impact player like him can do.

I won’t be surprised if the likes of Kumar Sangakkara, Brendon McCullum, Brad Haddin, Matt Prior, Kamran Akmal, AB de Villiers, and, of course, our own MS Dhoni, play a crucial role in cricket’s biggest event. Two of these are, in fact, skippers of sides that have been dubbed favourites. Not an easy task, mind you.

Someone like Sanga bats at the crucial No 3 position and ‘keeps wickets to the likes of Muttiah Muralitharan. Ditto with Dhoni, who is more of a floater in the batting line-up. Akmal, on his part, can spoil any bowler’s figures while opening the innings. McCullum may have dropped down the order but opponents can’t afford to smile as he is a good finisher. And do not discount Haddin or Prior either. They may not be as good as the others — with the bat, that is — but they are nevertheless reliable.

South Africa’s De Villiers is the man to watch out for. Now here’s why I feel justified, almost seven years later. When the national selection committee, headed by yours truly, had pushed for Rahul Dravid’s ‘double role’ in 2003, a lot of former cricketers and fans had ripped us apart.

To put things in perspective, the decision to ask Rahul to keep wickets stemmed from the fact that we didn’t have a great all-rounder. Hence, we wanted that option of playing an extra batsman or bowler, depending on the requirement. Yes, the risk factor was always there. You may ask what if Rahul dropped a crucial catch or missed a stumping? Cricket is all about positive thinking. The move paid off and we made the final. De Villiers will be expected to play a similar role this time.

Graeme Smith, I am sure, will be grateful to his teammate. AB could well prove to be the game-changer for the perennially-jinxed South African side.

Some of you may think the extra responsibility will put more pressure on, say, De Villiers. Nowadays, cricket is all about multi-tasking. Even life is! Don’t you make your sandwich while listening to the iPod? AB will be doing something on those lines. Even Sanga and Dhoni are one the same boat, aren’t they?

The wicketkeepers will have to be doubly vigilant as the World Cup will be played on sub-continental wickets. The wickets in India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh may excite the Muralitharans, Harbhajans and Vettoris. It will be anything but easy to don the ‘keeper’s gloves on these tracks. But wicketkeepers are never afraid of challenges. Just wait and watch. Don’t brand me ‘parochial’ just as yet.

Source: DNA India – January 23, 2011 / KIRAN MORE

De Villiers and Duminy lift South Africa

Category : News

A century partnership between AB de Villiers and JP Duminy carried South Africa to a total of 289 for nine in the first one-day international against India at Kingsmead on Wednesday.

De Villiers (76) and Duminy (73) put on 131 for the fourth wicket to lift the home team after slumping to 82 for three after winning the toss.

Graeme Smith (11), Colin Ingram (5) and Hashim Amla (50 off 36 balls) were all caught after playing cross-batted shots.

De Villiers collected seven fours and a six before falling in the 36th over when a pull off part-time off-spinner Rohit Sharma landed in the hands of Harbhajan Singh at deep mid-wicket.

Sharma then trapped Duminy leg before as the left-hander attempted a reverse sweep.

Left-armer Zaheer Zhan finished with two for 44, fellow paceman Munaf Patel took two for 36 and Sharma picked up two for 30.

Source: Reuters Africa – January 12, 2011

Kallis, AB hit IPL jackpot

Category : News

Proteas star duo AB de Villiers and Jacques Kallis have been sold for $1.1 million at the Indian Premier League auction on Saturday.

Johan Botha was snapped up by the Rajasthan Royals for $950 000, while Proteas skipper will play for new franchise Pune after being bought for $500 000.

Meanwhile, Indian stars Gautam Gambhir and Yusuf Pathan were snapped up for more than $2 million each, smashing the record price paid for an IPL player.

Left-handed opener Gambhir was the first player to go under the hammer for the scandal-plagued tournament’s fourth edition, bought by Kolkata Knight Riders for $2.4 million, far higher than his base price of $200 000.

Gambhir was soon joined in the exclusive bracket by all-rounder Pathan, who was snapped up by the same franchise for $2.1 million. Pathan’s reserve price was $300 000.

The prices paid easily eclipsed the previous record price paid for the England duo of Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff, who went for $1.55 million each in 2009.

Pietersen, with a base price of $400 000, was bought by Deccan Chargers for $650000 this time.

Among the $1 million men were New Zealander Ross Taylor, Sri Lankan Mahela Jayawardene, South Africans De Villiers and Kallis and India’s Yuvraj Singh.

Former West Indies captain Brian Lara and a host of England’s Ashes heroes were also among 353 players up for grabs at the two-day auction in Bangalore.

Lara and England paceman James Anderson were among 21 cricketers with the highest reserve price of $400, 000 for a three-year contract.

Other foreigners on offer included Australians Adam Gilchrist and Brett Lee, South Africans Graeme Smith and New Zealand’s Daniel Vettori.

Proceedings at a luxury hotel in the IT hub of Bangalore, presided over by Richard Madley, a professional auctioneer from Britain, began at 11:00 local time (0530 GMT).

The annual IPL tournament revolutionised the sport when it burst onto the scene in 2008 with a high-octane blend of international star players, Twenty20 matches and Bollywood glamour.

But its fortunes dipped dramatically last year after allegations of massive corruption, money-laundering and tax evasion, as well as secret deals to hide teams’ real owners, and even links to India’s criminal underworld.

IPL founder Lalit Modi — whose brash style personified the event — was thrown out by the BCCI, the sport’s governing body in India, over accusations about his conduct and organisers hope this year will be fresh start.

The tournament, to be held from April 8 to May 22, will feature 10 teams, including two new sides — Pune Warriors and Kochi.

The players’ auction was due to be held in November but was delayed amid confusion about the size and format of this year’s tournament, which will start just six days after the end of the World Cup co-hosted by India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

Twelve players have been retained by their original franchises, with Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni staying with the Chennai Super Kings and Shane Warne and Shane Watson sticking with the Rajasthan Royals.

Some top cricketers have opted out of the IPL’s fourth season, including the Australian trio of Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke and Mitchell Johnson, and former India captain Anil Kumble.

Pakistan’s cricketers continued to miss out on the IPL bonanza after none of them was included for the auction.

Their players participated in the inaugural IPL, but were forced out of the 2009 season due to security concerns following the Mumbai attacks, and were then ignored for the 2010 tournament.

Source: Sport24.co.za – January 9, 2011

Life-changing for few, routine for the others

Category : News

Makhaya Ntini quietly walked up to an Indian journalist even as South Africa’s net session was on in full steam for the T20 match. “So, what’s the news?” he asked. “Johan Botha and AB de Villiers been bought,” he’s told. “Wow,” he whistles on hearing the amount and walks back to the nets. AB
de Villiers, meanwhile, also slipped out from the nets and browsed through his Blackberry to see it for himself. A big smile lit up his face on seeing what he had heard.

Even as the players were training hard, they had the IPL auctions at the back of their minds. “It’s been quite an interesting practice session,” said Johan Botha, South Africa skipper, referring to the bits of news filtering in during the session.

Indian players, on the other hand, looked their usual self — aloof and indifferent. Perhaps, the news of quite a few of them going for mind-boggling sums had already sunk in, or maybe they are now used to it.

“We aren’t actually following it much. We don’t know where it’s being telecast. We are getting the information through some odd text messages and some phone calls,” said India skipper, Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

But the skipper sounded really pleased with the astonishing sums players like Gautam Gambhir, Yusuf Pathan and Rohit Sharma had received. “Of course you feel happy as long as cricketers are getting money, irrespective of who’s getting how much. That’s (money) the big thing IPL has brought to Indian cricket, and hopefully lots of cricketers will get good money,” said Dhoni.

While the Indian players may be used to these astronomical sums, it’s actually a ‘life-changing event’ for cricketers from other parts of the world. Johan Botha, who was picked by the Rajasthan Royals for a whopping $950,000 (R 4.37 crore approx), was actually at a loss for words. “It’s a massive surprise and these type of things are life-changing. I will just try and be myself, work as hard as I normally do and be humble. I will try not let these things change my life,” said Botha.

Source: Hindustan Times – January 9, 2011 / SUBHASH RAJTA