Tabraiz Shamsi eyes Test spot in the Caribbean
Proteas spinner Tabraiz Shamsi has admitted that playing second fiddle to legendary Imran Tahir in the limited overs sides was not easy.
Shamsi finds himself in a similar situation in the Test side where he is below Keshav Maharaj in the pecking order, but he is hoping to get an opportunity during the two-match series against the West Indies in Saint Lucia starting next week.
“Being No.2 to ‘Immy’ [Tahir] for all those years was not easy because I was only playing one game and then another after two or three months, and often when we had already won the series,” said Shamsi, currently ranked as the world's No.1 T20 bowler.
“I believe that you can only learn about yourself when you are playing regularly. You make a mistake in a game on Wednesday, you have a chance to improve on Friday and if you make another mistake you can work on it on Sunday.
“Being able to play consistently has really shown in my recent performances and I have been able to learn and grow from that. Consistency brings better performances — the more you play the more you learn about yourself and the more you rectify your mistakes.
“The world rankings was not something that I was actively looking at because I don’t know if anyone understands how they work. I was more chuffed to be No.2 after the Pakistan series in Pakistan because I played and had done nicely, but the No.1 ranking came when I was not even actively playing.
“It was little bit bittersweet and I was a little bit confused and I feel like I am not even the best bowler in our team because we have good bowlers. The No.1 ranking is there and I will take one day in the future to talk about it, but I just want us to win the World Cup for our country.”
Shamsi is happy to tour the West Indies because conditions in the Caribbean traditionally favour spinners, and their role will be important there.
“I think the role of the spinner is very important in the West Indies, especially the way they play cricket. They talk about calypso or high octane cricket where they just play a lot of big shots and you come into the game a lot,” he said.
“Having played CPL [Caribbean Premier League Cricket T20] for about three to four years in the past, that’s what I have noticed — that a leg-spinner or a spinner definitely can turn a game.”
Before the team left for the Caribbean, Shamsi was named Cricket SA (CSA) T20 Player of the Year.
“Winning the T20 Player of the Year award is obviously very satisfying, it feels nice and for me it’s even sweeter because Imran Tahir was here and I wasn’t really playing much,” he said.
“Previously we had the 50-over World Cup and we were always playing the regular squad in that format and we were giving additional squad members like myself time and experience in T20 cricket.
“I was shocked when I broke into the top 10 in the rankings because I wasn’t a regular in the team. But having reflected on that, I realise that getting some game time in T20 cricket helped me climb up the rankings.
“To be recognised as the T20 Player of the Year in a World Cup year is satisfying and it’s nice to be able to hopefully go into the tournament with confidence. But having said that, the tournament is still six months away and I just have to focus on performing and getting better all the time.
“Hopefully I will get to the World Cup in even better form than I am at the moment. It was a good season for me but all the other guys also played well.
“I firmly believe that when your teammates do well they let you go under the radar and just do your job. I think overall, the team are in a good space and happy with the way things are going at the moment.”