Proteas in a spin
THE Proteas might have clinched the Test series in Australia and retained their number one ranking, but coach Gary Kirsten will have a more pressing issue to mull over - deciding on a spinner for the side.
Imran Tahir, who was omitted from the first Test in the Australian series and then dropped for the final match after a shoddy performance in the second, is under pressure and could lose his place in the national side. In the Test he played, he conceded 260 runs - the highest by any Test bowler without taking a wicket.
Some of South Africa's former spinners agree that it might be time for someone else to step in.
One of the best spin bowlers during South Africa's isolation years, Denys Hobson, backs Robin Peterson.
"At this stage he (Tahir) has not had form or confidence. He needs to work on rebuilding that and there is no room at Test level to do that. The team can't afford to have a spinner bowling two bad balls in each over he bowls," he said.
"He (Tahir) is not a bad spinner. He has shown that when he hits the right areas he can be very dangerous. We now need to go back to a less attacking spinner. Anyway, Tahir is the only real attacking spinner in the country. Peterson is the man to come in. He can also add to the batting," Hobson said.
Peterson came in for Tahir in the last and deciding Test of the Australian tour and helped the Proteas win. In the first innings he finished with figures of 3/44 and in the second 3/127, and assisted with 31 runs with the bat.
Omar Henry says Tahir is not settling well into Test cricket and agrees that Peterson is the right man for the role.
"I think Peterson is the ideal replacement. He has learnt how to attack and can do a holding job if required. Good spinners can do both and with clear communication between the captain and a spinner in identifying the need for the one or the other is crucial," said Henry.
The Boland CEO sees the Lions' Aaron Phangiso and Cape Cobras' Dane Piedt as potential contenders for the job - with Phangiso winning Henry's favour.
If Kirsten's options were to be narrowed down, he is likely to consider the following candidates:
Tahir (33), who made his debut for the Proteas a year ago and has been the favoured spinner since Kirsten took over the coaching reins.
Peterson (33), is probably one of the most underrated cricketers in the country. Although he made his debut in 2003, he has played only seven Test matches.
Johan Botha (30), who plays in Australia for the West End Redbacks. He has in all likelihood ruled himself out of selection while playing Down Under.
Paul Harris (34), has played 37 Test matches with 103 wickets, which experience could add value to the side.
Phangiso (28), is the spinning sensation this season following impressive performances. However, the GaRankuwa-born star has yet to prove himself in the longer version of the game.
Piedt (22), has shown potential with 87 wickets in 27 matches for the Cape Cobras, and is handy with the bat.