Tahir troubles

Imran Tahir was left out of the 1st Test in Brisbane, this puzzled many people. In my wrap up I mentioned that while his exclusion was odd that I didn’t think that he would have actually made much difference to the result. It’s now lunch on day 4 of the 2nd Test, and Tahir has match figures of 0/249 off 35 overs (yes, 7.11 rpo), and he’s bowled just one maiden. I feel my comments have, at this point, been validated.

He should be having an impact on this match, the back half of the Adelaide test – even despite the no-so-spin-friendly short square boundaries – always give spinners a hand. The Channel 9 commentators made a good point when they said that he hasn’t been beating the Australian batsmen in flight, in fact I’m not sure I’ve even heard them discuss any variations in his bowling – I’m assuming he has some variations, surely he does, right?

Based solely on what we’ve seen thus far its a little hard to believe that Tahir can be the best spin option going around in South African cricket. Since his debut against Australia last November, his efforts have yielded just 26 wickets in 21 innings. His lengthy first class career has been more fruitful with 642 wickets from 156 matches, but success at first class level doesn’t guarantee you anything in the Test arena.

For the sake of comparison, during South Africa’s first innings Nathan Lyon bowled 44 overs taking 2/91 – in other words he bowled twice as many overs for half as many runs. If you compare the combined spin efforts of the two teams (just from their respective first innings) it looks even worse.

South Africa Ov Md Runs W Econ
Imran Tahir 23 0 180 0 7.82 (5nb)
F du Plessis 7 0 34 0 4.85
Total 30 0 214 0 6.8
Australia Ov Md Runs W Econ
NM Lyon 44 7 91 2 2.06
MJ Clarke 7 1 22 1 3.14
DA Warner 5 0 27 1 5.40
Total 56 8 140 4 2.5

Something else I want to touch on is Tahir’s habit of bowling no balls. He bowled 5 in the first innings, and currently has 2 against his name in the second innings – one of which cost him a wicket. Fast bowlers can blame slight variances in their long, quick, run-ups, so what’s Tahir’s excuse? A slow bowler, who is supposedly good enough to be inĀ  the best test team in the world, should never bowl a no ball. Ever. Period.

I hope for South Africa’s sake that Vernon Philander is fit for Perth and that none of their other bowlers get injured between now and then – especially consider they’ve already lost Kallis. You would hope that if they didn’t want to play Tahir in Brisbane that there absolutely no chance they’ll play him in Perth – well, you’d hope there is no chance anyway.

The Adelaide test has been one to forget for Imran Tahir, bad news is that it isn’t over yet.

Post match update

Now that the test is over this is worthy of an update. After also finishing the second innings wicketless Imran Tahir now has the lovely distinction of having the worst test bowling figures in history – 0/260.

Combined match figures for all spin options from both sides.

South Africa Ov Md Runs W Econ
Imran Tahir 37 0 260 0 7.02 (7nb)
F du Plessis 8 0 42 0 5.25
Total 45 0 302 0 6.71 (7nb)
Australia Ov Md Runs W Econ
NM Lyon 94 38 140 5 1.49
MJ Clarke 25 6 56 1 2.24
DA Warner 11 0 56 1 5.09
RT Ponting 1 1 0 0 0.00
Total 131 45 252 7 1.92

As you can see above, not all the slow options got belted, in fact it was only really Tahir who copped it – his economy rate for example would look bad in T20, and this is not T20. Nathan Lyon on the other hand bowled a marathon 50 overs in the South Africans second innings, and astonishingly only conceded 49 runs – yes, his figures were clearly helped by the fact that the South Africans has no interest in scoring runs on the final day, but if the pitch was as un-spin-friendly as Tahir made it look then that shouldn’t have mattered.

Truth of it is that Tahir was completely destroyed by the Australian batting, and barring any injury mishaps, you would assume that we won’t see him again on this tour.