Leg-spinner Imran Tahir hopes to make his international debut for South Africa in 2011, when he will qualify to play for his adopted country.
“I really want to play for South Africa, I become eligible around January, so I am looking forward to the time I can play," Tahir told Cricket World, three months after he was bizarrely called up and subsequently released from the national squad when it was eventually discovered that he was not yet eligible to play.
"I am hopeful I will get picked. I bowled really well when I netted with them for a couple of days. Everyone is quite impressed, so if I get picked I will have to prove myself.”
The talented Warwickshire spinner, born in Lahore but now living in South Africa, feels that there is a place for both him and his former Titans team-mate Paul Harris in the side, but he also recognises that there is a big difference in style between the two bowlers.
“I think we could play together, but last time I know they picked me ahead of him. Paul Harris is a good consistent bowler, but I am a different type of bowler to him. I have many different variations but at the same time I go for runs. That has been my style of bowling all my life, so as long as I am taking wickets I do not mind.”
Tahir spent the winter in South Africa playing first-class cricket for the for the Easterns Province, becoming the leading wicket-taker in the 2009/10 season, amassing a massive 60 wickets from his ten games. He also took seven wickets for the Titans in the two SuperSport Series games he played for them.
“I wanted to impress the selectors in South Africa this winter. I really want to play for the national side, I decided that a few years ago," he added.
Imran has played at various clubs throughout his career, including Middlesex and Hampshire but he seems to have found a club in Warwickshire where he is happy and will be able stay for an extended period of time.
“Wherever you go, when you are at a new club you are always nervous. However it is a very nice environment here at Warwickshire. The people here are very supportive and they understand cricket very well. You are not made to do anything you so not want to, it is up to you. They respect the cricketers a lot here.”
Tahir has set himself targets for the up and coming season, and these are targets that he must look to achieve if he is to catch the eye of the South African selectors and help Warwickshire win some silverware this season.
“From a personal point of view, my aim is to get 80 wickets in 16 games. Last year we (Warwickshire) made it to the Twenty20 Cup quarter-finals so I hope we can go further this year. I would like to win a trophy with Warwickshire.
“I think the youngsters that will be good this year are Naqaash Tahir and Ian Woakes. With the bat I think Tim Ambrose and Ian Bell will be important for us. They will be with us until Pakistan come and tour England. They have all looked good in the nets so it is a good sign for us.”
As a talented first-class cricketer, Tahir naturally has his eye on the Indian Premier League. In this year's tournament spinners have prospered on the sub-continental wickets and this gives Tahir great hope.
“I would love to play in the IPL, but I think it is for when you play international cricket. I have been in touch with all of the franchises and they have all said they will be in touch with me for next year.
“I think Twenty20 is good for the players and the fans. It can help players out because you can be paid more money in less time.”
Although he is a fan of the short formats of the game, he has expressed his disapproval of the pink ball that is being tested in various competitions this season.
He said: “I do not agree with pink balls in the game. The red balls have always been in cricket, they should not be changing the colours. White balls are okay, I think because they are specifically for one-day cricket. It needs to stop somewhere.”
Imran bowled 23 overs on the first day of Warwickshire’s second LV= County Championship game against Lancashire, finishing with miserly figures of one for 66, including four maidens.
Tahir said: “I am happy with my performance today. You have to be intelligent when you bowl. It is not my type of wicket because they do not have any spinners so they made a wicket to suit that. We started the day really well today, getting four wickets in three overs. I had a consistent first day so I am happy all round.”
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