Graeme Smith has said that Pakistan-born South African leg-spinner Imran Tahir is the type of player he has been desperate to captain throughout his time in international cricket.
Tahir, who represented Pakistan A before qualifying as a South African citizen on 31st December last year, was named in South Africa's squad for the upcoming five-match ODI series with India as well as added to the preliminary World Cup squad.
"It is something I have dreamed of throughout my captaincy,” Smith said. “It is also about getting to know Imran as a person and finding out how he works. That is a key factor in managing any player. I think how we manage him going forward is an important factor.
"Where we play and how we play is another crucial aspect in his management. It is an asset to have an attacking wicket-taking option in the middle overs which we haven’t really had. Johan Botha has been excellent for us because he has really controlled the game for us but to have somebody like Imran who can take wickets and change the course of the game together with our frontline seamers is a wonderful asset for us to have.
"I don’t want to put too much pressure and expectation on him. He has been very successful both in our domestic cricket and in county cricket and I want him to find his feet at the next level."
Continuing on the theme of dreams, Smith, looked ahead to the World Cup, sounding a note of caution, however:
“World Cup selection is just around the corner so it is a tough time because it is every player’s dream to go to the World Cup,” he added.
“So I guess there is a lot of extra pressure on players at the moment to perform. From my perspective it is about trying the right combinations and seeing how they are going to work. At the same time we have to realize that the World Cup is being played under totally different conditions to what we will be playing here. So as much as we would like to put up a good performance here and be successful, it won’t necessarily define how well we will do in the World Cup.”
The opening ODI against India gets underway in Durban on 12th January.
© Cricket World 2011