Sport / Cricket

Heinz Schenk
2 minute read
14 Dec 2018
5:15 pm

Proteas have reason to fear Yasir Shah, says Arthur

Heinz Schenk

The former national coach, now Pakistan's mentor, has full faith in his spinning weapon's ability to adapt to local conditions.

Yasir Shah of Pakistan celebrates the wicket of Tom Latham of New Zealand during day three of The Third Test match between New Zealand an Pakistan at Zayed Cricket Stadium on December 5, 2018 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images)

He’s galloped into the top 10 of the world Test rankings for bowlers and became the quickest player to reach 200 wickets in the pinnacle format of the game.

Yet there will be questions over whether influential Pakistan leg-spinner Yasir Shah can carry his great form into the upcoming Test series against the Proteas, especially on South Africa’s more pace-friendly surfaces.

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It’s not a thought that’s worrying Mickey Arthur, the touring side’s coach, too much though.

“Yasir is good enough,” was the former Proteas coach’s emphatic answer on Friday.

“There’ll probably be some sporty wickets along the way, but we have the seam attack that can rattle the South African batting. Personally, I think we’ll see good wickets all round. And good wickets bring the spinners more into play and that’s hugely beneficial to a guy like Yasir.”

The tweaker certainly isn’t averse to carrying the burden of responsibility in the attack, having scalped an astonishing 29 victims in the recently concluded series of three Tests against New Zealand in the UAE, a battle the Pakistanis eventually lost.

But it will require him to reign himself in a bit initially.

“What you want from your spinner in South African conditions is to just do that holding role for you in the first innings,” said Arthur.

“But when the wickets start becoming a bit more uneven and start turning a bit more in the third and fourth innings, that’s when Yasir will come into his own.”

Interestingly, that dynamic could be playing out as early as the first Test at SuperSport Park in Centurion starting on December 26.

In recent years, that surface has undergone a bit of a change from a haven for the quicker men to one more sub-continental in nature.

“The Centurion pitch has changed totally,” said Arthur.

“I remember watching the Test between the Proteas and India there last season and it looked like they were playing in the UAE. The surface was absolutely bare. I’m not sure what’s going on over there. But if it’s turning, well, then happy days for us! But I don’t think it will.”

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