Manchester: Proteas’ leg-spinner Imran Tahir, who will play his last ODI on Saturday, believes that the future of South Africa cricket is in good hands as there is a lot of talent in the country.
Tahir made his ODI debut in February 2011 — just a month before his 32nd birthday — but has still racked up a century of appearances, more than 170 wickets and the most dismissals by any South African at World Cups, surpassing Allan Donald in the ongoing edition of the showpiece event.
And it will all come to an end for the 40-year-old who will retire from 50-over cricket after the South Africa-Australia match at the Old Trafford on Saturday.
While Tahir will look to finish on a high and help his side to just a third win in the competition, the leg spinner feels goodbye to be the saddest word.
“It will be quite a hurtful and sad moment for me, but I’ve prepared myself for that, so hopefully it will go well for me and the team,” said Tahir.
“I’m not worried about future of the team — we’ve got lots of youngsters. Obviously these youngsters need a bit of experience of international cricket but that happens to all the teams all over the world. I strongly believe there is a lot of talent but they just need experience and then they’ll get to the stage where everyone wants to see South African cricket.
“People expect higher and a lot from us — this World Cup was totally different but I’m pretty sure things will be fine for South Africa,” he added.
He also wants his team — which had a disastrous 2019 World Cup campaign as they managed to register just two wins out of the first eight games — to end on a good note.
“As a team, we need to think about finishing on a good note,” he said. “But it makes me feel very sad and emotional that I’m going to leave.”
It was always my dream always to play international cricket and I’m really grateful to everyone who helped me on the way. They accepted me for who I was, the guy who came from overseas and got the opportunity and they accepted that.
“It’s a big moment of my life – I always wanted to play cricket and play as long as I could and now is the right time to go. I never thought I’d be here in England playing my last ODI,” he added.
The leg-spinner has become famous for his enthusiastic celebration after taking a wicket, as the Tahir train leaves the station and, with arms spread wide, chugs endearingly aimlessly around the infield.
The veteran sprints further in celebration than most quick bowlers’ run-ups but he has quashed suggestions that any wickets in a swansong will be met with a new, even bigger celebration.
“There won’t be anything extra because I don’t have a clue what I do when I take wickets to be honest with you!” smiled Tahir.
“I never prepare for these things, they just happen but I’m happy people like it – it’s just my pure passion for the game,” he added.