South Africa in desperate need of a quality spinner

David OwenCorrespondent IAugust 5, 2008

South African cricket seems to have gotten its wires slightly crossed. In my humble opinion, a test cricket team needs a quality spin bowler in 90% of its matches. This being said, the question begs to be asked: "Why does South Africa disagree with this statement to such an extent that they play Paul Harris?"

Paul Harris, by the definition of the word, can't exactly be described as a spinner—you need to turn the ball for that, or at least try to turn it.

Compare the purchase that Monty Panesar was getting off the track in the third test and the lack thereof from Harris. What's the big difference between them? Harris is taller, and as such, should be getting a decent amount of bounce to his deliveries, yet it just doesn't ever happen.

The idea that Graeme Smith seemed to have of using Harris to tie up an end and letting our potent seam attack rip through the batting order from the other failed dismally on most occasions. You can't be considered to be building pressure when you're going at almost four an over.

This, added to the lack of turn and bounce, enables people like KP to try his audacious reverse slogs with no fear of the ball actually doing anything more than going straight on. Most batsmen in world cricket today aren't exactly going to cringe at the thought of facing Paul Harris, not when compared to the likes of Harbajhan, Mendis, Murali, Vettori, etc.

Lying in wait, hidden deep in the shadows of SA cricket are some very talented spin bowlers who seem to be ignored time and time again. Johan Botha has been included in the one-day squad at the expense of Harris.

Botha is an attacking, right-arm bowler. He gets substantial turn and bounce and he has been working on perfecting the "doosrah" that turns the other way and is a very useful aggressive batsman.

Robin Peterson, a tall, left-hand orthodox bowler, was one of the leading wicket-takers in the SA domestic league, and a more than capable batter, opening the innings for his provincial side. He also likes to flight the ball and attack the stumps trying to use turn and bounce to take wickets.

However, his highlight to England seems to be getting chased off the balcony while trying to cover the window behind Andrew Flintoff's arm that was bothering South Africa's top order.

 It must also be taken into consideration that both Botha and Peterson are quality fielders. Maybe they aren't the saviours of South African cricket, but they're a better option than Paul Harris.