South Africa visit England in July and August for three Tests in a battle between the number one and two ranked teams on the International Cricket Council’s rankings and the Pakistan-born Tahir is likely to be the leading spinner in a squad that features three of the best pacemen in the world in Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander.
“It’s a very big series against England and if we can win it would be something special, one of the biggest achievements in my career,” Tahir told reporters in Johannesburg on Wednesday.
“I did have offers from counties and I actually accepted one from Surrey, which I then turned down, because I’ve been working really hard on my fitness and I’m going to back to Pakistan to get some help from Abdul Qadir. I’m kind of a bowler like him and he’s been really helpful to me before, since the first time I met him in 2000.
“He’s a legend and he can help me big time … I just need to get him out on to the cricket ground because it’s 48 degrees outside!” Tahir said.
Qadir took 236 wickets in 67 Tests for Pakistan between 1977 and 1990, including 82 in 16 Tests against England.
The 33-year-old Tahir made his Test debut for his adopted country in November and just 18 wickets at an average of 37.05 in seven Tests have led to some English critics writing him off as a threat.
But Tahir pointed out that he has yet to play in a test in helpful conditions.
“There’ve been five Tests in South Africa and three in New Zealand, and maybe one of those pitches took spin, so I had to have defensive fields.”
Tahir, who has played at first-class level for a staggering 18 different teams, said he liked to attack and was unconcerned about criticism that he might try too hard, bowl too many different deliveries in an over or celebrate wickets too exuberantly.
“If I’m playing for my country, I try as hard as I can. I make sure I don’t relax because then I might lose concentration and bowl a bad ball. I like to try too hard!
“I just want to enjoy my cricket and the celebrations just come, I go with the flow. Even in club cricket in England I used to do it … I don’t know if I just lose myself,” Tahir said.
The start of the English season has been marred by terrible weather and Tahir, who has played for Middlesex, Yorkshire, Hampshire and Warwickshire between 2003 and 2011, admitted he hoped for hotter conditions before South Africa arrive.
“It’s normally drier in July and August and I hope there’s a good summer for us, it will be harder for me if the pitches are like they are now. But the fact that most Tests in England are now going into the fourth or fifth day is good for spinners,” Tahir said.
England batsman Kevin Pietersen described Tahir as being “world-class” when they played together in the KZN Dolphins team in 2010.
“He is in a different league. He spins the ball both ways and he’s got incredible control. If you can spin the ball both ways you get wickets.
“He does bowl the odd bad ball, but if managed properly and given lots of confidence, the man can bowl any team out,” Pietersen said.