New Proteas spinner Dane Piedt has excited many with his wicket-taking variations, to which 45 batsmen succumbed in the Sunfoil Series, but the Cape Cobras offie knows that international batsmen will feast on him if he tries too much with the ball.
Piedt is heading off to Sri Lanka on his first tour with the Proteas and there can scarcely be a more daunting place for a finger spinner, even one armed with doosras and carrom balls, to make his debut.
“It’s going to be really important to get into a spell. You can’t go for four or five runs an over in long-form cricket because then the captain can’t set fields. Once you’ve bowled 10 overs for 20 runs then you can start manipulating things, bowl variations and change the field,” Piedt said at the Centre of Excellence in Pretoria, where the Proteas were having a fitness camp.
According to his Cobras coach, Paul Adams, what makes Piedt so good is his ability to “just sit at one end and create pressure”.
“When a spinner is a match-winner and takes five-fors in the last innings of the game, that’s what you want to see. It’s great to not crumble under the pressure of being the one relied on to get those wickets, and Dane’s managed to pull off a couple of those performances this season,” Adams added.
While Piedt was a revelation for the Cobras, bowling them to the four-day title, he has been on the national selectors’ radar for a while, attending the national academy in 2011 and touring Australia with the Emerging South Africa squad in 2012 and playing for SA A last year.
“I’ve been given responsibility at the Cobras. Justin Ontong [the captain] always threw me the ball and said ‘bowl the team out’. He used me as a wicket-taker and not just in four-day cricket. It’s the role I was given from the start of the season.
“I had to take it to the next level because we were missing a couple of bowlers with Beuran Hendricks, Rory Kleinveldt, Robin Peterson and Vernon Philander all with the national squad, I had to use my skills in the fourth innings and win games,” Piedt said.
The 24-year-old’s success is not that surprising considering how quickly he whips the ball through, while still obtaining turn and bounce, and how economical he generally is, conceding just 2.50 runs per over in the Sunfoil Series last season. He was also the leading wicket-taker in the competition and there’s no doubt he has a strong claim to a Test spot as back-up to leg-spinner Imran Tahir.
The SACS product said he was sorry to see England off-spinner Graeme Swann, one of his role-models, retire from the game this year.
“I loved watching Graeme Swann, but unfortunately he’s retired so we won’t be seeing him again.”
Piedt has also incorporated aspects of Pakistani Saqlain Mushtaq, Australian Tim May and even local hero Adams into his game.
“It’s mostly all the orthodox off-spinners, but Saqlain had the ability to spin the ball the other way, which was exciting, and obviously Paul, coming from Cape Town, was a hero. It was always a big thing when he played for South Africa for us in the coloured community,” Piedt said.
It seems that Cape Town might have produced another spinner to take the international stage by storm. There’s no doubt Piedt is an exciting prospect and an opportunity to shine in Sri Lanka is one he’s going to grab with both hands.