It’s resilience, some would say. But to keep moulding oneself and coming back stronger and richer with experience are not commonplace. Johan Botha impersonates resilience.
Having started as a medium-pacer before turning to off-spin, learning the doosra, being called for chucking and coming back after corrective measures, Botha has seen it all. He has to live with the fact that the International Cricket Council has stopped him from bowling the doosra.
But the South Africa vice-captain for one-dayers says it’s all about showing character. There are not many bowlers in international cricket who have been officially stopped from bowling a doosra and Botha has not taken that very well.
“I think the ICC should take a fresh look at it. It’s not fair. I mean the leg-spinners can bowl the googly but it’s only when the off-spinners try bowling a doosra that the ICC has problems. The 15 degree rule is difficult.
“There are bowlers who have got away with it and have a handsome number of wickets bowling the doosra. The least ICC can do is be consistent and be the same for everyone.”
But it has not stopped him from exploring other areas of off-spin. Even on Thursday, while South Africa were fighting to save the Test at Eden, Botha was seen trying out a variation in length using the crease during training with the other one-day specialists.
The three-match one-day series begins on Sunday and Botha said after a reversal at home against England, the South Africans are raring to come back.
“Bowling to the likes of Sachin (Tendulkar) and (Virender) Sehwag is going to be a huge challenge.
But a lot of things would depend on the kind of wickets we get.”
Talking about his chances in the series, Botha said the limited-over game has changed for the spinners with the batting power play and advent of T20. “But there is another side. Spinners can now be introduced as early as in the 15th over. That’s where the experience of bowling in T20s comes in handy. There we have to operate with a ball that’s sometimes five-six overs old. The harder ball helps get a lot more bounce and drift.”
Smith, Zaheer out
Both teams will be missing key players in the ODI series. India, already without injured Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh and Harbhajan Singh, lost Zaheer Khan to a right quadriceps injury on Thursday.
He was replaced in the squad by Sreesanth.
South Africa too have ruled out skipper Graeme Smith for the series because of his finger injury and Hashim Amla, who was supposed to return after the Tests, has been asked to stay back.
Jacques Kallis will lead the side.