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‘I Am Going to Play Until 50 If I have To’

Dubai: South Africa leg-spinner Imran Tahir has said that he felt he deserved a little more respect from the team management who thought of him as worthless. He also said that since Mark Boucher became the head coach, there was no communication with him on plans for the T20 World Cup.

Tahir was one of the three big omissions alongside Faf du Plessis and Chris Morris from South Africa’s squad for the T20 World Cup to be held in Oman and the UAE from October 17 to November 14. Though Tahir retired from ODIs after the 2019 World Cup, he had made himself available for T20Is. He is South Africa’s second highest wicket-taker in T20Is with 61 wickets at an economy rate of 6.56. Tahir last featured in a T20I for South Africa in March 2019.

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“I am not feeling great that I am not in the squad. Last year Graeme Smith spoke to me and said I want you to play in the World Cup, which was in Australia. I said obviously I am available and excited and honoured because you give me respect. I am ready,” said Tahir in an interview to IOL Sport on Friday.

“I am working hard and you can see my performances in all these leagues. He said that’s why he wants me. He also said he was going to speak to a few other guys like AB (de Villiers) and Faf (du Plessis). They put me on the Proteas group and everything, but then nobody contacted me,” added Tahir.

“After a few months I texted Smith and Boucher and nobody replied to me. Since Boucher has become coach, he has not contacted me once to tell me what his plans are. It’s really sad man. I served the country for 10 years. I think I deserve a little more respect than these guys thinking I’m worthless.”

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The 42-year-old revealed how he tried to reach out to white-ball captain Temba Bavuma, who directed him towards convenor of selectors Victor Mpitsang.

“I spoke to Temba and he said he has a meeting with Boucher the following week. Temba came back to me with a message from Boucher that I must speak to Victor. I again tried to reach him (Mpitsang) and he tried to call me on my WhatsApp number. But he didn’t realise WhatsApp doesn’t work in Dubai. Victor eventually spoke to me and said he will let me know. But then after a couple of months again I heard nothing.”

Tahir, currently playing in the Caribbean Premier League, has no plans to retire from international cricket. He is still passionate to represent South Africa in T20Is.

“I want to tell the people of South Africa my story because I played with my heart. Whether people accept me as a South African or not, I am South African. My wife is South African and my family is South African. My child is born in South Africa, so it’s home to me.

“I have always wanted to win a World Cup for South Africa to say thank you for the opportunity this country has given me, so I am not planning on retiring. I am going to play until 50 if I have to,” concluded Tahir.

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