England v South Africa Tests

Domingo's big prediction for Maharaj

Coach and former skipper full of praise for left-armer's performance in series defeat to England

Martin Smith

9 August 2017, 07:15 PM AEST

Coach Russell Domingo has declared Keshav Maharaj "is going to be the best spinner South Africa's ever had" while former Proteas skipper Shaun Pollock believes the left-armer's best is still to come.

England's 3-1 series triumph over South Africa, completed with a victory at Old Trafford on Monday, came despite a fighting performance from Maharaj, who finished the four-Test series with 17 wickets at 30.

While Maharaj was out-bowled by England tweaker Moeen Ali, who took 25 wickets at 15, he was a rare bright spot for the Proteas in what was a disappointing series.

The left-armer is less than a year into his Test career having debuted against Australia in Perth last November but has already shown enough promise for Domingo to predict he will one day become the nation's best-ever slow bowler.

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"I think Keshav is going to be the best spinner South Africa's ever had,” Domingo said.

“He's fantastic, think of the roles he can fulfil. He's a fantastic young bowler."

While South Africa have a proud history of producing some of the best batsmen and fast bowlers the game has ever seen, they've comparatively fallen short when it comes to spinners.

Including the pre- and post-Apartheid eras, only four of the 15 South Africans to have taken 100 or more Test wickets have been spinners - Hugh Tayfield, Paul Adams, Paul Harris and Nicky Boje - and their seven most prolific wicket-takers are pacemen.

Pre-isolation spinner Tayfield is undoubtedly the pick of that group of four and is widely regarded as the best slow bowler in the country's history. He took 170 wickets at 36 in 37 Tests in the 1950s and was once labelled by Wisden as "one of the greatest off-spinners the game has seen".

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Since re-admission in 1992, no South African spinner has played more than 50 Tests and there's been a revolving door of slow bowlers in the Test XI in the past few years.

Maharaj is the fifth spinner to debut since Harris played his last Test in 2011 - Imran Tahir, Dane Piedt, Simon Harmer and Tabraiz Shamsi are the others - with Tahir the only one of that quartet to have played more than 10 Tests.

Batsman JP Duminy, who has taken 42 wickets in 46 Tests, has often been preferred as their frontline spin option in the XI.

While Pollock stopped short of declaring Maharaj's the nation's best ever, he was excited by the prospect of the 27-year-old playing on more spin-friendly surfaces in the future.

"He's consistent, he's accurate, he's getting the ball to spin and he has been a real find for us," he told Sky Sports.

"We've tried three or four different options over a period of four or five years and finally we've been able to settle on someone who has really done well.

"You just have to look at his stats to see what he has achieved in the first part of his career - he's been really, really impressive.

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"His major strength is just his accuracy, he's played on some surfaces that have offered him assistance but I think the best for him is yet to come.

"When you take him to the subcontinent on those Indian wickets that are really turning, he'll be a big handful."

South African spinners with 100+ Test wickets

  • Hugh Tayfield - 170 wickets at 25.91 in 37 Tests
  • Paul Adams - 134 wickets at 32.87 in 45 Tests
  • Paul Harris - 103 wickets at 37.87 in 37 Tests
  • Nicky Boje - 100 wickets at 42.65 in 43 Tests
  • Keshav Maharaj - 43 wickets at 27.65 in 11 Tests