Proteas to deploy spin duo
ROBIN Peterson has good memories of Sri Lanka. It was in Colombo, almost 10 years ago to the day, that he made his first appearance for South Africa.
That day Peterson bowled a wicket-less but economical 10-over spell. He did not get a chance to bat and, though South Africa lost the match, he will always remember Sri Lanka with fondness.
"This is my seventh time in Sri Lanka. It's a special place. I made my debut here in 2002 against India in the Champions Trophy. So I'm back where it all started.
"Who knows, maybe it will be a fairy-tale ending," the left-arm spinning all-rounder said.
These days, Peterson is taking wickets and making valuable runs down the order for South Africa.
But his career has not been without frustration. He has yo-yoed in and out of the South African side for many years. At one stage, fearing he was treading water, Peterson made himself unavailable for national selection and took up a Kolpak deal with Derbyshire.
But fate intervened and threw the Port Elizabeth-born Cobras player a lifeline and he was selected to play in last year's World Cup in India. His selection raised a few eyebrows, but he proved all his detractors wrong by finishing as South Africa's highest wicket-taker at the tournament.
Strangely, he was not selected to play against the Aussies when South Africa returned home with off-spinner Johan Botha still being considered the No1 choice. But he was given an extended run against the touring Sri Lankans and it was during that time that he started growing mentally.
"It's actually just about getting game time. Once you get game time, you gain experience, you get confident and you know what to do in certain situations. In the past, I didn't get the game time so I was struggling and fighting to start over again," Peterson said.
He was the first-choice ODI spinner during the tour of England and is now charged up to make a difference at the World Twenty20 which starts here today with the match between hosts Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe.
It is not often that South African spinners get to hunt in pairs, but Peterson and Botha are likely to feature as a duo for the major part of this campaign.
"I've bowled with Johan for a few years now and we do have a good record together. I'm not too sure what the team strategy is just yet, but we have both played the last three games so it seems that we are headed in that direction."
With AB de Villiers keeping wicket, it does free up a spot down the order so that will help the cause of both Peterson and Botha when it comes to selection.
"Both of us can bat and that helps," said Botha.
"I think over here you want to have at least two frontline spinners and maybe a couple of back-ups. I certainly think our management may be thinking of playing both Robbie and I."
South African play their opening match of the World T20 against Zimbabwe on Thursday.