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“We have a lot of winners in our team and that will help,” says Paarl Royals’ Tabraiz Shamsi

~ The experienced left-arm spinner believes the presence of World Cup winners and franchise title winners in the Paarl Royals’ squad will help his side in the inaugural SA20 campaign ~

Paarl Royals Tabraiz Shamsi
Credit: Paar Royals Media (Tabraiz Shamsi alongside head coach JP Duminy during a training session at Boland Park)

Two days out from the start of South Africa’s new explosive T20 league – the SA20 – and Paarl Royals’ wily spinner Tabraiz Shamsi is excited at the challenges in front of him. Talking before a training session on Sunday at the franchise’s home ground of Boland Park, Shamsi said he’s looking forward to the match-ups in SA20 and believes the pitches will vary at the six venues.

The World No. 6 T20I bowler initially spoke about returning to the Royals franchise and shared his thoughts on the current Paarl Royals squad. “It’s really nice to be back with the Royals franchise, having played in the IPL as well. At the Paarl Royals, I think we’ve got a good squad which is very balanced with the right mix of youth and experience. The other aspect is that we have a lot of winners in our team, who have won big titles around the world, whether it’s the World Cup or the IPL for instance, so that experience counts a lot in those pressure situations,” said Shamsi who also added that “playing in different leagues helped” him come up the ranks.

Since his T20I debut in 2017, Shamsi has picked up 73 wickets in just 59 matches at an economy of 7.14, and says he always thrives under pressure. “I am somebody who really enjoys the challenge. There is obviously a responsibility for each player and that’s the reason we find ourselves in these high-performance teams. Playing over the years, I’ve also realized that it won’t be your day every day, but I always try to give my best and want to be the guy that can help get the win for the team,” said the 32-year-old.

With the Royals set to play their first seven games within the next two weeks, Shamsi says he’s expecting the pitches around the six venues to vary. He said, “I think we will get a mix of everything with different grounds helping seamers and spinners. If I look at the six venues that will be used, I think three will help seam and three will help spin. So, there’s going to be a good balance between bat and ball as well around the grounds, and we can expect some entertaining games.”

Talking about the impact that leagues like the SA20 have on the host countries, Shamsi said people need to move away from the thinking that the benefits are just monetary. “The biggest factor is IPL owners being involved. It will bring a certain level of exposure for the players and the experience that domestic players can get through playing with international players and other SA national team players will accelerate their growth. And in terms of finances coming into the game, I think there’s only positives for everyone involved.”

He continued, “People see leagues as something that brings you money only, but I think it’s so much more than that. You get to play in different countries, with the best players of the world, gain exposure, listen to different perspectives and become better players – and I think it’s that chance for South African players to also make the most of it and eventually help the national team grow.”

Being one of the players at the Royals who have played under Miller before, Shamsi said that he “enjoys playing under his leadership.” He expressed, “David is quite relaxed and you see that in his personality. He gives a lot of freedom to his bowlers and backs us to execute what we feel is best, and that’s a really good trait to have as a captain.”

Looking forward to playing at Boland Park in Paarl, Shamsi said, “The atmosphere at Boland Park has always been electric whenever I’ve played, and I know the people here really love entertainment. I think we have the flair across our team to entertain them and make it a really successful season for the region.”

The left-arm wrist spinner also shared his thoughts on his side’s opening day opponents MI Cape Town. “Obviously they’ve assembled a very good squad just like we have. There’s a joke going around that says they’re the PSG of SA20 (laughs), so in a way, it’s all eyes on them. I think they are the ones who are expected to win this whole thing and blow everyone out of the park. So yeah, we are just going to carry on doing our own thing and follow our processes, but I’m really looking forward to the challenge and expect a tough game on Tuesday.”

Paarl Royals will begin their SA20 campaign against MI Cape Town on Tuesday, 10th January 2023 at Newlands from 17.30hrs South African Standard Time (GMT+2) and 21.00hrs Indian Standard Time.