Ambidextrous Mahlokwana set to be the key player tonight
Ever since Pakistan’s Javed Miandad perfected the reverse-sweep at the 1992 World Cup and Kevin Pietersen took it to the next level with the switch-hit, the art of both batting both right and left-handed has almost become the norm.
However, bowling with both hands has been a different beast altogether.
There have been some ambidextrous fielders like current Warriors franchise coach Robin Peterson who used to throw the ball in with both hands some times, but even he was loathe to actually switch hands when bowling in a professional match.
New Cape Town Blitz phenomenon Gregory Mahlokwana, though, has no such problems.
The 24-year-old regularly bowls with each hand, and even more bizarrely picked up two wickets last Sunday against the Durban Heat with both right and left-arm spin respectively.
He first dismissed Heat opener Sarel Erwee on 16 in the eighth over while bowling with the right-hand. He then dismantled the stumps of Durban skipper Dane Vilas in the 10th over, while bowling with the left.
The fact that Mahlokwana can switch between bowling right-arm off-spin and traditional left-arm orthodox with equal capacity is certainly a bonus for Blitz captain Quinton de Kock.
“As a cricketer, you’re always going to play against different people. You adapt in the moment. It was the situation of the game,” wicketkeeper De Kock said of Mahlokwana’s decision to switch hands.
“I have four fast bowlers, and there were two left-handers at the crease. At the one side I needed a spinner, so at the time the ‘offie’ was the better call, especially with the big boundary. It depends on the game situation. He has a massive role going forward for us.”
The Nelson Mandela Bay Giants will certainly have watched Mahlokwana’s progress, particularly Peterson who is part of the support staff, with interest over the past weekend.
The in-form Eastern Cape team host the Blitz today and will be looking stop their Cape Town rivals in their tracks by overtaking them at the top of the log.
The Giants have their own ace spinner – albeit in the more traditional form – of veteran leg-spinner Imran Tahir.
The 40-year-old, who shifted into the top five of all-time wicket-takers in Twenty20 matches (international and franchise level) in global history with 342 career wickets overall last weekend at the Wanderers, has shown no sign that age is catching up with him.
Tahir remains the most spirited player on the field, and has more importantly lost none of his skill that made him such a potent weapon for the Proteas and various T20 franchises the past decade.
Although he has only picked up four wickets in three matches thus far, Tahir has conceded a miserly 5.90 runs per over. In conjunction with seamer Chris Morris, whose economy rate is a hugely impressive 4.66 and Jon-Jon Smuts’ 5.87, the Giants will look to squeeze the Blitz today at St George’s Park.