Durham Jets coach hails Imran Tahir ahead of Vitality Blast campaign

South African Imran Tahir.
South African Imran Tahir.

Durham Jets coach Jon Lewis has hailed the “world class” calibre of Imran Tahir after the South Africa spinner penned a deal to join the club for their Vitality Blast campaign.

The Jets announced the signing of the 39-year-old last week as their second overseas player for the competition.

Tahir will play for his seventh county in England to go along with his vast experience at international level for South Africa, while he spent time earlier this year with Indian Premier League winners Chennai Super Kings.

Lewis said: “He’s gone full circle because he played for our second team about a decade and a half ago. We’re very pleased with the signing of Imran, he’s a great T20 bowler – one of the best in the world.

“He obviously knows English conditions very well. He’s played for many counties and he’s a world-class performer, to have him is a real asset. It’s exciting for us to start the competition with an overseas signing of that calibre.

“He loves his cricket, he still loves playing. He’s obviously got a few years on his side now. He’s still a great performer, and taking wickets and winning games is still what excites him. So it’s really good for us and a lift for everyone here.”

Durham finished bottom of the North Group last season, winning only three of their 14 matches. Lewis believes that adding a spinning threat with the white ball could play a vital role in improving his side’s fortunes in the competition this time around.

He added: “I think wrist spin has been successful T20. There’s going to be quite a few playing this year, particularly overseas wrist spinners. It’s important to have a wicket-taker – to have either express pace or a mystery spin.

“It’s important in all forms of white-ball cricket now because if you don’t take wickets people are just lining you up and hitting you out of the park.

“You need to be able to take wickets and get new batsmen in at the crease because that gives you a chance and he’s a wicket-taker.”

Durham open their Vitality Blast campaign against Yorkshire tomorrow, with Ben Stokes available for selection ahead of his return to England duty.