Imran Tahir, who made an instant impact with Derbyshire by returning a debut five-wicket haul and captivating crowds with his celebration, is embracing the challenge of the NatWest T20 Blast.
Derbyshire got off to a perfect start in the competition, recording back-to-back wins against reigning champions Northants Steelbacks and a strong Yorkshire side at Chesterfield, and the enigmatic leg spinner has become an instant hit.
Although his celebrations positively burst with pride and jubilation, it is not personal achievement that Tahir craves, rather team success and that is a challenge he is relishing.
He said: “As a team, which is more important to me than personal performance, I hope we can get more wins for Derbyshire and get close to the qualifying stages. I don’t look that far, but with the way we have started, I believe we can get there.
“I feel it is a hard job to bowl in Twenty20 and a hard format to play. But that is why we are professional players. Batsmen are after you every game so you always need to be thinking for the team.
“If you go for three boundaries, can you defend the next three balls? Every ball in T20 is crucial, the winning margins are so small. You have to be up for the challenge and we are.”
So far the tricky spinner and the team as a whole have risen to this challenge, returning back-to-back wins against the reigning champions and one of the tournament’s hotly-tipped sides. Tahir is delighted to contribute, returning figures of 4-49 from eight overs, a sign he has settled well at the Club.
“It’s been a great start for us to play two and win two. But it’s more about the way we’ve started as a team. We’ve played for each other and the boys gave everything they could to get a good start for Derbyshire,” he added.
“There are lovely people around the Club, the team and the management. It’s a great experience coming into the system and I hope to have an impact with my performances and win games for Derbyshire.”
Speaking to Tahir after five-straight days of cricket, far from wanting a break the endearing South African was eager to get back out onto the field and perform for fans.
“It was great to see so many supporters at Queen’s Park and it shows that people believe in us and want to see us win.
“I really enjoyed it and can’t wait to get back out there. I hope they keep coming to support us when we return to The 3aaa County Ground and hopefully we can give them the performances to match the support.”
With explosive NatWest T20 Blast action returning to The 3aaa County Ground towards the end of July, spectators have no excuse to miss the now synonymous celebration that accompanies each Tahir wicket. But despite fans the world over knowing what will happen once the umpire’s finger is raised, the bowler himself remains surprised at his reactions.
“It’s the pure love of the game for me and a respect for the game. I feel like I am really lucky to be where I am, lucky to be representing Derbyshire so I play every game like it’s my last game.
“I like to express the feeling I have once I take wickets. It’s not planned, if I see my celebration back on TV, I get amazed at what I do. It’s just the pure passion for me.”
Derbyshire return to The 3aaa County Ground on Tuesday 25 July when they take on Lancashire Lightning, the first of three home NatWest T20 Blast matches in a week. Buy in advance and save.
NatWest T20 Blast is back this July and August. Save £4 by purchasing your matchday tickets in advance. While further discounts are available for groups of 10 or more. Buy online today to secure your place and save.