Few people in South African cricket doubt that off-spinner Thandi Tshabalala has what it takes to perform at international level. But there is a diverse array of opinions when it comes to just when the black Free Stater will be properly ready for the step up. Tshabalala had his first national call-up in February 2006 when he was named in the squad for the Twenty20 international against Australia. He eventually did not play, but was chosen for the tour to Sri Lanka in July before finally making his ODI debut against Ireland in Stormont in June 2007.
Hailing from Welkom - a mining town 150km north of Bloemfontein - Tshabalala initially caught the eye as a top-order batsman when he played for Free State Schools in 2001. He did not have too much success in that role at senior level, however, but showed much promise as a finger spinner.
Tshabalala first made his name in the uncertain world of limited-overs cricket, especially Twenty20, in which he was the leading wicket-taker after the first two seasons of competition. The diminutive Tshabalala gets enough turn and has enough variation to keep batsmen guessing, but is still very much learning his trade. With Paul Harris cementing the spinner's spot in Tests, and the pair of Johan Botha and Roelof van der Merwe proving effective in the shorter formats, his international chances have been limited. Ken Borland October 2009