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Ken Borland

T20 auctions will be searching for Klaasen, as he showcases new game with pared down options 0

Posted on September 15, 2023 by Ken

Heinrich Klaasen heaves another boundary in his record-breaking innings against Australia.

Heinrich Klaasen ensured that he will remain one of the most sought-after players in whatever T20 league auctions he wishes to put his name forward for with a breathtaking, extraordinary innings at SuperSport Park in Centurion on Friday that blew Australia away and allowed South Africa to level the ODI series at 2-2.

Klaasen plundered 174 off just 83 deliveries to lead the Proteas, who had been sent in to bat, to an imposing 416 for five. Australia were then bowled out for 252, as South Africa registered their second biggest victory over their great rivals, triumphing by 164 runs.

The first half of the Proteas innings was a cautious affair as the top-order never seemed entirely sure what a two-paced pitch that also provided some nibble off the seam was going to do. After 25 overs, the score was 120 for two, Quinton de Kock (45), Reeza Hendricks (28) and Rassie van der Dussen (62 off 65 balls) having done a fine job in laying a solid platform.

The first ball of the 26th over saw Aiden Markram (8) caught at extra cover off Michael Neser, bringing Klaasen to the crease. Even though he breezed to a 38-ball half-century, he did not look as though he had hit top gear.

In fact, as Klaasen said later, it was actually Van der Dussen’s aggression that provided the spark. The pair of Pretoria-born batsmen had added 74 off 59 balls for the fourth wicket when Van der Dussen was caught behind attacking Josh Hazlewood, leaving South Africa on 194 for four in the 35th over.

What followed was utter mayhem as Klaasen and David Miller (82 not out off 45 balls) lashed another 222 runs off just 100 deliveries, including a scarcely-believable 173 runs in the last 10 overs. From eyeing 300 to hoping for 350 and then totally exceeding that too, it was an onslaught that brought back memories of the famous 438 game against the same rivals down the road at the Wanderers in 2006.

Remarkably, the Australian attack actually did not bowl as badly as the figures suggest. It was just that whatever plan they came up with for the rampant Klaasen, the 32-year-old had an answer and it almost always involved a boundary. He hit 13 fours and 13 sixes in less than two hours of batting. Middle-stump yorkers were blasted back over bowlers’ heads; full and wide deliveries were steered with an open blade over backward point.

And, counter-intuitively given how he seemed to have a shot for every delivery, Klaasen said his success these last couple of years is down to him actually decreasing the number of options he employs.

“In the last few years, the turning point for me has been taking a lot of options out of my bag. When I was young, you look up to a guy like AB de Villiers and you try and play all the shots.

“But the genius is in knowing when to play them. Like a golfer who’s trying to hit the green every time, you have to stick to the game-plan and use the right clubs. Now I have three different options for every game and I play every ball as it is, I don’t try and recap the previous ball.

“I didn’t know how many sixes I had hit, which shows I was only focused on the next moment, my mind was in the right space. I went through a bad phase in my career when I was taking a risk too early in my innings and I ended up being dropped from the Proteas.

“I came back to my domestic team [Titans] and my coaches [Mark Boucher, Richard das Neves and Matthew Reuben] said I’m using too many options. Richard and Matthew have done lots of work throwing thousands of balls at me, and Albie Morkel has also given me some great ideas,” Klaasen said on Friday night.

The willingness to avail himself of advice was also backed by an enormous amount of work in the nets.

“I never used to be one for hitting a lot of balls, but I had to because I had to invest in my batting. I developed a blueprint in training and it’s still working. Now I stand still and watch the ball and almost just let my body take over with what I’ve practised. It also involves a lot of homework on the opposition, it’s all about options and taking what’s on offer from the bowlers,” Klaasen said.

In the field, the Proteas were also much improved up front with the new ball. Lungi Ngidi removed both David Warner (12) and Mitchell Marsh (6) in the first five overs, and his final figures of four for 51 in eight overs were a welcome return to form for him.

The dangerous Travis Head was struck twice on the hand by the pacy but inconsistent Gerald Coetzee, and retired hurt for 17 off 11 balls, and it fell to wicketkeeper Alex Carey to try and keep things going with the bat for Australia.

Although never ahead of the steep required run-rate, the tourists were also not too far behind and when the towering frame of Tim David (35) began unveiling the big hits in a stand of 72 off 53 balls with Carey, it looked possible that the Proteas might still be involved in a close finish.

But Ngidi returned to remove David, Markram taking an excellent running catch at extra cover, and Kagiso Rabada then wrapped things up with three for 41 in 7.5 overs. Carey was the last wicket to fall, Rabada denying him a century when he had him caught behind gloving a hook for 99 off 77 deliveries.

The Proteas have discovered a new lease on life in the last two matches, setting up a series-decider at the Wanderers on Sunday. With Klaasen and Markram riding high after their extraordinary centuries in Potchefstroom and Centurion, and the rest of the batsmen in the runs too, the batting unit will go to the World Cup in good shape.

Spinner Keshav Maharaj, Ngidi and Rabada were impressive with the ball and the bowling attack will want to build on the progress shown.

In the meantime, Klaasen can bask in the glory of what he said was the sort of innings that only comes around once or twice in a career.

That’s how special it was.

Head punishment leaves SA bowlers looking like battered old bakkies 0

Posted on May 31, 2023 by Ken

South Africa’s attack went from being a sleek, powerful sports car to a battered old bakkie in the space of an hour as Travis Head bashed a punishing unbeaten half-century to put Australia on the brink of seizing the lead after the first day of the first Test at the Gabba in Brisbane on Saturday.

Replying to South Africa’s mediocre 152 all out, Australia reached stumps on 145 for five, with Head producing a great knock of 78 not out off just 77 balls.

The Proteas made a great start in the field as Kagiso Rabada delivered a pinpoint short ball to David Warner first up, the left-hander trying to fend the ball away, but Khaya Zondo, leaping up at short-leg, taking a miraculous one-handed catch.

Left-arm quick Marco Jansen then struck with his first ball as he had Marnus Labuschagne (11) caught in the slips, and in the next over, Anrich Nortje removed Usman Khawaja, also for 11, 12th man Simon Harmer taking a sharp catch in the slips.

Australia were 27 for three and the Proteas pace attack was looking like a mean machine. Steven Smith and Head then dug in initially, but once they had doubled the score, they shifted gears. Smith pulled and drove Nortje for boundaries in the 18th over, and Head collected a couple of fours in the next over, as spinner Keshav Maharaj was introduced to the attack.

The Proteas began losing their lines and lengths and boundary balls were regularly on offer, with Head and Smith seizing their opportunities to score with alacrity. In the six overs from the 18th to the 23rd, 58 runs were hammered as the momentum was emphatically shifted.

South Africa did regain their composure at the end of the day though, as Nortje produced a superb delivery to rip through Smith’s gate and bowl him for 36, while Rabada nipped the ball away from nightwatchman Scott Boland (1) to have him caught behind with what became the last ball of the day.

The Proteas batting continues to confound even the most expert panel of batting coaches as they were dismissed in just 48.2 overs before tea, crumbling from 125 for four to 152 all out.

Sent in to bat on a pitch that was just a slightly paler shade of green than the outfield, South Africa’s top-order was blasted out with just 27 runs on the board. Captain Dean Elgar (3) and Rassie van der Dussen (5) were both caught behind, off Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins (12.2-3-35-2) respectively, before Boland (11-2-28-2) took two wickets in his second over, having Sarel Erwee well-caught by Cameron Green in the gully for 10 and then trapping Zondo lbw for a two-ball duck.

But Temba Bavuma and Kyle Verreynne are probably two of the most determined batsmen in the Proteas line-up and they did invaluable repair work with a fifth-wicket stand of 98.

Verreynne counter-attacked and belted eight fours and a six in his 64, while Bavuma was typically defiant in putting up 38 vital runs.

Left-arm paceman Starc (14-1-41-3) made the breakthrough when he swung the ball back into Bavuma from over the wicket, the batsman inside-edging into his stumps.

Jansen (2) then tried to hammer off-spinner Nathan Lyon (8-2-14-3) out of the ground but could only sky a catch, leaving the bowlers exposed and they were quickly removed by the Australians.

Proteas back in Australia – this time in white clothing 0

Posted on April 24, 2023 by Ken

The Proteas are back in Australia, but this time they will be in white clothing as they prepare for their crucial three-Test series, their shock exit from the T20 World Cup a month ago in Adelaide put behind them, according to interim head coach Malibongwe Maketa.

Seven of the crestfallen T20 squad are also in the Test group, including players such as Temba Bavuma and Kagiso Rabada, who had poor World Cups, and a player like Marco Jansen who did not get to play a game.

“It’s a totally different format and we made sure the T20 players had a longer break both mentally and physically,” Maketa said in Brisbane on Tuesday.

“The players who were here during the World Cup have been able to contribute in terms of conditions and I have challenged them to bring energy to the team.

“In terms of their mental space, the turnaround has happened sooner than expected, so that is really positive. And some guys are coming off good performances at home.

“We have one warm-up game and it’s important for us, we will get all the batsmen to have a chance and monitor our bowlers. It’s crucial for us to get exposed to the pitches,” Maketa said.

The Proteas have already been tested with questions about the acrimonious previous Test series between the two teams – the Sandpapergate Tests of 2017/18 – with the Australian media hoping someone will put their foot in their mouth, but the South Africans have so far brushed off the controversy as something in the past.

“It’s most definitely not an issue for this group. There were only a handful of us involved and it changed people’s careers because it was an unfortunate incident. But that was way back then,” Maketa said.

The 42-year-old, seasoned coach also seems to have been wearing his drill sergeant cap since the Proteas arrived in Australia.

“It’s important as a coach to remember that the only way I can affect the game is through preparation. I know some of the guys are not liking me at the moment because I have put them through some really hard sessions.

“But when the Test starts, I hand over to Dean Elgar and the players. Then it’s about how we support them as coaching staff, constantly thinking how we can turn things around or stay ahead in the game.

“We give that info to the players and it’s down to them. We must never get in the way of the players, we have to trust the work we’ve done and ensure the environment is conducive for them to perform,” Maketa said.

Elgar believes he has a great attack, but pressure on the batsmen 0

Posted on March 08, 2023 by Ken

Proteas captain Dean Elgar believes he has a great attack for Australian conditions, but at the moment the pressure is on his batsmen to put enough runs on the board for them to be effective in their three-Test series that starts on December 17.

The South Africans departed for Australia on Thursday night and Elgar admitted the focus would be on their embattled batsmen.

“The style of cricket we play is tailor-made for over there, we have great fast bowlers. It’s bad enough facing them in the nets, I’m really glad I don’t have to do it in a match,” Elgar said at the Wanderers on Thursday morning.

“But runs on the board is key in Australia and our attack needs those scores to be most effective. Our batting has not been good enough in the last year, there is no shying away from it.

“It’s up to the batsmen to take accountability and responsibility. There are a lot of guys on the fringes who are champing on the bit and eager to play,” Elgar said.

There has been some criticism aimed at the recalling of Theunis de Bruyn and Heinrich Klaasen to the squad, both of whom are over 30 and last played Test cricket on the ill-fated tour of India in October 2019. But Elgar backed them as both having the experience and ability to dominate the strong Australian attack.

“Heinrich is a good, experienced international cricketer now and he has immense ability and a lot of character,” Elgar said.

“I’ve always thought that Theunis is one of the most talented batsmen in the country, he just has that extra gear which not a lot of guys have. He can really take an attack apart.

“I think he’s also in a really good space for Test cricket now, he has come a long way as a cricketer and person since his last international encounter and he will definitely be part of the selection discussion.”

Elgar is also fully expecting the Australians to try and bait his team with verbals, but said the Proteas must not back down when things get fiery.

“Australia is a tough place to play because there are a lot of external pressures and in their home conditions they are always pretty feisty. It’s the nature of them as individuals – brash and bold and in your face.

“But we enjoy that confrontation and we’ve shown the ability to keep calm heads. I would encourage the players not to shy away from it because that’s when South Africans show their best character,” Elgar said.

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