‘With more experience, it could be a different side in two years’
They called him Zulu, one from the warrior clan. On the field, he was very much that, whether hustling the batsmen with speed or dismissing the ball to the distant corners.
Beginning his career as a tearaway quick who could leave the batters with bruised limbs and dented egos, Lance Klusener, after injuries, bowled effective cutters.
With the bat, he was a destroyer and a game changer. A true blue all-rounder, Klusener, now 50, was.
Talking to The Hindu, Klusener felt the present South African team was going through a cycle. “It’s cyclical, there are times when you are on top, and then you rebuild. Big players have retired. Not easy to fill their shoes.”
Klusener added: “Two years from now, when this South African team has more experience, it could be a very different side.”
Asked why there were only a few genuine pace bowling all-rounders in Test cricket presently, Klusener replied, “the cricketers have to play three formats now and the workload can be heavy. Probably that’s the reason.”
Queried about the present-day pace bowling all-rounders he admired, Klusener said, “Ben Stokes and Hardik Pandya, if he can be free of injuries and bowl with pace.”
Kallis, the best
Klusener played in the era of exceptional pace bowling all-rounders. Asked who was the best, he observed, “Jacques Kallis without a doubt. He was an astonishing batter and a skilful bowler with pace.”
And who was the big-hitter the explosive Klusener admired the most? The South African answered, “M.S. Dhoni hit the ball hard. Probably he is not the hardest hitter of them all but I liked the way he handled a chase, taking the game deep, running swiftly between the wickets, and launching into the big blows at just the right time.”
Klusener added, “it takes a lot of skill to do that.”
Sadly, Klusener was part of a moment that would haunt South African cricket forever.
He stroked one down the ground and set off for the winning run in the 1999 World Cup semifinal against Australia and made his ground, only to see last man Allan Donald, ball watching, dropping his bat and being run-out at the wicket-keeper’s end in a tense, emotion-filled climax.
“I want to forget that. We have not had the luck too in ICC tournaments. We have been on the wrong side of the weather, lost out on run-rates. We need to win one ICC event to get the monkey off our back,” Klusener said.
Talent in Afghanistan
He resigned as the Afghanistan head coach recently after taking up the job in 2019. “There is amazing talent there, and if there is consistency in selection, there will be consistency in performances.”
Klusener is open to the job of coaching an IPL team. “I would love that challenge.”
The Zulu has more to offer to the game.
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