When Allan Donald began his tenure as the Proteas bowling coach 18 months ago he was a very worried man. Donald, who took 330 Test wickets during a stellar international career, had concerns related to the depth of South Africa’s fast bowling stocks.
According to Donald, it was wonderful that South Africa had Dale Steyn and Morné Morkel terrorising batsmen the world over, but who would replace them should either suffer a long-term injury or disability?
Donald needn’t have wasted sleep over this though as his predecessor Vinnie Barnes was already doing the hard yards behind the scenes at the High Performance Centre in Pretoria to ensure the conveyor belt of fast bowlers kept producing the goods.
Out popped Vernon Philander, although to be fair he was already the finished product two years before his Test debut, followed by the “Tzaneen Express” Marchant de Lange. He had a spectacular Test debut, claiming 7/81 against Sri Lanka in Durban in 2011 to confirm his pedigree, but has since been struck down by a long-term injury that has curtailed his progress.
De Lange’s unavailability has opened the door for yet another paceman, Rory Kleinveldt, to have a crack on the big stage.
After an inauspicious start, Kleinveldt has settled into international cricket through solid performances in his last two Tests, especially in the second Test at St George’s Park and also in the preceding T20 series.
“I think the Test went okay for me. I would though have loved to take more wickets,” said Kleinveldt, who finished with a match-haul of 4/97.
“Basically for me, I need to bring my skills. I had to make a few adjustments in terms of my length compared to domestic cricket. You also analyse the opposition batsmen more, but I am satisfied with my performance.”
Two of Kleinveldt’s three Test caps earned thus far have been due to Philander sustaining a late injury. Kleinveldt knows that when Philander has recovered he will have to step down again, but the former Plumstead High pupil has no qualms with that. “Vernon is the No 2 ranked bowler in the world, you now.”
Instead Kleinveldt just wants to focus on his own performance, knowing that there are other young tearaways such as the Highveld Lions duo Hardus Viljoen and Chris Morris letting rip on the local first-class scene.
An even younger generation is emerging in the form of Cape Cobras left-armer Beuran Hendricks and Warriors upstart Ayabulela Gqamane, who seems to have good fast bowling genes as he hails from the same Eastern Cape village, Mdinigi, as Proteas legend Makhaya Ntini.
Kleinveldt, though, has the inside lane at the moment and will have another opportunity to further entrench himself in the national setup when the one-day series against the Black Caps gets under way in Paarl on Saturday.
The beefy seamer will be hoping for a one-day international debut at the venue.
More importantly, it’s on a surface he knows very well after toiling away for many overs in the Boland sun there for the Cobras.
“Yeah, I am expecting a good wicket. The one-day wickets have been really good of late,” he said.’
“In the past it was usually low and slow, but there have been some really high scoring games there recently. There should be good pace and bounce.”
The Kiwis have already played a match at the picturesque winelands ground on this tour when they battled against a youthful SA Invitational XI shortly before New Year.
There was precious little assistance to the faster bowlers and run-scoring was difficult over those three days. However, this should be a lot different on Saturday, considering the Proteas posted 301/8 in their allotted 50 overs there last year. - Pretoria News