CAPE TOWN - Rory Kleinveldt cops plenty of abuse for his physique. It is something that he has had to endure throughout his career.
He is not particularly fussed about it - he even goes by the nickname of “The Big Show” (A reference to a WWE wrestler) - and is certainly not going to let it bother him at this late stage of his career either.
There was one off-season, though, a few years back when, a bit like Samson and his hair, Kleinveldt shed a few kilograms, only for him to lose all form with the ball. The following season Kleinveldt put on the weight again and returned to his old self.
For those questioning Kleinveldt’s fitness, he is actually among the fittest in the Cape Cobras squad and possesses the stamina to bowl really long spells. It is also not that he doesn’t believe in the merits of physical fitness, but rather that the mental well-being of a player is of paramount importance.
After two hugely successful seasons at Northamptonshire, where the motto is “big bellies, big sixes”, Kleinveldt is hoping to bring some of that spirit to a Cobras side that has not enjoyed a good start to the T20 Challenge.
The Cobras are currently winless after three matches.
“We have a great thing going at Northants and we have won a couple of trophies along the way, so it seems to be working,” said Kleinveldt.
“We just need to break the shackles a bit, go out there and enjoy ourselves. The Cobras have always prided themselves on being a team that plays with a bit of flair, so the guys just need to go out and express themselves a bit more.”
A lot will certainly be expected from Kleinveldt upon his return to the team on Friday night for the T20 clash against the Higvheld Lions in Paarl (6pm start). The Cobras have been leaking runs up front with the new ball and it is hoped that the 34-year-old can stem the run-flow.
Lions opener Reeza Hendricks has been in excellent form thus far, with the right-hander topping the national run-scoring charts with 211 runs, including a maiden T20 century in his last game. The right-hander poses a formidable threat at the top of the order.
On the batting side, Kleinveldt, who has always been known to hit a long ball, has improved his batting tremendously over the past couple of seasons spent in England and offers more than a couple of big shots towards the end now. In fact, he allows captain JP Duminy to be more flexible with his batting line-up with the option to push Kleinveldt up the order to move along the run-rate if required.
The Cobras cannot rely on Kleinveldt alone to change their fortunes, though. The senior players within the batting line-up, especially, need to take greater responsibility. Only Hashim Amla and Duminy have managed half-centuries in the first three games and the team needs a solid start to settle the growing nerves in the Cobras dressing-room.