JOHANNESBURG – The option of playing Quinton de Kock and Heinrich Klaasen in the same starting team has only ever been whispered among coaches and selectors, but following the latter’s heroics in recent weeks, the calls to play the pair together are growing increasingly louder.
Klaasen has shown he is capable of holding his own in any side as a batsman, and his composure, cricketing nous and form are such that in a South African team that has struggled with the bat all season his credentials are difficult to ignore.
Following the match-winning performance in the “Pink ODI’ two weeks ago, Klaasen was looked at as a viable replacement for the out of form De Kock. But Klaasen stated then and did so again Wednesday night, that De Kock at the top of the South African order is too valuable a player to be cast aside.
The same goes for Klaasen, in the middle order.
He’s produced two performances, under pressure in recent weeks that suggests a player who belongs at the highest level.
“It’s a very important stage in my career, to put myself on the map, just in this set up,” said Klaasen. “This might be my last game on the weekend, if so then I’m happy. My dream is fulfilled, now it becomes a job.”
The job for the selectors will be how to utilise him as they continue their experimentation with the national side. He was only picked after De Kock got injured in the second ODI, but has quickly established himself in the side adding solidity and aggression to the middle order.
South Africa’s next limited overs assignments will be in Sri Lanka in July, and that will be the opportunity to try out how Klaasen and De Kock may fit together in the same starting team.
They have started together for the Titans before, the last occasion being the semifinal of this season RamSlam. Klaasen donned the wicket-keeping gloves in that match. At domestic level, he’s also utilised his off-spin to reasonable effect and even without the gloves he’s a very good ground fielder who moves well in the outfield.
Such versatility can’t be allowed to go to waste and while it was initially reckoned that Klaasen might be competition for De Kock - that may still be the case for the Test format - in the limited overs team, they might very well become starters together and other batsmen in the middle order may find themselves in trouble for their spots.
Klaasen’s an incredibly hard working cricketer, who despite playing in a Titans team that is brimming with veteran leadership, has established himself as an authoritative figure in that dressing room. He’s brought that self-confidence to the national team.
He anticipates that India will place him firmly under the microscope in the deciding T20 International on Saturday, but takes pleasure in the challenge that international cricket provides.
“There’s a massive gap between our domestic cricket and international cricket. They are so clever in the way in which they figure you out and (tomorrow) I know they will come with new plans and their execution will be good.”