It’s same old, same old for the Proteas and Heinrich Klaasen
JOHANNESBURG - It’s Pakistan, again. It’s Heinrich Klaasen as Proteas T20 captain, again. It’s the Proteas without their star players, again.
The players, who are here, aren’t complaining, nor is Mark Boucher - they just want to play - nor is anyone at Cricket South Africa, which is only too grateful for Pakistan lending a small hand in playing an extra T20 International following the Australian team’s late cancellation.
But as the Indian Premier League, with all its glitz, glam and the best of South African cricket’s players gets started, the four match T20 series between the Proteas and Pakistan does feel like the lame kids party down the road from gala ‘jol’ at the palatial house with the fancy pillars.
Not that Klaasen or anyone in the South African team feels that way. Nor the Pakistanis whose players don’t even get invited to the IPL, because of the ludicrous politics between sub-continent neighbours.
Klaasen said it was a big honour to step back into the role as captain after Temba Bavuma was forced out of the series with a grade 1 hamstring strain, sustained while batting in the last ODI on Wednesday.
He led the side in the T20 series in Pakistan, back in February, doing a very good job on the field despite the Proteas losing that three match series 1-2.
The group he’ll captain this time is shorn of even more experience than the side he led in Lahore, given the absence of David Miller (IPL), Reeza Hendricks (the birth of he and his wife’s first child) and Dwaine Pretorius (injury).
About the IPL, which Klaasen has played in previously, he said: “The IPL is a massive competition, it’s almost like a second world cup, for the players playing there.
“We have a process we need to follow in order to play the brand we want. This is a great time for us to look at other players, who might not be necessarily in the first XI, but might be a back up player, while those guys are at the IPL, playing in the conditions, where the world cup will take place (later this year).”
Klaasen explained it was crucial that the players coming into the Proteas set up grow accustomed to that brand, although he couldn’t provide details as to what it would look like. “Just a positive brand of cricket, a bit of street-wise cricket, I can’t really expand on it. This is the way the game is going, and we need to keep up with the new style of playing.”
If South Africa is aiming to do what England, India and West Indies are carrying out, it will take a significant shift in mindset from the players. Those countries play an ultra aggressive style particularly with the bat, taking advantage of the power play, and punishing the last five overs of an innings with scoring rates between 10 and 14 an over the norm.
South Africa’s players haven’t done that and as the domestic T20 Challenge showed, they seem incapable of making the mental shift required to do so. Boucher and the coaching staff are endeavouring to flip the switch, and it would be encouraging to see the Proteas push the envelope in the shortest format in this series.
Pakistan are on a high following that ODI series win. “We’ve shown great commitment on this tour and we are feeling confident and want to continue with that going into the (T20) series),” said Mohammad Hafeez, who will become just the second Pakistani and sixth player overall, to play 100 T20 Internationals when the series starts at the Wanderers on Saturday.
The first ball will be bowled at 2.30pm..
South Africa: Heinrich Klaasen (capt), Bjorn Fortuin, Aiden Markram, Andile Phehlukwayo, Beuran Hendricks, George Linde, Rassie van der Dussen, Janneman Malan, Sisanda Magala, Wiaan Mulder, Tabraiz Shamsi, Lutho Sipamla, Kyle Verreynne, Pite van Biljon, Daryn Dupavillon, Migael Pretorius, Lizaad Williams, Wihan Lubbe.
Pakistan: Babar Azam (captain), Arshad Iqbal, Asif Ali, Danish Aziz, Faheem Ashraf, Fakhar Zaman, Haider Ali, Haris Rauf, Hasan Ali, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan, Mohammad Wasim Jnr, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Sharjeel Khan and Usman Qadir.