On paper the South African T20 squad that will play three Internationals against India later this month is far from the strongest.
Bjorn Fortuin and Temba Bavuma have not played an international T20 match, there’s a new captain, a new vice-captain and yes a new interim Team Director, Enoch Nkwe, who’s at the centre of a new coaching and management structure around the national team.
None of that, says Lance Klusener, should be used as an excuse should South Africa fail to beat India in the three match T20 series that starts in Dharamshala on September 15. “No, we need to hit the ground running, there’s quality there and I don’t see much point in hiding behind, ‘we’ve got gaps to fill, we’re learning, we’re growing, we’re developing,’ I just think that’s an excuse to fail,” said Klusener, who’s been roped in by Nkwe as a batting coach for the T20 team.
Klusener, who turned 48 today, still possesses that flinty stare that seemed to frighten opposition bowlers and is keen that the South African batsmen focus on their strengths and believe in themselves more as they start this new era.
“We are going to play against good team. And it’s fine to lose, but it’s the way you lose, and I think the way we’ve been losing hasn’t been great.”
The catastrophic failure at the World Cup led Cricket South Africa into making some dramatic changes around the national men’s team, that included the creation of the Director of Cricket position, currently occupied by Corrie van Zyl on an acting basis and the Team Director position, which combines the head coaching role with a management role.
Klusener for now is only focussed on the tour to India. He will hold discussions with Van Zyl while there to assess whether he could fit into the Proteas long term plans, specifically with an eye on next year’s T20 World Cup.
For now though he’d like to go as far as possible to fix an area that cause him lots of concern as a viewer. “I’ve been watching as a spectator for eight years….it’s hard to say but from the outside, what I see is (a lack of) intensity,” he commented.
“That’s what I would be looking at...I hate to say it, but it just doesn’t look right. I think it’s intensity, it’s having a presence at the crease, and I’m only speaking from a batting point of view.”
He couldn’t speak to what plans he’d want to implement at this stage, but is keen that what ever direction the team takes, it is a player driven process. “You have to work with how the team want to play. They have to decide for themselves, it’s a lot easier to get them to decide. You can shephered them in a direction, but they have to decide how they want to play. They have a responsibility to each and every one of us, all of South Africa too.”
Klusener believes that the personnel and talent is certainly present, but that execution needs drastic improvement. “I don’t think it’s technical, besides a few small things, but most of it is believing they can do that and although it’s a younger squad, there are guys who have been around for a while and they need to transition into senior players. David (Miller) is not a junior player, he needs to step up , take that responsibility, Quinny (de Kock) as well, young in years, but he’s a senior player now. Sometimes making that transition is something they need to be told, because they may not know that.”
SA T20I squad: Quinton de Kock (capt), Rassie van der Dussen (vice-capt), Temba Bavuma, Junior Dala, Bjorn Fortuin, Beuran Hendricks, Reeza Hendricks, David Miller, Anrich Nortje, Andile Phehlukwayo, Dwaine Pretorius, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Jon-Jon Smuts.
1st T20 - Sept 15, Dharamshala
2nd T20 - Sept 18, Mohali
3rd T20 - Sept 22, Bangalore