Proteas batter Heinrich Klaasen drives Major League Cricket into a spin

Proteas batsman Heinrich Klaasen representing Seattle Orcas in Major League Cricket. Picture: Major League Cricket

Proteas batsman Heinrich Klaasen representing Seattle Orcas in Major League Cricket. Picture: Major League Cricket

Published Jul 16, 2023


There has been a long-standing conviction that South African batters struggle to play spin.

But Proteas middle-order star Heinrich Klaasen is certainly doing his very best to eradicate that perception. The 31-year-old showed in the Betway SA20 that he was ready to take on the spinners, but his reputation was certainly enhanced with a breakout season in the Indian Premier League (IPL) where he was hailed as arguably the best player of spin in the tournament.

This was supported by the fact that no IPL batter had a strike-rate of 191.3, and average of 132 against spin, that Klaasen boasted.

Considering Klaasen was a foreigner, performing on the subcontinent against the very best the spin game had to offer, was even more impressive.

And now Klaasen has transferred that success against the slower bowlers to the inaugural Major League Cricket season where he struck 53 off just 31 balls (4x4, 3x6) to drive the Seattle Orcas to a 35-run victory over the San Francisco Unicorns.

It was another top-quality display against spin bowling with Klaasen creating the momentum in his innings when he came up against Pakistan wizard Shadab Khab.

Having initially been kept quiet by the Unicorns pacemen Liam Plumkett and Haris Rauf, Klaasen tore into Shadab by striking the leg-spinner for 19 runs off just eight balls, which included two sixes and a boundary.

“My (plan) is to get one hit away and then get going. Try to be very aggressive against the spinners too. If the ball does not turn a lot, and it is in your half, try to hit away. Some spinners you fancy a little more, and I try to pick my spinners (to hit),” Klassen said.

Proteas white-ball coach Rob Walter will certainly be keeping a close eye on Klaasen and the rest of his charges currently in the United States with the incoming Australian tour on the horizon.

And then, of course, there’s the small matter of the World Cup that is set to take place in India from October where Klaasen’s ability to score freely against spin, especially in the middle overs, will be central to the Proteas’ chances.

Klaasen, therefore, is continuing to work hard on the basics in order that this red-hot streak doesn’t desert him at a critical juncture.

“I have fallen into the trap of taking the game for granted,”he said. “So just waking up every day and starting on zero. Just start over again. This game humbles you very quickly and hopefully this form continues.”

The MLC opening weekend also saw fellow Proteas middle-order batter David Miller club 61 off 42 balls for the Texas Super Kings, while youngster Dewald Brevis struck a breezy 32 off 25 balls for MI New York (MINY).

On the bowling front, young tearaway Gerald Coetzee snared 2/22 for TSK and Kagiso Rabada showed a semblance of returning to form with 2/32 for MINY.

Anrich Nortje and Marco Jansen also bagged 1/29 and 1/30 respectively for the Washington Freedom.


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