If there was one player who could have taken South Africa to a World Cup final that would have been Lance Klusener. Zulu (as he is fondly known as) had a phenomenal World Cup as an all-rounder in the 1999 tournament, with 17 wickets and 250 runs, which made him the player of the tournament.
CT caught up with the hard hitting all-rounder, who is now the coach of Lyca Kovai Kings (LKK) in the ongoing Tamil Nadu Premier League (TNPL).
“It is a great platform for youngsters in the state to develop their talent and expose established players to the rest of India. Being a part of LKK coaching staff has been great. I arrived late for the tournament from Zimbabwe, but, the way the coaches have prepared the team is outstanding.”
Ask him how confident the team is about winning the tournament, pat comes the reply. “We are a confident side, who believe in our ability. We focus on ourselves and are our best. The rest is not in our control. Our goal for now is to qualify for the play offs.”
At the international level, Zimbabwe, the team he coaches, has been doing extremely well. They even went on to beat Sri Lanka in an ODI series in their home, recently. Sikandar Raza, Zimbabwe’s batting main stay (currently) credited Klusener for the team’s improved batting performance.
Talking about that he says, “Zimbabwe is more like the Kovai Kings team, always concentrating on improving their skills. It’s been a long road, in making players believe in their ability than anything else. They were tired of losing matches continuously and wanted to do something about it and here is the result.”
However, Klusener has pang of guilt. “I did not train my body harder during my cricketing stint. That’s something I regret today.”
Klusener is an expert when it comes to finishing matches with his dreadful batting in the slog overs. Does he sense any change in the style of play when it comes to finishing matches in the last decade? “I guess the bowlers now have more variations to be aware of. The rest remains the same.”
Who does he think is the best finisher of all time? “Michael Bevan (former Australian batsman) and Mahendra Singh Dhoni…They are such consistent performers towards the end of the innings. The game is not over when they are playing in the middle.”
Being a hard hitting batsman and an effective medium pacer, what is his take on Marylebone Cricket Club’s proposal to reduce bat sizes?
“I don’t think reducing bat sizes will have any effect on anybody whatsoever.”
Klusener also believes that T20 has improved the quality of the game across all formats, silencing cricket doomsayers. “T20 cricket has added huge value to the game. Higher 50-over scores are a direct result for that.”
There has been a lot of talk about Cricket South Africa (CSA) introducing quota for black African players.
When quizzed about his opinion, Klusener says, “South Africa’s selection policy is a sound one to me. We come from a very complex history and this selection policy may sound strange to many. Although the policy has been in existence for many years at domestic level, we should salute CSA for bringing it to the national level. We have plenty of black players who would make the best team.”
South Africa, one of the strongest teams in history of the game, has an infamous history of never winning the World cup. Does he think they will overcome the jinx in the 2019 World Cup?
“Definitely! They have to overcome the world cup jinx. I think the whole world will be rooting for the South African cricket team once their respective team is out of the tournament.” TNN