No international cricket, but Proteas busy...

cricket07 August 2023 18:23| © MWP
By:Neil Manthorp
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Heinrich Klaasen © Gallo Images

South Africa could hardly have hoped for a better build-up to the World Cup than five ODIs against Australia – unless they were played in the sub-continent – but head coach, Rob Walter, knows that preparation could have been a whole lot worse.

The Proteas’ last international engagement was against the Netherlands, at the Wanderers, at the beginning of April. It will have been five long months without a fixture before they play Australia in the first of eight white-ball fixtures at Kingsmead at the end of August.

Three T20 Internationals and five One-Dayers might not be every fan’s nirvana to compensate for Australia’s decision not to visit South Africa for a test series during Covid two years ago, but the quid-pro-quo will certainly help South Africa’s chances of winning their first World Cup.

In the meantime, almost all of the likely Proteas World Cup squad have been honing their skills (and keeping their bank managers happy) with short-term contracts in domestic T20 Leagues around the world.

“With us not having much international cricket it’s been great that our guys have been able to be involved somewhere. We've had up to 15 players in different leagues and competitions, including the majority of our top players. They've become hot property in league cricket and it’s good that they've had competitive cricket. You never want to pass up the opportunity to compete and hone your skills,” Walter said.

Only Temba Bavuma and Lungi Ngidi from a likely World Cup squad have missed out on the IPL, Major League Cricket in America, the Lanka Premier League, the Canadian Global T20 and The Hundred in England. It is hard to keep up to date with all their performances, but Walter has his spread-sheets and is doing his best.


Having expressed his frustration about the in-and-out nature of his international career with admirable honesty and vigour, Heinrich Klaasen has now established himself as one of the hottest batting properties in world cricket.

Klaasen scored 448 runs at a strike rate of 177 in the IPL and followed that up with 235 at 197 in MLC establishing himself as one of the hottest middle-order batters in the game, especially against spin.

“He's worked really hard on his gameplan, specifically against spin, and become a leading batter in his space. The key is to see the consistency with which he's been playing, especially given it's a role that entails risk. Being able to be consistent but playing on the upper end of the risk scale is great to see. It's a testament to his hard work and the development in his game in the last 18 months,” Walter said.

“We've been in constant communication with the guys in terms of specific areas of focus as we get closer to the Aussie series and the World Cup,” Walter said.

One thing is certain: The Proteas white-ball coach has been working tirelessly and ferociously during the months his team have not been playing. And hard work pays off more often than not.