Proteas stars need to believe, says ‘Zulu’

Lance Klusener during the South African national men's cricket team media opportunity at Tshwane University of Technology Cricket Oval on September 04, 2019 in Pretoria, South Africa. (Photo by Lee Warren/Gallo Images)

Lance Klusener did things fairly simply as a player. Now he wants to teach the new crop of national cricket heroes to do so.

Lance Klusener used his bat as a pretty blunt, but extremely effective, tool during his playing days and it looks as if he will bring the same straightforward approach to his stint as the Proteas batting coach.

The left-handed batsman, the hero of South Africa’s 1999 World Cup run into the semifinals, will initially be consulting with the national team for just the three T20s that start their tour of India, for which they leave on Friday.

But he believes he can make an impact and said it would be “wonderful to be involved” beyond that.

“I’ve been watching as a fan with my kids, it’s been eight years since I’ve been involved with the Proteas, and although it’s hard commenting from the outside, what I see as missing is intensity. Something just doesn’t look right when the batsmen are at the crease, they need to have a presence at the crease, good body language.

“Hopefully I can bring some fresh ideas because I believe that if you do the same things then you’re going to get the same results. The higher the level you’re coaching at, the more mental it becomes: the batsmen can all defend and hit fours and sixes, it’s all about being in the right space and having better plans. There might be one or technical things that creep in, but that’s not the focus – as a batsman you must trust yourself,” Klusener said at the Tshwane University of Technology on Wednesday, where the Proteas trained.

Klusener, who was a famously potent finisher in white-ball cricket but also took eight for 64 with the ball on his Test debut in Kolkata in 1996/97, really wants to drive the belief in the squad, who certainly took a blow to their confidence at the World Cup and have lost stalwarts such as Dale Steyn, Hashim Amla and JP Duminy.

“David Miller, Andile Phehlukwayo, who I fetched out of Glenwood High School before his matric exams to play for the Dolphins in the Champions League in 2014, and Dwaine Pretorius, why can’t they do that tomorrow? I need to get to the bottom of that, but most of it is they have to believe they can do it. We can’t hide behind statements like we are growing, that’s just an excuse.

“I don’t like it when people say the team is young or rebuilding. The national team is not a finishing school and we need to win matches, that’s what the public demands. I hate all this talk about learning and developing. It’s fine to lose on any given day against a good team, that happens in cricket, but it’s the way you lose that matters and that hasn’t been great lately,” Klusener said matter-of-factly.

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