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Boucher questions Klaasen’s captaincy


Proteas coach Mark Boucher questioned Heinrich Klaasen’s captaincy after the Proteas were hammered by Pakistan in the third T20 International on Wednesday.

Proteas’ stand-in captain Heinrich Klaasen after the second T20 International against Pakistan at Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg. Picture: Muzi Ntombela, BackpagePix

JOHANNESBURG – Heinrich Klaasen’s captaincy was put firmly under the spotlight, following South Africa’s defeat in the third T20 International against Pakistan, with Proteas head coach, Mark Boucher questioning fielding positions and the use – and non-use – of certain bowlers.

“When we’ve been put under immense pressure we have not responded in the way that we know our players can,” Boucher said ahead of the fourth T20 International on Friday, that South Africa has to win, to tie the series.

“I understand that the players are not used to being attacked like they have been at this level, which can be intimidating as we saw on Wednesday. We got a bit rattled, and didn’t stick to the plans we’d talked about nor were we as smart as we should have been, with regards to where we were bowling and where we were putting our fielders, we were chasing the ball the whole time.”

Babar Azam, scored one of the finest centuries seen in a T20 match and shared an opening partnership of 197 Mohammad Rizwan, who made 73 not out as Pakistan, asked to chase 204, cantered to a nine wicket win with 12 balls to spare.

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However South Africa’s bowling was inconsistent and the fielding once again poor, while Klaasen’s use of his bowlers was surprising – in that he didn’t use all the options at his disposal.

Boucher reiterated on Thursday a point he made following the series loss last year against England, that any South African starting team in a T20 match needs more than five bowlers. On Wednesday, Klaasen utilised just five bowlers, despite having seven at his disposal and the manner in which the bowlers were used felt preordained and formulaic.

“Our captain has options, and he has to make a call on the day about what options he wants to go with, and that can change all the time.

“We got ourselves into a position where we were not picking up wickets and so we went ‘death’ (attempting to bowl yorkers) fairly early and then there are certain guys for whom that is their game – Sisanda (Magala) and Lizaad (Williams) are very good ‘death’ bowlers and (Klaasen) decided to go with those guys at that moment to try and make it difficult to score and it didn’t come off.

“The good thing is he has got different options and he has to make calls on the day with what he wants his bowlers to do.”

The most notable absentee from the bowling list, was Andile Phehlukwayo, who with 33 matches, is the most capped T20 International player in the current squad. Over the course of the series, the 25 year old has bowled just two overs. Klaasen made the startling admission after Wednesday’s match that Phelukwayo’s confidence was low.

Just last week, the national team’s bowling coach, Charl Langeveldt, in speaking about how Phehlukwayo could be used in the 50-overs format, said he was an option at the ‘death’ as well.

In fact Temba Bavuma, for whom Klaasen is filling in during this series, used Phehlukwayo to bowl the last over of Pakistan’s innings on two occasions; in the first match of the series, he very nearly defended just four runs, while in the last match he was carted for 18. If it was that performance which dented Phelukwayo’s confidence, the question that must be asked is: why is he even playing at all?

Boucher emphasised that Phehlukwayo was indeed playing as an all-rounder.

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As for social media’s most popular South African player at the moment; Boucher stated that Kyle Verreynne was in the squad as a backup wicket keeper behind Klaasen, hence his absence from the starting team. That too seems to go against what is seen in the One-Day squad, where both Verryenne and Klaasen have started together in all four of the ODIs Verreynne has played.

He is one of the most in-form batsmen in the side, and given Pite van Biljon’s less than stellar efforts – in fact he wasn’t even needed with the bat on Wednesday – it would seem obvious for Verreynne to take his place.

“I understand that Kyle had a very good game in the last ODI, but that is one-day cricket, T20 is a bit different,” said Boucher. “Kyle’s done well, and is growing as an individual as well. We’ve looked at a few things we can add to his game to make him a world class performer in all three formats.”

Boucher said the decision not to start Verreynne in the T20 series was a “collective decision,” made by the selection panel.

Friday’s final T20 International at SuperSport Park starts at 2.30pm.

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