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Klaasen grateful for Boucher’s guidance

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“I am just focusing on series by series and asking the right questions"

Heinrich Klaasen

HEINRICH Klaasen has heaped praise on former Proteas wicket-keeper Mark Boucher for his rapid development over the past couple of years.

Klaasen powered the Proteas to a 3-0 clean sweep over Zimbabwe at Boland Park on Saturday with 59 off 67 balls. He was also tidy behind the stumps, completing a couple of catches and a neat stumping off Imran Tahir’s bowling.

“Massive,” Klaasen responded when asked about his Titans coach’s role in his career. “A lot of coaches have helped, but over the last two/three years he has helped me a lot mentally. He backed me, pushed me up to No 4 in four-day cricket.

“He also got me to open in the white-ball stuff and not just down at No 5/6. It gave me the confidence to play my natural game, just gave me a little time to go out and play positive cricket.”

With ‘Vision 2019’ being of primary focus at the moment, the selectors opted to rest first-choice wicket-keeper and opening batsman Quinton de Kock for the three-match Zimbabwe series. This allowed Klaasen the opportunity to take the gloves in all three matches, and it certainly reaped dividends with the right-hander topping the run-scoring across both teams. This was no mean feat considering the standard of pitches utilised for this series, especially in the first two matches.

But although Klaasen enjoys the dual-responsibility, he knows he will most likely have to slot into the middle-order as a “finisher” when De Kock makes his expected return.

“That’s the way I play my cricket, behind the stumps. It always gives you confidence. I tried to be a little bit different last year, bowled a few overs of filthy spin. But at this moment, you always want to be the next keeper in line in case Quinton gets injured. I need to secure that back-up spot, but there is an opportunity to play as a pure batter. Being given the gloves has given me confidence, but more for me it is more about playing as a batter.

The 27-year-old is not taking anything for granted this early in his career too, especially his possible inclusion in the Proteas squad for next year’s World Cup.

“I am just focusing on series by series and asking the right questions. The only way to do that is to put the runs on the board and be tidy behind the stumps,” Klaasen said. “I had a good chat with Boucher about that (the World Cup). I have fallen in that trap before from amateur cricket to franchise cricket, when I tried to get selected for the Titans and that had a big impact on my game in amateur cricket. I don’t want to fall back into that trap.”