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‘Hard chats’ in the Proteas dressing room motivated players to man-up and take it on the chin says centurion Klaasen

Proteas centurion Heinrich Klaasen claims it’s ‘the hard chats’ that inspired him at Boland Park on Saturday.

Klaasen struck a majestic 123 not out that steered South Africa to a morale-boosting 74-run victory over Australia in the first ODI.

The victory was certainly much-needed after the Proteas were trounced in the preceding T20 International series.

“We have had hard chats. I think that’s the one thing we have been doing over the last couple of weeks,” Klaasen said.

“The hard chats we’ve had are that maybe others also need to man up and take it on the chin.”

There’s no doubt that words were not minced after the Australia T20 International series defeat.

South Africa had already surrendered the Test and T20I series to England this summer, which would have left Proteas coach Mark Boucher a frustrated man.

Fortunately, though, Klaasen and Boucher share a long history with the pair having worked together at the Titans.

The former Proteas wicket-keeper was an influential figure in Klaasen’s fledgling franchise career and continues to inspire the right-hander.

“It’s always good to know that your coach backs you,” Klaasen said. “We have got a good relationship, which changed in the last couple of months because he came up (to the national team). That was a difficult transition for my cricket.

“But I fell back to guys who know my game well.

Support

“I also learnt a lot from Dean Elgar and the way he plays white-ball cricket.

“I always wanted to do well for him (Boucher) because of the relationship we have.”

Klaasen has certainly benefited from having the national coach’s support.

It was not too long ago that the 28-year-old was drifting in the international wilderness. Often he was part of the Proteas’ squads, but could not make the final XI which left him playing precious little cricket.

Consequently, out of sight and out mind, and Klaasen was omitted from the Test squad to face England.

Equally, injuries have also played their part in stemming Klaasen’s ambitions to be a regular in any format for the Proteas.

Just after striking a hugely-impressive 66 in the T20I series decider against England on his home ground SuperSport Park, Klaasen was sidelined again.

This could have deterred any young cricketer, but instead he just kept his head down and went back to work at the Titans.

“The selectors told me to go back to franchise and play more consistently; to spend a lot of time in the middle,” Klaasen said. “It (the injury) wasn’t ideal, but at the back of my mind I knew I was in good form. I was scoring runs in franchise cricket. It almost felt like another comeback in the T20 I did play.

“I was very nervous. And again today (Saturday). It felt like a second comeback in three weeks, which made it difficult for me. But at the back of my mind I knew where my game was. I have learnt a lot over the last year-and-a-half about where my game is and the type of player I want to be.”