The Proteas assemble in a huddle before their training session (Screengrab/Cricket South Africa)
- Heinrich Klaasen, the Proteas’ stand-in T20 skipper, has dismissed suggestions that the squad for the three-match series against Pakistan is a second-string one.
- The Titans star noted that the team boasts various veterans at franchise level, whose nous compensate for a lack of overall international experience.
- Klaasen said there was no temptation to enlist some of the Test squad stars for the series once Australia withdrew from next month’s series at home.
Heinrich Klaasen might come across as mild-mannered, but don’t ask him whether the T20 squad the Proteas have assembled for a three-match series against Pakistan is a bunch of B-graders.
South Africa’s stand-in leader in the shortest form of the game was pretty emphatic in believing that the national side has enough ammunition to make a decent fist of the white-ball section of the tour.
“We are definitely not a second-string T20 side,” Klaasen said on Tuesday, ahead of the opening clash in Lahore on Thursday.
“Yes, we do have a few guys that are usually in the squad that aren’t here, but this is an opportunity to answer the call and showcase their skills.
“We have players here who’ve been consistently good at domestic level over the past few seasons and even come into this series in good form. We’re definitely here to win this series. “
Klaasen definitely has a point with regard to the resources at the Proteas’ disposal.
While threadbare in terms of international caps – David Miller, Reeza Hendricks, Andile Phehlukwayo and Tabraiz Shamsi are the only members to have played 25 or more T20 internationals – South Africa have a handy core of veterans at franchise level present.
The likes of Pite van Biljon, Junior Dala, Jon-Jon Smuts, Dwaine Pretorius and new Test hero George Linde all know their own games inside out, not a bad dynamic to boast when you’re lacking in actual experience at the highest level.
“It’s going to be massive for those guys to step up,” said Klaasen, who himself boasts two fifties in T20 internationals.
“That’s why I insist that we’re not a second-string team. This isn’t the first time that we’ve done this, there have been previous occasions where we’ve rested some front-line players for a series like this one.
“The ‘new’ seniors have been stepping up in helping the youngsters where we can. It’s actually been really nice to see how we’ve been interacting with each other.
“To have David Miller, who has played here before, helping the guys out is great because he has knowledge on the ground. We have a very strong squad and we are here to win the series, we don’t expect anything less.”
Australia’s withdrawal from a planned Test series next month means that, unlike the initial planning, the Proteas have their full contingent of coaches present.
Yet that didn’t extend to the national selectors opting to assemble a few stars from the Test squad too.
“Australia’s change of plans didn’t really prompt us to perhaps select some of the absent first-choice players,” said Klaasen.
“We’ve done this quite a bit where we rest some of our guys. A lot of the guys that are here deserve to play for their country, it’s exciting times for them.
“We’re not expecting anything less from these younger guys.”
Proteas T20 squad to Pakistan:
Heinrich Klaasen (captain, Titans), Nandre Burger (Cape Cobras), Okuhle Cele (Titans), Junior Dala (Titans), Bjorn Fortuin (Lions), Reeza Hendricks (Lions), George Linde (Cape Cobras), Janneman Malan (Cape Cobras), David Miller (Dolphins), Andile Phehlukwayo (Dolphins), Dwaine Pretorius (Lions), Ryan Rickleton (Lions), Tabraiz Shamsi (Titans), Lutho Sipamla (Lions), Jon-Jon Smuts (Warriors), Pite van Biljon (Knights), Glenton Stuurman (Warriors), Jacques Snyman (Knights).
Pakistan v Proteas T20 series:
11 February – 1st T20 at Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore (12:30 SA time)
13 February – 2nd T20 at Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore (12:30 SA time)
14 February – 3rd T20 at Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore (12:30 SA time)