Proteas must handle the big moments against England, says Heinrich Klaasen

‘The batters have found a way to scrap and adjust our game-plans a little bit,’ Proteas star Heinrich Klaasen said about the T20 World Cup campaign. Photo: AFP

‘The batters have found a way to scrap and adjust our game-plans a little bit,’ Proteas star Heinrich Klaasen said about the T20 World Cup campaign. Photo: AFP

Published Jun 21, 2024


Heinrich Klaasen is hoping the Proteas can “play our big moments better than them” when they face England in an all-important ICC Men’s T20 World Cup Super Eight clash in St Lucia today (4.30pm SA time start).

The teams enter this heavyweight bout in contrasting fashion. The Proteas are unbeaten in their five matches, but have yet to put together a complete performance.

England, meanwhile, were on the brink of exiting the tournament due to weather disruptions and a defeat to arch-rivals Australia, before squeaking through on net run-rate.

However, the defending world champions rediscovered their mojo in their opening Super Eight clash, when they produced a clinical performance to down co-hosts West Indies by eight wickets on Wednesday night.

The stage is therefore all set for an absolute humdinger today, and Klaasen is well aware of the danger Jos Buttler’s star-studded England team pose.

“They have had an indifferent tournament, with a lot of rain-affected games, but they are a very dangerous team with a lot of match-winners,” Klaasen said.

“We need to be aware of that and play our big moments better than them.”

The Proteas middle-order slugger will have fond memories of the last time he faced England at a major tournament.

During last year’s 50-overs World Cup encounter, Klaasen overcame the energy-sapping Mumbai heat and humidity to plunder 109 off 67 balls to power the Proteas to a 229-run victory at the Wankhede Stadium.

Klaasen, though, feels that epic innings is consigned to the archives, and that the Proteas can draw greater inspiration from having been able to get over the line in a few tense encounters already at this T20 World Cup.

“We’ve had a tough tournament and been put under some big pressure moments. We take confidence from those types of things,” he said.

“The guys are in good shape and looking forward to the next phase of the tournament, and hopefully another semi-final.

“That’s the biggest positive for us thus far. We’ve had four scrappy games which we’ve pulled through. It wasn’t particularly pretty, and it helped that our bowlers bowled incredibly well in those games.”

The Proteas bowling unit shouldered most of the heavy lifting during the group stages, but some positive signs emerged from the batters in the last victory over the USA in Antigua a couple of days ago.

Opener Quinton de Kock was back among the runs with 74 off 40 balls, while captain Aiden Markram also contributed a worthy 46 off 30 balls.

— Proteas Men (@ProteasMenCSA) June 20, 2024

Klaasen chipped in with 36 not out off 22 balls, and Tristan Stubbs struck 20 not out off 16 balls.

This all bodes well for today’s clash, for the St Lucia surface is the best batting wicket in the Caribbean – and Klaasen and Co are hoping to now play their part against England.

“The batters have found a way to scrap and adjust our game plans a little bit,” he said.

“Hopefully on better wickets, we can find our swings. The way we have been grafting and adapted to conditions though shows the maturity of the group. We are obviously looking forward to that perfect game, and hopefully find it when it really matters.”

Squads For St Lucia

South Africa: Aiden Markram, Ottniel Baartman, Gerald Coetzee, Quinton de Kock, Bjorn Fortuin, Reeza Hendricks, Marco Jansen, Heinrich Klaasen, Keshav Maharaj, David Miller, Anrich Nortjé, Kagiso Rabada, Ryan Rickelton, Tabraiz Shamsi, Tristan Stubbs.

England: Jos Buttler (captain), Moeen Ali, Jofra Archer, Jonny Bairstow, Harry Brook, Sam Curran, Ben Duckett, Tom Hartley, Will Jacks, Chris Jordan, Liam Livingstone, Adil Rashid, Phil Salt, Reece Topley, Mark Wood.