Heinrich Klaasen wants Proteas to put the squeeze on Dutch

Heinrich Klaasen and David Miller celebrate after the Proteas’ victory over Sri Lanka this week. Photo: BackpagePix

Heinrich Klaasen and David Miller celebrate after the Proteas’ victory over Sri Lanka this week. Photo: BackpagePix

Published Jun 7, 2024


Master blaster Heinrich Klaasen believes the Proteas batters “need to suck it up” and simply “play a bit smarter cricket” in their quest to gain revenge over the Netherlands in their ICC Men’s T20 World Cup clash in New York tomorrow (4.30pm start, SA time).

The Dutch have defeated the more fancied Proteas in their past two meetings at ICC events, namely last year’s 50-over World Cup and crucially at the 2022 T20 World Cup in Australia.

But the Proteas don’t only have to concern themselves with breaking the Dutch series of victories, as the surface at the Nassau County Ground has been an area of immense focus since the opening match on Monday.

It has become abundantly clear that the drop-in pitch is bowler-friendly, which has posed plenty of challenges for the batters.

It is in complete contrast to the Indian surfaces that Klaasen and some of his teammates made merry on during the recent IPL.

The 32-year-old right-hander feels that the current conditions offer a different test for the batters, and that the complaints department is officially closed – with the Proteas simply having to play what’s in front of them.

— Proteas Men (@ProteasMenCSA) June 5, 2024

“The wicket certainly levels the playing field quite big. Hopefully we will be playing on a new strip (against the Netherlands). There have been two matches back-to-back on the same strip,” Klaasen said yesterday.

“We don’t mind that there is something in it for the bowlers, but we just want a fair contest.

“But having played the previous game against Sri Lanka, we know what to expect.

“We have to reformulate our game plans. We have to take responsibility that it might not be a wicket where we can just tee off and now try to play some clever cricket.

“You can still hit boundaries. The one side of the field is not that big. As batters, we have to suck it up a little bit, and hopefully we get a better wicket next time.

“It’s about getting the balance right. In the IPL, nobody complained that 270 played 270, so now the bowlers are just getting a bit of the conditions more in their favour.

“Batters need to suck it up. It’s not always going to be a 200-run wicket. We have to play a bit smarter cricket to get over the line. You just have to use your cricket brain a little more.”

— Proteas Men (@ProteasMenCSA) June 3, 2024

The clear and present danger is the men in orange, though, and the Proteas will certainly be hoping to have learnt from their previous defeats.

“I think they do the basics extremely well. And they are like any team when they get on top of you – they become a different beast,” Klaasen said.

“Pressure in international cricket means when other teams are on top, it’s difficult to come back.

“They keep squeezing you. They are an unbelievable outfit in the field and it’s not easy to shift that momentum.”

This Dutch squad does not have as much of a South African flavour, due to the core of their squad’s English County Championship commitments, and the European nation will no doubt miss the likes of Roelof van der Merwe and Colin Ackermann.

However, the experienced Sybrand Engelbrecht (former Cape Cobras batter) and young Michael Levitt (former Western Province Under-18 all-rounder) remain part of the Dutch set-up, along with South African-born coaches Ryan Cook and Ryan van Niekerk.

“They are still a good outfit (in the absence of Van der Merwe and Ackermann) and it will be a tricky game, especially in these conditions,” Klaasen said.

“We need to get our game ready, and make sure our preparations are spot on and make sure we bring our A-game on Saturday.”