Players will struggle to top this as a description of how it feels to fill in for an injured player, win a couple of games for your country, and then go back to being the second rung. Heinrich Klaasen has come a long way from looking for tickets for the Pink Day ODI. He not only played that match but actually won it for his country. Now he has won them their only other limited-overs game in a one-sided match-up between the injury-hit hosts and the rampant Indian side.
Yet, Klaasen is under no illusion. He knows the injured Quinton de Kock is too good a player to be left out when fit despite all that he himself has done in de Kock’s absence. “No, not at all,” Klaasen said without a moment of hesitation when asked if de Kock should be worried. “I think he is a world-class player. And our change room definitely misses him. Especially top of the order. I don’t think he has anything to worry about yet.”
Still Klaasen doesn’t necessarily need to replace de Kock to play for South Africa. That middle order has shown signs of brittleness, and two keepers could actually share the workload too. He still doesn’t think he might have a chance in a full-strength South Africa side, but that’s not at the top of his mind yet. “If you look at Quinny, AB [de Villiers] and Faf [du Plessis] and with Temba [Bavuma] coming back as well, they are world-class players. So, in some sort, to put my name in that list as well. It is definitely a very important stage of my career. Put myself on the map or in this set-up. But if this is my last game, the weekend one, so be it, I am happy with it. My dream is fulfilled. Now it becomes a job.”
And a dream is exactly what it has been for Klaasen, to help his side win a game at his home ground, Centurion. He will be watching re-runs of this innings before he moves on to the next match. “That’s great fun [to be able to execute your shots in pressure situations],” Klaasen said. “But in that moment you don’t usually think how fun it is.