Firdose Moonda at the 2011 World Cup March 10, 2011

Klusener's favourite knock

Lance Klusener always preferred doing his talking with the bat
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Lance Klusener always preferred doing his talking with the bat. It’s a horrible cliché, yes, but for this man, his bat was his mouthpiece. Find some archived footage of a post-match conference featuring Klusener as Man of the Match - and there are many - and you will see a few mumbles, eyes shifting nervously, fingers twiddling incessantly and feet tapping, waiting to make a hasty exit.

It was nothing like his persona at the crease, particularly the Klusener we came to know in the 1999 World Cup, the best bludgeoner of them all. He was the only batsman in the top 15 to have a strike rate over 100; his bat didn’t just talk, it shouted every word with! an! exclamation!

Twelve years and three World Cups later, Klusener does not have a bat to do the talking for him, and it seems to have helped. The words flow as the runs once did, maybe not as fluently, but with as much spark and zest. There’s even room for a joke or two. We caught up in Chennai, with the sun baking down at over 35 degrees.

He, in his commentator’s shirt and tie, had not one drop of sweat on him. Me, in my reporter’s gear of whatever is coolest (not in terms of style, but what beats the heat) was dripping. We agreed to stand in the shade to chat but there was only room for one of us in the small patch next to the field. “You need the shade,” he said. “No, please, you have it, I’m fine.” I lied back, while wiping my brow and letting out a big sigh.

South Africa had just bowled England out for 172, and not knowing then that they could have done with a batsman of his intent to chase the total, Klusener spoke about how South Africa were doing fine without a big-hitting No. 7, and how they were able to rely on the top order to score the kind of runs that he used to.

He meant the team no longer needs someone to accelerate madly at the end because they are top heavy when it comes to batting, and whether he is right or wrong is a debate for another day, but his point about the philosophy of South African batting having changed is spot on. When Klusener was still around, he was the finisher and what finishes he had.

His favourite was one against Pakistan, in that 1999 World Cup, at Trent Bridge, for reasons that will boggle the mind of those who think they know how Klusener liked to bat. He came in with the score on 135 for 6, with 14 overs left to get 86 runs. Quick scoring was needed but also patience.

“I enjoyed it because I was able to bide my time and plan an innings,” he said. I must have looked surprised. After smashing South Africa to victories over Sri Lanka and England and even going down in a blaze of boundaries against Zimbabwe, surely Klusener did not want to bide time. “It was nice because we had to catch up with the scoring rate and Mark Boucher and I were able to do that. Shoaib [Akhtar] and Wasim [Akram] and Saqlain [Mushtaq] were bowling well, so it was a real battle, not just a smash and grab.”

It was interesting to hear that Klusener did not just want to be a daylight robber, but, like any batsman, wanted to craft any innings from ball one. So what fuelled so many bruising knocks at that World Cup? “It was a lot of luck actually, and some of it was circumstance. I was hitting the ball really well.”

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • stak on June 30, 2011, 13:50 GMT

    luv u zulu my eyes miss u wen proteas r in d field but it was just tym ......u r d best finisher n hard hitter am following u .....if u hav kept sum patience on semi final of 99 u may d champions but its al fate.....but i still luv u zulu

  • Faisal Hossain on March 31, 2011, 10:36 GMT

    Really the real finisher... UNBELIEVABLE hitter!!!!!

  • Shabbir on March 28, 2011, 13:36 GMT

    He was 1 of da best cricket game hav ever seen....no doubt my all time fav....won so many matches for RSA single handedly...a dream man for any team who can blast da opposition wth his batting, a very handy bowler & a decent fielder too....ZULU ur are an Icon & its really disheartening that you have not received da kind of recognition you shd hav..

  • rahul on March 28, 2011, 9:42 GMT

    BEST HARD HITTING BATSMAN OF ALL TIMES..MAN WITH THE NERVES OF STEEL BEST ODI LOWER ORDER BATSMAN OF ALL TIMES

  • rahul on March 24, 2011, 18:00 GMT

    Klusener was really a great player of the 50 over format, it would have been very very interesting if he had been around in the t20 ages. Phenomenal batsman, handy bowler, good fielder.

    to take nothing away from klusener, someone here has commented he is better than Sachin?? as much as i love Zulu that is indeed a truly poor comparison

  • JASPREET SINGH GREWAL on March 19, 2011, 8:47 GMT

    BEST PLAYER EVER IN WORLD OF CRICKET.................GOOD FINSHER ........ SALUTE TO YOU.................

  • Luckwin on March 13, 2011, 5:51 GMT

    Is very much promising all rounder threatening weapon for any Team in the world,

  • Ritu Raj on March 12, 2011, 18:04 GMT

    Klusener, an overwhelming batsman...a class act. Such players are not seen everyday.

  • Harsh on March 12, 2011, 3:32 GMT

    My al tym favorite cricter: i mis you...zulu

  • Rami on March 12, 2011, 2:43 GMT

    Badly compiled article! Such an abrupt end! Nevertheless, Klusner did bring some light to the low scoring 99 WC. Just wished if he had played for a longer period, cos he did have the talent to!

  • stak on June 30, 2011, 13:50 GMT

    luv u zulu my eyes miss u wen proteas r in d field but it was just tym ......u r d best finisher n hard hitter am following u .....if u hav kept sum patience on semi final of 99 u may d champions but its al fate.....but i still luv u zulu

  • Faisal Hossain on March 31, 2011, 10:36 GMT

    Really the real finisher... UNBELIEVABLE hitter!!!!!

  • Shabbir on March 28, 2011, 13:36 GMT

    He was 1 of da best cricket game hav ever seen....no doubt my all time fav....won so many matches for RSA single handedly...a dream man for any team who can blast da opposition wth his batting, a very handy bowler & a decent fielder too....ZULU ur are an Icon & its really disheartening that you have not received da kind of recognition you shd hav..

  • rahul on March 28, 2011, 9:42 GMT

    BEST HARD HITTING BATSMAN OF ALL TIMES..MAN WITH THE NERVES OF STEEL BEST ODI LOWER ORDER BATSMAN OF ALL TIMES

  • rahul on March 24, 2011, 18:00 GMT

    Klusener was really a great player of the 50 over format, it would have been very very interesting if he had been around in the t20 ages. Phenomenal batsman, handy bowler, good fielder.

    to take nothing away from klusener, someone here has commented he is better than Sachin?? as much as i love Zulu that is indeed a truly poor comparison

  • JASPREET SINGH GREWAL on March 19, 2011, 8:47 GMT

    BEST PLAYER EVER IN WORLD OF CRICKET.................GOOD FINSHER ........ SALUTE TO YOU.................

  • Luckwin on March 13, 2011, 5:51 GMT

    Is very much promising all rounder threatening weapon for any Team in the world,

  • Ritu Raj on March 12, 2011, 18:04 GMT

    Klusener, an overwhelming batsman...a class act. Such players are not seen everyday.

  • Harsh on March 12, 2011, 3:32 GMT

    My al tym favorite cricter: i mis you...zulu

  • Rami on March 12, 2011, 2:43 GMT

    Badly compiled article! Such an abrupt end! Nevertheless, Klusner did bring some light to the low scoring 99 WC. Just wished if he had played for a longer period, cos he did have the talent to!

  • Mihil on March 12, 2011, 1:27 GMT

    He almost looked like a thug in 1999 semi.He didn't care about the Aus looking like vultures on the prey,smashed the ball to the boundary spectacularly.God! they should have won!We trying to quell the aus in world cups ever since.

  • Aman on March 11, 2011, 19:46 GMT

    I only support South Africa because of him even though I like India and I remember everyone was very disappointed at me. Lance, no one can be better than you! Love you..Pollard and Yusuf are still far away that can reach at your level.

  • Krish on March 11, 2011, 19:37 GMT

    wat a player he was.......Zulu......Stylist batsman, atheletic feilder & a great death bowler......

  • Ravi on March 11, 2011, 17:29 GMT

    Nobody can come close to him in terms of striking the ball and winning the matches in single hand... not only 1999 world cup he won many matches for SA... The olny cricket in history of cricket as I know made impossible taks to possible in many times.

  • dhiraj baranwal on March 11, 2011, 14:27 GMT

    such a hard hitter, when he is in the form, no bowler in the world can stop him, Hats off to klusener, i think we missed some memorable knock due to his early retirement from cricket.why he left the cricket is still in hide.South African cricket politics is really bad.

  • Ajan on March 11, 2011, 14:22 GMT

    Totally a Masterpiece!! It is our bad luck that we are not longer seeing him play anymore. Come Zulu play in IPL. We all want to see you. Please Cricinfo write something more about this Greatest hitter of all time.

  • Sud on March 11, 2011, 12:34 GMT

    Dude ToeCrusher, This is your comment -'Klusener was very lucky his catch was landed between Ahzar Mahmood and Moin Khan during supper six of the 1999 World Cup. Beside 1999 World Cup where luck favored Klusener to a great deal;'..are you crazy man? Every batsman will enjoy and need slice of luck and get it through dropped catches normally. You are talking about a ball landing between 2 fielders. Stupidity. He remains one of the greatest hitters of all time. His premature exit had to do with Smith's captaincy and his personal relation Klusener. Too good a player.

  • srawan on March 11, 2011, 12:12 GMT

    Lance (zulu), one of the great entertainers of the world cricket.i still has fresh memories of the wc semifinal.its totally miscommunication bt lance and donald. but, wt a player. i miss him him. no one in present generation could match up with his hiiting and ability to change games... no one. it may yousuf,pollard,yuvraj, etc,etc... hes the great playera nd allrounder.. we miss uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu

  • Mitul vyas on March 11, 2011, 12:09 GMT

    One of the best allrouder in the history of the cricket. all time superstar he can change the game on his way by his bare hands. I glade to see you in IPL mate.....

  • Sharky Marais on March 11, 2011, 10:27 GMT

    My favorite entertainer in cricket. My hero. He had a great 99 World Cup and a lot of other matches (where he was Man Of The Match) too. He started Big Hitting in Cricket even before 20/20 started. Also one of the Pioneers to practise hitting boundaries all the time. His career was way too short. He really played his best cricket when the team needed him. Batted usually at number 7. And no number 7 is actually known for getting great batting stats. Ive enjoyed every innings Klusener played. And when I see Yusuf Pathan, Razzaq, R.Taylor, Pollard ect. play; it always reminds me of Kluseners' excitement and brings back a smile. A nifty bowler too.

  • Knight Rider on March 11, 2011, 10:12 GMT

    I agree that Klusener(Zulu) is probably the best hitter the game has ever produced. But I think that Afridi, Yusuf and Razzak are more dangerous than him. They can tear apart the bowling attack of any team single handedly.

  • Amol on March 11, 2011, 10:00 GMT

    Klusener was recently named in the 'Top ODI players of all time' in some prestigious list (with Viv Richards being the number one). In fact Klusener was in the TOP 10 along with Pollock and Kallis. And that 'Semi-final of WC1999' between SA and AUS is 'The Greatest ODI of All Time'. The match see-sawed dangerously and any one with a weak heart would have had a cardiac arrest and some with a hypertension would have had his blood-pressure shot up. Deservedly, no one lost and no one won in that cliff-hanger. I BOTH LOVE AND MISS KLUSENER. You brought SA closest to a World-Cup. Missed it by just one run. Oh dear! Where are you???!! - A true fan from INDIA.

  • swapnil on March 11, 2011, 10:00 GMT

    Because of that mistake from Donald Australia is ruling the world now. what to say about Lance , he was greatest hitter of ball. he was more dangerous than yusuf & pollard.

  • praveen on March 11, 2011, 9:28 GMT

    ZULLU.......1999 wlc..the best hitting not just throwin the bat around, but pure power hitting...we missed u man luv u...one memory tht i have carried of 1999 wlc...south africa down and out...but wait ...zulu is still to come...and u did come..boy...it was alway the case...its a shame u never played 20-20 (hate it though, but)..u wld have been the highest earner in the IPL..hands down..

  • diri on March 11, 2011, 9:22 GMT

    ZULU ZULU ZULU!!!!! Thats what the fans shouted everytime this man walked out to bat and it gave me goosebumps!! It is because of him that i started watching cricket.What an entertainer he was.It makes me sad now when i think about him and i miss watching him so much. He was the one who invented T20 cricket because of his powerhitting. The world took him for granted and now when he is gone we see he was the best finisher in history.

  • Magadheera on March 11, 2011, 9:18 GMT

    Zulu rocks.the best finisher.

  • Sjshar1510 on March 11, 2011, 8:43 GMT

    O Zulu, so polite and such a gentleman. I always noticed what a graceful cricketer he was in his playing days. To have a high back lift while facing fastest bowlers in the world of the time, only Zulu could have done that. Can never forget his awesome power hitting, brilliant fielding, tenacious bowling. A complete cricketer + gentleman. Extremely rare species these days!

  • venkat on March 11, 2011, 8:42 GMT

    ZULU is the man.. such a ferocious hitter of the ball... bowlers got feared of him.. my FAV cricketer... simply hes the "STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN" of ODI cricket... had IPL was started in his pomp, he would've fetched million times than what pollard & some others getting now and all the franchises will be in queue to sign him.. :)

  • ankit kushwaha on March 11, 2011, 7:54 GMT

    i m a huge fan of lance if donald run at the same time then SA may win that WC

  • Ashok on March 11, 2011, 5:22 GMT

    Zulu, was the best!! Can't forget that semi-final... SA still misses the finisher like him. Just look at the match against England. No comparison with Albie or Kemp or Hall... Simply the best.

  • Abinash on March 11, 2011, 5:18 GMT

    My all time faviourate ,Klusener,we miss u

  • Moses on March 11, 2011, 3:31 GMT

    Zulu is my all time Fav.no one could match his style and elegance. One of the BEST all-rounder, Cricket has ever seen

  • kamesh on March 11, 2011, 3:16 GMT

    There have been numerous other matches in which he single handedly helped in the Proteas win.. most of them have gone unnoticed..and I don't like this tagging of 1999 WC to his name.. zulu was a consistent performer in the Cronje era.. perhaps their most valuable player even in the presence of Pollock,Kallis,Donald,Rhodes and Cronje.

  • ramesh on March 11, 2011, 2:03 GMT

    i still like klusener.. what a player.. i like south africa for him only..... still he is my best player....

  • Mahesh on March 11, 2011, 2:01 GMT

    He is "Man Of Steel"

  • Chaya on March 11, 2011, 1:57 GMT

    The best finisher of all time... he never pllayed for records he played for his country, man 5 required of the last ball against NZ in one of the IDI's he did hit a six!!! that's Lance

  • azmat on March 11, 2011, 1:38 GMT

    i think we are forgetting that there is Razaq, who is cleanest hitter in my eyes

  • eddie on March 11, 2011, 1:08 GMT

    lucky or not, this guy was the ultimate finishing entertainer. he absolutely BLUDGEONED the ball!

  • Zulu fan on March 11, 2011, 0:50 GMT

    Lance Klusener........ or LALO (as we used to call him amongst ourselves) is definitely the greatest finisher in ODIs and is still my favorite player when it comes to big hitting and finishing tight matches. I definitely miss him and would love to see him playing again in any kind of cricket match

  • Dani on March 10, 2011, 23:01 GMT

    What a great finisher he was! Shame on South African cricket board for ruining his career.

  • Brendon on March 10, 2011, 20:17 GMT

    Is that the whole article?

  • sendil on March 10, 2011, 20:11 GMT

    no yusuf no pollard no taylor no hussey no afridi no rashak if front of u mr lance kulsner make the blower 2 dance for kulsners tune kulsner is the best big hitters above all of them

  • Mohit on March 10, 2011, 20:11 GMT

    Klusener was one of the most exciting batsmen of his generation. It is a shame SA ignored him during selection due to politics. Watching him perform in ICL just 3 years back used to give that adrenaline rush to spectators the way it used to happen a decade ago. He is the best finisher of the game till date and hats off to him for making cricket such an exciting game.

  • Paul Furber on March 10, 2011, 19:52 GMT

    Klusener's two cover drives in _that_ last over against Oz in 1999 were the hardest hit cricket strokes I think I've ever seen. Everyone remembers the final ball but do yourself a favour and watch the whole over again. The two fielders on the boundary barely have time to move before the ball crosses the rope.

    Come back Zulu - we miss you :)

  • Jimmy on March 10, 2011, 19:39 GMT

    The author of the article missed out on the best innings of Lance That was in the semi finals v Australia at Edgbaston when he played those two cover drive boundaries in the last over and almost brought SA into the finals. Had the run out not happened when Alan Donald charged down SA would have been in the Finals at Lords

  • Sid on March 10, 2011, 19:07 GMT

    Zulu! What a player! The best finisher ever, period. It was a treat to watch him bat. I was sad when he was dropped from the team, I believe that he had a few more years of cricket left. I don't believe in that "bad influence on the team" rubbish. He was a wily bowler too, with those variations and off-cutters. Nobody can replace him in my All-Time All Stars XI. I hope he has a happy life ahead.

  • Dave Reynell on March 10, 2011, 18:41 GMT

    Who could ever forget Lance's World Cup. Just awesome to watch.

  • pukhraj on March 10, 2011, 18:36 GMT

    i absolutely love klusener!!! he is my all time favourite!!! i have a 69 tattooed on me for him!!!

  • Arshad on March 10, 2011, 18:31 GMT

    The BEST match winner and batsmen I've ever seen. Sachin, Hayden, etc all these are NO MATCH for the masterful hitter, Lance Klusener. I still remember the live game SA v Pak and SA v Aussie. His hitting was the "hardest" we've ever seen..... Glad to have watched such a phenomenon

  • Mohammed Zuber on March 10, 2011, 18:18 GMT

    I miss you zulu...ma all time fav cricketer...none like ya...standing ovation to ya...miss ya:(

  • mihir on March 10, 2011, 18:03 GMT

    Zulu!!! u always rocked. I started watching cricket because of u man!!!! and u also made SA my fav team.. You are the masterpiece of a pinch hitting allrounders and u rocked dude!!!!

  • vatsa on March 10, 2011, 17:56 GMT

    We loved watcing Klusner those days, He was one of the TOP favorite cricketers for me, Nice inspiring article Firdose, -Vatsa,Bangalore

  • Shaz on March 10, 2011, 17:34 GMT

    What a player he was! Just goes to show how much a gentleman he is speaking with so much respect and honesty. The 1999 World Cup was a Klusener World Cup as was the 1981 Ashes a Botham Ashes...they could do nothing wrong, expect in Klusener's case, he could not get South Africa over the line, but that's a different story. Thoroughly enjoyed watching you play!!!

  • Jithin on March 10, 2011, 16:24 GMT

    99 wc semifinal may be the best innings he played.

  • vijay on March 10, 2011, 16:05 GMT

    Klusener IS THE BEST ALL-ROUNDER THE GAME HAS EVER PRODUCED!!!!! No one will forget the semi-final btw SA AND AUS!!!.WILL ANY ONE????

  • Toescrusher on March 10, 2011, 16:05 GMT

    Klusener was very lucky his catch was landed between Ahzar Mahmood and Moin Khan during supper six of the 1999 World Cup. Beside 1999 World Cup where luck favored Klusener to a great deal; failed to prove himself in any encounter against Pakistan. It is understood that luck favors every one some times but not able to perform up to par later in his carrier goes totally against him.

  • Aditya on March 10, 2011, 15:27 GMT

    its a real shame that Klusener made a premature exit - was a real entertainer. As much as his batting is talked about, he was a handy bowler too. RSA could do well to have mentored Albie Morkel to shape up like Klusener - of course there is no comparison. The fitness of these RSA players is something Indian players can learn from. I mean Klusener can still give people like Yuvraj a run for his money.

  • parthi on March 10, 2011, 15:24 GMT

    My Favorite Cricketer Of All Time !!!!!!!!!!

  • suhardo on March 10, 2011, 15:12 GMT

    lance was d gr8est during his time...

  • Sandeep.S on March 10, 2011, 15:02 GMT

    What a player he was , I watched the match he was talking about , The pull shot he played against Shoaib and Wasim when they in their pomp !! awesome player !!!!

  • Shastri on March 10, 2011, 14:42 GMT

    What a batsman he was! Zulu is still my favorite, lukcy or unlucky we are not seeing Zulu in IPL. I wish him to see as coach for an IPL team.

  • Warren Booysen on March 10, 2011, 14:31 GMT

    What can we say Klusener?

    If only Donald ran in the semi when he had to ... other than that one mind burst, you were the greatest lower order hitter in World cup history!!

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  • Warren Booysen on March 10, 2011, 14:31 GMT

    What can we say Klusener?

    If only Donald ran in the semi when he had to ... other than that one mind burst, you were the greatest lower order hitter in World cup history!!

  • Shastri on March 10, 2011, 14:42 GMT

    What a batsman he was! Zulu is still my favorite, lukcy or unlucky we are not seeing Zulu in IPL. I wish him to see as coach for an IPL team.

  • Sandeep.S on March 10, 2011, 15:02 GMT

    What a player he was , I watched the match he was talking about , The pull shot he played against Shoaib and Wasim when they in their pomp !! awesome player !!!!

  • suhardo on March 10, 2011, 15:12 GMT

    lance was d gr8est during his time...

  • parthi on March 10, 2011, 15:24 GMT

    My Favorite Cricketer Of All Time !!!!!!!!!!

  • Aditya on March 10, 2011, 15:27 GMT

    its a real shame that Klusener made a premature exit - was a real entertainer. As much as his batting is talked about, he was a handy bowler too. RSA could do well to have mentored Albie Morkel to shape up like Klusener - of course there is no comparison. The fitness of these RSA players is something Indian players can learn from. I mean Klusener can still give people like Yuvraj a run for his money.

  • Toescrusher on March 10, 2011, 16:05 GMT

    Klusener was very lucky his catch was landed between Ahzar Mahmood and Moin Khan during supper six of the 1999 World Cup. Beside 1999 World Cup where luck favored Klusener to a great deal; failed to prove himself in any encounter against Pakistan. It is understood that luck favors every one some times but not able to perform up to par later in his carrier goes totally against him.

  • vijay on March 10, 2011, 16:05 GMT

    Klusener IS THE BEST ALL-ROUNDER THE GAME HAS EVER PRODUCED!!!!! No one will forget the semi-final btw SA AND AUS!!!.WILL ANY ONE????

  • Jithin on March 10, 2011, 16:24 GMT

    99 wc semifinal may be the best innings he played.

  • Shaz on March 10, 2011, 17:34 GMT

    What a player he was! Just goes to show how much a gentleman he is speaking with so much respect and honesty. The 1999 World Cup was a Klusener World Cup as was the 1981 Ashes a Botham Ashes...they could do nothing wrong, expect in Klusener's case, he could not get South Africa over the line, but that's a different story. Thoroughly enjoyed watching you play!!!