September 04, 1971, Durban, Natal
Left hand bat
Right arm fast medium
Few would figure Lance Klusener to be a No. 11, but that's where he batted after breaking into first-class cricket as a fast bowler. A childhood spent among Zulu children on a sugar-cane farm and three years in the army contributed to a straightforward approach to bowling: hit the batsman's head if you can't hit his stumps. He spent a couple of years bowling just two lengths before a serious ankle injury in 1998 forced him to drop his pace and develop further skills. He was a revelation in his debut Test, ending with match-winning figures of 8 for 64 against India in Calcutta. He showed glimpses of his big-hitting in the years leading to the 1999 World Cup. His baseball-style backlift and thunderous hitting symbolised the tournament and his heroics nearly took South Africa to the final.
Around 2000 he began fulfilling the role of second spinner, bowling medium-pace cutters off just six paces that many batsmen find impossible to score from. Few would pencil Klusener in at the top of the order either, especially after his dismal form in West Indies (2000-01) and Australia (2001-02). But as his run of poor form became prolonged he lost his place in the side, and a recall for the 2003 World Cup failed to kick-start his career. His subsequent omission for the 2003 tour of England put his international career in doubt, and led to a bout of legal wrangling. However, after both parties settled their differences, he was recalled for the one-day series against West Indies in 2003-04, kept his place for the following series in New Zealand, and earned a Test recall to the tour of Sri Lanka in 2004. However, it was a short-lived comeback and he left international cricket for good to join the African influx at Northants under Kepler Wessels.
Contrary to his reputation as an unrefined slogger, set in stone at the 1999 World Cup, Klusener is one of the most skillful players in the game - which makes him one of the most adaptable. While his heavy bat sends the ball arcing to all fields, he is introspective by nature and happiest holding a fishing rod. Not talking to the media is another hobby of his, although when he breaks his silence he does so with quiet intelligence and impressive clarity of thought.
Klusener was one of the high-profile signings in the unofficial Indian Cricket League in 2007, and enjoyed reasonable success with the Kolkata Tigers. He quit the ICL in 2009 to embark on a coaching carrer with Cricket South Africa.
Neil Manthorp August 2009
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