Heinrich Klassen and his winding road to become the SA20 MVP

Heinrich Klaasen of Durban's Super Giants hits over the boundary for six

Heinrich Klassen has been an interesting case study over the past six years, right from when he made his international debut and his struggles since then and now as he is at the height of his powers. Picture: Richard Huggard/SportzPics

Published Feb 12, 2024


Heinrich Klassen has been an interesting case study over the past six years, right from when he made his international debut in the 2017/18 season when India visited South Africa for a multi-format tour.

Before making his international debut, the right-handed batter had thrived for a number of seasons at domestic cricket and scored big runs at will.

Having had a decent series against what was a formidable Virat Kohli-led Indian side, Klaasen earned an Indian Premier League call-up but went on to have a rather forgettable season with the Rajasthan Royals.

From that point onward, the aggressive batter lost his place in the Proteas side, lost his national contract and found himself lost in the domestic wilderness.

Bold predictions

For a lengthy period of time at the domestic level, many predicted that the middle-order batter was just another bully at domestic cricket and that he was not cut out for International cricket.

It was so tough for Klaasen that he found constantly himself a casualty in the side, any player’s worst nightmare as he became the first to be dropped whenever a budding youngster made a big enough noise at levels below or whenever an experienced player needed to come into the national team after an injury.

Years later, Klaasen finished the SA20 as player of the season and now proudly looks back to the tough years in his career as character building.

“Those experiences have taught me what I can do now and just to believe in myself,” Klaasen said.

“(Tough times) give you experience. (They help you) understand that when the tough times are there you have to be a little bit more patient. You can’t just tee off and hope that you will hit one, you have to pick your bowlers and all that sort of thing.

“I think everyone needs to go through the tough times to really figure out who you are as a cricketer, to know which roads you have to take and which roads you have to stay off from.”

Klaasen has been a dominant force in white ball cricket for the past 18 months if not the most dominant in the world in both formats.

The right-handed batter has taken attacks apart in the middle-order and has done the same in T20 cricket, more so in the recently concluded SA20 season where he finished with a 207 strike-rate in 13 innings, a feat that even the best of the best can't match.

From one extreme to the other

“I went from one extreme to the other extreme and I’m happy that I have found the right path that I am on now,” said Klaasen.

“The swing has been good the last couple of years. I think better decision-making and execution has helped me. It helps when you execute the right plan you have in mind. It took a lot of hard work to get to where I am at this moment but I am also in a good space mentally.

“It’s nice to perform, but it’s only worth it when your team gets over the line, otherwise the performance means nothing to me. It is a little bit disappointing, but there's more important things in life than winning trophies. It has been a good tournament, our guys played fantastically, but the better team won on the day,” he said.”

The right-handed batter finished the SA20 tournament without the winning medal around his neck but has cleared any doubts that would have been there about his position as the most dominant white ball batter in world cricket at the moment.