Interviews

Published on January 12th, 2018 | by Sandipan Banerjee

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Lance Klusener’s optimism towards Bangladesh cricket

🕓 Reading time:4 minutes

“Bangladesh, especially at home is a tough opponent. They have almost all base covered. Our boys are aware of that and up to the challenge. Realistically, I believe we should target Sri Lanka first, whose line-up is still unsettled.”

During his playing days, Lance Klusener used to be one of the very few impact players in the world who could have single-handedly turned the game around — either with ball or bat. The cricket fraternity still remembers the 1999 World Cup, primarily for the all-round heroics of this Protea all-rounder. In the same tournament, the world had also got the first glimpses of the cricketing talents of a tiny little Asian nation — Bangladesh.

It has almost been 19 years since then and a hell lot of things have been changed. Klusener these days is the batting coach of the Zimbabwe national team and on the other hand, Bangladesh are well on its way to become a cricketing superpower.

“What a wonderful progress Bangladesh have made in recent years! Let’s take our hats off first and appreciate their rise. From players to administrators to support staffs, credit is due for everyone here.” The former South Africa all-rounder seemed quite impressed with the rapid progress of the Tigers. CricketSoccer recently got in touch with Klusener to take his view on the upcoming tri-series in Bangladesh, in which Zimbabwe are featuring alongside the hosts and Sri Lanka.

Klusener believes the cricket boards for Zimbabwe, Afghanistan and Ireland should take a leaf out of Bangladesh’s book. Their expansion model is ideal for these developing cricketing nations.

“The Bangladesh model should be followed by the other developing [cricket playing] countries like Zimbabwe, Afghanistan, Ireland etc,” he said before adding, “Especially we [Zimbabwe Cricket] should definitely look into this aspect. Like Bangladesh, our first-class structure has a lot of issues to sort out. But at the international level, they [Bangladesh] have been playing against top class opponents on a regular basis, which is very important for any developing team.”

The 46-year old further thinks the immense passion for the game amongst the fans, is the biggest asset of Bangladesh cricket. The expectation of the supports has urged Tigers to thrive.

“It is incredible to see the passion amongst their fans. Truly fascinating. Bangladesh is one of the most followed teams in the world right now. When you have a passionate fanbase like this, your cricket is bound to thrive,” he said while talking with the author through a WhatsApp call from his hotel room in Harare.

Being an all-rounder in his days, Klusener has closely followed the growth of Shakib Al Hasan as a world-class performer. He feels Shakib can literally walk into any cricket team in the world.

“He is a class player no doubt. Having played in different T20 leagues around the world, Shakib has fully matured as a cricketer. He is an asset to any team in the world. We certainly have to make a lot of planning to keep him quite [in the tri-series].”

When it comes to playing against Bangladesh at their home, Klusener believes it is going to be one of the toughest tasks for his boys in the upcoming One-Day International (ODI) tri-series. In fact, according to him, Zimbabwe have a better chance succeeding against Sri Lanka than the hosts.

“Bangladesh, especially at home is a tough opponent. They have almost all base covered. Our boys are aware of that and up to the challenge. Realistically, I believe we should target Sri Lanka first, whose line-up is still unsettled.”

Zimbabwe’s last ODI assignment was against Sri Lanka, six months back, when the African nation won its maiden ODI series in the island and Klusener was at their dressing room that time.

“That experience is certainly going to be crucial. That series-win has given the boys a lot of confidence. They understand if they put their best foot forward on the field, anything is achievable. We know in Bangladesh, wickets will turn. So, I have already asked the boys to play more sweeps. We are practising different sweep shots at the nets.”

“Boys are for desperate to qualify for the World Cup”

The tri-series, which will be played between January 15 to 27, followed by the ODI and T20I series against Afghanistan are going to like a preparatory period for Zimbabwe before the all-important World Cup qualifier in March this year. The top two sides of the 10-team qualifying event in Zimbabwe will book their spots in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019.

“Our boys are desperate to qualify for the World Cup. We have a settled limited-overs side and after the return of Brendon [Taylor] and Kyle [Jarvis], the hopes and expectations have increased. Going into the qualifier, we need momentum on our side and we can gain it from the Bangladesh tri-series,” Klusener mentioned.

However, he did mention that in the Zimbabwe dressing room, his good old friend Makhaya Ntini will be missed. The former South African pacer has recently resigned his position of bowling coach under controversial circumstances.

“Makhaya has been a dear friend to me. He did an excellent job with the youngsters in Zimbabwe. He was also the interim coach of the team when Mr. Whatmore [Dave] left. So, yes, he will be missed.”

Finally talking about his life as a coach, Klusener spoke about the satisfaction which he gets while sharing his knowledge and expertise with the young and upcoming cricketers.

“I have learnt my cricket on a hard way. So, I always want to share my experience with the youngsters. I want to get them ready for pressure situations as I have dealt with many during my career. Whether it is Zimbabwe or any other team [He is also the head coach of a TNPL team], I enjoy doing this job and especially being associated with the game.”

It seems Klusener might have quit playing but the cricketer in him is still well and truly alive.

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About the Author

mm

is our guest writer. He is a cricket journalist by profession and admirer of this great sport by nature.



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