When South Africa came back into international cricket, one of the immediate – and brightest – stars was hard-hitting batsman and fast-medium bowler Lance Klusener. He made an immediate impact with bat and ball and his combative approach to the game.
Klusener, born in Natal on 4 September 1971, batted left-handed and bowled right-arm; his nick-name ‘Zulu’ came from his fluency in the Zulu and Xhosa languages.
When he came to Trent Bridge in 2002, on a short-term contract, he was an international star with a First-Class double century to his name and a particular reputation in limited-overs cricket.
That reputation took something of a knock in the dramatic semi-final of the 1999 World Cup v Australia; Klusener was the established batsman when he was joined by tail ender Allan Donald, chasing down 215 to win a place in the final. At the start of the last over, bowled by Damien Fleming, South Africa were 205-9. Klusener scored consecutive fours in the first two balls of the over levelling the scores, leaving only 1 run to win in 4 balls with Klusener on strike; the third ball was a dot and off the fourth Klusener mis-hit a drive and set off for the risky winning run. Donald either didn’t hear the call or froze in the drama and was run out with the scores tied. On the rules of that tournament, Australia went through because they had won the group match between the same countries. Klusener eventually accepted responsibility for the chancy run but the events of that last over rather overshadowed his considerable career – indeed, he was Player of the Series for that tournament.
Three years later he played just one First-Class game for Notts, scoring 0 and 42 and taking 1-88, against Middlesex at Lord’s; in five List-A games he made 144 runs with a top score of 68, his only half-century for Notts, and took eight wickets with a best of 4-54. Klusener also played for Middlesex and Northants before retiring and taking up coaching.
He has coached his old first club, Nashua Dolphins, in South Africa and the Lyca Kovai Kings in India, and was batting coach for the Zimbabwe national team. In July 2019, Klusener was appointed as the head coach of the Glasgow Giants for the inaugural edition of the Euro T20 Slam cricket tournament. In September 2019, Klusener was appointed as the head coach of the Afghanistan national cricket team.