- The Master Blaster
How do you stop this man?
By Tushar Bhaduri
do you think is the best one-day batsman in the world?
Sachin Tendulkar, Sanath Jayasuriya or Michael Bevan?
Votaries for these three would say that on their day they
can tear any bowling attack apart and win a match single
handedly for their respective teams. Quite right, indeed.
that can be said of many batsmen on the world stage. Every
batsman can win a match for his side on his own once in a
while. But, every day is not a Sunday. Having the
potential and actually delivering on a regular basis are
two different situations.
this one. Lance 'Zuluí Klusener. This fellow from Natal,
South Africa is a phenomenon. He has from won the maximum
number of matches for his team from near impossible
situations single handedly than any other batsman in world
started his international career more as a fast-medium
bowler who could bat. Infact, in his first Test match
against India at the Eden Gardens, Calcutta, Klusener took
eight wickets in an innings. But, we are not talking about
his bowling skills here.
further proved that he enjoyed playing against India when
he blasted a century in even time against India in only
his fourth Test at New lands, Cape Town. Since
then, other teams have tasted the wrath of Lanceís big
bat on more than one occasion, and they have not enjoyed
it, to say the least.
on song, Klusener is unstoppable. The faster one bowls,
the faster the ball disappears to the boundary and very
often, over it. Infact, he thrives on pace and the ball
coming on to the bat. Such
is the brute strength that Lance possesses and such is the
weight of the big bat in his hands, that, on most
occasions, slightly mis-hit and mistimed shots also carry
the full distance. Add to this, a great eye and an ability
to time the ball wonderfully and hit straight, and you
have a tremendous final product.
may argue that Sachin Tendulkar too, has the above
qualities. But, we donít find him accomplishing the
amazing feats that Klusener does on such a regular basis.
Infact, it has become so regular these days that one comes
to expect it and it has almost become monotonous.
reason could be that Sachin is the best batsman in his
side and without a strong and reliable middle order; he is
constantly under pressure to pressure his wicket and
cannot play his natural game.
the other hand, despite Klusenerís exploits, he is not
required to contribute with the bat on every match. There
are batman like Kirsten, Kallis, Cullinan, Rhodes and
Boucher in the team. But, when required, Klusener has very
rarely disappointed. In
the final overs of a one-day innings, Klusener has the
ability to hit almost every ball to the boundary and
beyond, regardless of the pace at which it is bowled, and
where it is pitched.
exploits during the World Cup 99 are well documented. He
was simply superhuman during that tournament. Even the law
of averages could not stop him. Time and again, he came in
to bat in tight situations and when South Africa were in
trouble, and blasted them out of the tricky situation. It
did not matter whether South Africa were batting first or
second. It did not matter whether the opposition was
India, Sri Lanka, England, Pakistan, Australia, Zimbabwe
or the lowly Kenya. The only blot on his performance came
in that out of this world semi-final against Australia,
when a little bit of composure, instead of panic, would
have seen South Africa through the finals.
bat has not stopped talking since then. He is now in the
side more as a batsman who can bowl and is considered as
one of the main batsman in the team. He is also scoring
heavily in test matches, as can be proved by the recent
series in Sri Lanka. The speed at which he scores his runs
can be match winning in the longer version of the game as
scary fact for South Africaís opponents is that Klusener
never seems to lose form. He can come in and start hitting
the ball anytime. He spoils all the plans that the
opposition captain or coach may have made, a fact proved
over again during the recent home one-day series against
how do you stop this man ? In my opinion, a really high
quality spinner is the answer, the likes of Muralitharan
and Warne. Apart from the obvious lack of pace, flight,
turn and variety could be his undoing. Spinners, at least,
stand some chance against him. Otherwise, there is no
stopping Zulu. Captains and bowlers dread this fellow as
they do no one else. He can make their tactics look silly.
That is why he is my No. 1.