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'Recall Klusener to South African side'

Calls are increasing for the South African Cricket board to end its dispute with Lance Klusener and allow him back to help the embattled squad.

india Updated: Oct 07, 2003 20:52 IST

Calls are increasing here for the South African Cricket board to end its dispute with top player Lance Klusener and allow him back to help the embattled squad on its Pakistani tour.

As the visitors went into a do-or-die third one-day game Tuesday in a five-day series in which they are two down, veteran cricketer Pat Symcox published an open letter to the United Cricket Board of South Africa (UCBSA) supporting Klusener's return.

"Right now in Pakistan our team are battling their guts out against all odds, what with injuries, pressing security, a changed fixture list and some hostile fast bowling while the guy who has won 19 Man of the Match awards in over 150 matches at an average of around 43 runs and a strike rate of close to 100 per cent is playing league cricket for (local club) Amanzimtoti in Durban," Symcox said in his letter, published in the daily Citizen here.

Klusener is in a legal battle with the UCBSA after it refused to renew his contract last year because of a demand he get a longer-term contract. A court hearing is scheduled to take place next month.

In the meantime, Symcox said, each time Klusener plays local cricket and scores and wins, the South African side will wish they had someone of that calibre back in the squad again.

"He is at the peak time of his career, and will in years to come, be remembered as one of the most destructive batsmen the cricket world has seen. His ability to change the course of a match in a matter of a few overs is well documented and in his last visit to Pakistan he was awarded the Man of the Series for his exploits in leading South Africa to victory."

Pakistani cricket fans have in fact reportedly been asking repeatedly why Klusener, known even to them by his nickname "Zulu", was not in the touring side. Symcox called for reconciliation between the UCBSA and Klusener.

"I can see no reason why someone within the leadership of the UCBSA cannot call a meeting between Klusener and all the parties concerned and sit down round a table and thrash out what the issues are that stand in the way of the entire saga being put to an end. Klusener needs South African cricket and South African cricket needs Klusener."

Symcox said if this was not done, there could well be a situation where the South Africans find themselves under pressure to avoid a repeat of their previous defeat at the hands of the West Indies tour when they here in December, while Klusener continues to make waves in provincial cricket at the same time.

"Cricket history has many documented cases where a player has fallen out of favour and served a period of enough time away from the game at the highest level to rejuvenate his career. Rhodes, Hayden, Langer, Lee, Akhtar, Ntini, McKenzie and Smith have all been denied selection for one reason or another at some point and have come back to reach even greater heights," Symcox concluded in his letter.