Zulu wants to make telling comeback
Lance Klusener, dropped after South Africa were eliminated in the first round of the 2003 World Cup, wants to make his return a long-term one.Updated: Jan 24, 2004 10:45 IST
Recalled all-rounder Lance Klusener wants to make his return to the South African one-day team a long-term one.
He is expected to make his comeback in the first of five limited overs internationals against the West Indies at Newlands on Sunday.
Klusener, dropped after South Africa were eliminated after the first round of the 2003 World Cup in their own country, said in a South African television interview: "I've put in nine months of really solid hard work."
He was confident he could settle any differences with South African captain Graeme Smith, who said soon after his appointment, following the World Cup failure, that Klusener had been a "disruptive influence" in the team.
Klusener said Smith had made an unfortunate comment that he believed should not have been aired outside of a team environment. "But it happened and it made my life a little bit difficult."
Klusener reached an out-of-court settlement with the United Cricket Board after claiming unfair dismissal when he was not picked for last year's tour of England and was not offered a national team contract.
His return to the South African team, though, was earned on the cricket field and in the gymnasium.
"Being out of the (national) scene for a while gave me a chance to look at myself and my game and for all the little (injury) niggles to sort themselves out.
"I hired a personal trainer, built up my strength and lost a bit of weight," he said.
The benefits have been seen in Klusener's bowling this season which observers believe has regained the extra metre of pace that he once had.
As for his late-order hitting, Klusener is itching to get back into action.
"There's an opportunity for me to get on the park and cement a place," he said.
He doesn't see his comeback as a short-term event. At 32, he said he would like to get another crack at a World Cup, hoping that the 2007 tournament in the West Indies could be "third time lucky" after he was a central figure in the ties against Australia and Sri Lanka which caused South Africa to be eliminated in 1999 and 2003.
First up, though, is a meeting with Smith, who said earlier in the week that Klusener had a chance to fit in with the "structures and cultures that have developed in the team".
Klusener said: "We're all grown ups and at the end of the day it's about what's good for cricket. It's about seeing where we both went wrong along the way and finding some common ground."
West Indian captain Brian Lara is confident his team can repeat the upset win they scored at the same ground in the opening match of the World Cup last February.
"It's the shorter version of the game. We played some good cricket in the Test series but could not maintain it for five days. If we play well on any particular day we can come out on top in a one-day game."
Smith said South Africa remembered all too well the World Cup defeat. "That was on a Sunday night at Newlands as well," he said.
Smith said South Africa would be looking to maintain the dominant batting form they showed in winning the four-Test series 3-0.
South Africa (from): Graeme Smith (captain), Boeta Dippenaar, Herschelle Gibbs, Jacques Kallis, Lance Klusener, Mark Boucher, Albie Morkel, Makhaya Ntini, Andre Nel, Shaun Pollock,Ashwell Prince, Robin Peterson, Jacques Rudolph, Morne van Wyk.
West Indies (from): Brian Lara (captain), Ian Bradshaw, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Shivanarine Chanderpaul, Corey Collymore, Mervyn Dillon, Vasbert Drakes, Fidel Edwards, Chris Gayle, Ryan Hurley, Ricardo Powell, Ridley Jacobs, Ravindarnath Rampaul, Dwayne Smith, Kurt Wilkinson,
Umpires: Darrell Hair (AUS), Ian Howell (RSA).
TV umpire: Brian Jerling (RSA).
Match referee: Ranjan Madugalle (SRI).
First Published: Jan 24, 2004 10:45 IST