New Zealand in SA

Kleinveldt made of right stuff

2012-12-28 13:38
Rory Kleinveldt (Gallo)
Cape Town – It seems increasingly clear that the Proteas will hardly be weakened if Rory Kleinveldt finally gets to represent his country at home venue Newlands against New Zealand in the first Test from next Wednesday.

The born-and-bred Capetonian will be next cab off the block if fellow-Cobras seamer Vernon Philander fails to recover from injury in time for the New Year encounter.

Philander aggravated an old left hamstring problem after bowling just five overs in a pre-Christmas Sunfoil Series match for his log-leading franchise against the Titans at the ground.

Considering that a recovery period of up to two weeks has been recommended, he is racing against time to make the cut for the January 2 start to the fixture against the Black Caps – No 1-ranked South Africa were due to start their preparation with a Newlands training session on Friday afternoon.

Of course losing the services of one of the world’s Test bowling finds of the last year or so would be a blow to Graeme Smith’s outfit, but if Kleinveldt is drafted into the mix instead, the national side will be fielding a player in encouragingly resurgent mode.

Plenty of people, after all, were ready – and not without some justification – to brand the burly 29-year-old a “one-Test non-wonder” after a traumatic debut against Australia at Brisbane a few weeks ago, where he returned unflattering figures of nought for 97 in the Baggy Greens’ mammoth lone innings and was more guilty than anyone in a no-ball virus that infected pretty much the entire front-line attack.

But he then got a selection reprieve in Adelaide, because of Philander’s absence for the second Test, and bowled vastly nearer his known potential, including earning figures of three for 65 in the Aussies’ second knock.

Indeed, so improved was Kleinveldt that there was a strong case for fielding him in the series decider at Perth’s legendary, pacy WACA Ground, although the tourists debatably chose to bolster their batting arsenal instead.

He has subsequently, at various South African venues, only provided further reassurance of his mental strength by making his Gabba misfortune slip further and further back in critics’ memory banks.

Kleinveldt has been largely disciplined and incisive for both the Cobras (in the rain-marred, indecisive One-Day Cup final against the Lions at the Wanderers) and then the Proteas in the three-match Twenty20 series against the New Zealanders.

He bowled with commendable gusto in the victories at Kingsmead and St George’s Park, and also showed the right kind of body language at the death in East London when he only missed his length by a fraction and century-maker Martin Guptill just managed to get the final ball over the in-field for the decisive boundary to steal that fixture for the tourists.

There was certainly no evidence of any “meltdown” by Kleinveldt on that occasion; sometimes you simply have to be philosophical in T20 cricket when a particular batsman is smacking it really sweetly and tilting the balance.

Kleinveldt is thus likely to be in a good space ahead of the first Test, and although he will not be wishing Philander any extension of his injury hassles, must be champing at the bit for the possibility of a maiden appearance for South Africa at Newlands.

He has played seven matches for the Proteas (two Tests, five T20) but none of them at his picturesque home ground, where the surface is expected to offer some spongy bounce and his ability to bang it in hard could be influential if his services are employed.

It is fairly gratifying at present that candidates like Kleinveldt and the younger Chris Morris (though currently short-term crocked) are available to the Test side as seam-department back-ups, because Marchant de Lange rather ominously stays sidelined after many months’ inactivity with a stress fracture of the back.

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

Read more on:    proteas  |  nz in sa  |  rory kleinveldt  |  cricket
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