WATCH: How Heinrich Klaasen used ‘old-school tricks’ to upset England
"I was just trying to upset their game a bit, I thought it couldn’t do us any harm."
England captain Jos Buttler looks on as South Africa batsman Heinrich Klaasen hits out during the second ODI on Friday. Picture: Stu Forster/Getty Images
The Proteas’ resident ginger, Heinrich Klaasen, deeply annoyed the English team, especially his fellow red-haired opponents, with his gamesmanship in the second ODI at Old Trafford on Friday night, but the 30-year-old batsman afterwards brushed off the incident as “fun and games on the field”.
South Africa had plummeted to 39/5 after 10 of their 29 overs when Klaasen stopped play to complain about his vision of the ball being disturbed by white sheeting at the bottom of the black sightscreen. Initially the umpires battled to understand what he was complaining about, with England getting more and more frantic for play to resume as the drizzle that was falling was only getting heavier.
By this stage, the Proteas were already badly behind in the contest, needing 164 runs in 19 overs with the last recognised pair of batsmen together at the crease. Their best hope seemed to be for the match to be rained off before they had faced 20 overs, in which case there would be no result.
It took a few minutes for the penny to drop that the ground staff had shifted the boundary boards aside in order to allow them to bring the covers on quickly if necessary, thereby exposing the white sheeting which Klaasen alleged made the white ball difficult to see.
The wicketkeeper/batsman afterwards admitted that he actually had no problems sighting the ball but he was just trying to delay play. England were boiling over with frustration and Klaasen sparked something of a ‘Ginger War’ as Jonny Bairstow fumed at the batsman and the umpires, and captain Jos Buttler, who has a hint of reddish-brown hair himself, stomped around.
“It was zero percent about the ball disappearing,” Klaasen admitted. “It was starting to rain harder and I was just trying to delay matters. I hoped the umpires would take us off the field before the 20 overs, but unfortunately they didn’t.
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“It was just some old-school tricks. The England boys didn’t like it and I knew the abuse would come. I was just trying to upset their game a bit, I thought it couldn’t do us any harm.
“It frustrated a lot of them, but we didn’t come off in the end. What they said to me didn’t bother me at all, it was just fun and games on the field, and off the field hopefully we can still have a beer after the next game. It’s easy for me to keep that sort of thing on the field,” Klaasen said.
England had the last laugh though as South Africa were skittled for a dismal 83 all out and left to mourn a massive 118-run defeat, with paceman David Willey saying “I’m thinking Mother Cricket came around”.
The ODI series is locked at 1-1, with the final match Sunday, starting at 12pm.