12 September 201021:13

ICC CWC Man of the Series - Lance Klusener

Klusener scored 281 runs in nine games at an average of 140, strike rate 122.17

ICC CWC Man of the Series - Lance Klusener - Cricket News

Lance Klusener of South Africa.

South Africa's record at ICC Cricket World Cups has been nothing short of tragic.

From the time they were re-admitted at the ICC Cricket World Cup 1992, South Africa have always exited the tournament on a dramatic note. Each exit has been even more dramatic than the previous one.

After a semi-final exit in 1992, South Africa were tripped by Brian Lara's brilliance in the 1996 quarter-finals, by the rain rule in 2003 and a clinical Australian side in the 2007 edition.

But it was in the ICC Cricket World Cup in 1999 that their best chance of entering and maybe winning the final arose.

On that eventful day at Edgbaston, South Africa fell agonizingly short leaving one man, Lance Klusener, forlorn. As the Aussies celebrated, Klusener's sledgehammer approach with the bat came undone due to one moment of madness.

But right till those famous images that day in 1999, Klusener had been on a roll in the tournament. He had emerged as an effective finisher.

He scored 281 runs in nine games at a whopping average of 140 with a strike rate touching 122.17. Much like Sanath Jayasuriya, Klusener's value was in the impact of his batting.

He may have scored just two half-centuries (vs Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe), but it was the other cameos which made everyone talk about him with awe.

In particular against Pakistan (46: 41b, 3x4, 3x6) in a tense low-scoring chase of the Super Six stage is still talked about. Klusener took on the might of a world-class Pakistan bowling attack. In particular the way Klusener dealt with a super fast Shoaib Akhtar was simply breathtaking.

But the knock which made everyone take notice was the effort in the semi-finals. Klusener walked in when all seemed lost for South Africa. But he changed the course of the match with the help of the lower-order.

It was probably fitting that when things seemed to drift away, Klusener unlocked his potential in the dramatic final over of the match. In the end, however, the pressure of a high-scoring match got to Klusener and his partner Allan Donald.

The rest as they say is history and Klusener forever will remain a tragic hero of ICC Cricket World Cup history.

For a methodical team like the South Africans were in 1999, Klusener's blistering approach was a breath of fresh air. To add to his batting, Klusener was also a handy bowler in the tournament.

To think that Klusener actually began his Test career as a fast bowler who picked eight wickets on debut says a lot about the strides he made as a batsman.

Sadly, Klusener never reached the heights of the ICC CWC 1999 and slowly faded away from the scene. He played competitively for a few more years in England, but never reached those dizzy heights of that summer of 1999.