Cape Town - New Tshwane Spartans captain Heinrich Klaasen cannot wait to finally get their Mzansi Super League (MSL) going as they prepare to welcome the Nelson Mandela Bay Giants to Centurion on Wednesday.
The hosts saw their opening match of the campaign washed out by rain when they travelled to the Durban Heat on Saturday, meaning the four points on offer were split two ways.
It means they are already playing a bit of catch-up with their opponents from the Eastern Cape already on four points after they won their opening match against the Jozi Stars on the opening weekend of the 2019 competition.
With the weather looking much better at SuperSport Park for Wednesday, Klaasen can look ahead to his captaincy debut having taken the reins from AB de Villiers for MSL 2.0.
“I’m taking it as a learning experience,” the skipper said. “These guys are experienced cricketers, they’ve played all around the world, they’re extremely talented cricketers as the stats show, so for me it’s a good way to learn new things and it’s exciting.
“It’s a huge honour to lead them, but I see it more as me learning from them rather than leading them. It will be about finding the right balance and managing the way how I handle things.”
The legendary retired Proteas De Villiers is still in the Spartans mix, alongside the likes of Morne Morkel, Roelof van der Merwe, Dean Elgar, Lungi Ngidi and England star Tom Curran.
“If we look at the squad, it’s a really strong squad and it’s been fun so far,” Klaasen explained. “There’s good energies already around the team, so hopefully it will be easy for me from a captaincy perspective and I don’t have to do too much.
“I’m looking forward to the challenge ahead.”
The Giants looked strong in their opening match when they beat the defending champions by 24 runs on Sunday.
“I think this season it’s game by game, we know the players in every team, so for me it’s all about focussing on our skills,” Klaasen adds. “Then the day before the game we look at the opposition and on the day it’s all about execution.
“Hopefully we adapt quickly and stay ahead of the game.”
There will be many familiar faces in the NMBG ranks when they take to the field on the Highveld, with the likes of Heino Kuhn, Farhaan Behardien, Junio Dala and Chris Morris, who all played important roles in the opening game, set to again feature.
Veteran batsman Kuhn was pleased with their victory against the Stars and hopes they can consolidate that win with another positive result in Centurion.
“It’s always nice to start well and we did that,” he said. “Hopefully we can now build on that in the next game.”
Kuhn also praised the bowling from the last match, saying he hoped that they can again fire against the Spartans. “We need to make sure we don’t lose so many wickets in the first six overs and then, if possible, try to get to the 200 mark and then continue bowling well,” he added. “I think our bowling was very good in the last game, we assessed the conditions very well and that’s a positive we can take into the next game.
“We have Chris Morris. He’s a seasoned campaigner, he’s played all over the world. Imran Tahir is the same. Both of them bowled well and that’s a positive we can build on.”
Tshwane Spartans squad: AB de Villiers, Tom Curran, Morne Morkel, Lungi Ngidi, Heinrich Klaasen (capt), Theunis de Bruyn, Roelof van der Merwe, Lutho Sipamla, Pite van Biljon, Tony de Zorzi, Waqar Salamkheil, Dean Elgar, Wiaan Mulder, Vaughn van Jaarsveld, Corbin Bosch, Donovan Ferreira.
Nelson Mandela Bay Giants squad: Imran Tahir, Jason Roy, Chris Morris, Jon-Jon Smuts (capt), Junior Dala, Farhaan Behardien, Matthew Breetzke, Onke Nyaku, Ben Dunk, Heino Kuhn, Marco Marais, Beuran Hendricks, Grant Thomson, Akhona Mnyaka, Nandre Burger, Dylan Matthews.