Proteas

England tourney record looms for SA’s Kuhn

Heino Kuhn (Getty)
Heino Kuhn (Getty)

Cape Town - Barring spectacular developments by a rival in the final later this month, Titans and sometimes Proteas star Heino Kuhn is going to be proud holder of a competition’s all-time record in English county cricket.

Although it is only in its fifth season as presently constituted, Kent batsman Kuhn is almost certain to become the highest runs-scorer for a single season of the Royal London One-Day Cup.

The event was previously the “ECB 40” until the end of the 2013 season, but then upped to 50 overs, to fall in line with the format of one-day internationals, and came under its present sponsorship title from the 2014 season onward.

He will know at some point on the day his team contests the showpiece - against Hampshire at hallowed Lord’s on June 30 - whether he has earned the significant laurel.

The 34-year-old Kuhn, who sports four Test and seven Twenty20 international caps for South Africa, has amassed 664 runs from 10 matches at a giddy average of 94.85 - including another statistical record as he has lashed four centuries from his last five innings in the Cup.

His five-knock sequence, from most recent on Sunday (semi-final), is 127 against Worcestershire, 124 not out against Nottinghamshire, four against Essex, 113 against Gloucestershire and 117 against Surrey.

The golden run has unsurprisingly made him runaway leader with just the final left this season: a distant second is now done-and-dusted Essex’s Varun Chopra (528 at 66.00).

Only three other players have gone past the 500-mark: Irish international Paul Stirling of Middlesex (515 at 73.57), Derbyshire’s Billy Godleman (509 at 72.71) and former England player James Vince of Hampshire (504 at 63.00).

Kuhn only really has to worry now about the very outside chance that he fails significantly in the final and Vince, by contrast, produces a whirlwind showing to somehow make up the 160-run gap between them.

It cannot completely be ruled out as “insanity” because Vince, in Monday’s other semi-final, against Yorkshire, lashed 171 for the winning cause.

But if Kuhn stays firm at the top of the pile, as he should, he will hold the Cup record for most prodigious batsman at the crease in a single campaign.

Last season’s top-scorer was England Test stalwart and former captain Alastair Cook of Essex (636 runs), in 2016 it was Sam Hain of Warwickshire (540), in 2015 Michael Klinger of Gloucestershire (531) and in the maiden season, 2014, Kuhn’s compatriot and former Titans team-mate Jacques Rudolph ruled the roost (575 for Glamorgan).

When Kent play the final against Hampshire, their opponents could feature other familiar names to Proteas enthusiasts, like left-handed batsman Rilee Rossouw and veteran paceman Dale Steyn.

*Steyn, according to some English reports, built up a serious head of steam in Monday’s semi-final triumph over Yorkshire, including dismissing Indian star Cheteshwar Pujara for a duck in a stint of 7-0-34-1.

He is due to join the Proteas for their two-Test tour of Sri Lanka, the first clash starting on July 12.

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

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