Cricket

Andile Phehlukwayo is 'not a textbook cricketer' but pure class

He is following in the footprints of his hero, Lance Klusener

17 March 2019 - 00:00 By KHANYISO TSHWAKU


It would be easy to say the comparisons between Andile Phehlukwayo and Lance Klusener start and end with the fact that they not only play for the same domestic team, but share the same shirt number (69).
Klusener, who warmed up for his life-changing 1999 World Cup lower-order exploits with a performance in the 1998/99 ODI series against New Zealand in New Zealand that served notice of his ability, once said Phehlukwayo was better than him at a younger age.
Klusener, who was the sixth highest run-scorer with 214 runs in a rain-affected six-match series, also scored the first of his two career ODI hundreds in the same series.
It was in Napier that Klusener's 19-ball 35 rescued SA from a difficult position and contributed to a two-wicket win that in the long run helped win the series.
With four to win, he hit Dion Nash for six off the last ball to secure a series lead.
Phehlukwayo, on the other hand, hasn't always found Klusener's batting consistency to match his already accomplished bowling.
However, the number of match-winning hands and rescue acts Phehlukwayo has participated in have validated the faith Dolphins coach Grant Morgan has in him.
In four Momentum 1-Day Cup matches for the Dolphins, he scored 69, 67 and 68, with the first two scores against the Titans and the Cape Cobras solidifying strong positions at more than a run-a-ball.
The 68 against the Warriors resurrected a listing innings off 72 balls, with Morgan pointing to some Four-Day Franchise Series games as Phehlukwayo's turning point.
"He got two good scores in the games that took place around Christmas. In his career, he missed out on such opportunities as those innings gave him ... he got some momentum and belief going into the international window where he continued to do well," Morgan said.
"In one of those innings, we did get into a bit of trouble but on the other hand, it allows your numbers six, seven and eight a lot more time.
Even though he batted aggressively in those knocks, he looked forward to the fact that he could bat for a longish period. He's batted so well but he still didn't finish off, but such was the ability to transfer pressure to the other side, it was great but he still didn't finish. He's been superb but he knows he can bat deeper."
Phehlukwayo's batting opportunities for the national team have been limited in the Sri Lanka series because of Quinton de Kock and Faf du Plessis.
However, in the Pakistan series, he was called on to pull off a salvage job in the second ODI in Durban.
Phehlukwayo and Rassie van der Dussen turned 80/5 into a cakewalk with an unbroken 127-run sixth-wicket stand.
Kingsmead was also the scene of his famous 107-run, seventh wicket alliance with David Miller, where they pulled off the second-highest successful ODI chase in 2016.
He may not have been called upon in the Sri Lanka series but it's clear Phehlukwayo, like his hero Klusener, smiles in the face of a crisis. Morgan took it up a notch, saying the 23-year-old, who celebrated his birthday on March 3, is Ian Botham-esque in his ability to respond to pressure.
"He's got this Ian Botham-like ability to take wickets with good and bad balls. He's like a talisman with his ability to turn games around. He's not a textbook cricketer and at times he plays on instinct. While he's rebuilding, he can actually take a side down but he's really in a good space," Morgan said.
"You never exactly want to tell him how to play because he's got a willingness to learn while his self-reflection and the way he's hard on himself is very good. One has to realise the kind of maturity and talent he has to realise the right track he's on at the moment."

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