Proteas T20 stand-in captain Heinrich Klaasen reveals severity of his battle against Covid-19

Heinrich Klaasen will captain the youthful Proteas T20 side for the series against Pakistan.
Heinrich Klaasen will captain the youthful Proteas T20 side for the series against Pakistan.
Image: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

Proteas Twenty20 stand-in captain Heinrich Klaasen says he literally suffered heart palpitations when he battled Covid-19 two months ago.

“It was a difficult two months for me. I think the first 16 to 17 days I was very sick and I could not do anything,” the 29-year-old hard-hitting wicket-keeper batsman said from Lahore in Pakistan, where the team is preparing for a three-match Twenty20 matches at the Gaddafi Stadium.

Klaasen revealed the severity of the symptoms while battling the virus and said it took him a long time to get his heart rate under control so that he could train.

“I could not start exercising. [Then] I could start exercising again. But I could not run 20 to 30 metres, or do anything for two or three minutes without my heart rate going up too high.”

Claasen was one of three players in the Proteas camp who returned positive coronavirus tests in December during the limited-overs tour of England.

The hard-hitting wicket-keeper batsman said he is feeling healthy now as he prepares to lead the Proteas in the absence of rested regular skipper Quinton de Kock.

“It’s been a different season for me. I think I have played four games so far, which has been very frustrating,” said Klaasen.

The three-match series will be from February 11 to 14.

“I have finally recovered now, it’s been a tough two months since I tested positive on the 3rd of December.

“So I’ve been working hard, but it is difficult to tell. We will probably see after these three games how the form is, but I’m hitting the ball very nicely and I have been working hard at the Titans over the last couple of weeks just to get rhythm and stuff.

“Obviously the conditions here are different but I am hitting the ball very nicely, so I’m looking forward to having a good series.”

Cricket South Africa (CSA) team management last month named Klaasen as captain of the Proteas Twenty20 18-man squad that is packed with several inexperienced and new faces.

Okuhle Cele, Ryan Rickleton, Nandre Burger and Jacques Snyman were some of the players who were rewarded with maiden national team call-ups at the back of impressive performances.

Glenton Stuurman, who was released midway through the Tests against Sri Lanka, also made a return to the side.

Regulars like Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi, Rassie van der Dussen, Faf du Plessis and captain De Kock returned home to SA after the Test series.

“Yes we do have a couple of guys that are normally in the squad that are not here.

“But obviously the way we are playing, with Covid in mind and those types of things, the guys need to rest. So it gives the other guys the opportunity to showcase their skills.

“They deserve it because they have been doing well for a couple of seasons and they are in good form in the Momentum One Day Cup.

“So we are by no means a second string team and we definitely looking to win the three-match series.”

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