Rhodes recalls the courageous World Cup performance of brave Klusener.

South African legend Jonty Rhodes believes Lance Klusener’s heroics at the 1999 ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup are still among the top individual efforts seen in the tournament’s history.

Klusener produced some of the hardest hitting in one-day cricket history, amassing 281 runs at an impressive average of 140.50 during the seventh edition of the 50-over showcase at the end of last century, almost single-handedly propelling the Proteas to their first World Cup title.

South Africa were denied their first World Cup final appearance after falling agonizingly close to Australia in a thrilling semi-final at Edgbaston, with the Proteas denied by a legendary performance from champion spinner Shane Warne and a memorable run out of Allan Donald in the final over of a tied match.

While numerous players have surpassed Klusener’s run total in more recent World Cups, few have done so as effectively as the powerful left-hander did when batting mostly at No.7, No.8, and No.9, and Rhodes believes his efforts will stand the test of time.

“He (Klusener) almost single-handedly got us to the final,” Rhodes recently recalled.

“We tied the semi-final against Australia at Edgbaston, and Lance Klusener was undefeated (not out), but he was pretty much undefeated throughout the tournament.”

“The consistency he displayed and the power…he was winning games for us in difficult situations.”

“If you always saw his face, he was unflapped and never seemed to succumb to the anxiety of the moment.”

Rhodes said that Klusener and Donald faced some backlash from supporters after returning to South Africa following the 1999 World Cup, but that the batters’ performance – including himself – was mostly to blame for their failure to advance to the final.

The Proteas were cruising at 145/4 with Rhodes and star all-rounder Jacques Kallis at the crease in pursuit of Australia’s modest total of 213, but they lost their final six wickets in quick succession, handing their opponents an improbable berth in the title game.

“The bravery for me was going back to South Africa and seeing how Allan Donald and Lance Klusener stood up,” Rhodes explained.

“Obviously, there was some criticism, but a lot of it needed to be handled by batters like myself and Jacques Kallis who were batting, and we could have taken the game on and finished it.”

Bravery is one of the nine ‘Navarasa’ emotions associated with the 2023 World Cup, according to Rhodes, and Klusener and Donald’s reaction to missing out on the final 24 years ago matches this nicely.

“Allan Donald and Lance Klusener responded to that (criticism) and took it well, and there were a couple of tongue-in-cheek television commercials with the two of them together,” Rhodes added.

“That was real bravery for me because it was our first World Cup final and there was a lot of criticism over that last batting pair.”

“As a team, we stood by them because we understood our roles in this.” The guts that those two, who were still playing, had to show in continuing to play for South Africa.

“It wasn’t just a brave act; it was a unit of power because the two of them stood together and had the support of nearly the entire country.”