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‘ICL a chance to guide young players’

It has been more than three years since Lance Klusener stepped onto a cricket field in the South African colours. Still such is the aura surrounding this 36-year-old, who was the Player of the tournament in the 1999 World Cup, that he remains the most high profile signing by the Indian Cricket League after Brian Lara (whose participation is still unsure).

During his eight-year international stint, Klusener did not believe in talking to the media. Instead, his performance spoke for him. But times have changed. And so has Klusener.

“I had my share of international cricket. I don’t have any regrets about not being able to play more international cricket,” Klusener, who quit international cricket in 2004 after disputes with the authorities and the team management and moved to England to play county cricket, told the Hindustan Times on the sidelines of a warm-up tie between the Kolkata Jets and the Mumbai Champs at the Western Railway ground on Friday.

After having a fairly long stint with Northamptonshire as a professional, Klusener has put his county future in doubt by joining ICL, which is not recognised by the Indian cricket board.

“I don’t think I will have any problems in continuing to play in England,” Klusener said. “But the decision of a couple of boards not to allow the ICL players to participate in first-class is not fair.”

There are reports that the England and Wales Cricket Board would strike a balance to appease their affiliated units as well as their counterparts by deciding to bar the ICL signings from their Twenty20 Cup.

Then what draws Klusener to the ICL?

“Well, first the opportunity to come back and play in India,” Klusener said, reminiscing about his Test match debut in Calcutta in 1998, where he took eight for 64 – his best Test figures.

“It is also an opportunity to guide some of the young players. I believe coaching is something I am good at.”

Does that mean he is looking forward to coaching as his next career option? “I am not sure,” Klusener said. “I am good at it, but I don’t think I can do it for a longer period of time.”

Klusener has come to India after being associated with organised and professional first-class structure in South Africa and England. Does he think the Indian first-class cricketers are as professional as those in some of the other countries?

“It’s a difficult question to answer,” he said. “A lot of these cricketers have never tasted top quality cricket, so it would be difficult for me to compare them with others.

“There are some who have played a lot of first-class cricket, and they are professionals.”

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