Heinrich Klaasen labelled best white-ball middle-order batter in the world by Graeme Smith

Former South Africa captain Graeme Smith has described Heinrich Klaasen as "the best middle-order white-ball batter in the world" following his successful year in both international and franchise cricket.

Klaasen has had a standout couple of years in white-ball cricket, forming the lynchpin of South Africa's middle-order alongside David Miller in the two white-ball formats. Since the beginning of 2022 in the ODI format, he's scored more than 1,000 runs at an average of 46.25, striking at 131.82 with three centuries. No one in that time batting from No.4 to No.6 has more runs at a higher strike rate. In the ongoing T20 World Cup, Klaasen has been an integral part of South Africa's campaign, scoring 46 off 44 in a low-scoring match against Bangladesh, and contributing 36 off 22 in their first Super Eight fixture against the USA. 

Writing in a column for Betway, Smith labelled Klaasen "outstanding" and praised his consistency. "I think Klaasen is the best middle-order white-ball batter in the world," Smith wrote. "And he’s done it consistently for two years now. In T20 cricket, the guys batting at four, five and six that can hit the ball out of the ground and change the game – that’s where the money is. If I was buying players for franchises, Klaasen’s the type of player I’d want."

In this year's IPL, Klaasen scored 479 runs with a strike rate of 171.07 for Sunrisers Hyderabad. He also finished second in the run-scoring charts for this year's SA20, in which he scored 447 runs with a strike rate of 207.9.

Smith also praised the rest of South Africa's middle order, but cautioned against the side relying on them too heavily. "Everyone’s been talking about David Miller and Heinrich Klaasen and they’ve been outstanding," wrote Smith. "Along with Tristan Stubbs, that middle order has got serious power and ability, but they can’t carry the entire tournament. They will be hoping that the top order can find some form as the top three haven’t performed for a little while now.

"If they can get off to good starts, the middle order will be so damaging. When always have to recover the innings, it takes away from their natural scoring ability."

Quinton de Kock scored 74 off 40 opening against the USA today (June 19), finding form after a string of starts in the tournament so far. Aiden Markram also contributed at No.3 with 46 off 32.

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