Proteas wicketkeeper Heinrich Klaasen admits he was surprised by his Standard Bank ODI Cricketer of the Year nomination that was announced earlier this month.
The 28-year-old is on a three-man shortlist for the international 50-over prize, alongside Quinton de Kock and Lungi Ngidi, which will be revealed at the 2020 Cricket South Africa (CSA) Awards to be held next weekend.
The attacking batsman, who made his ODI return after more than a year out of the team, played just three matches for the national side – but to devastating effect.
He was named Man of the Series as South Africa whitewashed Australia 3-0 in February and March, scoring an unbeaten 123, 51 and 68 not out in the three games.
“Obviously it’s a big honour for me,” he said. “It’s my first nomination for the Proteas at the CSA Awards. I must admit though that it came as a big surprise because I only played three games.
“What I did in the three games against Australia was really special to me, the way I came back into the international fold.
“So to get recognised in just those three games is amazing considering there are guys that have been doing well there the whole season and who probably deserve to be nominated ahead of me.”
Klaasen averaged a phenomenal 242.00 in the series, with a strike rate of 105.67. That hoisted his career average to a now much more impressive 41.08 after 17 matches.
The Momentum Multiply Titans star has also played 11 T20Is for South Africa, two of which were the start of his return this summer when he scored 66 against England and then 22 against the Aussies.
He says missing out on a place at the ICC World Cup was a low point for him over the past year, although he conceded that the way he bounced back had given him renewed hope.
“The innings against England in the last T20 and then the innings’ I played against Australia, the way I came back after being left out of the World Cup having not played international cricket for quite a while, it was special for me,” Klaasen says.
“The willingness to actually go out and compete, the self-belief is back and hopefully that can continue when we get back on the park again.”
Looking to the future, Klaasen believes he has every reason to now think positively.
And he hopes he can pick up where he left off when the action resumes again.
“It’s the second time this has happened to me where the moment I’ve been doing really well, the season has come to an end,” he adds. “I was looking forward to the India trip, going there with some form would have been awesome against a team you really want to test yourself against.
“But I’m very pleased with the way it all went and look forward to next season and a long future with the Proteas.”
That India trip was cancelled after just starting following the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic, which also means next week’s awards will be a virtual one.
The gala event to honour South Africa’s top performing cricketers takes place on Saturday, July 4.