Though born just across the Kent county border in Haywards Heath, Fred Klaassen’s road to first-class cricket in Canterbury has been a long and winding one.
Originally from Sussex, Klaassen was raised in Hamilton, New Zealand, before another move with the family to Australia. Cricket took him back across the Tasman Sea to Dunedin, Otago and Auckland, before a stint with East Anglian League outfit, Norwich.
The left-arm seamer’s next campaign was with Highland League side, East Kilbride, then, with Dutch passport in hand – courtesy of a Dutch grandfather – he switched to Rotterdam and Amsterdam to debut for the Netherlands in 2018.
Klaassen’s latest stop on his cricketing world tour is Kent, where the 26-year-old got to make his first-class bow against Loughborough MCCU at Canterbury in April.
Then, earlier this month, Klaassen captured the imagination of Kent fans with a dogged innings as nightwatchman, conjuring up imaginary comparisons famous compatriot Rembrandt’s ‘The Night Watch’, that almost helped the county to ‘get out of jail’ in their Specsavers County Championship defeat to Yorkshire.
Though delighted with his backs-to-the-wall knock, Klaassen admits that despite 10 international appearances for Holland, he remains very much the rookie when it comes to red-ball cricket.
“It’s been a different pathway in terms of the usual cricketing professional, but I’ve enjoyed it all the same,” said Klaassen with his broad, Antipodean lilt.
“I came to Canterbury at the start of last summer with a Netherlands development squad to play Kent in two one-day friendlies. I played alright in those games and Kent got back in touch to ask me to play in the second team.
“I picked up a couple of wickets in those two games and they offered me a contract from there on. I’m delighted to be here now and am learning so much already.
“I’d like to continue playing for the Dutch team, they’re joining the ICC ODI league starting next year as the 13th team, so hopefully this is just the start of my career albeit at the age of 26.
“Of course, I’d be very excited to play a part of the Vitality Blast for the Kent Spitfires this summer, because I’ve played a lot of white-ball cricket and that’s where my experience lies, but that’ll be down to the captain and coaches.”
Kent’s mid-season block of Specsavers County Championship fixtures continues on Monday when they travel to Chelmsford to take on Essex in a Division One, mid-table local derby.
By Mark Pennell