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Ken Borland


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Home semi secured, so Titans hub may rest 0

Posted on December 07, 2017 by Ken

Now that a RamSlam T20 Challenge home semi-final has been secured, Multiply Titans coach Mark Boucher has the luxury of resting some of his hub players as the runaway log-leaders complete the round-robin phase with two matches this week.

The Titans travel to Cape Town to play the WSB Cape Cobras on Friday, before finishing off against the Hollywoodbets Dolphins in Durban on Sunday. They will then host whoever scrapes into the playoffs in fourth spot in the first semi-final at SuperSport Park next Wednesday.

“Playing on Friday, Sunday and Wednesday could have an effect on the guys, but we’ve got great depth and we’ve earned the right to prepare for the semi-final as we see fit. So there’ll probably be some mixing and matching, we believe we’ve got the momentum and so we can prepare specifically for that semi-final,” said Boucher.

“If we play our best XI for these last two games then we basically just give ourselves one day’s preparation for the semi-final, so I certainly don’t have a problem giving other players an opportunity.

We have some awesome players who haven’t even played a game yet, they’re itching to get on the park, so that will ensure there’s no complacency.”

Boucher said playing at home in the semi-finals would give the players a ‘feel good’ factor, but otherwise it was not a huge advantage for his team.

“Obviously the guys enjoy playing at SuperSport Park and they’re very confident at home, but anything can happen in T20. All the teams have good players who can take the game away from you. So we will have to be on top of our game,” Boucher warned.

Fast bowler Morné Morkel will be available for selection this week, which will give Boucher an opportunity to rest any of his pacemen who may be carrying niggles. Dale Steyn will be playing close to home in the PPC Newlands clash against the Titans, but may well miss the trip to Durban, resting up so he can give it his all in the knockout games.

The Titans will also be happy that they came through their first real test in this season’s competition, beating the vkb Knights with just a ball to spare when all seemed lost in their double-header match in Port Elizabeth at the weekend, which will stand them in good stead should they be under pressure in the semi-finals.

“We always knew there would be a tight game along the way, but I don’t think we batted very well, there were some pretty soft shots by the top-order that got us into that situation. But the middle-order played very well and refused to give it away. Farhaan Behardien is in the form of his life and it was nice to be on top of a tight game before the semis,” concluded Boucher.

http://www.titans.co.za/index.php/categories-1-layout/item/755-feel-good-factor

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Rugby not expediting much joy for me 0

Posted on December 05, 2017 by Ken

 

I must confess to a certain sense of relief today as our rugby season (the 15-man game anyway) comes to an end this weekend with the misfiring Springboks facing a daunting assignment in Cardiff. Sad to say, but I find myself more and more irritated by rugby these days.

The uninspiring fare dished up by the Springboks, made worse by the tantalising glimpse they gave of what they are capable of in the Newlands Test against the All Blacks, brings little joy and the two domestic sides I cover, the Bulls and Sharks, have had more heartache than cheer this year. Even the Lions’ loss in the Super Rugby final still hurts.

Nevertheless, just to get two last parting shots in before Christmas, rugby made me angry twice more this week.

It’s annoying that Springbok coach Allister Coetzee is not expediting the smooth introduction of the tremendously talented Warrick Gelant into international rugby. Instead of playing him in his natural position of fullback, where change is surely required because the solid Andries Coetzee has done little to suggest star-quality, coach Coetzee has plonked Gelant on the wing for his first start.

The selection of players out of position has become something of a Springbok curse in recent years, but the disappointing treatment of Gelant might also be due to the lack of options Coetzee has on the wing. As at fullback, we can all see change is necessary, but the only other specialist wing in the squad is Raymond Rhule, and would he really improve things?

A rugby sage once told me that Springbok coaches stand or fall by selection and, judging by the number of times Coetzee has replaced an injured player with someone who plays in a different position, the current national coach is obviously failing in this regard. Just on this tour, we’ve had an eighthman, Duane Vermeulen, replacing a prop, Coenie Oosthuizen, and lock Ruan Botha came in for flank Jean-Luc du Preez, which clearly shows he got the initial selections wrong.

But the failure of WorldRugby to honour their own processes and award the 2023 World Cup to South Africa was the low point of the year; at least South Africa’s 57-0 thrashing in Albany came with plenty of wonderful rugby from the All Blacks to admire.

The duplicity and lack of integrity shown by their council members makes the blood boil, and the reputation of rugby took a major hit in London a fortnight ago.

So it was with utter shock that I observed the sheer nerve of WorldRugby this week trying to clamp down on players writing messages on their strapping. The rationale was that WorldRugby had no control over what messaging was displayed and with the pettiness typical of the jobsworths who have more regard for their own positions and privilege than the good of the game, the decision was made to clamp down.

Perhaps WorldRugby should worry more about the game being brought into disrepute by their own administrators; the message sent by the 2023 World Cup decision was far worse than anything a player could fit on to his strapping.

Sport did bring me some happiness this week though. It was wonderful to see a cricketing legend of yesteryear, Mike Procter, team up with one of the country’s most talented young writers, Lungani Zama, to launch an updated autobiography.

Procter, of course, played in an era when someone like Zama, who is a good enough cricketer to have played for the KZN Inland side before they gained first-class status, was not allowed to fully express their talents.

Procter, one of the all-time greats of South African cricket and a former national coach and selector, understands these issues and it is wonderful to see him so actively involved in cricket development through his coaching work at the Ottawa Primary School outside Durban, introducing the game to nearly a thousand underprivileged children.

A cricketer capable of taking the new ball and bowling at 145km/h, with prodigious swing, and a good enough batsman to score 254 against Western Province in a Currie Cup game, Procter was obviously a rare talent and one that the current lovers of the game really need to know more about.

He is certainly one of the contenders for the title of greatest all-rounder the game has known and the story of his playing days is augmented with fascinating accounts of his stint as an ICC match referee, having to deal with the major controversies of Darrell Hair abandoning an England v Pakistan Test match, the Harbhajan Singh and Andrew Symonds ‘Monkeygate’ saga, and the bomb blast that ended international cricket in Pakistan.

As Caught in the Middle details, Procter is one of the heroes of the game still adding value in the present day.

 

Those were the days of struggle & now Benkenstein is back 0

Posted on November 29, 2017 by Ken

 

New Proteas batting coach Dale Benkenstein’s last involvement with the national cricket set-up was 15 years ago, in October 2002, when he played his 23rd and final ODI for South Africa against Bangladesh in Benoni, perhaps a suitably low-key finale to an international playing career that promised much but was never brought to full bloom.

Those were the days when South African cricket was still recovering from the demise and tragic death just four months previously of Hansie Cronje, the much-admired captain who was then exposed as a match-fixer.

Those were also the days when the World Cup curse was really starting to engulf the South African team – Benkenstein was watching from the changeroom as a non-playing squad member when they threw away their 1999 semifinal against Australia in farcical circumstances and was a spectator at Kingsmead in 2003 when the shambles over their understanding of the Duckworth/Lewis calculations knocked them out of the tournament.

Benkenstein, having marked himself out as a natural leader with his captaincy of the SA U19 side, was given the reins of a star-studded Natal team at the age of just 22 and did such a great job that he quickly became the heir apparent to Cronje in the national team.

But those were also the days when there appeared to be a tendency for the existing captain to suppress the development of his closest rival: Under Cronje’s watch, Benkenstein was never really given a fair chance to establish himself in the national team. He would play one or two games and then be left out, or would be shifted up and down the batting order, in a manner that seemed to suggest life was being made as tough as possible for him.

Neil McKenzie, similarly, seemed to struggle to hold down a place while Shaun Pollock was skipper and it was Graeme Smith who finally ended the trend as he actively pushed for McKenzie’s return to the national team.

Benkenstein did have his shortcomings as an international batsman – but almost all batsmen at that level have weaknesses which they work hard to avoid being exposed. But those very flaws help make the 43-year-old an excellent batting coach because he understands the dynamics of technique and the massive importance of the mental side of batting, having wrestled with those issues himself.

The best coaches are often not the former players with the best records, simply because they have empathy for the struggling cricketer, and Graham Ford, who played such a key role in the development of players such as Benkenstein, Pollock, Jonty Rhodes and Lance Klusener at Natal, is the prime example of that.

Benkenstein and the new Proteas head coach, Ottis Gibson, are former team-mates at Durham, the English county that was only elevated into top-level cricket in 1992, and it was the arrival of the Natal captain that ended years of disappointment and elevated them into a force in the UK. So the West Indian is well aware of his new batting coach’s inspirational qualities, and he and Benkenstein added 315 for the seventh wicket in 2006 to avoid relegation. Gibson played a major role with the ball in the trophies won thereafter.

Given that South Africa’s World Cup struggles are symptomatic of muddled mental skills at key times, the arrival of one of the clearest thinkers on the game can only be a positive.

But one hopes that the skills of McKenzie, another ex-Protea who brings immense value to the changeroom, will not be lost to South African cricket now that Benkenstein has taken his place in the national set-up.

The appointment of Malibongwe Maketa as the assistant coach is also pleasing as the development of Black African coaches is vital if the transformation of South African cricket is to progress, but one obviously feels for Geoff Toyana, the Highveld Lions coach who seemed certain to be involved with the national team in some capacity.

The acquisition of a few more domestic trophies will certainly keep Toyana’s name in the conversation to succeed Gibson, however.

https://www.pressreader.com/south-africa/the-citizen-gauteng/20171125/282325385282186

The crude & immoral reasons behind the Lorgat witch-hunt 0

Posted on November 24, 2017 by Ken

 

And so, finally, we know why the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) have been so keen to sideline Haroon Lorgat, and why English and Australian administrators sided with them in agreeing to a witch-hunt that would keep the former International Cricket Council CEO sidelined while those three countries stage a hostile takeover of the game.

 If you’re going to stage a coup that hands almost complete power in cricket to the three greedy pigs of India, England and Australia, using the flimsiest of economic reasons to justify it, then the last person you want in the boardroom is a trained chartered accountant with in-depth knowledge of the ICC and their global events, someone able to see through the efforts to bamboozle with lots of numbers, and able to rally the other nations into rejecting, with the utter contempt it deserves, the crude and immoral proposal to change the ICC’s structure.

While Lorgat’s suspension from ICC activities was ostensibly part of India’s efforts to punish him for not kowtowing to their every whim while he was the global body’s CEO, it has now become clear that the BCCI’s shameful interference in Cricket South Africa affairs was part of a much bigger plan – an evil attempt to seize control of cricket, along with England and Australia. David Becker’s ill-judged letter then provided the perfect ammunition to force Lorgat’s removal from ICC affairs.

While the players – through Fica, their international union – and fans the world over have expressed their dismay at the new low the world’s leading cricket administrators are now proposing, the aptly-named Wally Edwards, the Cricket Australia chairman and one of the three men responsible for drafting the bombshell proposal, expressed his annoyance that anybody has dared to question the bona fides of himself, Narayanaswami Srinivasan of India (the Jabba the Hutt of world cricket) and the odious Giles Clarke of England.

“Traditionally, Cricket Australia does not comment on ICC discussions it is about to have – we talk to other ICC nations across the table rather than via the media. But we were today disappointed to see the Federation of International Cricketers’ Associations question whether CA and others have met their fiduciary duties as ICC members,” Edwards harrumphed.

But his feeble protestations cannot hide the fact that three nations are trying to use their current wealth to ensure a monopoly over the game that will only widen the gap between them and the rest of the cricket-playing world; cricket will become like American Football, a game reserved for the few and ignored by the rest of the world.

Which makes it clear that Edwards has not met his fiduciary duties as an ICC director. He and the other two conspirators are proposing something that is patently not in the best interests of the game as a whole, but will rather serve the narrow self-interest of three countries only.

It will take cricket back to the dark days of the Imperial Cricket Conference, where you had to be a member of the British Empire to join and England and Australia both held a veto when it came to voting on anything to do with the game.

It was only in 1993, with the formation of the International Cricket Council, that this stranglehold on the game was broken. One can only hope that when the ICC board meets at the end of this month, the other seven Full Members don’t vote themselves back into slavery again.

And while they are at it, Edwards, Srinivasan and Clarke, a former investment banker, should all be summarily fired as directors and Lorgat should be exonerated of all wrongdoing.

It’s all gone very quiet when it comes to his inquiry, by now the ICC really should have been able to find evidence if there was any unethical behaviour on his part. But then again, the evil triumvirate will have achieved what they set out to do with their spurious allegations if Lorgat is not inside the ICC Board meeting at the end of the month, having already been absent when the restructuring proposal was sprung on the other directors on January 9.

The BCCI have already issued a thinly-veiled threat to boycott ICC events like the World Cup and the World T20 if the Board does not submit to their plan for world domination.

In a statement released on Thursday, the BCCI said it had “authorised the office bearers to enter into agreements with ICC for participating in the ICC events and host ICC events, subject to the proposal being approved in the ICC Board.”

Once India have control of the international cricket schedule, along with England and Australia, there is little doubt that no cricket will be allowed to be played during the IPL, therefore ensuring the newest, least gratifying format of the game takes centre-stage.

Fortunately for cricket fans and the players, there is still hope even if the ICC Board do the unthinkable and sell-out to India, England and Australia.

If the ICC act unconstitutionally, or even if their directors are deemed to have breached the code of conduct and failed in their fiduciary duties to act in the interests of the sport and not their own narrow agendas, then there are stakeholders willing to take the matter all the way to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Perhaps Cricket South Africa should send their independent lead director, Norman Arendse, a fiery, outspoken advocate, to shake things up at the ICC?

The governing body seems to have totally lost sight of the reason for their existence: which is to grow the game, not take it back 100 years.

And the point of the game is fair competition: the idea that India, England and Australia should be exempt from any possible Test relegation is laughable and goes against the very principles of fair play. The last five years suggest all three countries are being incredibly arrogant to presume they will remain strong on the playing field ad infinitum.

But then again the smugness currently coming out of England at their own cleverness in finding a devious way of returning to the top table of world cricket (never mind how shocking the on-field performance has been recently), bugger the rest of the world, suggests fair play is no longer the defining characteristic of cricket.

https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2014-01-23-cricket-the-mystery-of-the-lorgat-witch-hunt-unravelled/#.Wh6eSFWWbIU

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