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Ken Borland



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.

 

Maharaj & Morkel included and all four all-rounders chosen 0

Posted on May 02, 2017 by Ken

 

Keshav Maharaj and Morne Morkel are the new faces in South Africa’s one-day squad for the ICC Champions Trophy and the three ODIs against England that precede it, with all-rounders Chris Morris, Wayne Parnell, Andile Phehlukwayo and Dwaine Pretorius also all named in the 15-man group announced on Wednesday.

Left-arm spinner Maharaj replaces the unorthodox Tabraiz Shamsi, while Morkel is an addition to the squad that beat New Zealand 3-2 in their recent ODI series.

“It was a tricky selection because a host of spinners have done really well, especially Aaron Phangiso and Tabraiz Shamsi. Imran Tahir is head-and-shoulders above the rest, but it’s been a challenge to play two spinners in the starting XI when both of them can’t really bat. It means KG Rabada has to come in at nine.

“But so many ODI games these days are being won with scores of 260 for seven or 280 for eight, so you need contributions from numbers seven, eight and nine. Keshav offers us more batting depth than Tabraiz and Phangi, and he also bowls with a lot of control and has done fantastically well in Tests and his domestic record is outstanding, with an economy rate of 5.07. If we’re going to play two spinners, his selection makes it easier,” coach Russell Domingo explained.

It had originally been presumed that Morris, Phehlukwayo, Pretorius and Parnell were competing for just a couple of places, but all four have been chosen for the Champions League thanks to their strong contributions to the Proteas’ amazing summer that took them back to number one in the ODI rankings.

“At stages we’ve played two all-rounders batting at seven and eight, or three at seven, eight and nine, and in Christchurch we played all four. So it depends on conditions and it’s great to have four all-rounders to choose from. If we are up against a team that has more batting strength then we can play all our fast bowlers, someone like Morne Morkel can also come back; but if conditions are more tricky for batting then we can lengthen our batting,” Domingo said.

With captain AB de Villiers’ troublesome back flaring up again, the Proteas do have the extra security of quality batsmen waiting in the wings. Farhaan Behardien is the extra specialist batsman in the Champions Trophy squad, while Khaya Zondo, Temba Bavuma and Aiden Markram are all in the SA A side which will be in England at the same time.

Champions Trophy squad: Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock, Faf du Plessis, AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, David Miller, Chris Morris, Dwaine Pretorius, Andile Phehlukwayo, Kagiso Rabada, Imran Tahir, Wayne Parnell, Morne Morkel, Keshav Maharaj, Farhaan Behardien.

SA A 50-over squad: Aiden Markram, Jon-Jon Smuts, Theunis de Bruyn, Temba Bavuma, Khaya Zondo (captain), Dwaine Pretorius, Mangaliso Mosehle, Sisanda Magala, Tabraiz Shamsi, Junior Dala, Lungi Ngidi, Dane Paterson, Reeza Hendricks, Heino Kuhn, Duanne Olivier.

SA A four-day squad: Heino Kuhn, Aiden Markram (captain), Theunis de Bruyn, Temba Bavuma, Khaya Zondo, Heinrich Klaasen, Jason Smith, Dwaine Pretorius, Dane Piedt, Duanne Olivier, Lungi Ngidi, Dane Paterson, Beuran Hendricks, Rudi Second, Junior Dala, Dale Steyn.

 

https://www.pressreader.com/south-africa/the-citizen-gauteng/20170420/282226600601952

Tsotsobe’s omission only mistake by selectors 0

Posted on March 16, 2015 by Ken

The national selectors have done their job in choosing the 15-man squad for the Cricket World Cup and on Monday, February 9, we will get an idea of what team management considers their best XI when South Africa play a warm-up match against Sri Lanka in Christchurch.

The announcement this week of the 15 players who will travel to New Zealand and Australia for the World Cup was a fairly mundane affair because the majority of the squad were considered certainties beforehand, which must be good heading into such an important tournament.

The World Cup chosen by the selectors – and that’s the one that matters! – differed from mine (published here on November 29) in just a couple of places. While I believe David Wiese’s day as an international all-rounder will still come, I am pleased that left-arm spinner Aaron Phangiso, who was growing into his role well before the most ill-timed of injuries, will be on the plane to Australasia.

I do believe the selectors have erred, however, in not selecting Lonwabo Tsotsobe, who I would have picked ahead of the inconsistent Wayne Parnell.

The former number one-ranked bowler in ODIs (as recently as May 2013) has had injury problems since then, but underwent ankle surgery in the winter and has been playing limited-overs cricket for the Highveld Lions since October.

In the Momentum One-Day Cup, he has knocked over 12 batsmen in six matches (making him the leading wicket-taker), averaging 18.08 and conceding just 4.42 runs per over – excellent figures that show he is close to his best form once again.

In the RamSlam T20 Challenge, although his economy rate was a little high at 8.14 runs-per-over, he claimed 14 wickets in 11 games – joint second-best in the competition.

For me, Tsotsobe is perfectly capable of performing a couple of roles at the World Cup: He has the ability to take wickets with the new ball, especially in swing-friendly conditions, and has skills with the old ball that allow him to be used in the middle overs as well.

There have admittedly been instances when Tsotsobe has not had the perfect work ethic but if the whispers are true that the team did not want the left-arm seamer in the squad then that would be a most disappointing example of the tail wagging the dog.

Things like ProteaFire and team culture and spirit are all good, but when they become the over-riding factor, the end rather than the means, then there will be problems, just as England’s stifled team have discovered in their descent down the world rankings. Tsotsobe may not be the perfect team-mate, but one hopes the selectors decided to exclude him based on on-field performance rather than what the players wanted.

Coach Russell Domingo has obviously had a major hand in taking Parnell with the Proteas on their intercontinental travels, having worked extensively with him at the Warriors.

The left-arm paceman and lower-order batsman does have the X-factor coaches are often so fond of, but the 25-year-old has not displayed the consistency needed at international level for me to have faith in him being a match-winner at the World Cup. The crucial death overs are a key weakness for him as well.

The omission of a genuine all-rounder like Ryan McLaren, who suffered the most ill-timed loss of form, or Wiese means the Proteas will have to bat Vernon Philander at number seven to ensure they have five frontline bowlers, which I believe will be necessary on the generally good batting pitches in Australia.

 

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