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Ken Borland

Glorious day for AB at SCG bucks trend for SA captains at World Cup 0

Posted on September 15, 2015 by Ken


South African captains have generally been through the mill at World Cups – the deep pain of Graeme Smith in 2011, Shaun Pollock’s stunned expression in 2003, Hansie Cronje’s tears at Edgbaston in 1999 are all still vivid memories – so it was wonderful to see AB de Villiers enjoy a glorious day at the Sydney Cricket Ground yesterday.

Just five weeks after lashing 149 off 44 balls against the West Indies at the Wanderers – his 31-ball century being the fastest in ODI history – De Villiers made 162 not out off 66 deliveries to destroy the same side at another great cathedral of the game.

In the process, the South African captain reached 150 off a record 64 balls, and De Villiers now holds the records for the fastest 50, century and 150 in ODI history, sealing his status as one of the greatest batsmen to have ever played limited-overs cricket.

The Sydney Cricket Ground rose as one for De Villiers after one of the most scintillating displays of batting ever seen on the global stage, and the likeable 31-year-old now has a beautiful World Cup memory to cherish, replacing the nasty scenes of 2011 when New Zealand substitute Kyle Mills was shouting in his face after a mix up with Faf du Plessis accelerated a South African collapse.

In terms of batting excellence, De Villiers’ innings ticked all the boxes.

He came in under pressure with South Africa having lost both set batsmen, Hashim Amla and Du Plessis, for solid half-centuries in the space of three deliveries from Chris Gayle. De Villiers weathered that storm and was able to rotate the strike for the impressive Rilee Rossouw to capitalise on his own brisk start.

It was only once Rossouw had been dismissed – for a momentum-changing 61 off 39 balls – that De Villiers really took the game away from the West Indies.

There was tremendous skill, innovation, some brute force, wonderful placement and brilliant thinking in De Villiers’ innings. Probably the most impressive feature of his batting is the amount of time he has, even against the quick bowlers, to get any delivery away to the area he has pre-identified as a scoring region.

To say that De Villiers has a tremendous eye for the ball is a bit like saying Imran Tahir (South Africa’s best bowler in the tournament) likes to acknowledge taking a wicket with some sort of celebration; combine that with quick feet, lovely wrists, superb timing and placement, plus tactical nous, and bowling to AB becomes a nightmare for even the best bowlers.

For me, there are probably two more things I’d like to see AB de Villiers do.

One is obviously play the match-winning innings in the World Cup final.

For the other, I’m going to dig up the legend of Barry Richards, arguably the greatest South African batsman ever.

The destructive power of Graeme Pollock, the prolific elegance of Jacques Kallis and the silky skills of Hashim Amla all feature in that debate, but for sheer brilliance in being able to fashion any stroke for any ball, Richards and De Villiers probably come out tops.

In the days of Richards, there was no international cricket for South Africans and the club game was of a very high standard, with provincial players in action most of the time. The legend goes that Richards, bored of the humdrum challenges of plundering hundreds, sometimes used to make it more interesting by only using the side of the bat. And the pitches were generally quite juicy in Natal club cricket.

On one famous occasion at the Collegians Club in Pietermaritzburg, Richards used the side of the bat for an over bowled with the new ball by Pat Trimborn, who played four Tests for South Africa!

Given the extraordinary brilliance of De Villiers, perhaps he should take on the bowlers with only the side of the bat just to even the contest a bit!


2003 was a poor vintage, but it did inspire Mvovo 0

Posted on September 08, 2015 by Ken


If South Africa’s 2003 World Cup squad were a wine, it would have been considered a very poor vintage indeed, but they did inspire a 17-year-old kid in Umtata to such an extent that he is now on his way to the 2015 World Cup in Great Britain.

The young adult dreams of Lwazi Mvovo are now coming true as the maker of tries looks to cement his place in the Springbok starting XV following an impressive display in the previous Test they played, the belated win over Argentina in Buenos Aires.

“I was watching the 2003 World Cup in Umtata and I decided to start playing rugby then. I was playing soccer at the time, but I ended up switching sports because I knew I could make it in rugby. That was my whole focus, I didn’t allow any stumbling blocks to get in the way of my dream,” Mvovo said after being named in Heyneke Meyer’s World Cup squad in Durban.

While the experienced JP Pietersen will obviously be pushing hard to regain the number 14 jersey, Mvovo has another string to his bow in that he can play fullback and can obviously be expected to handle the kicking game, both in terms of offence and defence, that is likely to see plenty of action at the World Cup.

“Playing as a fullback for the Sharks has opened up a whole new game-plan for me, it’s been a great couple of years. I think I have lots of natural talent, but I still have to work hard. The moment you relax you lose that feeling that you’re in the game. I still do speed training, but also a lot of kicking and catching. I do whatever I need to do to improve – kicking, catching high balls – and I’ll still do that going forward,” Mvovo said.

Although Mvovo grabbed his only chance in the international season with both hands to seal his World Cup place – proving his BMT – he said it was a nervous week in Durban before the squad announcement.

“Nobody can be sure you’re in the squad, but you just have to concentrate on training well and making sure that whenever the opportunity comes, you use it very well. So many players want to be in the Springbok team, it’s an honour and a privilege, so the training camp was just about working hard for me,” Mvovo said.

The 29-year-old with 13 Test caps does not need any prompting to talk about the United Kingdom being a happy hunting ground for him. He made his Springbok debut in Edinburgh in 2010 and he scored his first Test try the following weekend against England at Twickenham, a fine individual effort that sealed a 21-11 victory.

“Yes, Twickenham was where I scored my first international try and there are great memories whenever I go there. I hope to do the same this year if I get the chance.

“This team is experienced in the Northern Hemisphere, the tour at the end of last year really helped us. We’re going with a game-plan and we must just stick to it, the fields and the weather don’t affect that a lot,” Mvovo said.

The transformation issue swirling around Springbok rugby is also not going to distract Mvovo.

“What I can control is my dream of going to the World Cup, so performing at the camp was the most important thing, I didn’t let outside stuff affect me. But my heroes as a kid were Springboks so we must be the heroes of children now,” Mvovo said.


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