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Ken Borland

Markram waits patiently for his chance to join Rabada 0

Posted on March 22, 2017 by Ken


2014 Junior World Cup winner Kagiso Rabada is about to be unleashed on the international stage as he tours with the Proteas to Bangladesh, but what of his captain at that prestigious tournament, Aiden Markram?

Rated as one of the most promising young players in the country, Markram is learning the hard way that it takes much longer for batsmen to break through in the senior ranks than it does for bowlers. But the 20-year-old Northerns player is still full of optimism and says there is plenty of opportunity lying ahead for him.

“Obviously I’m happy that KG is with the national team, he completely deserves it. But it’s tough as a top-order batsman trying to play for your franchise and then your country, so I’m not concerned with my progress,” Markram told The Citizen.

The Tuks product has played 10 first-class games for Northerns, scoring 424 runs at an average of 30.28, including three half-centuries. His limited-overs returns have been more spectacular, scoring two List A centuries in five innings on his way to an average of 71.25, a strike-rate of 95.95 and a nomination for the CSA Provincial One-Day Cricketer of the Year award.

Markram was also brilliant in the T20 competition, scoring 165 runs in four innings, with two half-centuries, an average of 55 and a strike-rate of 146.

“I’ve played a lot more limited-overs cricket in my life. I have game-plans in place for those formats but in the longer format it was only towards the end of the season that I had identified a plan. So that was a big positive and I’m really looking forward to next season’s three-day competition. I don’t want to be labelled a limited-overs player, but I’m happy with the way the season went.

“In the season ahead, it would be nice to play franchise cricket for the Titans, that’s definitely a goal for me, in any format. But all I can control is scoring runs and putting myself in contention. If I’m selected, great, but if not then I want to make a big contribution for the Northerns team. I enjoy my role there and I’m looking forward to more responsibility,” Markram said.

For someone who has such a solid technique, it is surely only a matter of time before Markram makes his mark in first-class cricket, having already shown in the shorter formats that he has the measure of most bowlers in provincial cricket.

“I’d only played two three-day games in my life before this season, so it’s been a new challenge. As a top-order batsman, the bowlers are fresh and armed with a new ball, so if you get in then you must kick on. And it’s usually tough batting on day one.

“I just need to re-set myself more during my innings, make sure I get myself in properly and then just bat time,” Markram said.

For someone as talented as him, it is surely also only a matter of time before he is back playing on the same stage as his former team-mate Rabada.

Namibian rugby restored to its former health 0

Posted on December 18, 2014 by Ken

Restoring Namibian rugby to its former health was the key project for union president Bradley Basson and chief executive Sybrand de Beer in 2014 and their success off the field was mirrored on the park by coach Danie Vermeulen steering the side to World Cup qualification.

On July 6 in the Africa Cup CAR Division 1 qualifier in Antananarivo, Namibia scored an emphatic 89-10 victory over Madagascar to sneak ahead of Zimbabwe and Kenya on points difference and into their fifth successive World Cup, where they will take on the mighty All Blacks as well as Argentina, Tonga and Georgia in Pool C.

Just eight days earlier, Namibia’s campaign looked set to end in tears of sadness as a shock 29-22 defeat at the hands of Kenya left their hopes of qualifying for the 2015 World Cup hanging by the slimmest of threads.

But by 5pm on July 6, the Namibian rugby team were crying tears of joy at the Mahamasina Stadium as their extraordinary victory over the hosts had booked their spot in England 2015.

Following that opening-day loss, just their second against the East Africans since 2006, results had fallen Namibia’s way to keep their hopes alive. The Welwitschias beat Zimbabwe 24-20 to stay in contention, while their fellow Southern Africans did them a favour by overcoming Kenya 28-10 on the final day.

Crucially, neither Zimbabwe nor Kenya managed to get a bonus point in that match, which left Namibia needing to beat Madagascar by 53 points to qualify for the finals of the global showpiece.

“We were down in the dumps up to the last day, but we just believed until the very end. We had the will to keep on fighting until our last breath, until all 15 of us had to be carried off the field if necessary,” flank Tinus du Plessis said after the triumph.

“We had a massive points difference to work on, so we just planned to take it 10 minutes at a time. It’s amazing to think that we’ll now be playing our first match against the All Blacks!” the London Wasps player said.

For Zimbabwe, who showed encouraging improvement through the year, there was a second chance in the form of the repechage, but they went down 15-23 to Russia in Krasnoyarsk.

Director of Rugby Liam Middleton left for Canada shortly thereafter and by mid-November there was yet to be a taker to replace him. But the Sables enjoyed something of a renaissance in 2014, boosted by the presence of former Natal Sharks and Lions SuperRugby flyhalf Guy Cronje.

Kenya will look back on their year with some frustration as they struggled with consistency. They managed to beat Namibia, but lost to Zimbabwe; they lost 14-21 to Uganda, only to beat the same team 34-0 the next weekend.

They will need to develop more consistency – which will come with playing more often – if they are to follow their Sevens team up the world rankings. Under the guidance of former Western Province loose forward Jerome Paarwater, they also competed in the Vodacom Cup, which was a valuable exercise for them.

They will also need to clear their team of doping allegations that were made by a Kenyan governmental task force.

While playing enough internationals is always a challenge for the African sides, Namibia have been able to fill their calendar ahead of the World Cup, playing Germany, Canada, the French Barbarians and Portugal after returning from their Madagascan triumph.

The last three games were on an invaluable year-end tour to Europe, giving the Welwitschia’s the chance to experience Northern Hemisphere conditions ahead of the World Cup and test their depth.

Namibia also hope to be invited to the IRB Nations Cup in Romania as African champions, which could result in another four matches, while home Tests against Zimbabwe and Kenya are also planned for 2015.

The Namibian Rugby Union are also in talks with SARU about their possible participation in the Vodacom Cup in the first half of 2015.

Germany were comfortably beaten, 58-20, in Windhoek, in a match that marked Free State Cheetahs hooker Torsten van Jaarsveld’s first game in Namibian colours.

Vermeulen was able to call on a dozen overseas-based players through the year, with Pumas flank Renaldo Bothma (recently signed by the Sharks) outstanding in the World Cup qualifier in Madagascar, while Jacques Burger, the stoical grafter of the Saracens loose trio, played for Namibia for the first time since September 2011 when he led the team against Canada at Colwyn Bay in northern Wales.

Fullback Chrysander Botha, who played SuperRugby for the Lions and was then signed by the Exeter Chiefs, was one of the stars of the backline before his year ended with a broken leg in the 13-17 loss to Canada.

The likes of flank Rohan Kitshoff and prop Jaco Engels, both stalwarts of the South African domestic scene, also added their experience and quality to the Welwitschias.

The dissent which plagued Namibian rugby around the time of the previous World Cup is now in the past.

“Rugby in Namibia was quite badly hit in 2011 when the exco resigned and technically we were insolvent. But the latest financial statements have been declared clean and passed without any qualifications and there is good governance and the basic foundation in place. We are now back to concentrating on rugby,” De Beer said.

An IRB report also praised Namibian rugby, saying: “Governance, administration and finances can be used as an example for many unions in the world “.

The IRB’s regional manager for Africa, Jean-Luc Barthes, said in his report that “I met responsible and very professional people who want to properly manage their activities and make rugby the number one sport in the country.“

The plaudits kept coming when they were named sports team of the year, Vermeulen won coach of the year and De Beer administrator of the year at the Namibian Sports Commission Annual Awards.

To add to the feel-good factor, the U19 team won the Confederation of African Rugby’s tournament hosted in Windhoek in September to qualify for the IRB Junior Trophy competition in Portugal in 2015.


CSA will deal with no IPL because it was not expected – Lorgat 0

Posted on March 14, 2014 by Ken

Chief executive Haroon Lorgat said on Thursday that hosting some of the 2014 Indian Premier League (IPL) would have been a “windfall” for Cricket South Africa, but the organisation had not catered for the tournament in their financial forecasts.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) announced on Wednesday that this year’s IPL would begin in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on April 16, before moving to India from May 1, with Bangladesh on standby should the elections in India not allow them to host it until later that month.

The announcement put to an end speculation that South Africa would host some of the tournament, having successfully staged the entire 2009 event.

“We weren’t surprised at all by the BCCI announcement, they want to play the tournament close to home. We were involved in discussions all along and we were informed of the decision before it went public. It made sense to have the first 16 games in the UAE, if they needed longer outside India then maybe we would have featured,” Lorgat said on Thursday.

“But we never had any plans for the IPL in our forecasts. It would have been a windfall, but it’s something we hadn’t bargained for. If it had come here, we would have embraced it, but equally we can deal with it not coming here. It’s their tournament and we respect their choice.”

With Lorgat and CSA having a well-publicised falling out with the BCCI last year and India, Australia and England staging a virtual coup to take control of the International Cricket Council (ICC), there have been fears that South African cricket would be sidelined.

But Lorgat revealed there has been a rush of activity in negotiations with other boards that would see more Test cricket being played here.

“We are very keen to play four-Test series against Australia and we’ve gone some way to agreeing to that, although it’s dependent on the calendar. If we can fit it in, then we will do that.

“And we are talking to England and have agreed in principle to play a five-Test series in 2015/16. So we’ve already achieved a lot working together since the original ICC proposal, which has already been changed considerably,” Lorgat said.

The CEO also denied reports from India that CSA had refused to stage only part of the IPL, wanting the whole tournament or nothing.

“To say we made demands like that is totally untrue and the amounts of money that we were reported to have wanted have also been exaggerated,” Lorgat said.


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