for quality writing

Ken Borland



Proteas end high up in rankings but hardly inspired in 2017 0

Posted on January 12, 2018 by Ken

 

South Africa ended last year ranked second in Tests and first in one-day internationals in the International Cricket Council rankings, but they were hardly inspired in 2017.

In fact, the Proteas were more like the bully in the schoolyard, bolstering their self-esteem, and rankings, by picking on easy-beats like Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe at home. But when they were up against the big boys, most notably in the Champions Trophy and in the four-Test series in England, they folded in a heap.

Although they won in New Zealand, the ODIs were tightly-contested and they had good fortune in the Tests, rain washing out the final game when the Black Caps were in an excellent position to level the series.

In terms of individual performances, Hashim Amla and Kagiso Rabada continued to deliver world-class performances on a consistent basis, with the batting of AB de Villiers, Quinton de Kock and Faf du Plessis helping to make the ODI batting unit a dominant force.

Imran Tahir was their best white-ball bowler but it was the Test spinner, Keshav Maharaj, who perhaps made the greatest strides in 2017 and, at the age of 27, he is clearly a future star for the Proteas.

The arrival of Aiden Markram as a technically solid opening partner for Dean Elgar, who was the mainstay of the Test batting with 1128 runs, behind only India’s Cheteshwar Pujara and Aussie maestro Steve Smith in the year’s tally, helped bolster a batting line-up that was exposed in England, especially during De Villiers’ hiatus from Test cricket.

Markram will obviously face far sterner challenges than Bangladesh and Zimbabwe in 2018, but he couldn’t have been expected to do much better than 380 runs in his first four innings, including two centuries.

But that there were more question marks than answers over the Proteas’ performance was borne out by the departure of Russell Domingo as coach before the start of the summer and the arrival of former West Indies head coach and England assistant Ottis Gibson.

After a gentle introduction into the job, his charges feasting on minnows Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, Gibson faces his first real test in the new year as world number ones India arrive.

He will need to keep De Villiers available for Tests just to settle the batting line-up, while the bowlers are certainly there to challenge for the number one ranking, the only problem being keeping them fit and getting the right balance in selection due to the transformation targets.

Most importantly, Gibson will be focused on the creation of a steely edge in the team, and has already created expectation for the 2019 World Cup by declaring that winning that elusive trophy is his goal.

When put under proper pressure by the likes of England, and by Pakistan and India in the Champions Trophy, the old signs of muddled thinking and near-panic were once again there. Gibson will want to make the Proteas a side that plays the big moments well and seizes every opportunity that comes their way.

The South African women’s team provided some of the highlights of the year and captured the imagination of cricket fans back home by narrowly missing out on a place in the Women’s World Cup final, hosts and eventual champions England just sneaking through in a pulsating semi-final.

Players such as Marizanne Kapp, the number one ODI bowler in the world, and Dane van Niekerk became global stars.

 

Free-thinking Frittelli zooming up the rankings 0

Posted on December 11, 2017 by Ken

 

Dylan Frittelli is South Africa’s fastest rising golf star and a stellar 2017 has seen him zoom up the world golf rankings from number 152 at the start of the year to 55th when he teed it up at the Joburg Open at Randpark Golf Club this week.

The 27-year-old can certainly hit a little white dimpled ball as cleanly and powerfully as anyone else in the country, courtesy of the natural ball skills that saw him earn junior provincial colours in baseball, soccer, hockey and golf, but Frittelli clearly has another great strength, one that is as priceless as a ming vase when it comes to a sport as mentally taxing as golf.

Frittelli is clearly a deep thinker on the game and much of that thinking can be classified as lateral judging by the unusual decisions he has made.

Golf started as a Sunday driving range occupation with his provincial hockey-playing father, with a few rounds with friends over the holidays, but at the age of 11, Frittelli went to a World of Golf camp where his considerable talent was first spotted by a coach.

“From then I took things seriously, but I still played a bunch of sports until I was 15,” Frittelli said.

It was when the Johannesburg-born youngster went to St Albans boarding school in Pretoria that he made his first eccentric decision that worked out wonderfully.

“At St Albans, I asked the headmaster if I could just play golf and he said no, because they needed me in the cricket and hockey teams. So I did home-schooling instead, it was a bit of a mad scientist idea and I just said ‘let’s see what happens’. I started matric in Grade 10 and was done a year earlier than if I’d stayed in school,” Frittelli explained.

The tall, dark-haired Frittelli continues to do things differently to this day, foregoing time-consuming and often energy-draining practice rounds on courses he has played before, and even taking a compass on to the tee with him to ensure he gets his angles dead right.

The extra year he gained through home-schooling allowed Frittelli to not only play more golf but also seriously consider trying to get into the American college golf programme.

“I had it in mind that I really wanted to go to the United States and when I won the Junior World Championships in San Diego when I was 17, that opened doors for me. It was between the University of Texas and Arkansas, and Texas offered me a full scholarship,” he said.

And, by a quirk of fate, a young Jordan Spieth soon also arrived at the University of Texas and he and Frittelli would earn the Longhorns their first national championship title in 40 years in 2012, the South African sinking a 30-foot putt on the 18th to claim the win.

“Jordan was still a junior then, but I stayed in the same dorm as him at the Spirit International and helped persuade him to come to Texas. We were pretty much playing at the same level back then and to make the putt to win Nationals was huge, especially since we hadn’t won for so long,” Frittelli said.

Frittelli has won twice on the European Tour this year and, although his chances of adding to that tally at the Joburg Open are slim as he ended his second round 10 shots off the pace, he looks set to break into the top-50 in the world rankings in the near future.

And then he will be going to the majors, from which he hopes to get into the U.S. PGA Tour, especially since he still has a house in Austin, Texas.

He also badly wants to win in South Africa, to show local fans, who have not had much chance to get to know him, what he’s made of.

“I’ve only gained spots through qualifying school on the European and Sunshine tours but I would love to play in the U.S. as well. I also haven’t had any big victories in South Africa, which I would love to do because that would definitely cement my standing here.

“But I pride myself on being able to play well away from home and I won in Canada, the U.S. and Puerto Rico as an amateur, and now in Europe and Mauritius as a pro. Every good result you get breeds confidence and I felt really calm winning in Mauritius last week, which is how you want to be. No stress,” the laid-back surfing fan said.

https://citizen.co.za/sport/1753864/sas-fastest-rising-golf-star/

Top of the log speaks volumes for Dragons’ clinical edge 0

Posted on November 30, 2017 by Ken

 

It speaks volumes for the new clinical edge in Sihle Ntuli’s Drakensburg Dragons side that last year’s Premier Hockey League wooden-spoonists overcame vastly different challenges to win both their games and top the men’s log after the opening weekend of the 2017 competition at the Randburg Astro.

In their opening game, the Dragons hammered last year’s runners-up, the Addo Elephants, 4-0, defending stoutly and being ruthless in finishing their chances at the other end.

The next day, they had to survive the anxiety of a shootout to beat the Golden Gate Gladiators 3-1, after the match ended 2-2 after full time.

“The biggest disappointment last year was that if we look at all our games, we actually outplayed our opponents. The stats were in our favour but we just didn’t convert, so for us to come away with four goals was a really good start to our tournament.  A big thing for us was to not concede – that’s a very good sign for us. The Elephants team have some good players up front so it was a great defensive effort,” coach Ntuli said.

In the women’s tournament, the defending champion Blyde River Bunters ensured that they finished the first weekend on top of the standings as they beat the Namaqualand Daisies SA U21 side in a washed out match that had to be decided by a shootout, and then beat the St Lucia Lakers 3-1 thanks to a brace from Thati Segaole.

“The conditions were difficult to play flowing hockey. There were a couple of concepts that we did very well though. We’ve just got to do a few tweaks and I’m happy that we can do that. So I have all the confidence in the world that we will get better as the tournament progresses,” coach Lindsey Wright said.

 

Upping the tempo the biggest difference for Boks – Mac 0

Posted on July 17, 2017 by Ken

 

The increased tempo at which the Springboks are playing is the single biggest difference between the side in 2017 and the bumbling 2016 outfit, according to Ian McIntosh, the former national coach.

The Springboks battled to get out of the blocks in the first year of Allister Coetzee’s coaching tenure, winning just four of their 12 matches and losing Tests against countries like Ireland, Argentina, Italy and Wales. McIntosh also only won four of his 12 Tests during his 14 months in charge of the Springboks in 1993/94, but he also had two draws, including one against the All Blacks in Auckland, and they beat Australia in Sydney as the coach dragged South African rugby kicking and screaming into the modern age.

Coetzee has implemented a similarly dramatic change in approach this year, and the Springboks have responded with three refreshing, convincing wins over France.

“It’s always a worry getting the right balance in your play, but the intensity that the Springboks have played with is what has impressed me most. I’ve seen snippets of what they’re doing at practice and the only difference between us and New Zealand is the tempo at which we play.

“These are early days, but if they carry on increasing their intensity like they have been doing and with the selection of all these juniors who are rising up the ladder, then we can catch the All Blacks. If we keep that intensity, we will be a big threat. We’ve got the talent, let me tell you, just as much as New Zealand do,” McIntosh told Saturday Citizen at a Players’ Fund and SA Rugby Legends Association training day for the Vuka development programme.

McIntosh said a reliance on a core of the top-class Lions team had also led to a turnaround in fortunes.

“The Lions players have had a big influence because they have already seen results playing that up-tempo rugby. They are realising their potential now at international level, which is exciting. People say we don’t know how to coach in this country, but we’ve got bloody good coaches; someone like Johan Ackermann is a great coach,” McIntosh said.

 

https://www.pressreader.com/south-africa/the-citizen-gauteng/20170624/282364039682432



↑ Top