for quality writing

Ken Borland



Morkel & Titans back in Benoni & in great form 0

Posted on November 18, 2016 by Ken

 

Willowmoore Park in Benoni will play host on Friday night to the top-of-the-log CSA T20 Challenge clash between the Titans and the Knights, with Titans captain Albie Morkel leading his high-flying team at the ground where it all started for him back in 1999, and currently enjoying great individual form.

The Titans have won both their opening games with Morkel playing pivotal roles: first with the ball against the Highveld Lions when he claimed three for 12 in four outstanding overs, and then on Wednesday night with the bat when he steered his team to victory over the Cape Cobras with 34 not out off 16 balls.

“Albie sometimes plays himself down, but he’s a very valuable cricketer and the head of the side. He wants those pressure situations and he showed that again against the Cobras, winning the game for us with the bat, having done it with the ball in the previous game,” Titans coach Mark Boucher told The Citizen on Thursday.

Heinrich Klaasen, who was pushed up the order to open against the Cobras with some success as he scored 46, is likely to be partnered by Grant Mokoena on Friday as Henry Davids has strained a hamstring.

“We’ve been under pressure in both games because we lost a couple of quick wickets up front, but we still managed to get the middle-order firing. So it will be very exciting if we can get a good start,” Boucher noted.

Willowmoore Park has thrown up more than her fair share of tricky pitches for batsmen – in last season’s game in Benoni against the Knights, the Titans could only manage 136 for nine and were beaten by a spectacular all-round performance by West Indian Andre Russell (4-11 & 66*).

Russell is no longer in the Knights team but they have star quality in returning captain Theunis de Bruyn, fast bowlers Marchant de Lange and Duanne Olivier, and middle-order batting star David Miller.

“I just want a good cricket wicket for us to hopefully take advantage of, we’ve got both pace and spin covered. This is one game I’m really looking forward to because the Knights beat us in the four-day competition and they look like a side that will challenge for top spot. So we will be tested and we need good intensity,” Boucher said.

Friday night’s other game is in the fairest Cape, although there will be no love lost between the Cobras and the Warriors as they clash at Newlands.

The embattled Cobras have lost both their T20 games thus far, heaping more pressure on themselves, and they will be desperate to get their first win of the season in any format.

No dancing around the issue for odd-one-out Morkel 0

Posted on November 09, 2016 by Ken

 

A lesser player or person might have danced around the issue, but Titans T20 captain Albie Morkel was forthright on Tuesday about himself being the odd one out as his team defend their title in the shortest format of the game, starting with their derby clash with double-header hosts the Lions at the Wanderers on Saturday.

Because Morkel is only available for limited-overs cricket for the Titans, he has not been part of the side that has put a poor start in the Sunfoil Series behind them and climbed to the top of the four-day log at the halfway stage. So he is acutely aware that while he will be leading an in-form group of players into battle this weekend, his own form has yet to be tested.

“Having a winning team definitely helps and it doesn’t matter which format it’s been in. In T20, one guy can win a game on the night, but the team with the most in-form players will win the competition. So the four-day games have provided nice momentum, lots of guys have made big contributions.

“So we don’t have to hide anyone, we’re not trying to fill any gaps, all the guys have performed on the field in recent weeks. If you’re out of form in T20 cricket, you get exposed very quickly,” Morkel said on Tuesday at the announcement that Multiply would be the franchise’s team sponsor in the CSA T20 Slam.

“But I’m the one guy who’s had an extended holiday. The challenge has been to stay fit, so I played a bit of club cricket, although that’s not at the same intensity. So this week I’ll make sure I get some good practice in, match-sharpness is the key, and I can also fall back on experience to an extent,” the all-rounder added.

Last season the Titans went on a record-breaking eight-match winning streak to top the log and then win the final they hosted against the Dolphins, but life could be a bit harder for them this time around, certainly in the initial stages of the competition.

“We have almost a completely different team, last season we had Quinton de Kock scoring over 400 runs on his own and Chris Morris and Tabraiz Shamsi making it very hard to chase down our scores. Those guys won games on their own and we’ve also lost someone like Graeme van Buuren, who did very well too, and Mangaliso Mosehle.

“So we need to find our combinations quickly, even though there are a few older guys still around, that’s no guarantee for success. We’re starting from scratch again and we’ll definitely have to bowl smarter. But we’re still a strong team, we’ll look at Aiden Markram up front, he’s a bit of an unknown factor in T20, and our middle and lower-order is very strong with myself, David Wiese, Qaasim Adams and Farhaan Behardien all coming in back-to-back. We can really take on attacks if we get good starts,” Morkel said.

Morkel having a great time with ‘dream’ Titans 0

Posted on December 11, 2015 by Ken

 

Albie Morkel says he has thoroughly enjoyed his time as captain of the Titans, calling them a dream T20 outfit as they prepare for the RamSlam T20 Challenge final against the Dolphins at Centurion on Saturday.

Morkel, who has played more T20 matches (284) than anyone except for West Indian Kieron Pollard (299), was a slightly surprising choice as limited-overs captain of the Titans given that his last leadership experience was at school, but he has done an outstanding job in leading his team to eight successive wins and top of the log by a mile.

“It’s my first season as captain and I’ve learnt lots and I’m still learning. The biggest thing is to trust my gut feeling, which comes with experience – and I’ve played a lot of T20cricket. When I started I was very hesitant to make funky calls – like using a spinner for the first or third over – but now I really trust my gut feeling. All the former captains I spoke to say you must trust that.

“Also, if you look at the team we’ve got, it’s a really good T20 side: We’ve got eight good bowlers, explosive batsmen and a tremendous opening partnership. What you need is good starts because that allows the bigger hitters the platform to perform,” Morkel said.

The all-rounder pointed to the number of bowlers the Titans have as being a key strength.

“I’ve seen some teams pick just five bowlers, but in my opinion you can’t do that because there’s always one or two bowlers that the opposition gets after. We have eight bowlers, which may even be one too many, including three very different spinners – a wrist-spinner, an offie and a slow left-armer. And none of them are part-timers, they’re all serious bowlers when the conditions suit them. So I’m able to just juggle the bowlers and play what I see in front of me. I mustn’t get emotional about someone not getting an over,” Morkel said.

After their epic victory in the last final the Titans played in – the Momentum One-Day Cup showdown against the Cape Cobras in February – Morkel (the man of the match in Cape Town after his sensational unbeaten century) says the preparation this week is just focused on getting mentally ready.

“In previous years the Titans have maybe stood back a bit in difficult times, but this side has all bases covered. We’ve defended some really low scores, we’ve set high totals and we’ve bowled the opposition out for low scores. I don’t foresee any problems with freezing on the day, our training this week is just about getting in the right frame of mind, re-energising and getting in the right space.

“Finals don’t come around that often, in 12 years with the Titans I’ve only played in two or three, so it’s a great occasion. There’s nothing better than sitting in the changeroom after a very successful campaign … with the trophy of course,” Morkel said.

 

Titans working their emotions out after parlous start v Warriors 0

Posted on October 15, 2015 by Ken

 

The Titans have spent the week “working the emotions out” from their parlous Momentum One-Day Cup opening match against the Warriors, according to coach Rob Walter, and they have been boosted by the returns of Albie Morkel and Marchant de Lange from international duty.

Grant Thomson, however, must be pondering Lady Luck and her capricious side as he has been ruled out of Friday’s match against the Cape Cobras at Newlands with a hamstring strain. Thomson, having fought so hard to get into the side, made his franchise 50-over debut against the Warriors and top-scored with a wonderful 98 not out off just 71 balls, and now he’s unfortunately on the sidelines again.

“We’ve been working the emotions out and clearing the heads because the guys were visibly hurt by that performance. They invested a lot in that opening game, they worked flippen hard for four months and then they deliver that. We trained our best, we spoke specifically about starting well, getting the basics right in the field, extras …

“But it was game one and it’s about what happens next. On the positive side, we dominated about 70% of that game, we had an outstanding middle 20 overs and a very good last five. So it was just the opening overs and 40-45 that cost us,” Walter said on Tuesday at SuperSport Park.

Walter is too young to wear spectacles, but if he did there would be a few areas he would be giving special focus to before the defending champions travel to Cape Town for a repeat of last season’s final.

“There were basics errors in the field, we couldn’t even get the regulation stuff right, and the extras will get specific attention. It’s becoming a bit of a trend for us but it’s hard to put a finger on why. You never see us training without cones in front of the line to stop no-balls and the wides are of course disappointing as well.

“Strike-rate is also key up front with the bat and we had 48 dot balls in the first 60, while scoring 28 runs, so it was mostly fours and not much rotation. Henry Davids is a seasoned campaigner, but for Mangi Mosehle it was his first time out opening and his 49 ensured a nice foundation was set. He’s been working on tightening his defence and that shone through, and he will learn to be more assertive,” Walter said.

 



↑ Top