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Ken Borland



Morris to join other all-round stars at the Titans 0

Posted on June 01, 2016 by Ken

Chris Morris or David Wiese could be the answer to the glaring absence of an all-rounder in the South African team and they will both be playing for the Unlimited Titans next season after Morris announced on Wednesday that he is leaving the bizhub Highveld Lions.

Morris is coming off a superb season for the Lions, playing a key role in their Sunfoil Series triumph as he topped their bowling averages with 32 wickets at 20.18 as well as averaging 30.11 with the bat.

And the 27-year-old says there isn’t any ill feeling towards the Lions, his decision was motivated by a desire to push himself further as a cricketer. Having played five ODIs and two T20 internationals for South Africa, Morris is clearly someone the national selectors should have in their plans moving forward.

“I’ve spent seven years at the Highveld Lions and it just feels like time for a change of scenery. I feel like I’ve fallen into a bit of a comfort zone at the Lions, apart from when Zander de Bruyn was still playing I’ve always been the main all-rounder and played every game in every format. I always give 100%, but maybe I’m not pushing myself enough.

“They have different methods and a different culture at the Titans, I’ve bought into Rob Walter’s plan and it’s an exciting time to join them. It’s going to take a lot of hard work, they don’t back down in training, but I’m a Pretoria boy originally, so it will be nice to come home. Plus the traffic has been killing me!” Morris told The Citizen.

Any team facing the Titans next season, especially in limited-overs cricket, could have the daunting task of tackling Morris and speedster Marchant de Lange with the new ball, while also having to deal with a lower-middle-order of Albie Morkel, Wiese and Morris.

“We’re very happy that a quality player like Chris is coming home, his family has a proud history with Northerns cricket through his dad Willie, he’s a top performer, he can play in all three formats and, having got to know him while he was in Potchefstroom, I know he has a lot of tenacity,” Jacques Faul, the CEO of the Titans, said.

Morris is happy with the form he showed in the just-completed 2014/15 season, he took 12 wickets in the RamSlam T20 Challenge and had a strike-rate of 173.33 with the bat, but his Momentum One-Day Cup campaign was limited to just three games by injury.

“First it was the ankle op and then the rib-tip fracture, so it’s been nice to be playing, especially in such an excellent unit. With Hardus Viljoen, Kagiso Rabada and Dwaine Pretorius alongside me, there’s been pressure from all sides. Every day is a fishing day but not very day is a catching day, but I felt like I was firing on all cylinders, the Lions had a senior role for me and it was a nice responsibility,” Morris said.

Aggression is a key part of Morris’s bowling and there is no doubt the lanky paceman earned some wickets for his colleagues at the other end with the unrelenting pressure he exerted.

“When I was 16 I asked Curtly Ambrose about aggression and he asked me if I want to hold the batsman’s hand. He said I must make it as uncomfortable as possible for the batsman. So I’m a firm believer in playing hard, I like to feel that we’re in a battle and I try to hurt the batsman, obviously not badly of course,” Morris said.

The wise counsel of Neil McKenzie, who announced his retirement from four-day cricket earlier this week, has also led to an improvement in Morris’s batting and the use of the short ball is no longer as effective as it was against him.

“I’m very chuffed with my batting this season, I’ve been working with Neil, especially on the short ball which had become a bit of an issue, and I got my confidence back. I think I was over-complicating things, see-ball, hit-ball has always been my natural game.

“Previously, I knew the short ball was coming but now I just play it when it arrives. I’ve also had a bit more responsibility with the bat, but I still try to be attacking. If it comes off great, if not, I can make up for it with the ball,” Morris said.

The lure of a Green and Gold Proteas Test cap is still there for Morris and he is hoping a fresh environment will provide the spark for him to get there.

“I will always push hard to play for South Africa, obviously my ambition is to play Test cricket, but I think I’m still behind a couple of guys. There’s still a way to go, it will take a lot of hard work, but we all know there’s a spot in the Proteas team that needs to be filled. At the moment Ryan McLaren would be the man for me, but it’s a dream of mine as well,” Morris said.

http://citizen.co.za/354957/morris-to-join-other-all-round-stars-at-the-titans/

Just how good are the Sharks? We’ll know this weekend v Stormers … 0

Posted on March 10, 2016 by Ken

 

For anyone who wonders just how good the new-look Sharks team is under Gary Gold and Robert du Preez, the answer could well be forthcoming this weekend as they take on the high-flying Stormers in Cape Town on Saturday.

Assistant coach Du Preez certainly believes the Stormers will pose the toughest test yet for the team who are one of only four unbeaten sides after the first two rounds of SuperRugby.

“We’ve had four out of four in terms of wins if you include the two friendlies in France, so that’s good and we take a lot of confidence from that. But the Stormers are going to pose a very different challenge in Cape Town. They’re quite similar to us in terms of how we both want to play, and they have a very respected pack. We’re under no illusions as to what is lying in wait for us, but we’re confident and we’ll give it our best shot,” Du Preez said.

The attacking play of the Sharks has certainly showed enormous promise, although there were obviously way too many handling errors in last weekend’s win over the Jaguares. The humidity of the Durban summer does provide some explanation.

“It was very difficult conditions and the ball was very slippery, but that’s what you get this time of year in Durban. The intent was there, but we obviously coughed up too many balls. We created quite a few opportunities, but we should have converted quite a few more.

“But we are a work in progress, we’re getting better as we go along and there’s still a long season ahead of us. There’s a good balance between youth and some really experienced players in the set-up and it’s quite special what Gary and the rest of the coaching staff have created at this stage, it’s a nice vibe from the camp,” Du Preez said.

Bowling questions remain for Proteas 0

Posted on June 19, 2015 by Ken

The successful series against the West Indies did answer a few questions about the Proteas as they head into the World Cup, but a couple of glaring question marks remain – such as why the bowlers insist on banging the ball in halfway down the pitch so often?

Bowling coach Allan Donald was quoted as saying this week “I’d rather not have that many yorkers at the back end … at the World Cup, we want to be unpredictable in the last 10 overs and that is not going to be about bowling 40 yorkers in the last 10 overs.”

Not bowling yorkers is also becoming predictable, however, for this attack.

While the South African bowlers were generally dominant against the eighth-ranked West Indies – and let’s be honest, their batting was largely woeful – it was alarming to see how exposed the Proteas were once again in the death overs when Andre Russell, Darren Sammy and the tail took the tourists to an unlikely victory in the fourth ODI in Port Elizabeth.

The West Indies top-order was barely a factor through the series, meaning they were under pressure every time they batted; how will South Africa’s attack fare against much stronger batting line-ups at the World Cup, especially if the pitches are flat, without the luxury of early wickets?

Kyle Abbott was particularly disappointing in the series – taking just two wickets for 121 runs, conceded at a rate of 7.33 per over. It was depressing to see someone who had previously shown such skill in finding the blockhole, banging the ball in short and getting regularly smashed – perhaps Donald’s comments have something to do with that? There was surely a message in the second of those Abbott wickets coming from a full, straight delivery that bowled Marlon Samuels at Centurion.

Lady Luck has not been kind to South Africa in previous World Cups, but she tends to favour teams that are tactically astute, hard-working and gifted. The Proteas are certainly dedicated to their craft and in terms of talent we only need to mention AB de Villiers, Hashim Amla and Dale Steyn, so no issues there.

But while the batting looks so powerful – Rilee Rossouw adding his name into the mix of potential match-winners – their bowling remains vulnerable due to the current strategic thinking and I have a feeling opposing teams will back themselves to chase down whatever target South Africa set by putting them under pressure in the field.

The balance of the team – without a genuine all-rounder – is out, so JP Duminy and Farhaan Behardien have to share 10 overs or someone like Vernon Philander or Wayne Parnell has to bat seven.

That fifth-bowler portion will certainly be targeted by the opposition and sides like India and Australia will probably have a go at Morne Morkel and Philander as well.

Immersed in the pressure of a knockout game, how cool can Morkel stay? His display under the pump in Port Elizabeth suggests the portents are not that good, while Philander, at no more than fast-medium pace and generally sticking to line-and-length, could also be vulnerable.

The positives, however, are that South Africa, with Dale Steyn and Imran Tahir, are better than most at taking wickets in the middle overs and there will be no more feared batting line-up at the World Cup.

The bookies are hawking odds of between 3/1 and 13/3 on South Africa winning the World Cup, but they are only second favourites behind Australia – who range from 2/1 to 13/4 to win their fifth title.

There are a million different scenarios that could play out – and South Africa have historically provided the weirdest of those – but I will be hugely frustrated if the Proteas post 350-8 in a semi-final and then lose by three wickets in the final over as Duminy/Behardien travel for 90 runs in their 10 combined overs and Morkel and Philander concede 75 each.

Ryan McLaren or David Wiese are not part of the squad to provide a genuine fifth bowling option and from what we’ve seen from the West Indies series, South Africa are not going to be able to stray too far from their first-choice attack.

Which is not entirely a bad thing. Barring the number seven position, South Africa are a settled combination, going to Australasia with confidence and not many teams will fancy taking them on.

 



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