for quality writing

Ken Borland

Why CSA have said no to more franchises 1

Posted on May 02, 2017 by Ken


Chief Executive Haroon Lorgat explained on Tuesday that Cricket South Africa have said no to the idea of increasing the number of franchises because they want to give more attention to the semi-professional level that is the second tier of domestic cricket.

There has been speculation over the last couple of years that the number of franchises would be increased from six to either seven or eight. But Lorgat said this has now been put on the backburner, with CSA deciding instead to focus on the next level down.

“The decision actually came out of our domestic review, which was a very detailed report and indicated that there is work to be done at the semi-professional level. We are open-minded about it and there might come a day when we move from six franchises.

“But extra franchises have got to be sustainable and we’re only now at the point where each franchise is, at the very worst, breaking even, although I expect them all to announce surpluses at the end of this financial year at the end of the month. But now we want to grow the base and what we now call semi-professional, we want to make that professional.

“At the moment there are only seven full-time contracts per provincial team in the system and it’s arguable whether players are able to sustain themselves on those contracts. So we want to lift that up and we will take the same money we would have used for a seventh franchise to uplift semi-pro cricket,” Lorgat said at the launch of the Africa Cup 2017 at the Wanderers on Tuesday.

An exodus of players to earn pounds in English cricket has taken its toll on the South African game, and Lorgat said CSA hoped raising the standard and lucrativeness of cricket below franchise level would encourage players to stay.

“If we can raise the competitive nature of that cricket then we can use that tier to hopefully sustain guys until they get a crack at franchise level. The Africa Cup has brought more names to the fore and I know the coaches are excited about the opportunity it gives players to shine. We’ve identified the second tier as being an area where we need to widen opportunity,” Lorgat said.

The Africa Cup is the T20 competition that has kicked off the last two seasons and is considered the bridge between senior provincial and franchise cricket, with the 12 CSA provinces plus KZN Inland and Zimbabwe, Namibia and Kenya playing in a tournament that mixes fully professional cricketers with those from the semi-pro ranks.

The Africa Cup has been the gateway to success for players like Heinrich Klaasen, Lungi Ngidi, Tabraiz Shamsi and Andile Phehlukwayo, who are all now part of the Proteas’ plans.

Lorgat confirmed that following the Africa Cup in August/September and the introduction of the new showpiece global T20 league in November/December, the existing franchises’ CSA T2O Challenge will now shift to late summer, probably in April 2018.

“There is a risk of too much T20 cricket, but access of opportunity is really the driver and it also brings more transformation players to the fore. We have to develop players and give them opportunities to aspire towards developing into something more. We have the Africa Cup and the T20 global league and we’ve got to have something in between.

“First-class and 50-over cricket are acknowledged as being crucial in the development of players, whether there are supporters watching or not, so it will be the same for the CSA T2O Challenge at the end of the season,” Lorgat said.

The draw for the Africa Cup, which starts on August 25 and will be hosted on successive weekends by Benoni, Potchefstroom, Bloemfontein and Kimberley, was made on Tuesday and defending champions Eastern Province find themselves in the same pool as hosts North-West, dominant provincial side Northerns and Gauteng.


Pool A   (Willowmoore Park, 25-27 August): Easterns, Western Province, South-Western Districts, Namibia.

Pool B   (Senwes Park, 1-3 September): North-West, Northerns, Gauteng, Eastern Province.

Pool C   (Mangaung Oval, 9-11 September): Free State, KZN Inland, Zimbabwe, Boland.

Pool D   (Diamond Oval, 15-17 September): Northern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Kenya, Border.

Naas Botha & his love for a minority sport (in SA) 0

Posted on June 18, 2015 by Ken

The SuperBowl is a television extravaganza and one of the major sporting events of the year, and yet in this country only a minority of sports fans seem to pay much attention to it. But there is one South African sporting legend who is a keen follower of gridiron and American sport in general.

Naas Botha has had a fascination for American Football since his groundbreaking move to the United States in 1983 when he tried out as a placekicker for the Dallas Cowboys. It was a sensational move by the best flyhalf in the world of rugby, from the amateur game to the different world of American pro sport.

While it helped Botha establish himself as a true professional athlete, since 1995 and the end of amateurism in rugby union, there has been little interest by other rugby players in playing American Football.

But Botha believes it won’t be long before a top-class player is lured by the promise of a massive payday in the United States.

“The problem I had when I went over was that I turned up with nothing, with no track record. Half of the people there didn’t even know where South Africa was and they thought we were wandering around with lions. The whole structure of American Football means College football is very important and they take all your stats from there.

“It would be much better now for a player to go over. The rest of the world has a much better knowledge of American Football now and I think a lot more people involved in gridiron know about rugby. Thanks to social media, I think a lot of them will even know about Handre Pollard for instance.

“Organisations like Laureus also bring a lot more attention to American sports. World sport is at a different level these days: in the U.S. they know about our top rugby players and South Africans know about what opportunities there are outside the country. Look at how many players are in France or England; compare that to when I went to play in Italy in 1987 and there was such a big hoohaa,” Botha told The Citizen.

Kicking in American Football is of course not just about distance and accuracy: Botha estimates you have about 1.2 seconds to kick a field goal and it requires a different frame of mind compared to slotting conversions and penalties in rugby. Plus one has to get used to being allowed to be tackled without the ball in gridiron, hence all the protective equipment.

It was thanks to the innovative Dallas Cowboys coach Tom Landry, considered a legend in American Football after 29 years at the helm of the Texan franchise, that Botha played gridiron. But it was the presence of another Cowboys stalwart, Rafael Septien, that prevented the Springbok hero from making more of an impact. Botha was brought in as the back-up kicker, but Septien rarely broke down and so his appearances were limited.

Another South African placekicker, Gary Anderson, had better fortune and became one of the NFL’s leading all-time points-scorers with the Pittsburgh Steelers, even playing against Botha once.

It remains a regret for Botha that during those couple of years of gaining splinters on the bench, he did not take up other offers that came his way, particularly from College (university) teams.

“It was a great experience, being with a big team like the Cowboys, but I was just there at the wrong time. I hung around with the Cowboys, but I should have taken one of the university contracts I was offered. I could’ve taken my experience with the Cowboys with me, built a reputation and a stats base and worked my way through the ranks, but I didn’t know the set-up then,” Botha said.

As it was, he caught game time with the Dallas Harlequins in the national championship, inspiring them to their only triumph in that second-tier competition.

So what of this year’s SuperBowl?

Botha remains a Dallas Cowboys fan and was gutted when they lost 26-21 to the Green Bay Packers in the playoffs, but he concedes the New England Patriots have what it takes to claim their fourth SuperBowl title.

“I’m still a Cowboys fan and how they lost that playoff I don’t know, they blew it. I’ve watched both the Patriots and the Seahawks this year, they’re two very good sides, both very balanced. But I went for a mini-training camp with the Patriots and they are the team to beat, they’ve been fantastic lately,” he said.

What really intrigues SuperSport’s long-time rugby analyst about American Football though is what it can teach those running rugby in South Africa.

“The United States is where sport is at a different level, they’ve shown how professional sport should be run, why try and reinvent the wheel? They have franchises and I wonder if our top rugby teams should not be privately owned? Why postpone it any longer? The unions all have schools, junior and women’s rugby all to look after as well.

“In gridiron, players are on $50 million contracts, in baseball it can be $200 million. Here, if a union wants to keep Bryan Habana, they need to offer R30 million over three years but nobody can afford it. Do we really want to see all the top South African players based overseas?”


Titans win ‘how domestic cricket should be played’ – Walter 0

Posted on April 02, 2014 by Ken

Domestic four-day cricket seldom receives the attention it should, but Unlimited Titans coach Rob Walter said yesterday that their thrilling 32-run weekend victory over the Knights in their Sunfoil Series match at SuperSport Park was “the way cricket should be played”.

The Knights mounted a stirring run-chase on a great final day as they tried to chase down 435 and were on target as Gihahn Cloete and Rilee Rossouw blazed hundreds.

After 70 overs, the Knights looked as if they were cruising to victory on 287 for one, needing 148 runs off 36 overs with Cloete and Rossouw in full flight. But JP de Villiers removed both set batsmen and the second new ball then produced a remarkable collapse of six wickets for 18 runs in eight overs in the hands of David Wiese and Marchant de Lange.

A last-wicket stand of 43 between Malusi Siboto and Corne Dry revitalised the Knights before Wiese claimed the final wicket and a famous win at 5.25pm.

“That’s the way cricket should be played. We set up the game with the second new ball very much in mind, leaving us enough overs with it to make an impact, but I never thought it would have to make so much of an impact!

“I’m very excited by the win because it means a helluva lot, it speaks volumes for the culture within the team. We don’t have much to play for in terms of the competition, but we didn’t want to just rock up and play without any care.

“We showed great care and pride in our performance and, if the scoreboard had been switched off, someone watching would never have thought the score was 300 for two. There were a few overs when they really bossed us, but the intensity was amazing and awesome to see,” Walter told The Pretoria News yesterday.

While chasing 435 would normally be one of those flights of fancy that seldom occur in real life, conditions and the brilliance of Cloete and Rossouw had the Knights well on course.

“The pitch was very flat on the fourth day and never offered much of anything. Plus for [leg-spinner] Shaun von Berg to bowl to two left-handers like Cloete and Rossouw was tough. If two batsmen get in those conditions, then chasing six an over is quite easy, it’s very difficult to defend, especially with a short boundary at one end,” Walter explained.

De Lange was like Hagar The Horrible with the new ball, obtaining spiteful, awkward bounce at high pace and Walter said he was delighted the fast bowler was able to make such an impact in his first game for the Titans since November.

“I’m really happy for Marchant’s sake because it’s a reward for a lot of patience and hard work. He really wanted to play earlier, but he had to buy into the process. It’s not just about being physically fit, he had to earn his place. And it’s really exciting that he managed to produce that pace at 4.30pm on the last day of a four-day match,” Walter said.

Cloete received the man of the match award for his maiden century in the Sunfoil Series, but the honour should surely have gone to Wiese, who made important contributions of 45 and 31 not out with the bat and had match figures of six for 93 with the ball. He removed both openers in the Knights first innings, paving the way for their dismissal for just 218 and then claimed four for 18 with the second new ball in the dramatic finale.

“David is really starting to find his feet with the new ball, he’s got seriously good skill with it and can swing it both ways, as well as containing nicely too. His wickets with the new ball and his contributions with the bat at number seven make him a real all-rounder who provides such stability. We can rely on him,” Walter said.

Judging by the spirit shown this weekend, Titans fans can rely on their team going all out to end the season on a high with victory over the Warriors in their final match starting at Centurion on Thursday.

“It’ll be nice to win because three wins will be a 300% improvement on last season. We want to maintain the momentum of what we did this weekend,” Walter said.



↑ Top