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Ken Borland

Faf says the ball-tampering saga showed the unity in the Proteas squad 0

Posted on December 04, 2016 by Ken


Triumphant Proteas captain Faf du Plessis returned to Johannesburg on Tuesday and described the whole ball-tampering saga as a ploy by the Australian media to disrupt the South African team, but said the farce had served as a powerful indicator of the unity within the squad.

A video of Du Plessis doing two entirely legal things at once – sucking a mint and using his saliva to shine the ball – went viral in Australia between the second and third Tests, leading to the International Cricket Council charging the captain with ball-tampering and later finding him guilty and fining him his entire match fee from the Hobart game, during which South Africa won the series.

“The Australian media used it as a ploy to derail us, they speak of themselves as the Australian team’s 12th man. The challenge was to fight back and it was remarkable the way the team fought the battle so firmly for me, it shows where we are as a team in terms of our strong culture.

“At first we didn’t think it was anything really serious, but the media made it a big issue until nobody could control it. It was very disappointing the way it turned out, but my character was tested and against all odds I was able to make a play, it showed I can withstand those tests,” Du Plessis, who made a century in the third Test, said.

Team manager Mohammed Moosajee said they will be arranging a date for the appeal hearing, at which Du Plessis will have his own legal representation from South Africa, with the ICC and it should be set by the end of this week.

Moosajee also revealed that Cricket South Africa had laid an official complaint with their Australian counterparts and broadcasters Channel 9 had apologised for the behaviour of their aggressive reporter who sparked a scuffle at Adelaide Airport.

While admitting that captaincy brought out the best in him, Du Plessis reiterated that he sees himself as the stand-in skipper for AB de Villiers, who is set to return for the Sri Lanka series next month.

“I’ve always enjoyed it, I feel it does bring out the best in me, but AB knows that I am 100% behind him. I’ve learnt a lot about myself as a leader and the great thing is that the team has three guys – myself, Hashim Amla and AB – who have been captains and we are all very similar in the way we want the culture of the team to move forward,” Du Plessis said.

South Africa are still only fifth in the Test rankings, however, with Australia third.

“Going up the rankings is a goal of ours but it won’t just happen, we need to take really small steps to get back to number one. But all the signs are there that we can get back there; Sri Lanka are a good team, they’re playing well, but if we beat them then I reckon we’ll be close to number two,” Du Plessis said.

Leishman has the energy to end testing year on a high 0

Posted on December 08, 2015 by Ken


It’s been an eventful and testing year for Australian golfer Marc Leishman, but he had the energy to end it on a high and claim the biggest paycheque of his career in winning the Nedbank Golf Challenge at Sun City by six strokes on Sunday.

With home favourite Jaco van Zyl tumbling down the leaderboard – despite eagling the second he slumped to a six-over-par 78 – Leishman’s only challenger in the final round was world number seven Henrik Stenson, who had overcome severe flu to lead the first two rounds.

But after some early struggles, Leishman’s precise iron play took the wind out of Stenson’s sails, with the 2008 champion only managing to post a level-par 72 in stifling heat as the eventual winner produced some superb golf with six birdies in the last 12 holes.

Leishman began the year ranked 46th in the world after top-10 finishes in the Open and two World Golf Championships events in 2014, but his early season was severely disrupted by his wife Audrey suffering from acute respiratory distress syndrome, going into toxic shock and only being given a 5% chance of survival.

Happily she made it through and Leishman played in the Open Championship in July and lost out in the playoff with winner Zach Johnson and South African Louis Oosthuizen.

“I’ve been pretty happy to get this year over with, obviously with Audrey being very sick and I lost an uncle who was very close to me. The Open was very good but disappointing, so this win tops off the year for me. It’s pretty great, an awesome feeling and I’m very happy. It’s the biggest paycheque I’ve ever won so I’ll have to hang it on the wall of our new house,” a delighted Leishman said after he became just the second Australian to win the Nedbank Golf Challenge after Robert Allenby, who beat Stenson in a playoff in 2009.

With the demise of Van Zyl confirmed on the ninth, where he three-putted for bogey to add to the double-bogey he had on the sixth and another dropped shot on eight, the recipient of the $1.25 million winner’s cheque was obviously going to be either Leishman or Stenson.

But Leishman spun a sand-wedge back to within a few inches of the hole for birdie on the par-four 13th and the final nail in the coffin was hammered in when he birdied the 15th from 15 feet and Stenson made bogey after a wayward drive meant he had to chip out of thick bush.

Another birdie on the par-three 16th and two pars coming in meant Leishman completed the round of the day with his 67.

“Henrik is an awesome player who I knew could come back with five birdies in nine holes and two or three up is not that many over nine holes on this course. I knew that trouble waited on every shot and you don’t need to hit that bad a shot to get bogey here. It was probably only after the putt on 16 that I knew I would have to do something really dumb to lose it, but fortunately I was able to be more conservative,” Leishman said.


Cobras seal title with Australian-like ruthlessness 0

Posted on April 08, 2014 by Ken

The Cape Cobras officially sealed the four-day domestic series title on Saturday with Australian-like ruthlessness and efficiency, closing in on an innings victory over the Highveld Lions at the Wanderers in the process.

The Cobras, having amassed a daunting 544, dismissed the Lions for just 201 in their first innings and then reduced them to 124 for five in their follow-on.

According to the rules that govern the allocation of bonus points, the Cobras have earned a whopping 9.34 points, putting them out of reach at the top of the log even in the unlikely event of the second-placed Knights beating the Dolphins in Bloemfontein.

The Lions had begun their first innings in solid fashion, resuming on Saturday morning on 111 for one, with Rassie van der Dussen unbeaten on 68.

Opening batsman Van der Dussen had added just six to his overnight score when paceman Dane Paterson trapped him lbw, but the Lions had little inkling of the terrible collapse that would follow as Temba Bavuma and Devon Conway took them to 165 for two.

The drama started in off-spinner Dane Piedt’s fifth over of the day when he had Conway smartly caught at slip by Justin Kemp for 16 and then successfully asked for an lbw verdict two balls later as he trapped Bavuma on the crease on 51.

Cobras captain Justin Ontong could not have asked for much more of his seamers as Shaheen Khan (2-32), Paterson (3-47) and Kemp (3-30) then wrapped up the rest of the innings as the Lions lost their lost eight wickets for just 36 runs.

The Lions, trailing by 343, were asked to follow on and were in early trouble as captain Stephen Cook was caught behind off Kemp for six in the second over.

Van der Dussen and Bavuma once again stood in the Cobras’ way as they added 56 for the second wicket, but Piedt then had Bavuma caught close-in for 34 and added the wickets of Conway (7) and Shaylen Pillay (0) as he took his tally of victims for the competition to 43 in eight matches.

Van der Dussen had once again donned the mantle of chief obstacle to the Cobras as he ended the day on 55 not out.

In Bloemfontein, the Dolphins seemed to be easing to victory when they reduced the Knights to 329 for nine in reply to their massive first-innings total of 564 for seven declared.

Opener Reeza Hendricks had scored 103 to keep shouting in the ears of the national selectors, but wrist-spinner Tabraiz Shamsi then took three wickets to leave the Knights facing a follow-on.

But a magnificent unbeaten last-wicket stand of 107 between Malusi Siboto (51*) and Corne Dry (68*) then took the Knights well past the follow-on mark and to within 128 runs of the Dolphins total.

Gihahn Cloete (83) and Gerhardt Abrahams (51) had also scored half-centuries to frustrate the Dolphins in their quest to overtake the Knights in second place on the log.

Half-centuries by Ernest Kemm (62), Qaasim Adams (89) and Grant Thomson (53) allowed the Titans to take control of their match against the Warriors at Centurion.

That trio of batsmen carried the Titans to 275 for six declared in the second innings, which meant the Warriors were chasing a formidable 395 for victory, with batting out 109 overs to save the match a more likely target.

David Wiese has bowled Michael Price for 13, but otherwise the Warriors have started well, reaching 46 for one in the nine overs they batted before bad light stopped play with four overs left in the day.

The Titans’ dominance in this game has meant they have overtaken both the Warriors and Lions on the log, climbing into fourth place.

The Warriors made 234 in their first innings, only earning 2.68 batting points, after starting the third day on 165 for eight.

Debutant Somila Seyibokwe made a defiant 40, while Basheer Walters took the attack to the Titans bowlers in slamming 38 off 28 balls.

Wiese, with four for 52 in 21 overs, and Shaun von Berg, the leg-spinner, with three for 36 in 11 overs, were the most successful Titans bowlers.

Siddle the axe-man will be worth watching this summer 0

Posted on February 09, 2014 by Ken

Peter Siddle would like nothing better than to chop through South Africa's top-order.


Fast bowler Peter Siddle was a competitive woodchopper at school in Gippsland, the large rural area east of Melbourne, a quintessentially Australian pursuit that one can safely say does not feature in the extramural activities of many South African schools.

His parents gave him his first axe when he was just two years old and, although he is no longer a woodchopper, Siddle brings many of the strengths he learnt from those days into Australia’s favourite summer sport.

He goes at batsmen with the same aggression, he is indefatigable and, despite being a lean machine who has converted to a vegan diet, has considerable strength and stamina.

And the 29-year-old has plenty of character too: His tussles with the South African batsmen in the summer of 2008/9 were epic viewing and the Wanderers crowd chanting “Siddle is … a wanker” remain fresh in the memory. Apart from his undoubted qualities as a bowler, there is something of the pantomime villain about Siddle, who is a most likeable fellow off the field.

“I think we’re similar to the South Africans in that we do play aggressively. Intimidation can work against anyone, we’re fortunate to have someone like Mitchell Johnson, and at those speeds, batting is hard work whatever the conditions,” Siddle says.

Siddle will be one of the star attractions of the thrilling late summer that lies ahead, but, having played 51 Tests now, he is a clever bowler these days. He has erred in the past by bowling too short too often, but Siddle now tends to keep the ball full and straight and uses a swift, well-directed bouncer as a nasty surprise.

Australia’s slide began after that 2008/9 home and away series against South Africa and a couple of coaches have paid the price for their indifferent form. A 5-0 whitewash of England suggests they may have turned the corner, but the opposition did throw in the towel in feeble fashion and South Africa at home should provide a real test of their new order under Darren Lehmann and Michael Clarke.

They certainly seem a more settled outfit.

“As a whole, the team is a lot more suited to our plans now. We’ve come a long way, with a couple of personnel changes, we’ve got back to a couple of older boys in the bowling attack. The Ashes showed how far we’ve come,” Siddle says.

“We need to stay a lot more patient, with both bat and ball. We’ve bowled very consistently as a group, Nathan Lyon has done so well at the other end and the three quicks have been able to bowl fast, short spells.”

Siddle chuckles at the suggestion that the English batsmen were soft and says the Australians know the South African batting line-up is a formidable one, but plans have been set in place.

“We know it’s going to be a tough series, we’re going to have to be consistent over four or five days, building pressure and not letting them get away with partnerships.

“It makes us a bit more happy that Jacques Kallis won’t be there because his record speaks for itself. He’s one of the greats and, although it’s disappointing not to play against him, it’s a nice feeling not having to bowl at him!

“But there are still plenty of others to take his place and we’re going to have to work hard, South Africa are number one for a reason. Like Faf du Plessis, who gave us a really tough day in Adelaide 18 months ago. That showed the character of the player, he enjoys the challenge. But we have a bit more understanding of him now and I’ve no doubt we have good plans to bowl to him,” Siddle says.

Siddle said talk that South African pitches were different to those they were used to Australia was wide of the mark.

“The Gabba, Melbourne to an extent and Hobart are all very similar to here with the ball moving around. But it’s still about bowling the right line and length and I think we’ve achieved that in the last six months,” he says.

The eater of 15 bananas a day is famous for the tight line he employs just outside off stump, with the occasional mean delivery banged in [he famously hit Gautam Gambhir on the head with his first ball in Test cricket], and seems to thrive on the hard, unglamorous work of Test bowling.

His batting has also improved markedly and last March he became the first number nine batsman in Test history to score a half-century in each innings of a Test, against India on a turning track in Delhi.

The Victorian who took a hat-trick against England on his 26th birthday is the archetypal determined Aussie and the three-Test series is definitely the better for having him in it.


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