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Ken Borland



Those were the days of struggle & now Benkenstein is back 0

Posted on November 29, 2017 by Ken

 

New Proteas batting coach Dale Benkenstein’s last involvement with the national cricket set-up was 15 years ago, in October 2002, when he played his 23rd and final ODI for South Africa against Bangladesh in Benoni, perhaps a suitably low-key finale to an international playing career that promised much but was never brought to full bloom.

Those were the days when South African cricket was still recovering from the demise and tragic death just four months previously of Hansie Cronje, the much-admired captain who was then exposed as a match-fixer.

Those were also the days when the World Cup curse was really starting to engulf the South African team – Benkenstein was watching from the changeroom as a non-playing squad member when they threw away their 1999 semifinal against Australia in farcical circumstances and was a spectator at Kingsmead in 2003 when the shambles over their understanding of the Duckworth/Lewis calculations knocked them out of the tournament.

Benkenstein, having marked himself out as a natural leader with his captaincy of the SA U19 side, was given the reins of a star-studded Natal team at the age of just 22 and did such a great job that he quickly became the heir apparent to Cronje in the national team.

But those were also the days when there appeared to be a tendency for the existing captain to suppress the development of his closest rival: Under Cronje’s watch, Benkenstein was never really given a fair chance to establish himself in the national team. He would play one or two games and then be left out, or would be shifted up and down the batting order, in a manner that seemed to suggest life was being made as tough as possible for him.

Neil McKenzie, similarly, seemed to struggle to hold down a place while Shaun Pollock was skipper and it was Graeme Smith who finally ended the trend as he actively pushed for McKenzie’s return to the national team.

Benkenstein did have his shortcomings as an international batsman – but almost all batsmen at that level have weaknesses which they work hard to avoid being exposed. But those very flaws help make the 43-year-old an excellent batting coach because he understands the dynamics of technique and the massive importance of the mental side of batting, having wrestled with those issues himself.

The best coaches are often not the former players with the best records, simply because they have empathy for the struggling cricketer, and Graham Ford, who played such a key role in the development of players such as Benkenstein, Pollock, Jonty Rhodes and Lance Klusener at Natal, is the prime example of that.

Benkenstein and the new Proteas head coach, Ottis Gibson, are former team-mates at Durham, the English county that was only elevated into top-level cricket in 1992, and it was the arrival of the Natal captain that ended years of disappointment and elevated them into a force in the UK. So the West Indian is well aware of his new batting coach’s inspirational qualities, and he and Benkenstein added 315 for the seventh wicket in 2006 to avoid relegation. Gibson played a major role with the ball in the trophies won thereafter.

Given that South Africa’s World Cup struggles are symptomatic of muddled mental skills at key times, the arrival of one of the clearest thinkers on the game can only be a positive.

But one hopes that the skills of McKenzie, another ex-Protea who brings immense value to the changeroom, will not be lost to South African cricket now that Benkenstein has taken his place in the national set-up.

The appointment of Malibongwe Maketa as the assistant coach is also pleasing as the development of Black African coaches is vital if the transformation of South African cricket is to progress, but one obviously feels for Geoff Toyana, the Highveld Lions coach who seemed certain to be involved with the national team in some capacity.

The acquisition of a few more domestic trophies will certainly keep Toyana’s name in the conversation to succeed Gibson, however.

https://www.pressreader.com/south-africa/the-citizen-gauteng/20171125/282325385282186

‘You can’t ask for much better’ – Gibson 0

Posted on November 01, 2017 by Ken

 

“When you come in as a new coach, you can’t ask for much better,” Proteas mentor Ottis Gibson said on Monday when asked how he rated South Africa’s performance in their triple-series sweep over Bangladesh that was completed over the weekend.

“When you consider the way we played, I’d like to give the team more than 10/10. It’s gone really well. I know there’s been a lot of talk about the opposition, but we were able to play dominating, front-foot cricket, while also unearthing some new talent like Aiden Markram and Wiaan Mulder.

“We played the way we wanted to play, we were able to go out and do that, and there’s been a very positive and relaxed vibe in the changeroom. I’ve built up a really nice relationship with Faf du Plessis, he’s honest and very passionate about representing and leading his country. We speak with the same voice and he’s been a very good sounding board,” Gibson said.

The former West Indies fast bowler confirmed that he will be looking after the specialist pace bowling coaching from now on, and he can rest easy that the batsmen are back on the right track given how well they have started the summer with runs aplenty.

“The batting was a huge positive, because there were a lot of questions asked about it in England, they had a tough time in tough conditions that they weren’t accustomed to. I would hope that their confidence is back now because we have scored 10 hundreds across the different formats. It says a lot for the ability and talent of the batsmen that they’ve been able to go out and dominate.”

Gibson said he would still be employing four other back-up coaches – an assistant, and specialist batting, field and spin-bowling consultants.

“It’s quite likely that there will be new faces, I will do the fast bowling myself and I’ve spoken to Charl Langeveldt about that. I’ve given Cricket South Africa my wish-list, guys who I believe can add value, and they now have to make that happen.

“I want to make more use of guys who are working in South Africa, I want to use the franchise system so that those guys can continue with the work if I leave. So there will be four guys plus myself, some key positions that I hope can make a real difference to the country. But I also want to set up a lead bowling and batting coach for the country as a whole, a person who can tell me who the next best fast bowler is, for instance,” Gibson said.

Markram waits patiently for his chance to join Rabada 0

Posted on March 22, 2017 by Ken

 

2014 Junior World Cup winner Kagiso Rabada is about to be unleashed on the international stage as he tours with the Proteas to Bangladesh, but what of his captain at that prestigious tournament, Aiden Markram?

Rated as one of the most promising young players in the country, Markram is learning the hard way that it takes much longer for batsmen to break through in the senior ranks than it does for bowlers. But the 20-year-old Northerns player is still full of optimism and says there is plenty of opportunity lying ahead for him.

“Obviously I’m happy that KG is with the national team, he completely deserves it. But it’s tough as a top-order batsman trying to play for your franchise and then your country, so I’m not concerned with my progress,” Markram told The Citizen.

The Tuks product has played 10 first-class games for Northerns, scoring 424 runs at an average of 30.28, including three half-centuries. His limited-overs returns have been more spectacular, scoring two List A centuries in five innings on his way to an average of 71.25, a strike-rate of 95.95 and a nomination for the CSA Provincial One-Day Cricketer of the Year award.

Markram was also brilliant in the T20 competition, scoring 165 runs in four innings, with two half-centuries, an average of 55 and a strike-rate of 146.

“I’ve played a lot more limited-overs cricket in my life. I have game-plans in place for those formats but in the longer format it was only towards the end of the season that I had identified a plan. So that was a big positive and I’m really looking forward to next season’s three-day competition. I don’t want to be labelled a limited-overs player, but I’m happy with the way the season went.

“In the season ahead, it would be nice to play franchise cricket for the Titans, that’s definitely a goal for me, in any format. But all I can control is scoring runs and putting myself in contention. If I’m selected, great, but if not then I want to make a big contribution for the Northerns team. I enjoy my role there and I’m looking forward to more responsibility,” Markram said.

For someone who has such a solid technique, it is surely only a matter of time before Markram makes his mark in first-class cricket, having already shown in the shorter formats that he has the measure of most bowlers in provincial cricket.

“I’d only played two three-day games in my life before this season, so it’s been a new challenge. As a top-order batsman, the bowlers are fresh and armed with a new ball, so if you get in then you must kick on. And it’s usually tough batting on day one.

“I just need to re-set myself more during my innings, make sure I get myself in properly and then just bat time,” Markram said.

For someone as talented as him, it is surely also only a matter of time before he is back playing on the same stage as his former team-mate Rabada.

SA women’s coach wants more TV exposure 0

Posted on April 15, 2014 by Ken

South Africa women’s cricket coach Hilton Moreeng said on Monday that he hoped his team would feature in more televised games following their success in reaching the semi-finals of the ICC World T20 in Bangladesh.

“It’s a young team that is developing and we have identified playing more games, especially on TV, as what they need to further bridge the gap between them and the likes of Australia and England.

“That would give them more exposure, and it’s a different kind of pressure when you’re playing on TV. In terms of skill and ability, we’re 80 percent there.

“Before the World Cup, we weren’t even being spoken of as challengers, but we showed we are headed in the right direction and we can only grow,” Moreeng said on Monday.

 

Women’s cricket has traditionally been bringing up the rear when it comes to sponsorship, but that all changed in 2012 when Momentum invested heavily in the women’s Proteas, allowing them to appoint Moreeng on a full-time basis and also give contracts to six leading players.

 

“Cricket South Africa and the cricket fraternity in general have been taking us much more seriously and, even though we still don’t have the resources of professional teams like Australia, England and New Zealand, we showed we can compete by the way we played in Bangladesh,” captain Mignon du Preez said.

 

“It was very special to play on TV. It gets people to come out and see how exciting and skilful our game is. We’ve come a long way, a lot has changed and we got tremendous support last week. We hope to see that sort of coverage more often.”

 

Du Preez said her team were still learning the art of international women’s cricket, but agreed that they were closing the gap.

 

“We’re now where Australia were two or three years ago, so we’re still playing catch-up cricket. But things are happening and women’s cricket is starting to become more serious in South Africa,” she said.

 

Moreeng said he was delighted with the progress the team has made this summer, with T20 and ODI series wins over Sri Lanka and Bangladesh and victory in the International Women’s Cricket Championship triangular series with Pakistan and Ireland in Qatar.

 

“It’s been a very good season for us. We’ve shown character and the players have improved. What they’ve achieved makes me very happy,” he said.

 

Moreeng said the future looked bright for the women’s national team, but they needed to play more internationals.

 

“There are only three players over 25 in the squad, so we have a core we can keep together and improve. I want to see us ranked in the top two, but we only play Australia, New Zealand and England once every few years,” the coach said.

 

The good news for the team, who are now third on the ICC T20 rankings, is that they will embark on a 13-day tour of England in September, on which they will play the ICC World T20 runners-up in three matches, all of which will be live on TV.

 http://citizen.co.za/156279/sa-womens-cricket-needs-exposure-coach/

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