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Ken Borland

SuperRugby final a benefit for entire city – Lions CEO 0

Posted on August 02, 2017 by Ken


Saturday’s SuperRugby final that the Lions will host at Ellis Park against the Crusaders is going to benefit not just the rugby franchise but the entire city of Johannesburg, according to CEO Rudolf Straeuli.

A sell-out crowd of more than 60 000 has already been confirmed for the showdown as the Lions look to complete their fairytale resurgence by beating the most successful team in SuperRugby history and becoming only the second South African side to win the southern hemisphere franchise competition.

“Hosting the final is going to be a huge benefit for everyone who finds value at Ellis Park. It’s not just the union that benefits, it obviously also helps the Ellis Park Stadium Pty and it’s a huge marketing opportunity for the Lions company and a great honour to host the final. There’s the money from the tickets and hospitality and some extra reward in the form of the prizemoney. None of that was budgeted for, so it’s a bonus.

“But it’s also a big positive for Johannesburg, the whole city, and especially the Ellis Park precinct, all our neighbours. We are really blessed to be able to host such great events, we’ve had the All Blacks here before and the Test against France this year was also a big success,” Straeuli told The Citizen on Tuesday.

The Lions have not only established themselves at the pinnacle of South African rugby, but have also had to manoeuvre themselves out of troubled financial waters in the last five years.

“You can’t take anything away from the team because they are our flagship, and our juniors have done very well too with our Craven Week side being the best and our U21s and U19s winning their competitions last year. But a few years ago we were a business that was having retrenchments. But some staff took pay-cuts and simplicity has been key to our operations.

“We don’t have a big staff for the big area we have to manage and we have had to cut our cloth according to our needs. But there’s a really positive mood and success breeds further success. Plus people like Kevin de Klerk (president) and Altmann Allers (vice-president) are serious businessmen. If we didn’t have them behind us and their business acumen and that of the board, never mind their own money they have put in, then we wouldn’t be here,” Straeuli said.

Smit wants to hear the applause at King’s Park this year 0

Posted on July 28, 2015 by Ken


Sharks CEO John Smit is hoping to regularly hear the applause of 30 000 people at Kings Park this year as his team mount a strong SuperRugby challenge, but he’s hoping too that other South African franchises are also pushing hard for the title because that will be the greatest benefit to the Springboks’ World Cup campaign.

Smit told The Citizen that there are enormous benefits to be gained from SuperRugby for the Springboks, remembering how crucial the tournament was in 2007 when he led South Africa to the World Cup crown in Paris. Earlier that year, the Bulls and Sharks had competed in the SuperRugby final, with the Bulls snatching a dramatic Bryan Habana-inspired one-point victory.

“The big thing in 2007 was that the Bulls and Sharks had such successful campaigns and so we were very well prepared for the World Cup. If you’ve got a SuperRugby title-chase to focus on, then the World Cup doesn’t become a distraction and SuperRugby was the best platform and preparation for our win in France.

“I hope it’s the same case this year and we have two or three teams right up there because you’re playing against the guys you have to beat at the World Cup. The players should go out intending to win SuperRugby this year and your best-performing players should be the Springboks. That’s what happened in 2007, we had the guys to win the World Cup and they were confident and well-prepared from SuperRugby,” Smit said.

The former Springbok captain is also hoping that Sharks rugby emerges from an unhappy 2013 in which crowd numbers dropped dramatically at King’s Park in response to an unpopular non-possession based game plan employed by Jake White.

“We’re still 14% behind on our season ticket sales but I’d like to see more than 30 000 people at King’s Park on Saturday for our opening game against the Cheetahs. Time will tell, it’s a big challenge, but we’ve been working hard on our marketing, getting the fans closer to the players, having open days and more interaction, whereas they were removed before.

“We had a good squad last year and we could have won the competition, but the environment possibly wasn’t good enough. This year we have an even better squad and a better environment,” Smit said.

The “better environment” is mostly due to Smit letting go of White in what must have been a tough decision for South Africa’s longest-serving Test captain to make; fortunately he has found a top-class replacement in Gary Gold, a former Springbok assistant coach.

“It’s been a pretty seamless transition and Gary has put in place such instrumental plans. He, Brendan Venter and defence coach Michael Horak were all at London Irish together and Gary has fitted in as if he’s been here the whole time.

“So there’s nothing too new happening with the team, Gary understood the vision and his arrival has certainly been a positive,” Smit said.

In terms of the Sharks’ SuperRugby rivals, Smit expects a fierce derby against the Cheetahs this weekend, even though their small pool of players means they will find it hard to maintain a challenge throughout the competition, while the Stormers have a history of success behind them.

But Smit is most concerned by the Bulls, who he says have been able to gather a powerful squad together in Pretoria.

“The Bulls are going to pose a far bigger challenge this year. In the last two or three years, they’ve come a long way, quietly going about their business, and they’ve made some key signings, especially those three Free Staters who will have a massive impact in the pack.

“Pierre Spies is back off the bench and, in the meantime, Victor Matfield will captain the side. Not too many squads have that sort of depth of leadership,” Smit said.


Northerns Cricket Union beneficiaries 0

Posted on December 04, 2014 by Ken

Anton Ferreira – The first player to be given a benefit by the Northerns Cricket Union – in 1987/88 – when Ferreira retired in 1992 he had made the most appearances in the history of the union (93). The powerfully-built all-rounder known as “Yogi” scored over 4000 runs and took over 200 wickets for Northerns and is one of the most popular players to wear their colours. The ball hit the bat hard when he bowled his accurate seamers, and he was also able to give the ball a good whack batting in the middle-order. Only the presence of many other all-rounders such as Eddie Barlow, Mike Procter and Clive Rice prevented him from being one of the biggest names in South African cricket. He was also a stalwart for Warwickshire in the county game, finishing with over 9000 runs and 583 wickets in his first-class career.

Northerns record (1974/75-1991/92): 93 matches, 4290 runs @ 28.60, HS 133, 3x100s 21x50s. 235 wkts @ 26.91, BB 8-38, 12x5i, 1x10m, 53c.



Lee Barnard – The leader of the Northerns team when it first became a major force in South African cricket in the 1980s, Barnard was a shrewd, adventurous captain who was also never short of a smile and a chuckle on the field. He skippered Northerns 60 times between 1982 and 1989, a record for the union. As a left-handed batsman, he was a deft strokeplayer and he added tidy off-spin and athletic brilliance in the field to his all-round package . Barnard played a one-day game for South Africa against the rebel Australians in 1985/86. He was also a fine rugby player, representing both Transvaal and Northern Transvaal at flyhalf, and is one of only two to have ever been officially chosen ahead of Naas Botha, during his days with Northern Transvaal U20s (Johan Heunis was the other).

Northerns record (1982/83-1991/92): 75 matches, 3229 runs @ 23.91, HS 102, 1×100, 20×50. 40 wkts @ 41.02, BB 3-50, 69c.


Vernon du Preez – A reliable, consistent run-scorer for Northerns at the start of the innings for 15 seasons, Du Preez was a technically correct, well-balanced batsman, who focused on the basics of run-getting from a steady base. Coached by Xenophon Balaskas in his youth, Du Preez made a century on debut for Northerns in A Section cricket in 1978/79 and was also a part-time leg-spinner. He was 12th man for South Africa several times during the rebel tours era but was unfortunate not to get a start.

Northerns record (1978/79-1993/94): 92 matches, 4717 runs @ 29.11, HS 200*, 8x100s, 22x50s. 19 wkts @ 40.05, BB 3-19, 59c.


Noel Day – Much of this wicketkeeper/batsman’s career was spent in the shadow of Ray Jennings, but Day was also an integral part of the rise of Northerns cricket when he moved north from Transvaal in 1982/83. A slightly less brilliant wicketkeeper than Jennings, he was obviously better than his rival in front of the stumps and capable of playing Currie Cup cricket as a specialist batsman. Agile and unflustered with the gloves, he had the determination and skill required to produce match-changing performances with the bat. Day never played cricket for South Africa, but was an acclaimed Springbok hockey star.

Northerns record (1982/83-1989/90): 55 matches, 2476 runs @ 25.79, HS 117, 1×100, 18×50. 176 catches + 18 stumpings.


Willie Morris –  At six foot, eight-and-a-half inches, Morris was a left-arm spinner who gained considerable bounce from awkward areas for batsmen. His accuracy made him the perfect foil for the many fast bowlers Northerns used in the 1980s. Morris was also a solid lower-order batsman, able to defend stoically and also score aggressively, and an outstanding fielder in the gully region.

Northerns record (1979/80-1991/92): 61 matches, 1143 runs @ 14.46. HS 73*, 2×50. 166 wkts @ 26.77, BB 7-110, 9x5i, 2x10m. 55c.



Rodney Ontong – Ontong was a talented all-rounder and important figure in the changeroom in the days when Northerns were finding their feet in Currie Cup A Section cricket and he was particularly effective in limited-overs cricket. He was able to bat almost anywhere in the batting order and was initially a seamer before switching to sharp-turning off-breaks. Ontong was a stalwart as well for Glamorgan in English county cricket, twice being named their player of the year and was captain from 1984-1986. He turned down the opportunity to play for South Africa in order to keep his qualification as a local player in England, for whom he was close to playing in 1987.

Northerns record (1978/79-1994/95): 61 matches, 2201 runs @ 23.16, HS 95, 11x50s. 153 wkts @ 33.41, BB 6-70, 7x5i. 28c.



Fanie de Villiers – The leader of the Northerns attack when they became a side capable of winning domestic trophies, De Villiers’ greatest attribute was probably that he never gave up, as famously illustrated when he bowled South Africa to a five-run victory over Australia in Sydney in 1993/94. Swinging the ball at a brisk fast-medium pace, Vinnige Fanie was constantly at the batsman, always scheming and famously accurate. A useful lower-order batsman, he often contributed runs at vital times.

Northerns record (1985/86-1997/98): 53 matches, 815 runs @ 15.67, HS 58*, 1×50. 227 wkts @ 21.32, BB 6-47, 10x5i. 25c.


Mike Rindel – Rindel in full flow was one of the best batsmen in the country in the mid-1990s and it was no surprise when he was called up to South Africa’s ODI squad in 1994. A dashing left-hander with all the strokes, as well as useful part-time bowler of either orthodox spin or little dibbly-dobblers, Rindel was a key figure when Northerns won the day/night league in 1996/97 and 1998/99, but he was also an accomplished performer in first-class cricket, as he learnt to temper his strokeplay with more maturity.

Northerns record (1986/87-1998/99): 88 matches, 5449 runs @ 37.32, HS 174, 11×100, 31×50. 33 wkts @ 37.66, BB 4-17. 46c.


Rudi Bryson – The enforcer of the Northerns attack when they won their first A Section domestic trophies, Bryson was the archetypal fast bowler – it was a question of when the batsman was going to get the skiddy bouncer not if. But when stumps were called, Bryson was one of the great characters of the game. Nevertheless, he was a bowler to be reckoned with, as shown by his selection for South Africa for seven ODIs in 1997, when pace bowling stocks were at their richest. The stocky Bryson could also be a dangerous batsman when the mood took him.

Northerns record (1993/94-2000/01): 39 matches, 633 runs @ 12.91, HS 62, 1×50. 105 wkts @ 29.60, BB 5-25, 3x5i. 9c.




Steve Elworthy – Elworthy was born in Bulawayo and made his first-class debut for Transvaal B, but he made his home at Centurion, arriving at Northerns in 1989/90. The quick pitch was to his liking and his brisk away-swingers, with steep bounce, meant he was regularly one of the outstanding bowlers in the domestic season and he was the leading wicket-taker in the history of the union. He was less well-received at national level, however, and he had to wait until 1998, when he was 33, for his first call-up by the Proteas. Like good wine, though, Elworthy seemed to get better with age and he was one of the most effective bowlers in the 1999 World Cup in England, finishing his ODI career with impressive figures of 44 wickets in 39 matches, at an average of 28.06 and an economy rate of 4.35. He also played four Tests and was a capable batsman in the lower-order.

Northerns record (1989/90-2002/03): 97 matches, 2565 runs @ 19.43, HS 89, 6×50. 352 wkts @ 26.87, BB 7-65, 14x5i, 3x10m. 34c.


Gerald Dros – Dros made his name as one of the finest captains Northerns and the Titans have had, a strategist but also a people-person able to instil the right attitude in his charges. He was also an attractive strokeplayer, capable of hugely destructive innings. Tall and strong straight down the ground, he also could fulfil a role as a tidy medium-pacer. Captaining the SA A team was the closest he came to higher honours.

Northerns/Titans record (1993/94-2003/04): 64 matches, 3211 runs @ 33.44, HS 136, 3×100, 18×50. 36 wkts @ 29.13, BB 5-17, 1x5i. 78c.


Pierre Joubert – The workhorse of the Titans attack, Joubert also proved to be the most successful captain in the franchise’s history, winning five trophies in three seasons, combining innovation with the relaxed atmosphere he brought to the changeroom. A bustling seamer, Joubert was more dangerous than he looked, able to get movement on docile pitches, and he also developed into a very respectable batsman, worthy of the all-rounder’s tag.

Northerns/Titans record (1996/97-2010/11): 85 matches, 2486 runs @ 29.59, HS 112*, 1×100, 16×50. 222 wkts @ 22.24, BB 7-32, 10x5i, 2x10m. 51c.


Ethy Mbhalati – Tall and willowy, Mbhalati can be destructive with the new ball with his extra bounce and seam movement, and is also a reliable stock bowler for the Titans, fit enough to bowl over-after-accurate-over to keep the batsmen quiet. He is the leading wicket-taker for the franchise. A hugely popular man, Mbhalati was awarded his benefit after 11 seasons at Northerns and is also an excellent sounding board for the younger fast bowlers coming through. The man from Tzaneen is the type of bowler who would never let you down and he has had to be content with SA A caps, when full international cricket must have been close for him.

Northerns/Titans record (2002/3- ): 102 matches, 395 runs @ 6.26, HS 19. 284 wkts @ 27.73, BB 6-98, 9x5i, 2x10m. 23c.



Mbhalati brings top cricket to the far north 0

Posted on July 24, 2014 by Ken

Top-class cricket will be coming to the far north on the first weekend of August as Unlimited Titans veteran Ethy Mbhalati hosts a benefit game at the Polokwane Cricket Club.

Although Mbhalati has been a Titans stalwart since 2002/03 and represented SA A, the pace bowler has not forgotten his roots and the player born in Tzaneen and educated at Majeje High School in Lulekani Township outside Phalaborwa, will be returning to Limpopo to thank everyone in those parts who has supported his successful career.

The Limpopo Cricket Academy product will host coaching clinics on Friday, August 1, before a sixes festival will be held on Saturday, to be followed by a cocktail party at the Peter Mokaba Stadium that evening.

The Titans will be one of four sides in action on Saturday, alongside an Ethy Mbhalati XI, the Limpopo Impalas and an Ethy Mbhalati Mixed Invitation XI.

Former Proteas Loots Bosman, Thandi Tshabalala and Makhaya Ntini are likely to be members of the Ethy Mbhalati XI, while the names of Mangaliso Mosehle, Aaron Phangiso and Lonwabo Tsotsobe, if he’s recovered from his ankle injury, have also been mentioned.

Celebrities, including the likes of Generations star and ardent cricket fan Xoliswa Xaluva, will also be obvious attractions.

The event will not only benefit one of the most deserving of cricketers, but also boost the profile of cricket in Limpopo.

The matches will take place between 9am and 5pm on Saturday, August 2, and the gates will open at 8am.

Ticket prices for the festival are R50 and R200 for the VIP package. The cocktail party will cost R350 and this includes meals, complimentary drinks and a chance to sit and mingle with Mbhalati, Titans players, former team-mates and his celebrity friends. Cash bars will be available throughout both events.

Tickets will be sold at TicketPros outlets nationwide and also at the Limpopo Impala Cricket office from Sunday.


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    James 1:5 - "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him."

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