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Ken Borland



Between AB & Atta, all we need is just a little patience 0

Posted on September 06, 2016 by Ken

 

Between them, Adriaan Strauss and AB de Villiers have generated numerous headlines and many words of copy over the last couple of days, but whatever one thinks of their sporting achievements, what is more important is that they are both fine men who enjoy enormous respect from everyone who works with them.
Unfortunately, South African sports fans being what they are, both have also had to face enormous vitriol and unfair denigration on social media, especially Strauss in the last couple of weeks.

Of course we are all disappointed with how the Springboks have been performing lately and Strauss’s own form has not exactly been inspirational, but so much of the criticism is uninformed and ignores the core roles he performs in the scrums and lineouts. As for his leadership, the players go out of their way to say what a good captain he is.

With so many veteran Springboks departing the scene in between the Heyneke Meyer and Allister Coetzee eras, this is a new-look team that is going to take time to settle, especially since they are trying to forge a new game plan. The side that started in Salta had only six players with more than 40 caps in the 23.

Even the Lions took three years to settle into their new style of play, so the most important thing the Springboks need right now is patience. They are in a transitional period, which is perhaps why Coetzee chose someone like Strauss to be the captain for the first year, seeing as though he knew at the time of the appointment that the hooker would be retiring from Test rugby at the end of 2016.

By the end of this year, Warren Whiteley could have made himself a definite starter at eighthman plus Pat Lambie could well have returned.

I know patience is not something South African sports fans are particularly known for, but there are very few successful teams who don’t go through bad patches. Before they won the 1995 World Cup, the Springboks were no great shakes either and Jake White nearly lost his job in 2006, a year before lifting the biggest prize in rugby.

Removing Coetzee from his post anytime soon will serve absolutely no purpose and should not even be considered.

Such bad patches also happen on an individual level as De Villiers, now considered by many to be the best batsman in the world, himself described at the launch of his autobiography this week. Between 2005 and 2008, he played 17 Tests without scoring a century and made just six half-centuries.

“I’m always very scared of failing before I go out to bat and there used to be ducks at international level and I’d be in tears in the shower. One of the low points came in 2006 at SuperSport Park, my home ground, when coach Mickey Arthur told me I was running out of chances after another soft dismissal, and in 2007 I was just surviving, I probably should have been dropped.

“I’d had a taste of the dream and I was going to throw it away. But then came a huge moment in 2007 when Jacques Kallis approached me and told me that to earn his respect I have to find some consistency. He was willing to work with me, especially on my defence,” De Villiers said.

Even the most naturally gifted, world-conquering sports stars have their dips in form. The Proteas have seen their patience with De Villiers rewarded many, many times over, never mind how many spectators he has thrilled beyond measure in that time.

Similarly, Allister Coetzee and the Springboks need to be allowed time to find their groove together. Hysteria and short-term thinking will do their cause no good at all.

Things have obviously changed in KZN rugby 0

Posted on July 18, 2016 by Ken

 

I can remember well covering Natal Sharks rugby in the 1990s – they were the team of the decade with four Currie Cup titles – and how we used to tut-tut at teams like the Lions because down in Durban we were the best both on and off the field, in terms of administration and brand marketing.

Things have obviously changed and the Lions are leading the way for South African rugby, while the Sharks don’t look like adding to their 2010 and 2013 Currie Cup crowns any time soon, never mind claiming that elusive Super Rugby title. And they are embroiled in the unseemliest of off-field squabbles, one that is straight out of the Louis Luyt book of skulduggery.

The actions of KZN Rugby Union president Graham Mackenzie would appear to be obvious grounds for his removal from his post. This week it was revealed that he was involved in a dirty tricks campaign that included trying to get journalists to publish a prepared article he or someone close to him had written discrediting former CEO and major critic Brian van Zyl under their own bylines. Unfortunately a blogger eventually took the bait and has subsequently been exposed and disgraced.

It would be premature to suggest Mackenzie is another Cheeky Watson waiting to happen because there is no proof of any financial impropriety. Then again, we can’t be entirely sure because for the first time in the KZNRU’s history the financial statements were not ready to be presented to the board or the clubs at the AGMs in April.

But that sort of maladministration inevitably gives birth to speculation and rumours, one just doesn’t expect the president of the union to be involved in spreading misinformation.

The Sharks have been hit by the economic downturn just like all the other franchises, but they have not been helped by the new broom that was wielded by John Smit when he replaced Van Zyl as CEO in 2013 when Mackenzie and chairman of the board Stephen Saad took over control of the Sharks in the boardroom. Some leading Natal rugby figures are apparently still nursing the knife wounds in the back.

While Smit secured several lucrative sponsorships for the Sharks, by getting rid of so many experienced staff members, people who have made an immense contribution to KZN rugby, he caused turmoil in the Kings Park offices. Never mind sacking coach John Plumtree, who it must be remembered had failed to win Super Rugby despite having a powerhouse side full of Springboks, it was the clear-out of people like Piet Strydom, Hans Scriba, Garth Giles and Rudolf Straeuli which raised eyebrows. And inevitably led to allegations Smit was just bringing in his old buddies both on and off the field.

Straeuli was the commercial manager and, ironically, it is the Lions who have now been reinvigorated by his acumen as CEO.

Transparency is the only way to avoid Sharks rugby being plunged into a hole like Eastern Province currently find themselves in, or a scandal like Cricket South Africa found themselves embroiled in during the Gerald Majola days.

SuperSport, as a major player on the Sharks board, have a vital role to play. But so do the clubs, who have a right to hold Mackenzie to account for his actions.

Van Zyl has made a disturbing allegation, however, that Mackenzie has built a devoted power base for himself by adding a raft of smaller clubs to the leagues, leading to a number of mismatches.

Either way, it is time a bright light was shone on the affairs of KwaZulu-Natal rugby to ensure that they can return to being a powerhouse of the South African game.

Delight & relief off the grid for Coetzee 0

Posted on June 20, 2016 by Ken

 

Springbok coach Allister Coetzee admitted that his delight and relief were both off the grid after his team’s exceptional comeback win over Ireland at Ellis Park on Saturday.

Having lost the first Test in Cape Town last weekend, the Springboks looked almost certain to suffer a rare series loss on home soil when the Irish capitalised on an horrific first half by the home side to lead 19-3 at halftime.

For Coetzee and captain Adriaan Strauss, defeat would have meant immense pressure on both of them as they look to guide South African rugby into a new era. So the stakes were high, even by the do-or-die standards that always suffocate Springbok rugby.

But a remarkable second-half performance saw the Springboks run in four tries in a compelling display of power and pace as they snatched a 32-26 victory.

“Obviously I’m more than 100% relieved and more than 100% delighted with the way we came back,” Coetzee said when he was asked afterwards what sort of mix of relief and delight the triumph had invoked.

“The way we put the second half together is how we planned to play and it was testament to the resilience and character of this team. Resilience is one of the core values of this team and we would never have beaten a quality Ireland side without it.

“When you add the first half to what happened last week, we were in a hole and we would not have worked a way out of it unless this team had something special. When their backs were to the wall, they showed they can fight. I believe that as a team we are on the right track, we are embarking on a journey to becoming a good team. Today was a building block, it showed not to write us off,” Coetzee said.

The new Springbok coach did not shy away from how awful the first half was, though, with the Springboks making a litany of basic mistakes. They again gave away a flurry of penalties in the opening half-hour, allowing flyhalf Paddy Jackson to kick Ireland into a 12-3 lead, and they made a string of passing and handling errors, while also once again showing terrible ball-retention skills in contact. Plus the Irish kicking game produced great dividends due to a number of spilt aerial balls.

“Obviously I’m not pleased with the first half. I don’t think it was a lack of urgency, more a lack of discipline. The guys were over-exuberant, they showed a bit of inexperience, and those penalties just broke our rhythm.

“The impact from the bench turned it around for us, the ball-carries, at the right height, got us momentum. We looked after the ball and we were better tactically. Before that we were losing ball through poor carries and not fielding the high balls.

“The work ethic was terrible in the first half and we had to step up the work-rate in the second half. There were no forwards coming around the corner. But in the second half we lifted the work-rate and we were more accurate,” Coetzee said.

The coach said it was important to keep perspective in the thrill of such an unlikely victory, even though he had allowed the players some post-match jubilations.

“Now we start from zero again. I allowed the players to jump around a bit tonight, but we shouldn’t get too excited about just beating a team. The war has not been won, just a battle. We need to take all the emotion out and improve on tonight’s performance, we have to get the basics right in Port Elizabeth. The next game is the next building block,” Coetzee stressed.

http://citizen.co.za/1168147/delight-and-relief-off-the-grid-for-coetzee/

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/

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  • Thought of the Day

    1 Corinthians 3:3 - "For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way?"

    One of my favourite U2 songs is a collaboration with Johnny Cash called The Wanderer, and it features the line "they say they want the kingdom, but they don't want God in it".
    Many people say they believe in God, but they don't experience his loving presence. They may be active in Christian work, but only if they have their way. If they cannot be leaders, they refuse to be involved.
    Because they refuse to allow God to fill their lives with his love, they remain weak and powerless.
    Spiritual maturity means developing a greater love for others.

    "When the love of Christ saturates you, immature attitudes such as pettiness, jealousy and strife are dissolved.
    "It is only when you have an intimate relationship with the Lord that you receive sufficient grace to rise above this immaturity and enjoy the solid food that the Holy Spirit gives you." - Solly Ozrovech, A Shelter From The Storm



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