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Ken Borland



Pace quartet key to Lions’ triumph, but batsmen & back-up bowlers too 0

Posted on May 05, 2016 by Ken

 

The presence of all four first-choice pace bowlers in the top five of the Sunfoil Series averages was obviously a key factor in the Highveld Lions clinching the four-day title with a match to spare, but Geoff Toyana also praised the batsmen and the back-up bowlers for their vital role in the franchise’s third trophy in three seasons.

Dwaine Pretorius (19 wickets @ 18.52), Chris Morris (27 @ 20.44), Kagiso Rabada (34 @ 21.67) and Hardus Viljoen (31 @ 22.22) proved the adage that bowlers win matches as they played key roles in the Lions’ six wins, but they could not have done it without the support provided by the batsmen.

Captain Stephen Cook was obviously the outstanding contributor in this regard with 889 runs at 68.38, including five centuries, but the contributions of Temba Bavuma (545 @ 77.85), Neil McKenzie (487 @ 48.70) and Thami Tsolekile (424 @ 42.40) were also immense.

Back-up bowlers like Sean Jamison, with 12 wickets in three games, Pumelela Matshikwe (7wkts) and Eddie Leie (13wkts) were also crucial in filling in when the top four weren’t around.

“That combination of Kagiso, Chris, Hardus and Dwaine was really special, but we were fortunate because our depth was very good. We beat the Cobras by an innings with only Dwaine playing out of those, so those other bowlers don’t get the headlines but they really came through for us.

“With the bat, Stephen scoring five centuries was really special, plus there was his experience and leadership, while Neil was also in the runs and Temba came back from the Test team and did the business for us,” Toyana said.

It is the first time the Lions have won the four-day title since 1999/2000, in the pre-franchise days when they played as Gauteng, and Toyana said that made the triumph extra special.

“It’s the trophy we’ve wanted all these years and I’m very happy for the squad because it was tough last season, when we finished last in all competitions. But the belief in the squad was there because we did not make many changes, it was just a change in attitude that did the trick,” Toyana said.

Titans grab the Knights’ banker & raid the Dolphins 0

Posted on April 18, 2016 by Ken

 

The Titans will announce three new signings for their champion outfit on Friday as they have lured one of the most consistent bowlers in franchise cricket and two young batsmen just looking for half-a-chance to reach their potential to Centurion.

Malusi Siboto, a stalwart of the Knights attack with 98 wickets in 39 matches at an average of 31 in Sunfoil Series cricket, is the bowler who will be joining the Titans, while Jonathan Vandiar and Daniel Sincuba, both from the Dolphins, are the batsmen moving to Centurion.

Vandiar was considered one of the brightest young batting talents in the country when he played for the Highveld Lions as an U19 star, before joining the Dolphins in the 2012/13 season. But the left-hander has never really fulfilled his talent, something Titans coach Rob Walter wants to change.

“Everyone knows he has talent and we’d like to help him realise that. If you go back a few years at the Lions, he was close to national honours and then just got lost a bit. He’s certainly got potential and I believe he can thrive in our environment,” Walter told The Citizen.

Sincuba impressed the Titans when he scored 41 against them last season in Durban, but the 23-year-old has only played sporadically for the Dolphins since then. He will join the Titans as the back-up wicketkeeper to Heinrich Klaasen, with Mangaliso Mosehle having joined the Lions.

“We wanted a young batsman that we could really grow his game, we’re strong enough in terms of senior batsmen and we’d like to invest our energy in a young cricketer. He’s a top-order batsman and it’s hugely important that we have depth there. The key is to create competition and, most importantly, give us different options when we need to change the balance of the side and play horses-for-courses,” Walter said.

The 28-year-old Siboto has been the banker of the Knights attack and took 28 Sunfoil Series wickets at an average of just 20 this season, as well as being the leading wicket-taker in the Momentum One-Day Cup and matching West Indian team-mate Andre Russell’s excellent figures in the RamSlam T20 Challenge. The left-hand batsman is also very capable with the willow and will lengthen the Titans’ tail.

“He can perform in all three formats, he’s a really solid and consistent bowler and we needed some seniority in our attack to help bring the young bowlers through. He brings experience and has been a very successful bowler with the Knights,” Walter said.

The signing of Siboto does compensate for the loss of fast bowler Marchant de Lange to the Knights.

“He’s a very different bowler to Marchant but we still have Rowan Richards, the spin options are still there, David Wiese and Chris Morris will play if they’re not with the national side and these guys can combine with our youth,” Walter said.

The other big departure from the Titans is batsman Theunis de Bruyn, but Aiden Markram, the U19 World Cup-winning captain, has joined the contracted list in his place.

Titans contracted players: Henry Davids, Albie Morkel, David Wiese, Chris Morris, Heino Kuhn, Daniel Sincuba, Malusi Siboto, Jonathan Vandiar, Aiden Markram, Heinrich Klaasen, Grant Thomson, Lungi Ngidi, Junior Dala, Tabraiz Shamsi, Shaun von Berg, Qaasim Adams, Rowan Richards, Grant Mokoena, Ethy Mbhalati.

SA A bowlers can finally celebrate victory 0

Posted on July 02, 2015 by Ken

The South Africa A bowlers still occasionally sprayed the ball around like confetti, but their overall performance was much better as they bowled the England Lions out for 209 to clinch a 78-run victory in the final limited-overs international at Willowmoore Park in Benoni on Thursday night.

After Reeza Hendricks’ century had carried SA A to 287 for six, just two English batsmen really troubled the home bowlers, with Jonny Bairstow scoring 64 and Samit Patel 55 as they added 76 for the fifth wicket.

Kagiso Rabada was the most successful SA A bowler with four for 51 (and one just had to love the way he kept bouncing back from being belted for a boundary by invariably dismissing his tormentor), but Chris Morris was the best of the attack with an outstanding two for 23 in eight overs.

SA A captain Dean Elgar called on him to bowl the first batting powerplay over with the England Lions still very much in contention on 180 for five, needing 108 runs off 90 balls to complete a 4-0 series triumph, and Morris delivered a superb spell, conceding just four runs in three overs and claiming the wickets of Adil Rashid (8) and Tim Bresnan (1).

It was a super evening all round for him as he had earlier made a vital contribution with the bat, lashing 35 not out off 20 balls to boost SA A after a middle-order collapse saw them lose four wickets for 37 runs.

The start of the England Lions run-chase was delayed for 35 minutes because the floodlights were not working to full capacity and they were quickly under pressure as Marchant de Lange and Beuran Hendricks each took a wicket with the new ball.

Captain James Vince looked threatening as he scored 23 before Rabada had him caught at cover-point, but it was Elgar who showed he’s an under-rated bowler when he claimed the key scalp of Bairstow, trapped lbw with a straight, full delivery, as he delivered an excellent spell of one for 16 in five overs just before the powerplay.

Hendricks stamped himself as a new contender for the national team’s opening berth as his splendid century carried South Africa A to 287 for six.

Hendricks and Elgar formed a wonderful partnership up front as they added 149 for the first wicket in 28 overs after SA A were sent in to bat.

What was most impressive about their stand was the way they married watchfulness with an ability to work the ball around and keep the scoreboard ticking over.

While Elgar fell for a determined 66 off 74 balls, Hendricks went on to score 107 off 128 deliveries, with 10 fours and a six, before being bowled by Bresnan with the total on 210 in the 39th over.

The England Lions were on top from that moment on, claiming three more wickets and it was only thanks to a fiery late burst from Morris that SA A were able to post 287, when something over 300 was certainly on the cards.

Hendricks went to his half-century first – his third of the year – off just 59 balls with seven fours.

Elgar reached his half-century six overs later, although he took two fewer deliveries, but his demise came when he tried to slog-sweep leg-spinner Rashid, but could only top-edge a catch to deep midwicket.

Hendricks brought up his second century of the series in the batting powerplay with a beautifully balanced and controlled flick off his pads off left-arm seamer Harry Gurney for his 11th four, but an over later, SA A lost their second wicket.

Theunis de Bruyn had breezed to 29 off 25 balls, as he and Hendricks added a run-a-ball 53, but then chanced his arm once too often against the impressive Jack Brooks and was bowled.

Brooks was the golden arm for the England Lions on Thursday as he also bowled Stiaan van Zyl for 21 and then claimed a return catch off Khaya Zondo (7) as the SA A innings just faded away.

Bresnan claimed the wicket of Hendricks in the 39th over, hitting the middle stump as the 25-year-old tried to drive through the on-side.

Gurney added the soft wicket of Dane Vilas (8), cutting to point, and it was only the bighitting Morris, smiting three fours and clearing the boundary twice, that lifted SA A in the last handful of overs.

Brooks was the best of the touring bowlers, finishing with three for 55, including two for 18 in his last three overs at the death.

http://citizen.co.za/321616/south-african-clinch-victory/

Bowling questions remain for Proteas 0

Posted on June 19, 2015 by Ken

The successful series against the West Indies did answer a few questions about the Proteas as they head into the World Cup, but a couple of glaring question marks remain – such as why the bowlers insist on banging the ball in halfway down the pitch so often?

Bowling coach Allan Donald was quoted as saying this week “I’d rather not have that many yorkers at the back end … at the World Cup, we want to be unpredictable in the last 10 overs and that is not going to be about bowling 40 yorkers in the last 10 overs.”

Not bowling yorkers is also becoming predictable, however, for this attack.

While the South African bowlers were generally dominant against the eighth-ranked West Indies – and let’s be honest, their batting was largely woeful – it was alarming to see how exposed the Proteas were once again in the death overs when Andre Russell, Darren Sammy and the tail took the tourists to an unlikely victory in the fourth ODI in Port Elizabeth.

The West Indies top-order was barely a factor through the series, meaning they were under pressure every time they batted; how will South Africa’s attack fare against much stronger batting line-ups at the World Cup, especially if the pitches are flat, without the luxury of early wickets?

Kyle Abbott was particularly disappointing in the series – taking just two wickets for 121 runs, conceded at a rate of 7.33 per over. It was depressing to see someone who had previously shown such skill in finding the blockhole, banging the ball in short and getting regularly smashed – perhaps Donald’s comments have something to do with that? There was surely a message in the second of those Abbott wickets coming from a full, straight delivery that bowled Marlon Samuels at Centurion.

Lady Luck has not been kind to South Africa in previous World Cups, but she tends to favour teams that are tactically astute, hard-working and gifted. The Proteas are certainly dedicated to their craft and in terms of talent we only need to mention AB de Villiers, Hashim Amla and Dale Steyn, so no issues there.

But while the batting looks so powerful – Rilee Rossouw adding his name into the mix of potential match-winners – their bowling remains vulnerable due to the current strategic thinking and I have a feeling opposing teams will back themselves to chase down whatever target South Africa set by putting them under pressure in the field.

The balance of the team – without a genuine all-rounder – is out, so JP Duminy and Farhaan Behardien have to share 10 overs or someone like Vernon Philander or Wayne Parnell has to bat seven.

That fifth-bowler portion will certainly be targeted by the opposition and sides like India and Australia will probably have a go at Morne Morkel and Philander as well.

Immersed in the pressure of a knockout game, how cool can Morkel stay? His display under the pump in Port Elizabeth suggests the portents are not that good, while Philander, at no more than fast-medium pace and generally sticking to line-and-length, could also be vulnerable.

The positives, however, are that South Africa, with Dale Steyn and Imran Tahir, are better than most at taking wickets in the middle overs and there will be no more feared batting line-up at the World Cup.

The bookies are hawking odds of between 3/1 and 13/3 on South Africa winning the World Cup, but they are only second favourites behind Australia – who range from 2/1 to 13/4 to win their fifth title.

There are a million different scenarios that could play out – and South Africa have historically provided the weirdest of those – but I will be hugely frustrated if the Proteas post 350-8 in a semi-final and then lose by three wickets in the final over as Duminy/Behardien travel for 90 runs in their 10 combined overs and Morkel and Philander concede 75 each.

Ryan McLaren or David Wiese are not part of the squad to provide a genuine fifth bowling option and from what we’ve seen from the West Indies series, South Africa are not going to be able to stray too far from their first-choice attack.

Which is not entirely a bad thing. Barring the number seven position, South Africa are a settled combination, going to Australasia with confidence and not many teams will fancy taking them on.

 



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