for quality writing

Ken Borland



The importance of getting those yorkers in in the death overs 0

Posted on February 28, 2017 by Ken

 

South Africa’s loss in the second ODI in New Zealand this week once again brought home the importance of death bowling in tight finishes. The Black Caps were able to get their yorkers in to great effect in the last few overs and won by six runs, a margin of defeat that flattered the Proteas because they hit the last two balls for fours when they were already out of contention needing 15 off two to win.

For my money, there has been too much emphasis in recent years in South African bowling strategy on bowling the ball into the pitch, varying pace, using the short ball etc. Tim Southee and Trent Boult simply got the ball in the blockhole when it really mattered and the batsmen found it impossible to do anything more than jab the deliveries away.

Sure, if there’s a set batsman in at the time then they can make the margin for error infinitesimally small by moving deeper into their crease or stepping out, but it’s been a long-standing weakness of South African bowlers that they cannot consistently get the yorker in. Perhaps because back at home in domestic cricket on pitches of bounce and seam movement there is less necessity, but in international cricket they get exposed.

This week I sought the wise counsel of Gordon Parsons, the bowling coach of the Highveld Lions team that won the 50-over competition last season, so they must be doing something right.

“The more things change in the game, the more they seem to stay the same. And I’m very much of the belief that nothing’s changed when it comes to a good yorker still being the best ball at the death. If a bowler can master three different variations then he’ll be a quality performer. Trying six, seven, eight different deliveries just complicates the mind and sometimes I feel using variations is an excuse for a lack of execution of the regular skills,” Parsons, the taker of 356 limited-overs wickets at an average of 30.75 and an economy rate of just 4.07, said.

“Sometimes bowlers hide behind the slower ball, but how many deliveries hit the same spot? The best bowlers do the simple things really well – look at Imran Tahir, who is the world’s number one limited-overs bowler and basically bowls wicket-to-wicket. He’s become better the simpler he’s made it. Bowlers have got to keep it simple,” Parsons, who took 809 first-class wickets in a 19-year career for two English counties and three South African teams, said.

The last time the Proteas were in New Zealand was for the 2015 World Cup and for the seventh time they fell short at the ICC’s premier tournament, conceding 9.8 runs per over in the last five overs of their fateful semifinal against the Black Caps.

With Tahir at number one and Kagiso Rabada ranked seventh, South Africa have the makings of a decent attack, but neither of them are known for their death bowling, both instead proving brilliant at breaking partnerships in the middle overs.

Rabada does have a lethal yorker, which I’d like to see him use more, and Chris Morris and Wayne Parnell could both be pretty effective if they can get swing and find the blockhole more consistently. Andile Phehlukwayo has the variations, but the same applies to him.

I saw an interesting statement this week from a radio sports broadcaster that the current attack is South Africa’s best ever in ODI cricket, but for me, the 1996 World Cup line-up of Allan Donald, Fanie de Villiers, Shaun Pollock, Craig Matthews, Pat Symcox and Brian McMillan, with Hansie Cronje and Jacques Kallis as the sixth and seventh bowlers, is hard to beat.

 

 

The Lions & the Springboks are totally different environments 0

Posted on August 15, 2016 by Ken

 

So it didn’t quite end in jubilation, but the Lions’ SuperRugby campaign still brought enormous pride and good feeling over their rags-to-riches story, and the public will carry many of those emotions into the Rugby Championship that starts next weekend.

But it is vital to realise that the Springboks and the Test arena are entirely different environments to the Lions and SuperRugby, and comments calling for the whole of Johan Ackermann’s team to be promoted to the national side or for coach Allister Coetzee to simply copy the game plan are ill-informed, ill-judged and have the potential to be divisive.

The health of any rugby team has a lot to do with its unity of purpose and their togetherness as people, and one could sense some frustration this week when the Springbok management and some of the players were constantly asked questions that referred back to the Lions.

Hopefully Lions captain Warren Whiteley, whose hard work on the field and wise words off it are nothing short of inspirational, put that all to bed this week when he highlighted in no uncertain terms that the Springboks are different.

“There’s no debate about using the same playing style, these are two different sides and we are not talking about unions any more. You’re talking about a team at provincial level against a national side. Sure, we as Lions players can bring confidence to the Springboks and there are similarities in the way we are trying to play. But there’s a step up when you come to the Springboks and the intensity and speed with which we’ve been training is at another level to the Lions,” Whiteley said this week.

Last weekend’s column bemoaned the parlous state of the Currie Cup, South Africa’s flagship rugby competition, but the performance of the Lions is one of the reasons for optimism when it comes to South African rugby.

Amidst the ritz and glitz of the Olympics there was another reason for cheer, even if the Blitzbokke flattered to deceive and had to settle for a bronze medal (still a notable achievement and more than New Zealand or Australia could manage). I’m talking about Rasta Rashivenge being given the honour of refereeing the Sevens final, an appointment that continues a long line of excellence when it comes to South African officials.

They receive way more criticism than plaudits simply because of human nature, but our referees and the high standards they maintain is one of the best stories in South African rugby.

Some of the media were privileged this week to be able to sit down with leading referee Jaco Peyper for an information session just to help us scribes better understand why certain decisions are made on the field and how the officials are interpreting the details of the laws these days.

Peyper said a referee makes about 400 decisions in every game and there will always be little mistakes, but the important thing is to ensure these do not have a major impact on the game.

He also said it is important to note that the key focus areas that referees are blowing these days have been decided in consultation with the coaches and other stakeholders, notably medical staff. They have had their say on what the shape of the game should look like and how to make it safer, and the referee’s job is to facilitate that.

Interestingly, there are some well-known phrases in our rugby lexicon, like “downward pressure”, “the direction of the hands when passing” and “bringing the catcher of the ball down safely” that don’t appear anywhere in the laws of the game.

This has led to some confusion amongst the public when watching games and the referees and TMOs don’t take any of those polluting myths into account, most often leading to filthy language in the lounge. For a clear and thorough view of the laws, including the opportunity to discuss issues with leading referees, I would recommend going to http://www.sareferees.com/

 

 

CSA ashamed of their transformation model & rightly so! 0

Posted on June 09, 2016 by Ken

 

It’s not exactly been a glorious week to be South African with disgraceful xenophobic attacks adding to the regular shame brought on the nation by corrupt leaders and authorities, and Eskom. But on the sporting front, Cricket South Africa (CSA) are facing humiliation as the threads start to come apart about what really happened in yet another World Cup disaster.

Mike Horn, the world-renowned adventurer, who became the first person to circumnavigate the equator under his own steam in 2000, and motivational coach, has no reason to lie about what happened in the changeroom ahead of the semi-final against New Zealand and his allegations of interference in selection have merely confirmed what just about everyone believes happened.

Remember, not one of the players has stood up and supported the “official” version provided by CSA and their staff, and neither has the Players’ Association.

The only possible reason for CSA to lie so blatantly about interference in selection is that they are ashamed of their own transformation model, because all right-minded people surely support the broader objectives of the policy?

And CSA are right to feel ashamed because they have shown little desire for ensuring that the goals of transformation are met, rather than merely fulfilling a quota and jumping into action when some heat is applied to them by politicians wanting a quick-fix rather than actually making the effort required to change our society.

Their utter disregard for the spirit of transformation was shown by Aaron Phangiso not getting a single game at the World Cup, a damning indictment of how shallow the whole #ProteaFire campaign was. If South Africa really were strong contenders to win the tournament, as their leadership constantly assured everyone, then it had to be utter nonsense that playing Phangiso against Ireland and/or the UAE would jeopardise their log position.

Half of the games the Proteas played in the World Cup were with only three players of colour, so why, if three was fine for the quarterfinal against Sri Lanka and the matches against West Indies, Ireland and Pakistan, did there need to be an intervention on the eve of the semi-final? Why didn’t the same interferer intervene for Phangiso?

The CSA board have shown before that they are as self-serving as any odium of politicians and there are members of that untrustworthy body who have previously severely undermined the Proteas and the players with cheap points-scoring efforts designed to further their own ambitions rather than the good of South African cricket.

With Horn having pulled the first thread out, the truth will eventually come out and then instead of having #ProteaFire, CSA will have been exposed as just one big #ProteaLiar.

But the CSA board are ruthless bullies and whoever breaks ranks can expect their privileged position in South African cricket to come to a quick end. Chief Executive Haroon Lorgat is the man sitting with the most egg on his face at the moment, but as an employee of the board, he will certainly lose his job if he reveals the truth.

It’s little wonder then that someone like Fanie de Villiers, whose out-of-touch views of South African cricket have led to him being persona non grata with the team, is sadly able to entice one of our brightest talents, Hardus Viljoen, into emigrating to New Zealand.

The basic truth, as it always has been, is that until Cricket South Africa have a board whose priority is the good of the game in this country and not their own ambitions and fiefdoms, real transformation will not be achieved.

 

Stormers bring attitude in spades to overwhelm Bulls 0

Posted on June 06, 2016 by Ken

 

Attitude goes a long way on the rugby field and the Stormers brought it in spades against the Bulls at Newlands as they overwhelmed the South African Conference winners with a phenomenal display of focused aggression, unstinting defence and sparkling attack.

The Bulls’ 13-30 defeat means they go into the Vodacom SuperRugby playoffs in second position on the final log, meaning they will host a semi-final, but will have to travel to Hamilton if the defending champion Chiefs make it through to the final.

The Stormers’ top-class performance gave a hint of what potential there is in the side, and there was no escaping a bittersweet feeling at Newlands despite a rousing end to their campaign.

“It’s nice to end the season with a win, but it would have been nicer if we had performed like this throughout the year. We find ourselves in this position of not being in the play-offs because when the pressure was on us, we did not react the way we should have,” Stormers captain Jean de Villiers said after the match.

It was a victory based on a massive effort at the breakdowns, where the Stormers not only turned over the ball several times – mostly through the brilliant Deon Fourie and Bryan Habana – but also harried and hassled the Bulls, getting in the scrumhalf’s face to ensure the visitors’ possession was mostly messy and slow.

A team cannot hope to prosper against a side with a defence as watertight as the Stormers’ if they don’t have good, quick ball and forward momentum, and the Bulls’ chaotic display at the breakdowns meant they were seldom an attacking threat.

Heading into the semi-final, the Bulls’ performance at the breakdowns is now a major concern. They struggled there against the Sharks last weekend as well, but that was put down to the lack of control exercised by referee Jason Jaftha.

With the peerless Craig Joubert in charge at Newlands, the breakdowns were firmly and fairly policed, so it seems the Bulls have serious questions to ask themselves about their cleaning out and the way they protect their scrumhalf.

The sheer power of men like Eben Etzebeth, Rynhardt Elstadt and Nizaam Carr ensured the Stormers also seldom took a backwards step in the collisions and their transition from a struggling, flat-looking side to one that ended the season with five wins in a row has much to do with their return to Newlands.

On Saturday a capacity crowd certainly lifted them and they were inspired, playing like men possessed.

Coach Allister Coetzee will also be especially pleased with players like flyhalf Gary van Aswegen, lock De Kock Steenkamp and hooker Scarra Ntubeni, who are standing in for players of Springbok level but were all outstanding against the Bulls.

“We had a great season with nine wins in a row, but tonight we were given a reminder that we can lose focus,” Bulls coach Frans Ludeke said. “We cannot play like this if it is a knockout match like a play-off. It is more important what we take out of this match and we now know that the lineout is one area we’ll need to work on before the play-offs.”

Ludeke should also pay attention to the continuing scrum woes of the Bulls, where props Dean Greyling and Werner Kruger are continuing to disappoint. The Stormers front row are hardly world beaters and if the Bulls are to win the competition, they are going to have to take a big step up in that particular set-piece.

With so much front-foot ball, the Stormers showed that they are quite capable of playing dazzling attacking rugby. With De Villiers back in the side after a rib injury picked up in the June internationals, the backline had a general and the veteran Springbok put young opposite number Francois Venter and the up-and-coming JJ Engelbrecht firmly back in their place as he shredded the defensive line several times.

De Villiers and Habana combined superbly for the winger to score a try that left a memorable mark on his farewell appearance for the Stormers before heading to France.

In Durban, the Sharks hammered the Southern Kings 58-13 to also farewell the John Plumtree era in fine fashion.

The Eastern Cape team sent a second-string outfit to King’s Park in order to freshen up their key players for the vital promotion/relegation games against the Lions, and they were overwhelmed physically, really battling to get across the advantage line.

The physical dominance of the Sharks was epitomised by the Kings’ failure to once bring Bismarck du Plessis to ground in a tackle and if Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer is seeking more powerful ball-carriers, he need look no further than Jean Deysel, who was immense for the second week in succession.

The injured pride of the Sharks players was soothed by the 10 tries they scored, with Riaan Viljoen fitting in seamlessly in the flyhalf position, JP Pietersen producing an energetic display on the wing as he came back into the team after injury, and Odwa Ndungane being nothing short of inspirational in the fullback position.

The Sharks also ruled supreme in the lineouts, with little Keegan Daniel taking six balls on their own throw and stealing three off the Kings. The Sharks captain and eighthman had his best game in a long while, while loosehead prop Tendai “Beast” Mtawarira was prominent in the loose and scored a memorable try early in the second half to put the home side in front by 25 points.

The Kings had been competitive in the first half, keeping the Sharks’ lead to just 19-13 in the first half-hour. But the KwaZulu-Natalians took firm control of the game thereafter.

The vexed question over whether the rolling maul should be legal dominated the first half as four of the six tries scored came from what many pundits consider “legalised obstruction”. The defending team seem to be unfairly discriminated against at the moment and it is an aspect of the game the International Rugby Board will probably have on the agenda soon.

The other weekend matches settled the final playoff positions as the Crusaders saw off a determined challenge from the Hurricanes to finish fourth and the Reds edged out the Waratahs to claim fifth.

The Brumbies were upset by the Western Force in Perth and so stayed third, meaning they will now host the sixth-placed Cheetahs next weekend.

The other qualifier will be between the Crusaders and the Reds in Christchurch.

Final Combined Log

Pos Team P W D L PF PA PD TF TA Bye BPts Pts
1 Chiefs (NZ winner) 16 12 0 4 458 364 94 50 38 2 10 66
2 Vodacom Bulls (SA winner) 16 12 0 4 448 330 118 41 34 2 7 63
3 Brumbies (Aus winner) 16 10 2 4 430 295 135 43 31 2 8 60
4 Crusaders (Qualifier) 16 11 0 5 446 307 139 44 31 2 8 60
5 Reds (Qualifier) 16 10 2 4 321 296 25 31 23 2 6 58
6 Toyota Cheetahs (Qualifier) 16 10 0 6 382 358 24 38 32 2 6 54
7 DHL Stormers 16 9 0 7 346 292 54 30 18 2 6 50
8 The Sharks 16 8 0 8 384 305 79 40 31 2 8 48
9 Waratahs 16 8 0 8 411 371 40 45 34 2 5 45
10 Blues 16 6 0 10 347 364 -17 40 36 2 12 44
11 Hurricanes 16 6 0 10 386 457 -71 41 49 2 9 41
12 Rebels 16 5 0 11 382 515 -133 44 65 2 9 37
13 Force 16 4 1 11 267 366 -99 26 34 2 5 31
14 Highlanders 16 3 0 13 374 496 -122 40 55 2 9 29
15 Southern Kings 16 3 1 12 298 564 -266 27 69 2 2 24

http://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2013-07-15-superrugby-stormers-attitude-in-spades/#.V1Vhofl97IU



↑ Top