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Ken Borland



Caution as dead as a dodo for aggressive Titans 0

Posted on November 10, 2017 by Ken

The days of being cautious with the bat in limited-overs cricket are as dead as the dodo for the Multiply Titans, with captain Albie Morkel saying he wants the batsmen to take their aggression to another level when the RamSlam T20 Challenge gets underway on Sunday.

 

The Titans won both white-ball titles last season, in no small measure because they took their batting to a new level never before seen in South African domestic limited-overs cricket.

 

The Titans reached 400 on three occasions in last season’s 50-over competition, the Momentum One-Day Cup, including a record-breaking 425 for five in the final against the Warriors at SuperSport Park. In the T20 tournament, the Titans went past 180 on four occasions, including another domestic record in lashing 230 for five against the bizhub Highveld Lions, in Centurion.

 

Those exploits were made possible by the flying starts given to the Titans by mostly Aiden Markram, Jonathan Vandiar and Henry Davids; with openers averaging well above 50 and scoring at better than a run-ball, the batting unit is always likely to soar to great heights.

 

“The batsmen must keep playing with freedom and flair. If conditions allow it, then we’ve set ourselves the target of a score of 200 for every innings, we want the batsmen to go a step further, to provide extra impetus. To get 180 is also good, but then you can still fall short,” said Morkel.

Full article – http://www.titans.co.za/index.php/k2-8/2014-12-23-04-21-46/listing-2-columns/item/738-days-of-being-cautious-are-dead

KG keen to tap into finger-on-the-pulse McCullum 0

Posted on September 04, 2017 by Ken

 

If anyone has their finger on the pulse of the future direction of cricket it is former New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum and Joburg Giants Proteas marquee player Kagiso Rabada is really looking forward to tapping into his knowledge when the T20 Global League gets underway.

McCullum was snapped up by the Johannesburg franchise as the second pick in the draft for international marquee players, providing the tantalising prospect of a batsman and captain who did much to reinvent the game teaming up with a young fast bowler who is tipped to become one of the greats.

“As captain of New Zealand he was a really positive influence with the way he was able to lead a young side. He’s a very experienced campaigner who does not play by the book, the way he approached his cricket was very interesting and it shows he does not just conform to the boxes people impose.

“He questions all the strategies of the game, which is a really good thing. And he can certainly give me insights on what balls are hard or easy to hit, so I’m looking forward to tapping into his experience and picking his brain. He has dominated a lot of bowlers so it will be interesting to hear from him where batsmen can’t score,” Rabada told The Citizen on Saturday night.

West Indian all-rounder Kieron Pollard was the first pick of the evening and will be playing for the Bloemfontein City Blazers, while his compatriot, Chris Gayle, will turn out for the Cape Town Knight Riders.

The Durban Qalandars plumped for England limited-overs captain Eoin Morgan, while another West Indian star, Dwayne Bravo, will be plying his all-round skills for the Pretoria Mavericks.

“It’s fantastic to have Dwayne, he will bring a winning mentality having played in T20 World Cup and IPL winning sides, he can contribute with both bat and ball and all the players who have played with him previously speak very highly of him, so I’m really excited to have him in our team,” Mavericks coach Russell Domingo said.

“It’s great to have one banker at six or seven plus he can bowl four overs under pressure and then we have AB de Villiers at four. And Dwayne has great death bowling skills which is of paramount importance, particularly at Centurion.”

The other international marquee placements saw Englishman Jason Roy joining fellow opener Quinton de Kock at the Benoni Zalmi, Kevin Pietersen heading to Port Elizabeth to join his mate Mark Boucher’s Nelson Mandela Bay Stars side and Sri Lankan pace bowler Lasith Malinga playing for Faf du Plessis’ Stellenbosch Monarchs.

https://citizen.co.za/sport/south-africa-sport/sa-cricket-sport/1629151/kagiso-rabada-cant-wait-to-learn-from-a-new-zealand-legend/

‘Faf able to make the tough calls’ – Rhodes 0

Posted on July 28, 2017 by Ken

 

Jonty Rhodes says his reluctance to make tough calls and decisions cancels out any desire to be a head coach, but he adds these exact qualities are what makes Faf du Plessis a great captain.

Rhodes captained Natal for a brief period during his playing days, but always served as a trusty lieutenant to Hansie Cronje and Shaun Pollock in the national team. Although he travels the world as a consultant coach, with fielding his area of expertise, these days, he says he has no desire to become a head coach.

“As captain I used to take things too personally. You have to make the tough calls and decisions and that’s just not my personality, I prefer being more of a motivator. And that’s also why I don’t qualify as head coach material.

“But Faf is a hard guy, he’s very strong mentally and you see it in his batting, anywhere from number three to number five. He brings that tenacity, he’s an unruffled batsman, he’s not flamboyant, he works flippen hard and plays to his strengths. He can block forever and maybe the comeback by the Proteas in the second Test, the way they just built and built the pressure on England, we didn’t give them an inch, we really grinded them, was a reflection of his character,” Rhodes told The Citizen on Wednesday at the CSA Centre of Excellence, where he was putting the national academy through their paces.

Rhodes added that with Jacques Kallis out of the picture, the Proteas had to make the tough decision to change the balance of the team by bringing in the extra frontline bowler in Chris Morris.

“For a long time we had Jacques, who was a frontline batsman at three and a frontline bowler, and not many teams have that. We maybe didn’t appreciate how blessed we were because he was like having an extra player.

“So the Proteas had to make that call. It depends on what’s best for the situation and conditions, I suppose if there’s a bit of juice in the pitch and you can afford to have one bowler less, then you can play the extra batsman. And the time to move Quinton de Kock up the order was also now, while he’s still young and strong enough to do that and keep wicket.

“He can bat with the tail as well, because he hits a high percentage of boundaries, but he can fulfil both roles. He’s totally different to the other grafters in the top-order, before you know it he has 30 and it doesn’t look like he’s taken any risks. Sometimes you just have to bat and other times you need someone to take the game away,” Rhodes said.

The John McFarland Column: Tremendous effort by the Springboks 0

Posted on June 29, 2017 by Ken

 

For Springbok captain Warren Whiteley to be ruled out on the morning of the third Test against France would definitely have been quite upsetting for the guys, because it is difficult to lose your captain and leader when they thought that he would play.

So to score those tries and get the points they did at Ellis Park last weekend was a tremendous effort by the Springboks and Allister Coetzee will be really pleased with the defence and work-rate of his team.

There are many ways to score tries in rugby and it was great to see some inventiveness from the Springboks, for example when Jan Serfontein jumped at the front of the lineout and then sent the ball down to Eben Etzebeth, for them to maul the space defended by the scrumhalf, which is so difficult to defend. So credit to the coaching staff for the ideas they came up with.

The first try, by Jesse Kriel, just shows how hard the Springboks were working off the ball, which was one of the most impressive aspects of their performance, it shows the culture of the team. The kick-chase induced an error from the French back three, there was a wild pass and it was pounced on, giving Kriel an easy run-in for what we call a “culture try”.

You can see that the players are in such a good space and it is evident that they enjoy each other’s company. The players have all been so positive about their experiences with the Springboks this year and you can see their happiness by the way they celebrate their tries, for example the Rudy Paige effort off the back of a well-worked lineout drive.

So you have to credit Allister Coetzee and all the coaching staff for how far they have come and how they have turned things around. Warren and Allister and the assistant coaches deserve credit for the culture they’re building.

The country also got behind them and there was a steady increase in the crowd until there were 55 000 people at Ellis Park, which was great.

The Springboks ticked so many boxes in the series against France and they should be full of confidence now for the Rugby Championship. If one compares them with the way Australia and Argentina have performed, then the Springboks are definitely in with a real shout in the Rugby Championship.

The Springboks will have had even more time together before they play Argentina home and away, and they should enjoy the continuity of two-and-a-half months together in one block, which is a major positive.

The big thing for the Springboks will be the three away games in the middle of the tournament, which are always hard. But if they can get two wins on the road, then they’ll definitely be in with a shout. The Lions won all their games on tour and the Sharks won a match as well, while all our SuperRugby teams have done well in Argentina, so that’s encouraging.

The real ones to win though are the New Zealand Tests and I just hope the tournament is not over by the final game as it normally is because the draw usually really suits New Zealand. Let’s hope it all comes down to the Test in Cape Town between the Springboks and All Blacks on October 7.

Some combinations really put their hands up, such as the two locks, with Franco Mostert really announcing himself as a player at this upper level. The quality of his work-rate, tackling and cleaning out was phenomenal and he would certainly have been one of the contenders for man of the series.

As was Jan Serfontein. We’ve always known his ability but he has had a fair amount of injuries over the last few years. He’s such a quiet, down-to-earth guy, but against a player like Gael Fickou, who is a real big unit, Jan put in some massive tackles.

The balance of the back row was also very good and Siya Kolisi had the best three Tests he has managed to string together in his career. He was world-class and not just at the things we know he can do – he always carries well and we know he can stop momentum, but his work on the floor and his effort and skill to get up for that intercept in Durban were exceptional.

Malcolm Marx also really announced himself, he was outstanding in all three games, a beast with ball in hand and his basics were so good too.

Although it was a real advantage for the Springboks to play at altitude, those were three quality wins. France did not really click in the last Test, they obviously had the mindset to try and out-play the Springboks, but the home side’s defence was really, really good. One can say that the French were at the end of a long season, but they were well-beaten in each Test.

To average more than 36 points per game takes some doing at Test level and they scored tries through their defence, set play and kicking game, which was great to see.

The Springboks will be a little riled, however, that the lineout was not at its best at Ellis Park, but again, the late change due to the withdrawal of Whiteley left them with less jumping options. But the lineout did really well in the first two Tests.

Allister could have picked some of the old guard, but he was very consistent in his selection and backed the guys in South Africa, the players who had been at the camp in Plettenberg Bay, and his systems. He also backed key members of his team. For instance, Lionel Mapoe was very good in Durban, but he then rewarded Jesse Kriel for his very good display in the first Test.

Continuity and consistency in selection builds confidence amongst the players.

It was good that he was able to give Ruan Dreyer a start and some experience at international level, and what a reward he got at his first scrum! Those are the little battles that are great for a pack of forwards, like being able to control the ball at the back of a scrum and then scoring.

I still have not heard anyone from SA Rugby congratulate the players or coaching staff on a job well done, which amazes me! Why has nobody publicly congratulated them on the way they played and the manner in which they brought the public back and reinstored belief in the Springbok brand?

France have a lot of work to do, they definitely have talented players, but they need to look at their game plan and conditioning, which was not up to the level required at Test level. But it’s a very long season in France, they basically play from August to June, so they need to look at their structure and contracting of players.

The British and Irish Lions game against the All Blacks was quite a Test and at one stage the Lions had made it quite a tight battle. They had their chances, but against New Zealand you must finish, especially in Auckland.

The Lions’ try from a counter-attack was absolutely brilliant – the run from the back by Liam Williams and the way it was finished, it was one of the great British Lions tries.

But they will be seething that they conceded a very soft try from a quick tap, to allow such a compressed defensive line meant they did not have time to get any width and it was very dozy. In the biggest Test of their careers, there’s no way they can blame fatigue.

The All Blacks were deadly again off turnover and open-field ball and Rieko Ioane produced two special finishes, showing sheer speed.

The Lions also need a bit more to their play than Conor Murray box-kicking, even though that’s probably their advantage over the All Blacks. They got quite good returns from the tactic at the start, with Ben Smith dropping a few, but they did not take all their chances. New Zealand will score an average of three or four tries per game, so you must score tries to beat them.

The highlight of the first Test was the way the All Blacks played against the Lions’ rush-defence: they used the blind side a lot and played close to the ruck off Aaron Smith. They still scored four tries despite all the disruptions to their backline.

Smith also never telegraphed which side he was going to pass to, which most scrumhalves indicate by their body language or the way they stand, and he was constantly testing pillars one to three around the ruck. Because it was never clear which side he was going to play, it was very difficult for the defence to get set. So the All Blacks were constantly getting momentum and tiring out the Lions forwards, which is why they were so passive in the set-pieces.

There has been a lot of talk about Jerome Kaino preying on Murray’s non-kicking foot and it was a tactic that originated with Glasgow Warriors in the Pro12 League. Teams generally put up a wall on the right side of the maul or ruck in order to protect the kick, but the blindside was not guarded and that would also have been Murray’s blind spot.

Steve Hansen and the New Zealand media have vociferously condemned Warren Gatland’s claims of deliberate dangerous play, but there’s no doubt they wanted to make sure Conor Murray always felt the heat. If they touch him after he has kicked then it’s unfair, you are not allowed to play the kicker after the ball has gone. The All Blacks are not always whiter than white!

I hope the second Test is as good though. The Lions need a more athletic pack, with Maro Itoje at lock, and they should stick with Ben Te’o for longer in midfield, he played well. It will be exciting if the Lions can get the win and set up a series finale back in Auckland, but unfortunately I don’t really see it happening.

For South African rugby, it’s back to SuperRugby now and I hope the country will get behind our most realistic winners – the Lions. After the Test series, they are all full of confidence and they have a wonderful run-in to the final games.

I managed to bump into Rudolf Straeuli while I was in South Africa and he confirmed that he is very much looking forward to hosting the New Zealand teams at 3pm in the afternoon!

 

 


John McFarland is the assistant coach of the Kubota Spears in Japan and was the Springbok defence coach from 2012 through to the 2015 World Cup, where they conceded the least line-breaks in the tournament and an average of just one try per game. Before that, McFarland won three SuperRugby titles (2007, 09, 10) with the Bulls and five Currie Cup crowns with the Blue Bulls. In all, he won 28 trophies during his 12 years at Loftus Versfeld.

 



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