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Ken Borland

Sanzar turn on own judicial officer & appeal Steyn ruling 0

Posted on May 31, 2016 by Ken


Francois Steyn’s return to the Sharks captaincy and the flyhalf position for Saturday’s SuperRugby game against the Western Force is now in doubt after Sanzar decided to appeal the decision of their own judicial officer and put the 2007 World Cup winner back on trial for the tip-tackle for which he was red-carded last weekend against the Chiefs.

It is believed All Blacks lawyer Stephen Cottrell is behind Sanzar’s unprecedented decision to appeal against Advocate Jannie Lubbe’s ruling this week that exonerated Steyn, and a Sanzar Appeals Committee, chaired by Terry Willis and with advocates Nigel Hampton and Robert Stelzner as members, will hear the matter via a video conference on Friday morning South African time.

But this will seriously disrupt the Sharks’ preparations for the match against the Force, with their team due to be named on Thursday morning and the Vodacom Cup side off to Cape Town on Friday morning. The franchise has appealed against the timing of the hearing and are looking to get it moved to after the game, either on Sunday or Monday.

Although Lubbe’s decision to clear Steyn was considered to be a highly generous one, Sanzar’s appeal is nevertheless extraordinary as they have never turned on one of their own judicial officers before.

The move has once again reignited old feelings of bitterness that South African players are judged by different standards in the competition, particularly since Cottrell, a legal representative for Sanzar, was the lawyer who defended Brad Thorn when he notoriously up-ended Springbok captain and current CEO John Smit, dumping him on his back without the ball, during a Test against the All Blacks in Wellington in 2008.

Cottrell argued that because Smit did not have the ball, Thorn’s foul play could not be considered a dangerous tackle and he was only given a one-week ban.

It was a decision that outraged the Springboks, for whom current Sharks director of rugby Gary Gold was then an assistant coach.

The uncertainty over Steyn further complicates the issue of the Sharks captaincy in the absence of the rested Pat Lambie and the suspended Bismarck du Plessis.

Fear-free changeroom all-important for Morkel 0

Posted on July 15, 2015 by Ken

For Albie Morkel, taking over the captaincy of the Titans’ limited-overs teams is a chance for him to provide the sort of encouraging, fear-free environment that he himself missed out on in so many changerooms during a career that has seen the all-rounder play for a dozen different sides.

The 34-year-old has played the second most T20 cricket out of anyone in the world with 271 matches (West Indian Kieron Pollard leads the way with 290 games), but apart from bringing plenty of tactical knowledge out on the field, Morkel also believes it is vital to make a difference in the changeroom.

“Captaincy is a new challenge and something I haven’t done since school, but I feel I’m ready. I’ve seen most things in cricket and I have lots of experience to fall back on, but I want to add my own flavour to the job as well. It’s about what happens off the field as well, as captain having an open-door policy. It’s about how to get the best out of the players, knowing them outside cricket, what makes them tick.

“There’s a lot of talk at the moment about the New Zealand way – being more aggressive, taking wickets – and with the squad we have we can play that sort of cricket. But the big challenge is to get the player buy-in. They can’t be scared that they’re playing for their place, they need to play with freedom and I will encourage them to do that,” Morkel told The Citizen.

Bitter experience has been  a good teacher for the hard-hitting seam bowler in this regard.

“I always felt when I was with the national team, rightly or wrongly, that I was playing under pressure and I didn’t necessarily have the backing, except when Mickey Arthur was coach and that’s when I played my best cricket for South Africa. I wrote a lot of thoughts down about what I didn’t like as a cricketer and I believe 90% of it applies to all players, we have the same worries and fears. I want to make them comfortable, eradicate the problems.

“Things like announcing the starting team two days before. Not knowing an hour before the game whether you’re playing or not just breaks you. I want to bring clarity, build trust with the players and be honest. In our environment, that’s the only way to get respect,” Morkel said.

The major benefit for the Titans is that it ensures Morkel, their match-winner in the Momentum One-Day Cup final last season, will be at the centre of the limited-overs campaigns next season, rather than on the periphery as he has been for various reasons in recent seasons.

“I don’t see myself playing international cricket anymore, so I want to put everything back into the Titans for the next couple of years,” Morkel said.








































































































Amla has had captaincy success before & balance of team in his favour too … 0

Posted on June 03, 2014 by Ken

Hashim Amla should have more to celebrate than just tons of runs

Hashim Amla has had one season of captaincy for the Dolphins nearly 10 years ago as a 21-year-old but is now set to be handed the reins of South Africa’s Test team as CSA’s board meet today in Sandton to decide the successor to Graeme Smith.

The fact that Amla had success in that solitary season in charge down in Durban, leading the Dolphins to a share of the 2004/5 SuperSport Series four-day title and the semi-finals of the 45-over Standard Bank Cup, will have little bearing on tomorrow’s decision, save for one important factor.

While Amla relinquished the captaincy after one season, and has been reluctant to lead ever since, the extra responsibility had no noticeable effect on his batting, as he averaged 54.38 in the four-day competition, scoring three centuries, including a superb 249 in the final against the Central Eagles, and went on to make his debut for South Africa that season.

Amla’s main rival for the Test captaincy is the early favourite, AB de Villiers, who has already led South Africa in 40 ODIs.

De Villiers has the advantage of added experience in the role, but if he does become Test captain, it could well force a change in the successful balance of the national team, with the wicketkeeping gloves likely to be taken away from him.

Former South African captain Shaun Pollock, who was Smith’s predecessor, admitted that it was a tough call between Amla and De Villiers.

“There’s no doubt Hashim is a very calm individual and I don’t think being captain will affect his batting too much, but it’s difficult to comment on his tactical awareness unless you’ve played under him. The advantage Hashim has is that he’s just a batsman and there’s not too much on his plate,” Pollock told The Pretoria News yesterday.

“AB has the experience, having led in ODIs already, and knows what the role entails. I’ve been impressed with some of his captaincy, he’s shown some flair and managed things well. But would he have to change his role and give up the gloves because there’s a lot on his plate?” Pollock added.

Faf du Plessis has also been mentioned as a candidate, but he is likely to be left to concentrate on cementing his place in the Test side as a specialist batsman.

Both Amla and De Villiers are going to be key batsmen as South Africa move into the post-Smith-and-Kallis era, and there’s no doubt both will be able to lead from the front and command the respect of their team-mates. Both are universally respected in the cricketing world and both enjoy a good relationship with the media, handling their PR duties with aplomb.

But the factors that are likely to tip the vote Amla’s way are the lesser disruption it would cause to the balance of the team and the strong transformation message it would send out on behalf of Cricket South Africa, who were recently accused of only paying lip-service to affirmative action by the sports minister.

The fact that Amla, a devout Muslim and the first Protea of Indian heritage, has been able to develop into such a key person in the national camp on and off the field suggests he will also be able to pull the different threads of the several cultures within the squad together into a strong unit.

The national selectors will also today announce the squads to tour Sri Lanka next month for three ODIs and two Tests and are likely to reel in Stiaan van Zyl and one of two off-spinners Dane Piedt or Simon Harmer, as new caps for the five-day games. The other off-spinner is still likely to travel to Sri Lanka as a net bowler to gain experience of sub-continental conditions.

Whoever the Test captain is will be mindful of South Africa’s previous tour to Sri Lanka in 2006 where Ashwell Prince wound up losing 2-0 and never captained the Proteas again.

Probable Test squad: Alviro Petersen, Dean Elgar, Faf du Plessis, Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, Stiaan van Zyl, Vernon Philander, Dale Steyn, Imran Tahir, Morne Morkel, Dane Piedt, Quinton de Kock, Ryan McLaren, Wayne Parnell/Beuran Hendricks.

Probable ODI squad: Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock, Jacques Kallis, AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, David Miller, Vernon Philander, Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel, Imran Tahir, Wayne Parnell, Beuran Hendricks, Ryan McLaren, Simon Harmer.



Time for a daring change in ODI captaincy? 0

Posted on May 08, 2013 by Ken

As South African cricket spends the week celebrating the remarkable leadership career of their greatest Test captain, Graeme Smith, it is perhaps time to also consider a daring change in captaincy for the limited-overs team.

When the first Test against Pakistan starts at the Wanderers on Friday, Smith will head out for the toss for the 100th time, the first captain in the history of the game to reach the milestone. He will turn 32 on the same day and Smith is universally respected as a leader and batsman, even more so outside of South Africa.

While the focus will rightly be on how Smith has led South Africa to the pinnacle of Test cricket, it is worth remembering how it all started.

In March 2003, then selection convenor Omar Henry announced that the 22-year-old Smith, who had played just eight Tests, would be the successor to Shaun Pollock following the dismal showing at the World Cup South Africa hosted.

It was a daring gamble, but the physically imposing Smith had already shown the strength of character that marked him out as a leader of men. Nearly 10 years later, he is still at the helm of a ship that has survived some stormy seas to become the undisputed champion of Test cricket, as dominant away from home as they are in South Africa.

After leading South Africa in 149 ODIs, Smith handed over the reins to his anointed successor, AB de Villiers, 18 months ago.

De Villiers, one of the finest batsmen of the modern era, a team man to the core and blessed with a certain charm, has little previous captaincy experience, however, and whether he is the right man to be Smith’s long-term successor is now in doubt.

De Villiers, selection convenor Andrew Hudson and coach Gary Kirsten all believed  AB could do the job, but there is no harm in admitting that was a mistake and moving on to allow him to concentrate on being a key, match-winning batsman for South Africa and keeping wicket in the limited-overs games.

Choosing leaders can be hit-and-miss – Mark Boucher, Nicky Boje and Jacques Kallis have all tried their hand at it when Smith has been injured – and this is also proven by the case of Hashim Amla.

A leader all through his school days at Durban High School, Amla captained the Dolphins when he was just 21 and national recognition followed suit in 2011 when he was named vice-captain of the Proteas.

But yesterday Amla confirmed that he was seriously considering relinquishing that post, because he was not willing to be captain of the team when the selectors turned to him in the wake of the suspension of De Villiers for a slow over-rate offence.

“I’m considering stepping down from the vice-captaincy, there’s no point in being vice-captain if I’m not willing to be captain. I turned down the captaincy when AB wasn’t there because I wanted to concentrate on my batting,” Amla admitted in Sandton on Tuesday.

There is a maze of on-field and off-field responsibilities a captain has to negotiate and the local boo-brigade that consistently snipe away at Smith will hopefully realise just what a phenomenal skipper he has been when they consider he has carried that burden for 10 years, while the likes of Amla and De Villiers, both quality men, are struggling with it after just 18 months.

The ODI series against New Zealand saw De Villiers go on record as saying he found it tough to concentrate on all the decisions he had to make in the field (as his over-rate disaster showed) as well as keep wicket and focus on his key batting role.

Faf du Plessis stood in when De Villiers was suspended after the first game and perhaps that is the route the selectors should now go down on a permanent basis when the Proteas are in green. It wouldn’t even be as much of a gamble as Smith’s appointment was.

Du Plessis was AB’s captain at Afrikaans Hoër Seunskool (Affies) and was impressive in leading the SA A side last year, and was cool and calm in the field against New Zealand last week.

With Du Plessis taking over the captaincy, De Villiers could play as the limited-overs wicketkeeper/batsman because that move was a success, the 28-year-old averaging 77 since taking over the gloves, while South Africa have won 32 of the 42 ODIs they’ve played with him behind the stumps.

The Test captaincy is another matter and Smith can hopefully soldier on until 2015 – the year of the next World Cup, when he may well hang up the boots. De Villiers is also then likely to have to fill the number four batting slot vacated by the retirement of Jacques Kallis, so the task of keeping wicket as well will surely be too much for someone who will be 30 and does not have the most stable of backs.

And if De Villiers is not ready then for the skipper’s armband, Du Plessis will have had two years of experience in the limited-overs game.

There has also been plenty of gnashing of teeth over what will happen to the South African team when the awful day of Kallis’s retirement finally dawns, and De Villiers doing the wicketkeeping job permanently has been mentioned as one of the cures to losing such an incredible all-rounder.

But De Villiers should rather have the responsibility, because he has the ability, to replacing the thousands of runs Kallis scores.

The Australians dominated world cricket in the 1990s and 2000s without a genuine all-rounder and the Proteas should look to specialists to do the same. Six specialist batsmen (Dean Elgar, Alviro Petersen, Amla, De Villiers, Du Plessis and JP Duminy; the latter pair both part-time bowlers too), a wicketkeeper/batsman (Thami Tsolekile or one of the younger contenders), and four specialist bowlers (Robin Peterson, Vernon Philander, Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel) will give South Africa a team that is still highly capable of being the best in the world.

Their current captain, Graeme Smith, has laid the platform for a period of sustained dominance, but what of the person behind all those runs (the most ever in successful fourth-innings run-chases) and victories?

Kallis is eminently qualified to speak on Smith’s character: “It’s incredible to achieve what he has, after taking over at his age. He has proven a lot of people wrong, he has faced down so much criticism and he has always led from the front. I don’t think 100 Tests as captain will ever be done again.

“If he says the team needs to do something, he’s always the first guy to go and do it. As the opening batsman, he sets the tone, he takes on challenges and he never backs down. At certain times he’s in the opposition’s face and at others he’s just absorbing pressure. He’s learnt which character to be at certain times, and that’s the biggest improvement in his captaincy,” Kallis said on Tuesday.

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