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Ken Borland

Rugby not expediting much joy for me 0

Posted on December 05, 2017 by Ken


I must confess to a certain sense of relief today as our rugby season (the 15-man game anyway) comes to an end this weekend with the misfiring Springboks facing a daunting assignment in Cardiff. Sad to say, but I find myself more and more irritated by rugby these days.

The uninspiring fare dished up by the Springboks, made worse by the tantalising glimpse they gave of what they are capable of in the Newlands Test against the All Blacks, brings little joy and the two domestic sides I cover, the Bulls and Sharks, have had more heartache than cheer this year. Even the Lions’ loss in the Super Rugby final still hurts.

Nevertheless, just to get two last parting shots in before Christmas, rugby made me angry twice more this week.

It’s annoying that Springbok coach Allister Coetzee is not expediting the smooth introduction of the tremendously talented Warrick Gelant into international rugby. Instead of playing him in his natural position of fullback, where change is surely required because the solid Andries Coetzee has done little to suggest star-quality, coach Coetzee has plonked Gelant on the wing for his first start.

The selection of players out of position has become something of a Springbok curse in recent years, but the disappointing treatment of Gelant might also be due to the lack of options Coetzee has on the wing. As at fullback, we can all see change is necessary, but the only other specialist wing in the squad is Raymond Rhule, and would he really improve things?

A rugby sage once told me that Springbok coaches stand or fall by selection and, judging by the number of times Coetzee has replaced an injured player with someone who plays in a different position, the current national coach is obviously failing in this regard. Just on this tour, we’ve had an eighthman, Duane Vermeulen, replacing a prop, Coenie Oosthuizen, and lock Ruan Botha came in for flank Jean-Luc du Preez, which clearly shows he got the initial selections wrong.

But the failure of WorldRugby to honour their own processes and award the 2023 World Cup to South Africa was the low point of the year; at least South Africa’s 57-0 thrashing in Albany came with plenty of wonderful rugby from the All Blacks to admire.

The duplicity and lack of integrity shown by their council members makes the blood boil, and the reputation of rugby took a major hit in London a fortnight ago.

So it was with utter shock that I observed the sheer nerve of WorldRugby this week trying to clamp down on players writing messages on their strapping. The rationale was that WorldRugby had no control over what messaging was displayed and with the pettiness typical of the jobsworths who have more regard for their own positions and privilege than the good of the game, the decision was made to clamp down.

Perhaps WorldRugby should worry more about the game being brought into disrepute by their own administrators; the message sent by the 2023 World Cup decision was far worse than anything a player could fit on to his strapping.

Sport did bring me some happiness this week though. It was wonderful to see a cricketing legend of yesteryear, Mike Procter, team up with one of the country’s most talented young writers, Lungani Zama, to launch an updated autobiography.

Procter, of course, played in an era when someone like Zama, who is a good enough cricketer to have played for the KZN Inland side before they gained first-class status, was not allowed to fully express their talents.

Procter, one of the all-time greats of South African cricket and a former national coach and selector, understands these issues and it is wonderful to see him so actively involved in cricket development through his coaching work at the Ottawa Primary School outside Durban, introducing the game to nearly a thousand underprivileged children.

A cricketer capable of taking the new ball and bowling at 145km/h, with prodigious swing, and a good enough batsman to score 254 against Western Province in a Currie Cup game, Procter was obviously a rare talent and one that the current lovers of the game really need to know more about.

He is certainly one of the contenders for the title of greatest all-rounder the game has known and the story of his playing days is augmented with fascinating accounts of his stint as an ICC match referee, having to deal with the major controversies of Darrell Hair abandoning an England v Pakistan Test match, the Harbhajan Singh and Andrew Symonds ‘Monkeygate’ saga, and the bomb blast that ended international cricket in Pakistan.

As Caught in the Middle details, Procter is one of the heroes of the game still adding value in the present day.


Rain spoils first ODI 0

Posted on August 27, 2012 by Ken

Rain forced the opening one-day international between England and South Africa to be abandoned without ever really getting going at Sophia Gardens in Cardiff on Friday.


England openers Ian Bell (26*) and Alastair Cook (10*) had charged to 37 without loss midway through the sixth over when the match was stopped for the last time and eventually abandoned at 3.45pm local time.

South Africa captain AB de Villiers had earlier won the toss and elected to bowl first, but his charges had to wait four-and-three-quarter-hours to eventually get on to the field due to rain.

When play did eventually start at 3pm local time, Morne Morkel was able to bowl just a single delivery – a leg-side wide – before Sophia Gardens was once again enveloped in misty drizzle and the action was stopped for another nine minutes.

An initial reduction in overs to a 24-overs-a-side match then became 23 overs per team, of which England were able to face just 5.3 before the game was called off.

Cook and Bell, neither of whom are in England’s T20 squad, struggled to score in the first three overs before Bell played some inspired strokes as he collected two fours and two sixes in 18 balls.

He certainly seemed pretty clued up about how to go about opening the innings in a 20-odd overs innings.

Morkel conceded 19 runs in his three overs, including a pair of Bell sixes in his last over, while Lonwabo Tsotsobe conceded 18 runs in 2.3 overs.

South Africa had included debutant Dean Elgar and Ryan McLaren in their starting XI, but unfortunately neither of the all-rounders had the chance to further their reputations.

Rain kills the action again 0

Posted on August 27, 2012 by Ken

Rain once again killed the action after England reached 37 without loss midway through the sixth over in the first NatWest One-Day International against South Africa at Sophia Gardens in Cardiff on Friday.

6th over – Clever batting now by Ian Bell as he steps outside off stump and flicks a shortish delivery from Lonwabo Tsotsobe over short fine leg for four.

5th over – Superb batting in the final batting powerplay over by Bell as he continues to come down the pitch, heaving Morne Morkel over midwicket for six and then driving him classically over long-off for another maximum.

4th over – Alastair Cook starts the next over in style as he drives Tsotsobe beautifully through the covers for four. Bell then comes down the pitch and drives the left-arm seamer sweetly over mid-off for another boundary.

3rd over – England are struggling to score and Cook pushes Morkel straight down the pitch and sets off for a suicidal single. Wayne Parnell gathers the ball just behind the bowler’s wicket, but his wild throw results in an astonishing run out miss from no more than five metres away with all three stumps to aim at! Cook was miles out and gets a major let-off before he had scored.

1st over – Play finally gets underway after a delay of four-and-three-quarter hours with a 24-overs-a-side match. Morkel’s first ball is a wide outside off stump and then the rain returns. There is another delay of nine minutes and an over is lost, reducing the game to 23 overs-a-side. Morkel completes his over well, not conceding another run.

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