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Ken Borland



Cricket is a strange game but Kingsmead was just stupid 0

Posted on August 29, 2016 by Ken

 

Cricket is, in many ways, a strange game but there is nothing as infuriating than play not taking place when blue skies and bright sunshine are overhead. That was the case in Durban last weekend as the first Test between South Africa and New Zealand was allowed to just die with only 99.4 overs being bowled in the match.

As an endangered species, Test cricket needs to be given utmost support and attention and I firmly believe that where there is a will, there is a way.

Notwithstanding the foolishness of Cricket South Africa digging up the Kingsmead outfield in order to soften it two weeks later than they should have, meaning it struggled to cope with unseasonal heavy rain in Durban, the villains of the peace for me were English umpires Ian Gould and Richard Illingworth, who showed little interest in actually getting play underway, so fixated were they on a few damp patches on the outfield.

The umpires are the final arbiters of what is fair and safe in terms of conditions, but lines have to be drawn somewhere. Both teams were eager to play – in fact the Proteas were gathered on the side of the field shortly after play was finally abandoned on the fifth day eager to have a run-around and get some fitness in, but they were prevented from going on to the field because that would have made the umpires look bad.

I am certain that if it had been an ODI or a T20 match with similar soft areas of outfield, a plan would have been made and the umpires would have done everything in their power to get a game underway.

As usual, the accountability has been shifted to Kingsmead, who never wanted the outfield to be dug up in the first place. The International Cricket Council, as usual, passed the buck. There was absolutely no communication from the match referee, Andy Pycroft, to explain why play was not possible, and he declined to speak to the media. What’s the point of having a match referee if that is their attitude?

To make matter worse, the umpires were so apathetic when it came to making an effort that they actually banned the groundstaff from the field when groundsman Wilson Ngobese and his staff wanted to proceed with mopping up operations, saying they preferred to allow natural processes like sun and wind to run their course.

Week in and week out rugby players are busy making crunching tackles and sidestepping such collisions in often wet conditions, but how often do one of them turn an ankle? With both teams happy to play, the only conclusion is that Gould and Illingworth were being overly precious.

The future of Test cricket may not bother them or Pycroft, but what happened at Kingsmead under their watch was a fiasco and just another small nail in the coffin of the original format of the game.

Proteas captain Faf du Plessis spoke earnestly on Friday about how, for them, Test cricket was still the ultimate and it needed better treatment from the ICC.

“Test cricket is still number one for the players and a Test Championship is a step in the right direction. You ask any of the international players and they will tell you that Test cricket is still the best thing to play and we need to play as many Tests as possible.

“You want to be able to say you’ve given everything on the field and that feeling of winning a Test can’t be copied, especially not by T20. I hope the ICC is looking at that,” Du Plessis said.

Sadly, the ICC are more interested in red tape and bureaucracy, and are way more likely to jump up and down about over-rates, sponsors’ logos being too big or a player saying something even mildly controversial in a press conference.

As usual, the administrators seem to think cricket fans are more interested in what they are up to than in the actual game they are meant to be serving.

Like Ackermann, Ralepelle is putting those bad days behind him 0

Posted on July 27, 2016 by Ken

 

Sharks hooker Chiliboy Ralepelle’s return to rugby has not been greeted with universal acclaim following his two-year ban for doping, but those who are unwilling to forgive the former Toulouse player should perhaps consider the case of high-riding Lions coach Johan Ackermann.

The former Springbok lock is just about the most popular figure in South African rugby at the moment because of the inspirational job he has done in taking the Lions from the wilderness three years ago and into this weekend’s SuperRugby playoffs, but he too was banned for two years in 1997 for nandrolone use.

Ackermann then made his return to the playing field and even returned to Test rugby in 2001. He made a second comeback in 2006, becoming the oldest player to represent the Springboks at 37 years and 34 days against Australia in July 2007 in Sydney. That record was subsequently broken last year by former Toulon star Victor Matfield, when he captained South Africa to the bronze medal in the World Cup playoff against Argentina aged 38 years and 172 days.

Interestingly, Ackermann and Ralepelle actually appeared in a Test together, back in November 2006 when the Springboks beat England 25-14 at Twickenham. Ackermann started in the number four jersey, while Ralepelle came off the bench to replace captain John Smit.

Those were the days when Ralepelle was a 20-year-old prospect, who was fast-tracked due to political pressure to include more Black African players in the Springbok team, a dozen years after Apartheid had ended. The next week, Ralepelle was named to captain the team against a World XV in Leicester, becoming not only the youngest player to captain the national team but also the first Black. Those of a more cynical disposition were sure coach Jake White, now with Montpellier, was making a statement aimed at the politicians more than anything else.

Ralepelle is not quite 30, so who knows what lies further down the road for him; perhaps he too could make an international comeback. But he is not keen to speak about the past and his indiscretion with drostanolone, an anabolic steroid popular with bodybuilders.

“I’m living a new chapter now, in a new environment. I’m excited and it’s just fantastic to be back playing rugby. I want to seize the opportunity to play the game I love,” Ralepelle told Midi Olympique this week.

Apart from the feeling that he was a political pawn, fast-tracked for reasons of window-dressing, Ralepelle has also had rotten luck with knee injuries.

One game into the 2007 SuperRugby season with the Bulls, he suffered a serious knee injury, which he injured again in the warm-ups for the 2008 campaign. He suffered further knee injuries in 2012 and in 2014 after just 16 matches for Toulouse.

Both the Bulls, based in Pretoria on the South African Highveld, and Toulouse are inland teams and, having served his ban, Ralepelle is now happy down on the coast in Durban, on the Indian Ocean.

“Durban is a lovely city, it has the best weather you could ask for, I can go to the beach any time I like!

“I had wonderful days in Pretoria, it’s where I grew up and first made my mark, and I also had a great time in France. I made great friends there, it’s a good environment and Toulouse is a great team, the home of rugby in France. It was a great opportunity and a great place to play, and I miss the culture and values of that team,” Ralepelle said.

But the Sharks have given Ralepelle a lifeline when perhaps nobody else would, thanks to Smit, who was the CEO when the hooker was signed last November, and director of rugby Gary Gold. It is not the first time the 2007 World Cup winning captain has aided Ralepelle.

Smit contributed some of the school fees to enable Ralepelle to study at Pretoria Boys’ High, which he himself attended.

Ralepelle is determined to be the author of his own success now and has clearly been working hard off the field, given the lean and mean physique he has been sporting during SuperRugby this season.

“It’s been great to get a few games under the belt and I can still improve, which is exciting. Every day I’m striving just to be more on top of my game. It’s a matter of time and it gets easier playing week in, week out. I’m not yet where I should be, but in the mean time I just want to give more and more of a contribution to the team.

“It’s important that I don’t put my body under pressure, so I worked hard before the season just to keep up with the pace of SuperRugby. I worked hard on my conditioning and I am a little lighter, which helps me to move around the park more. I can have an impact that way, it’s not just about strength because if you’re blowing after five or 10 minutes you’re not going to have much strength anyway,” Ralepelle said.

While French rugby still involves plenty of driving play and is extremely physical, SuperRugby is changing, according to Ralepelle, who returned to the Southern Hemisphere competition in April after three years away.

“There’s been a big change, mostly because of the laws. With the speed of the game, players really need to be fitter and stronger. It’s an amazing competition,” Ralepelle said.

How fortunes change in rugby is also amazing and, if Ralepelle, who remains both mobile and good in the loose as well as proficient in the set-pieces, needs any encouragement, he only needs to look at how Johan Ackermann has not only restored his reputation but has grown it exponentially.

Matchfixing investigators studying Tsolekile recording 0

Posted on May 11, 2016 by Ken

 

Investigators studying the Gulam Bodi cricket matchfixing case are in possession of a recording allegedly detailing a meeting between former Highveld Lions captain Thami Tsolekile and Indian gamblers, three informed sources have confirmed to Saturday Citizen.

The recording, in which Tsolekile allegedly discusses other players who are in on the scam, was apparently sent to one of the players who was approached by Bodi, possibly as a warning for them to keep quiet.

It was, instead, handed in to the anti-corruption and security unit at Cricket SA (CSA).

Bodi’s lawyers are also believed to have a copy of the recording and are looking at using it as leverage to prevent their client from being criminally prosecuted or to even get his sentence reduced. Bodi was banned from the game for 20 years in January.

Investigators are reportedly also homing in on a meeting Tsolekile had with the alleged bookies at a Rivonia strip club, with telephone records apparently showing he was there until 4am one morning in September.

The recording was apparently made of a subsequent meeting.

The match-fixing investigation has seen Tsolekile, who captained the Highveld Lions in the RamSlam T20 Challenge at the end of 2015 – but has not played for them since – go underground.

Saturday Citizen was unable to contact him for comment, but he has previously denied any involvement in corruption.

The former test wicketkeeper/batsman has not been seen at the Wanderers all year and team-mate Lonwabo Tsotsobe, who has previously admitted to being under investigation but denied having taken money to underperform, has also not been seen there since the end of the T20 competition, in which the Lions won just four of their 10 matches to finish second-last.

The 35-year-old Tsolekile has played three Tests for South Africa, the last one against England in 2004.

CSA said they were unable to comment on the matter as there was an ongoing investigation. Bodi was banned from the sport for 20 years, five of which are suspended, after earlier this year admitting to charges of contriving or attempting to fix matches in South Africa’s 2015 Ram SLAM T20 tournament.

He was charged with several counts of contriving or attempting to fix matches on December 31 2015 following an investigation conducted by CSA’s anti-corruption and security unit.

Bodi played two one-day internationals and one Twenty20 match for the national side in 2007.

http://www.citizen.co.za/1104555/thami-caught-out/

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    1 Corinthians 3:3 - "For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way?"

    One of my favourite U2 songs is a collaboration with Johnny Cash called The Wanderer, and it features the line "they say they want the kingdom, but they don't want God in it".
    Many people say they believe in God, but they don't experience his loving presence. They may be active in Christian work, but only if they have their way. If they cannot be leaders, they refuse to be involved.
    Because they refuse to allow God to fill their lives with his love, they remain weak and powerless.
    Spiritual maturity means developing a greater love for others.

    "When the love of Christ saturates you, immature attitudes such as pettiness, jealousy and strife are dissolved.
    "It is only when you have an intimate relationship with the Lord that you receive sufficient grace to rise above this immaturity and enjoy the solid food that the Holy Spirit gives you." - Solly Ozrovech, A Shelter From The Storm



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