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Ken Borland



Speeding towards the World Cup with an elephant in the dressingroom 0

Posted on June 29, 2017 by Ken

 

Judging by AB de Villiers’ comments after the Champions Trophy fiasco, South Africa could go speeding towards the 2019 World Cup having still not addressed the elephant in the dressingroom which is their continued, inexplicable failure to perform at their best in ICC knockout matches.

The Proteas are scheduled to play just 36 more ODIs before the June 2019 World Cup in England; they have played 36 ODIs since midway through their series in India in October 2015, just to give some perspective as to how quickly time will fly before the next showpiece ICC tournament starts.

And yet De Villiers maintained after the horrible showing against India last weekend that there was no lack of composure and the run outs and batting failures were not due to a mental problem. Given the skill levels of the players involved, it’s difficult to know what else could be the explanation.

It is probably a good thing, though, that the Champions Trophy disaster is still fresh in the minds as CSA begin the process to decide on who will be the Proteas coach that will guide yet another attempt at the elusive holy grail for South African cricket.

Two former Proteas coaches – who were both involved in coaching capacities during India’s memorable 2011 World Cup triumph – in Gary Kirsten and Eric Simons will sit on the five-man committee that will evaluate the applications and both have been outspoken about the problems South African players have in handling the pressures of ICC knockout matches.

It is one of the unwritten laws of sport that the most successful teams are able to shift pressure on to their opposition; sadly for the Proteas, they seem to crush themselves by piling pressure on to their own shoulders. In between ICC events, they are able to play freely and express themselves, at world cups they play totally differently – tentative and fearful cricket. Reading De Villiers’ autobiography, it is clear he has a Moby Dick sized obsession with winning the World Cup, an unhealthy obsession that probably does more harm than good.

The big difference between De Villiers and Virat Kohli is how the Indian captain invariably makes big runs when they are most needed; his 96 not out in the Champions Trophy semi-final was yet another example of that.

Whoever the Proteas coach will be, he needs to be able to free up the players when it comes to the high-pressure situations. The players need to pledge to each other that they will not change their games in knockout matches and it is the captain and coach who have to drive that.

No team plays with a greater burden of expectation than India, and yet Kirsten and Simons were able to get them winning and expressing themselves when they won the World Cup on home soil under immense pressure.

Simons raised some interesting points in the aftermath of the Champions Trophy loss, both in the SuperSport studio and in a subsequent conversation I had with him.

He pointed out that the Proteas never tried to shift the pressure India exerted on them with an excellent display in the field, India were never asked to try anything different.

When I asked him why India are consistently able to handle the pressure and expectation at ICC knockout events, he said he felt it was because their international players had come through a system featuring millions of cricketers so they have spent their entire lives ensuring they are on top of their game, they are always playing under intense scrutiny and, in a developing nation still wracked by poverty, it’s do or die for many of them. Natural selection and survival of the fittest in many ways.

“It’s not just these 11 Proteas players who have had the problem. CSA need to sit down and decide what to do, what do our teams lack? Somehow the players have got to be freed up … we saw them play differently against India. There needs to be a broader conversation about why? The world is asking the question, it’s time we did too,” Simons said.

I have no doubt Simons will bring the same questions to the panel that will decide the coaching situation moving forward.

But the first step in sorting out a problem is admitting you have a problem. As Paddy Upton, who was the mental coach when India, Kirsten and Simons won the 2011 World Cup, has pointed out, it’s part of the South African macho man psyche to never admit our vulnerabilities.

That has to change.

https://www.pressreader.com/south-africa/the-citizen-kzn/20170617/282269550387810

Lorgat’s resignation understandable, but his denial is baffling 0

Posted on February 01, 2017 by Ken

 

Cricket South Africa CEO Haroon Lorgat’s sense of resignation when it comes to the exodus of Kolpak players is understandable given the socio-economic factors that are ranged against him, but his continued denial that anything untoward happened before the 2015 World Cup semi-final is baffling and most troubling.

His own involvement in the selection fiasco that saw the in-form Kyle Abbott yanked from the team and replaced by a half-fit Vernon Philander has still not been totally clarified, but I would be extremely surprised if he was not acting on an ill-timed instruction from board level.

But just mention the 2015 World Cup semi-final and selection interference and Lorgat has his hackles up in an instant.

It happened again in Cape Town after the Proteas had won their Test against Sri Lanka to clinch the series,  their achievement totally overshadowed by the shock news that Abbott and Rilee Rossouw were shifting their loyalty to lucrative deals in county cricket.

When Abbott faced up to the media he was asked whether that fateful event in Auckland had anything to do with his decision to give up his international career, and he answered sincerely, saying there had been a lot of frustration, hurt and anger at the time, but that the team – including himself – had dealt with and moved on from all their negative emotions from that incident at their culture camp last August.

Lorgat was next up to be interviewed and, as soon as someone mentioned the words “World Cup semi-final”, they were scolded and the CEO launched into a tirade against the media for making things up. When one of the journalists, of colour, who happened to be at the World Cup and had done plenty to expose the selection shenanigans, pointed out to Lorgat that Abbott had sat in the same chair five minutes earlier and openly spoken about the issue, the CEO had to retreat and offered words along the lines of “I don’t want to talk about that now”.

But like reticent parents avoiding the sex-education talk, Lorgat is going to have to speak about it at some stage.

And the CSA National Team Review Panel report, that will be tabled before the members’ council on Saturday might just be the tool that gets Lorgat to open up, unless of course the relevant pages are lost somewhere in the toilets at head office at the Wanderers.

There has been talk of the report recommending that CSA and the board apologise to the players for what happened in Auckland. There is no confirmation of that, but I have it on record from someone who has read the findings that under the Team Culture section it indicates that it’s “strongly recommended that interaction happens either individually or in a group between players and senior members of the board and support staff”.

Speaking to members of the panel, none of them wanted to create anything controversial and all they hope is that something good comes out of their work.

The introduction of set targets has obviously helped because now the quotas are out in the open; but amongst the players there is still the lingering fear of an administrator again deciding to take the job of a selector upon himself and interfering in the make-up of the team.

The bungling of the transformation aspect of the 2015 World Cup needs to be put to bed – otherwise imagine how septic a boil it will be in the lead-up to 2019? – and an acknowledgement and apology from Lorgat for his role in the controversy would be a big step along that road.

Misfortune of Rossouw the joy of De Bruyn 0

Posted on December 16, 2016 by Ken

 

The continued misfortune of Rilee Rossouw has turned out to be the joy of Theunis de Bruyn, with the Knights captain called up to the South African Test squad for the first time on Wednesday, ahead of the three-Test series against Sri Lanka which starts on Boxing Day.

Rossouw, who toured Australia without playing in any of the Tests, has been ruled out of action by another foot injury and his place in the squad has been taken by uncapped Knights team-mate De Bruyn.

The tall 24-year-old has been considered an obvious future international for the last three seasons, boasting an impressive first-class average of 48.73 with six centuries in 32 matches including a double for  SA A against the England Lions. Convenor of selectors Linda Zondi told The Citizen that De Bruyn is considered a future star of all three formats.

“Theunis a good talent and has done well for both his franchise and SA A. Obviously we aren’t pleased with Rilee’s injury because he’s the next batsman in line, and Stiaan van Zyl would probably also have been in line had he not signed a Kolpak deal, but Theunis is next in the pecking order. It’s good to get him into the set-up because we definitely see him as a future star for the Proteas, playing in all the formats,” Zondi said.

“It’s obviously very disappointing for Rilee, I spoke to him in Australia and he really wants to do well for South Africa and was very happy with the way we backed him in the ODIs. He’s obviously an exceptional player and he will still do well in the future for South Africa and contribute immensely going forward because it’s still a long season ahead and he’s definitely still in our plans.”

Because the Proteas are now back on home soil, the squad has been reduced to 13 players, with Wayne Parnell the fast bowler called in to replace the injured Morne Morkel and Dale Steyn. Wrist-spinner Tabraiz Shamsi, all-rounder Dwaine Pretorius and reserve wicketkeeper Dane Vilas are no longer part of the squad.

The likelihood of De Bruyn making his debut will depend on whether captain Faf du Plessis escapes a ban from his appeal for ball-tampering on Monday, but just being in camp with the Test team will be of immense benefit to the development of the elegant right-hander.

“Even if he doesn’t make the starting XI, he’s going to gain more experience and fitting into those surroundings and the culture of the team will only enhance his belief that he will be able to fit in at international level,” Zondi said.

http://www.pressreader.com/south-africa/the-citizen-kzn/20161215/282209420496484

Rabada merely continuing his amazing trend of excellence 0

Posted on February 01, 2016 by Ken

 

When Kagiso Rabada took a record-equalling 13 wickets in just his sixth Test match it may have astonished the cricket world, but it merely continued an amazing trend in his still youthful career of rapidly excelling at every new level he has been thrust into.

While he was a pupil at St Stithians, he made the Gauteng Schools side while still in Grade 11 and immediately made his mark with 3/26 and a brilliant final over to win a T20 game against North-West.

He was earmarked as a future star by being chosen for the SA Schools Colts side and by the time Rabada was in matric, he was already playing for the SA Under-19 team touring England.

SA Schools selection was a given in 2013 and he first announced himself to the global stage at the 2014 Under-19 World Cup when he destroyed Australia with 6/25 in the semifinal and played a major role in South Africa winning that prestigious ICC title for the first time.

He made his first-class debut for Gauteng in the same summer and, after just two games and seven wickets in the first-class three-day competition, he was promoted to the Highveld Lions senior franchise team, again taking seven wickets in two matches.

When the Highveld Lions won the Sunfoil Series in March 2015 – the first time they had won the four-day competition since the inception of the franchise system – Rabada was their joint leading wicket- taker with Hardus Viljoen, taking 39 wickets at 21.12, including a magnificent 14 wickets in the match against the Dolphins at the Wanderers. His nine for 33 in the second innings, setting up a 10-wicket win, were the second-best innings figures in the franchise era and his match haul of 14 for 105 beat Dale Steyn’s previous best of 14 for 110. They were the best figures ever recorded at the famous Bullring.

Despite his tender years, international cricket was the logical next step and, in his ODI debut against Bangladesh in Mirpur, in conditions that could not have been more foreign to the lush Highveld pitches he was used to, Rabada took six for 16, including a hat-trick.

While being able to swing the ball at high pace is an amazing gift, Rabada still seems to have an extraordinary knack for taking wickets. Former West Indies bowling all-rounder Ottis Gibson, the England bowling coach who spent many summers in South Africa playing for Border, Gauteng and Griqualand West, says that’s because Rabada bows a fuller length than most South African fast bowlers, meaning he will find the edge of the bat more often.

While the 20-year-old generally gets the ball up there to maximise movement, he does possess a slippery bouncer and uses it extremely well as a surprise delivery. At his pace, it’s more like a shock ball.

Because of his tremendous talent and his importance in socio-political terms, there has been plenty of noise about protecting Rabada from a too-heavy workload. But the bowler himself said this week that he prefers doing more bowling and he doesn’t feel that he needs treatment that is any different to the monitoring and managing the other Proteas quicks undergo.

The knees are good, he has a tremendously athletic build and, apparently, a perfectly-aligned spine, an absolute rarity that is a great gift for any fast bowler.

Gibson was also certain that Rabada would get quicker as he reaches full adulthood – a scary prospect – and, interestingly, that there were even technical tweaks he could do to give him some extra yards of pace.

Time will tell whether Rabada will break the records of Allan Donald, Shaun Pollock, Makhaya Ntini and Steyn at international level, but they have all been mightily impressed by the level-headed young man who has the temperament to go with his physical attributes.

“His overall skill just blows me away and even his control is exceptional, it’s a bit freakish. I still think he’s going to get quicker and it stands him in good stead that he’s grooving that control for when the extra pace comes later. He’s already ahead of where he should be, his rhythm is good, he’s tall, athletic and can bowl a heavy ball, and when you combine all of that together, as he grows into his body he’s definitely going to get faster,” Donald, who was the bowling coach when Rabada was first included in the Proteas squad, said.

“He’s got all the raw ingredients. He has pace, control, heart and athleticism. And he is only 20. He has shown he can learn fast and has also bowled very well in the end overs, shown very good temperament,” was Pollock’s considered view.

Steyn is excited about someone he has been mentoring.

“KG has a very good attitude and is always asking a lot of questions – and the right questions. He has everything he needs to be a good fast bowler – pace, a good build, quite tall and intimidating,” Steyn said.

Ntini, for so long the lone Black African flagbearer, is delighted.

“I am so excited, happiness is an understatement. I am excited to watch him in the long run. He has put it out there that you should fear me now, not me being worried about who I am bowling to. If he can continue and have his head grounded, nothing will change. He is almost like a young apple tree that is growing very, very fast in a desert.”

http://citizen.co.za/967847/sky-the-limit-for-rising-star-rabada/



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