for quality writing

Ken Borland



Those were the days of struggle & now Benkenstein is back 0

Posted on November 29, 2017 by Ken

 

New Proteas batting coach Dale Benkenstein’s last involvement with the national cricket set-up was 15 years ago, in October 2002, when he played his 23rd and final ODI for South Africa against Bangladesh in Benoni, perhaps a suitably low-key finale to an international playing career that promised much but was never brought to full bloom.

Those were the days when South African cricket was still recovering from the demise and tragic death just four months previously of Hansie Cronje, the much-admired captain who was then exposed as a match-fixer.

Those were also the days when the World Cup curse was really starting to engulf the South African team – Benkenstein was watching from the changeroom as a non-playing squad member when they threw away their 1999 semifinal against Australia in farcical circumstances and was a spectator at Kingsmead in 2003 when the shambles over their understanding of the Duckworth/Lewis calculations knocked them out of the tournament.

Benkenstein, having marked himself out as a natural leader with his captaincy of the SA U19 side, was given the reins of a star-studded Natal team at the age of just 22 and did such a great job that he quickly became the heir apparent to Cronje in the national team.

But those were also the days when there appeared to be a tendency for the existing captain to suppress the development of his closest rival: Under Cronje’s watch, Benkenstein was never really given a fair chance to establish himself in the national team. He would play one or two games and then be left out, or would be shifted up and down the batting order, in a manner that seemed to suggest life was being made as tough as possible for him.

Neil McKenzie, similarly, seemed to struggle to hold down a place while Shaun Pollock was skipper and it was Graeme Smith who finally ended the trend as he actively pushed for McKenzie’s return to the national team.

Benkenstein did have his shortcomings as an international batsman – but almost all batsmen at that level have weaknesses which they work hard to avoid being exposed. But those very flaws help make the 43-year-old an excellent batting coach because he understands the dynamics of technique and the massive importance of the mental side of batting, having wrestled with those issues himself.

The best coaches are often not the former players with the best records, simply because they have empathy for the struggling cricketer, and Graham Ford, who played such a key role in the development of players such as Benkenstein, Pollock, Jonty Rhodes and Lance Klusener at Natal, is the prime example of that.

Benkenstein and the new Proteas head coach, Ottis Gibson, are former team-mates at Durham, the English county that was only elevated into top-level cricket in 1992, and it was the arrival of the Natal captain that ended years of disappointment and elevated them into a force in the UK. So the West Indian is well aware of his new batting coach’s inspirational qualities, and he and Benkenstein added 315 for the seventh wicket in 2006 to avoid relegation. Gibson played a major role with the ball in the trophies won thereafter.

Given that South Africa’s World Cup struggles are symptomatic of muddled mental skills at key times, the arrival of one of the clearest thinkers on the game can only be a positive.

But one hopes that the skills of McKenzie, another ex-Protea who brings immense value to the changeroom, will not be lost to South African cricket now that Benkenstein has taken his place in the national set-up.

The appointment of Malibongwe Maketa as the assistant coach is also pleasing as the development of Black African coaches is vital if the transformation of South African cricket is to progress, but one obviously feels for Geoff Toyana, the Highveld Lions coach who seemed certain to be involved with the national team in some capacity.

The acquisition of a few more domestic trophies will certainly keep Toyana’s name in the conversation to succeed Gibson, however.

https://www.pressreader.com/south-africa/the-citizen-gauteng/20171125/282325385282186

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.

“In the 50 overs competition, we passed 400 three times and that doesn’t happen by chance, it comes because the batsmen are encouraged to be aggressive. Batting deep is also important and having guys in the middle who can hit boundaries.”

 

The Titans start the defence of their title against their neighbours from Johannesburg, the Lions, at SuperSport Park on Sunday, November 12, as the main attraction of a double-header also featuring the WSB Cape Cobras against the Hollywoodbets Dolphins. Morkel’s team also scored 194 for four in their game against the Lions at the Wanderers, on their way to a 42-run win.

 

With the Titans producing such entertaining, winning T20 cricket, the hour is now to make plans to watch their campaign for a hat-trick of titles. To make attending their games even more attractive, a number of Proteas stars will be playing.

 

“We didn’t win the last two competitions by chance, we have a recipe that has proved itself, although there are always small things we can improve on. It’s always nice to start a new competition with some sort of momentum and most of the guys have put in good performances to go to the top of the Sunfoil Series log.

 

“We’ll have a few players from the Proteas as well and we’ll be able to put good sides out on the field again, guys who know how to play T20 and how to play the big moments. Form is very important, but so too is the team gelling together.

 

“We would now rather rotate players than loan them out, but we have to be mature about it and by the knockouts we should know who the guys in form are. Until then we need to do the basics right, you can’t overlook how important small things are, every ball is an event,” concluded Morkel.

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

Most daunting journey of all for well-travelled McLaren 0

Posted on November 01, 2017 by Ken

 

Ryan McLaren has travelled many miles in his cricket career but he is about to embark on his most daunting journey of all as the probable replacement for Jacques Kallis in South Africa’s Test side.

The 30-year-old has gone from being born into a famous Kimberley family through Grey College in Bloemfontein, stints as a Kolpak player in English county cricket for Kent and Middlesex, three IPL teams and on to play for South Africa.

Although the national selectors named a 15-man squad yesterday to take on Australia in the three-Test series next month, McLaren is the favourite to replace Kallis, coming in at number seven and providing the team with a fourth seamer.

National selection convenor Andrew Hudson spoke of “staying with the brand of cricket that has brought us such success” and that means a fourth seamer will be an integral part of South Africa’s game plan, which involves unrelenting pressure on the opposition.

But, as coach Russell Domingo pointed out, with no Kallis, having a fourth seamer means either dropping a batsman or not playing a spinner.

“We have to do away with the luxury of having seven specialist batsmen. Number seven will now probably be an all-rounder or a spinner.

“It’s very difficult to have seven batsmen, four seamers and a spinner. Something has to give, and I do like to have a spinner because it gives the team a lot more balance,” Domingo said yesterday.

It won’t of course be a Test debut for McLaren because he has appeared for South Africa in the ultimate version of the game before – against England at the Wanderers four years ago.

McLaren bowled tidily as part of a five-prong seam attack that ran rampant over England, dismissing them for just 180 and 169 as South Africa romped to victory by an innings and 74 runs to level the series. The left-handed batsman also scored 33 not out coming in at number eight.

Wayne Parnell also made his debut in that match and has also been included in the squad to play the Aussies. Although Domingo said he loved the 140km/h pace and left-arm variation that Parnell brings to the attack, McLaren’s greater consistency – he could do the holding role alongside Steyn, Morkel and Philander very well – and better ability with the bat should see him get the nod.

McLaren has the experience of already playing 40 ODIs and 10 T20s for South Africa and has become an integral part of the 50-over side in the last year. He’s a genuine all-rounder: In 103 first-class matches he has scored 3860 runs at an average of 30 and has taken 329 wickets at 25.47.

McLaren said he has no delusions of stepping into Kallis’s boots but is also confident that he can perform the role the national team requires of him.

“I’ve pretty much made peace with the fact that you can’t make comparisons between myself and Jacques. There’s only been one Jacques Kallis and there will only ever be one.

“So I’m just going to focus on the role I have to perform, which is batting seven and bowling second-change, which is pretty much what I’ve been doing most of my career.

“As an all-rounder, there’s always the physical demands of contributing in both disciplines, but it’s nothing new for me because I’ve been doing it for the Knights for many years – bowling 20 or 25 overs a day and batting.

“I will take some confidence from how I’ve performed well in ODI cricket in the last year, but Test cricket is a totally different game, it’s where every cricketer wants to be measured. And there’s no greater test than playing against Australia, so I’m excited for the challenge,” McLaren said.

The absence of Kallis will lead to another change in the batting order, with Domingo confirming that Faf du Plessis would be promoted to the number four spot, the place where greats such as Graeme Pollock, Sachin Tendulkar, Wally Hammond and Javed Miandad batted.

“It’s no state secret, Faf is the guy we have earmarked for number four. He made a big hundred at number four to save a Test recently and he bats there at franchise level. He’s a suitable replacement,” Domingo said.

Robin Peterson, the left-arm orthodox incumbent, is the only specialist spinner in the squad, but Hudson said the selection certainly did not mark the end of Imran Tahir’s Test career.

“Robbie P has put in some good performances lately and he did well in Perth at the back end of the last tour to Australia. He fits in with the style of cricket we want to play.

“But we know Imran Tahir can bowl with variety and an attacking leg-spinner on a turning pitch is still an option for us because we play a lot of cricket in the sub-continent. We certainly are not going past Imran,” Hudson said.

Domingo suggested that the pitches for the three Tests – in Centurion, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town – will favour the quick bowlers, setting up the most tantalising pace war between the two best fast bowling attacks in world cricket.

“We would like pitches that assist our bowlers. Our batsmen are well-versed in South African conditions, whereas in Australia the pitches are more in favour of the batsmen. In South Africa they favour the fast bowlers more and our batsmen are used to adapting to that,” the coach said.

Squad – Graeme Smith, Alviro Petersen, Hashim Amla, Faf du Plessis, AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, Dean Elgar, Ryan McLaren, Wayne Parnell, Thami Tsolekile, Robin Peterson, Vernon Philander, Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel, Rory Kleinveldt.

*Left-arm paceman Beuran Hendricks and off-spinner Simon Harmer will practice with the squad for the sake of preparation against Mitchell Johnson and Nathan Lyon. 

https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2014-01-30-ryan-mclaren-his-own-man-not-stepping-into-kallis-shoes/#.WfmzAFuCzIU

Credit to those who ensure real transformation 0

Posted on October 17, 2017 by Ken

 

Jacques Kallis has controversial views on transformation in cricket that have garnered him negative press in recent times, but what is seldom reported on is how his foundation every year pays for 10 previously disadvantaged children to attend top schools and thus ensure their lives are properly transformed.

Much of what is said and done in the name of transformation is mere self-serving political expediency or empty talk, so Kallis deserves credit for actually making a difference – the Jacques Kallis Foundation gives a full bursary to children who show cricketing talent, as well as academic merit and have financial needs, to attend one of four prestigious schools – Wynberg Boys High, Maritzburg College, Selborne or Pretoria Boys High.

Kallis himself admits that he would never have become the global cricket icon he is were it not for the bursary that paid for him to attend Wynberg, where his incredible talent flourished.

The profitability of these efforts, which have been in place since 2004 when Kallis started the foundation with the R550 000 he received from his Western Province benefit year, is best measured not by the cricketers it produces but by the lives it changes. An example of this is the young man who was given a bursary to Pretoria Boys High after being spotted at the national U13 Week; although the cricket did not work out as hoped, he is now studying his honours in actuarial science.

The Jacques Kallis Foundation is now being amalgamated with the Momentum 2 Excellence Bursary Programme, meaning 26 learners will now have their school fees paid for, securing quality education and a bright future for even more deserving youngsters.

The announcement of the merger was made at the confirmation of something that is the best news for South African cricket in a long time: that Momentum have extended their sponsorship deal with Cricket South Africa for another five years.

The wonderful thing about Momentum’s involvement in cricket is not just what thoroughly decent people they are or what wonderful functions they host, it is that they have invested as much in the grassroots of cricket as in their high-profile title sponsorship of all one-day cricket in South Africa and their groundbreaking support of the rapidly rising national women’s team.

Momentum also sponsor the Friendship Games in which top schools play, home and away, against a combined team of underprivileged schools in their area; all CSA’s junior weeks and development projects focused around the eKasi Challenge.

While some local stakeholders are warning that the massive investment in South African cricket that will come from the T20 Global League might not have an entirely positive effect, nobody will quibble that Momentum’s continued involvement in cricket is a tremendous coup and a feather in CSA’s cap.

As CSA chief executive Haroon Lorgat said: “We know what Momentum have done through the years with their huge commitment, from the junior ranks right through to international level. They have been fabulous sponsors.”

The only sadness at the announcement was the news that Danie van den Bergh, the passionate, much-loved head of marketing at Momentum, has a well-earned promotion and will be shifting his focus away from day-to-day involvement with cricket.

He will still, of course, pop into games as and when he can and, considering the size of his personality and the excellence of the staff that remain, I’m sure the cricket family will remain oblivious to much changing at all.

Van den Bergh pointed to a return of more than a billion rand on their investment when he said “cricket has done wonders for us”; it’s only fair to say, Danie, you and Momentum have done wonders for the game.

https://www.pressreader.com/south-africa/the-citizen-gauteng/20170916/282527248605439



↑ Top