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Ken Borland

Four South Africans have Ford in their sights 0

Posted on October 28, 2015 by Ken


Matt Ford produced another marvellous round on the second day of the Africa Open at East London Golf Club to lead going into the weekend, but he will have several dangerous pursuers, including four South Africans, in the second half of the co-sanctioned European/Sunshine Tour event.

Ford backed up his 67 in the first round with a six-under-par 66 on Friday and enjoys a one-stroke lead heading into the weekend on 11-under-par.

Kevin Phelan, who shared the first-round lead, and Richard Bland, who was one stroke back, both slipped down the leaderboard, but Ford still has 10 golfers within four shots of him.

Spain’s Edoardo de la Riva is second on 10-under-par after shooting a 66, a score which was matched by Jaco van Zyl and Erik Van Rooyen.  The pair leads the South African charge on eight-under-par alongside Frenchman Gregory Havret.

Two more locals, Neil Schietekat and Trevor Fisher Junior, are on seven-under and share sixth position with Maximilian Kieffer, Mark Tullo, David Howell and John Parry.

South Africans have won all seven previous editions of the Africa Open, and with Van Zyl, Van Rooyen, Schietekat and Fisher Junior all moving up the leaderboard, they have a good chance of continuing that streak.

The 36-year-old Ford has dreamed for a long time of competing on the European Tour, going back to Qualifying School 10 times before finally winning his card last November, and he is looking more and more comfortable at this level, managing to follow a low round with another one for the first time.

“I played nicely today, I’m very happy. It’s been two good rounds and hopefully there are two to come. I gave myself plenty of opportunities and was inside 15 feet 11 times. I was just trying to hit good shots and take advantage of the slightly easier conditions,” Ford said after a round that featured six birdies, an eagle and two bogeys.

But how Ford handles the pressures of the unknown remains to be seen. Van Zyl, with 13 Sunshine Tour titles, has much more experience of winning, even though he is yet to claim a European Tour title, despite having six top-three finishes.

“I’ve got to take it one shot at a time and not get ahead of myself. But if I give myself as many opportunities as I can to win, then it has to happen some time. But you’ve obviously got to play nicely and being in contention brings different pressures and expectations. But life will become a lot easier once I get one under the belt,” Van Zyl said.

The highlight of Van Zyl’s round, which began on the ninth hole, was a run of eagle-birdie-birdie from the third hole, and the 36-year-old said it was down to his putter.

“I’m probably at about 70% of how well I can drive, but now I’m making the putts. I had 27 yesterday and 25 today. Yesterday was really tough though and I was very chuffed I managed to shoot two-under. It was a lot easier this morning, it was totally different today, a lot of the holes were into a little breeze but there were still quite a few holes to capitalise on,” Van Zyl said.

The Dainfern Country Club representative, who is making an impressive comeback from surgery on both knees last year, says he just feels enormously comfortable at East London Golf Club, as long as he is not being blown off his feet by the wind.

“This course just suits my eye. It feels like even if I play 70% of my best I’ll still break par, while on some other courses you can be playing at 100% and still struggle to break par,” Van Zyl said.

Kieffer, a German, produced the round of the day with a top-class nine-under-par 63. He started with a bogey five on the ninth hole, but then went on a superb run of five birdies in seven holes on the back nine.

The front nine started with Kieffer draining a 15-foot putt for eagle on the par-five first hole and a trio of birdies followed to complete a dazzling round which lifted a relative rookie on the European Tour from a tie for 89th position right up to a tie for sixth.

Schietekat is starting to show the consistency on the tour that he showed as a teenager on the amateur circuit and he ensured he stayed in contention with a solid three-under-par 69.

“It was quite nice to have some calm weather this morning but I’m not hitting the ball exactly the way I want to. But my putting got me out of trouble and the draw worked nicely for me. Maybe something will happen this weekend … ” Schietekat said.

Cheetahs standing in the way of new Sharks era 0

Posted on July 31, 2015 by Ken


A dangerous Toyota Cheetahs side are standing in the way of the Cell C Sharks starting their new era on a winning note when the two neighbouring franchises start their Vodacom SuperRugby campaigns at Kings Park on Saturday.

New Sharks coach Gary Gold has been preaching pragmatism ahead of the match, particularly since the Cheetahs are highly adept at punishing mistakes and he doesn’t want his players getting ahead of themselves in their efforts to play more entertaining rugby.

“The danger comes with those expectations and I don’t want the players believing that it will be easy, especially since the Cheetahs have been a bit of a nemesis for the Sharks. The way they play – they’re not conservative – means they are hard to manage.

“If we’re not on top of our game then we’ll get beaten. We need to give them respect and play properly. They’re a good team, with mobile forwards, experienced halfbacks and plenty of danger at the back. They are very capable of punishing mistakes so we need to play with some pragmatism, it’s going to be a really tough game,” Gold warned.

It seems all the talk of playing running rugby and scoring tries will have to be put aside for the time being, the intense humidity at this time of year in Durban making the ball difficult to handle, with the Sharks looking to use their obvious strength in the tight five to lay the platform.

“We need the tight five to step up and get us ascendancy in the set-pieces. That’s critical for us when conditions are going to make it hard to move the ball around,” Gold confirmed to The Citizen on Friday.

The draining effects of the sapping humidity also counts against a free-flowing game, but the Cheetahs are the sort of side that will be waiting to pounce on the slightest of chances to counter-attack.

There is the ball-stealing threat of Coenie Oosthuizen, the sniping runs of Sarel Pretorius and the trickery of Willie le Roux for the Sharks to worry about, while the Cheetahs have made up for the loss of Johan Goosen at flyhalf by selecting the experienced former Stormers fullback Joe Pietersen.


Sharks: 15-SP Marais, 14-S’bura Sithole, 13-Waylon Murray, 12-Heimar Williams, 11-Lwazi Mvovo, 10-Pat Lambie, 9-Cobus Reinach, 8-Tera Mtembu, 7-Renaldo Bothma, 6-Marcell Coetzee, 5-Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4-Mouritz Botha, 3-Jannie du Plessis, 2-Bismarck du Plessis, 1-Tendai Mtawarira. Replacements – 16-Kyle Cooper, 17-Dale Chadwick, 18-Matt Stevens, 19-Marco Wentzel, 20-Jean Deysel, 21-Conrad Hoffmann, 22-Fred Zeilinga, 23-Odwa Ndungane.

Cheetahs: 15-Willie le Roux, 14-Clayton Blommetjies, 13-Francois Venter, 12-Michael van der Spuy, 11-Raymond Rhule, 10-Joe Pietersen, 9-Sarel Pretorius, 8-Willie Britz, 7-Teboho Mohoje, 6-Jean Cook, 5-Francois Uys, 4-Lood de Jager, 3-Coenie Oosthuizen, 2-Torsten van Jaarsveld, 1-Danie Minnie. Replacements – 16-Stephan Coetzee, 17- BG Uys, 18-Maks van Dyk, 19-Carl Wegner, 20-Boom Prinsloo, 21-Tian Meyer, 22-Willie du Plessis, 23-Cornal Hendricks.


Dangerous pitch gives decent Benoni crowd only 90 minutes of action 0

Posted on November 19, 2014 by Ken

Only 90 minutes of action for a decent-sized crowd was possible at Willowmoore Park in Benoni on Sunday as the Momentum One-Day Cup match between the Unlimited Titans and the Chevrolet Knights was abandoned due to a dangerous pitch.

The Titans had lost the toss and been sent in to bat and they had struggled to 45 for three in 19 overs when umpires Dennis Smith and Gerrie Pienaar, in consultation with match referee Barry Lambson, called the game off.

“The match has been called off in consultation with me because the umpires feel the pitch is too dangerous. They have to consider the safety of the players and several batsmen were hit on the hand, quite a few deliveries jumped off the pitch and at times balls kept low as well. It was getting more uneven,” Lambson said.

The Titans batsmen to be dismissed were Heino Kuhn (5), Henry Davids (25) and Theunis de Bruyn (8), and they all had to contend with deliveries rearing up off a good length, taking blows to the hands practically every over.

Lambson will now submit a report, including photographs and a pitch sample, to Cricket South Africa, who will decide what further action to take.

The Titans, who lost their first two matches in the One-Day Cup, will be hoping points are not deducted from them as the host franchise.

“It’s not as if we requested the pitch and we’re as badly impacted as the opposition, so if points are deducted I don’t think that will be fair. We had nothing to do with it,” Titans coach Rob Walter said.

“It’s sad for cricket and the brand because it’s hard enough to get people into the grounds. It’s the last thing they need and it’s very sad. I can understand if they don’t want to come back next time.”

The strange thing about the pitch debacle is that the strip for Sunday’s game was the one next to the track used for the four-day game against the Warriors, on which batsmen had their fill, Roelof van der Merwe scoring an unbeaten double century.

“I’m not sure what to think because the four-day wicket was a ripper and in just 10 days this has happened, which I don’t quite understand because I know groundsman Brendon Frost works bloody hard,” Walter said.

De Bruyn’s dismissal in the 17th over, gloving a catch behind to wicketkeeper Rudi Second off Dillon du Preez was indicative of the problems with the pitch. The previous delivery had only bounced ankle high and the wicket-taking ball, pitching in the same spot, reared up viciously and almost hit the batsman in the head.

The prospect of Marchant de Lange bowling at more than 140km/h on the pitch was the deciding factor for the umpires.

“Marchant is a lot quicker than the bowlers used by the Knights and nobody would like to face him on this pitch,” Lambson said.



Kyle Abbott: ‘A captain’s dream’ 0

Posted on February 23, 2013 by Ken

AB de Villiers described him as “a captain’s dream” and this was after just 11.4 overs in his first Test.

But this was Kyle Abbott South Africa’s vice-captain was talking about after the Dolphins paceman had taken an extraordinary seven for 29 on debut to make sure the third Test against Pakistan at Centurion will always be indelibly linked to his name.

With three days to go, the third and final Test is in South African control as Abbott’s amazing bowling dismissed Pakistan for just 156 and, forced to follow-on 253 runs behind on first innings, they have already lost a wicket in their second innings.

Pakistan’s batting is ill-equipped to handle skilful seam bowling on helpful pitches and many cricketers have enjoyed sensational debuts without kicking on, but Abbott is blessed with the basic, yet seemingly most difficult skills, to make this an idle warning.

The 25-year-old is pacy enough and the nagging line just on or about off stump that he bowls, with his height often giving him steepling bounce, is guaranteed to put batsmen in danger.

Six of the seven wickets Abbott took fell to catches behind the wicket and the Kearsney College old boy is a perfect fit for the preferred South African tactics of controlled aggression, bounce and aiming for the edges of the opposition bats.

“He’s a captain’s dream. He bowls with a lot of control, he’s really consistent, hits the deck hard and finds the outside edges. He gets good torque on the ball and gets the batsmen to play. He was amazing today,” De Villiers gushed.

The Zululand product’s figures were the best ever in the first innings of a debut Test for South Africa (fifth overall) and the second best by a Proteas bowler in his first Test. The South African record is held by Lance Klusener, who just happens to be the lanky paceman’s coach at the Dolphins, and who took eight for 64 in the memorable 329-run victory over India in Kolkata in 1996, the tourists’ first win there.

The famously taciturn Klusener has undoubtedly been the major factor in Abbott’s rise from talented paceman to the best on the domestic circuit, but the advice the debutant received from his mentor on the eve of his big day was of the brief but meaningful variety.

“He phoned me on Thursday night and I was telling him that Jacques Kallis had got injured and I was going to play, and he was just saying ‘yes, ja, ok, yes’, but then he just said ‘keep it tidy’ and that was the end of the conversation,” Abbott said.

The reserved Klusener was unfairly criticised during his playing days for not being a team man, but it must now be official, the man is a man-management genius.

“Lance has been unbelievable, what a guy! He has really helped me mentally the most, he hasn’t changed anything technically. He’s just taught me a different mental approach, to be more aggressive and to hit the deck hard.

“Lance and I have just clicked, he understands what I need to fire and he presses the right buttons,” Abbott said.

While pace and aggression are definitely there, the most impressive aspect of Abbott’s bowling was his probing line just on or about off stump.  With the occasional delivery standing up as well, the rookie was in charge from the moment he had Mohammad Hafeez caught in the gully off the last ball of his first over.

After having Pakistan captain Misbah ul-Haq brilliantly caught in the slips by Alviro Petersen, Abbott had two for 16 from six overs at tea, which the visitors took on 91 for four.

The Pakistanis never recovered from Dale Steyn trapping Asad Shafiq lbw for six in the first over after the break, with Abbott piling on further misery for the tourists by removing Sarfraz Ahmed (17) and Saeed Ajmal, both caught at first slip by Graeme Smith, with successive deliveries.

Ehsan Adil (9) then edged Abbott to third slip and the Sunfoil Series’ leading wickettaker then added the wickets of Mohammad Irfran (0) and Younis Khan (33) to finish with the ninth best debut figures in Test history.

South Africa captain Smith then forced Pakistan to follow-on – to show how positive he is and how much faith he has in his bowling attack – and there was immediate reward as Mohammad Hafeez edged Dale Steyn’s first ball into his stumps.

Azhar Ali (5*) and Younis (8*) then took Pakistan through to stumps on 14 for one.

South Africa’s weakened pace attack had already shown that they meant business as they reduced Pakistan to 91 for four at tea on the second day.

South Africa were right on top, having scored 409 in their first innings after De Villiers’ superb century and strong support from Vernon Philander had considerably boosted their innings from 248 for six.

Resuming on nine without loss after lunch, Hafeez and Imran Farhat looked on their way to just the second half-century opening partnership against South Africa this summer as they reached 46 without loss after 16 overs.

Ed Cowan and David Warner of Australia had been the only other opening pair to prosper as they put on 77 in Adelaide in November.

But the seventh delivery of Philander’s first spell from the West Lane End pitched on middle-and-off and straightened, trapping Farhat lbw for 30 as the left-hander tried to play around the front pad.

The aggressive Farhat had faced 60 balls and hit three fours, but the slips were always interested when he was at the crease.

The next over saw Abbott bowl the first over of his international career. The first ball was too straight and tucked through square-leg for four with the sweetest of timing by Azhar.

The 25-year-old Abbott thereafter settled on a steady line just outside off stump and, being tall, he occasionally obtained steep bounce, making it a risk for the Pakistan batsmen to attack him.

Hafeez did try at the end of his first over and was cramped as the ball nipped back into him, and the catch went low to gully, where it was well-taken by Dean Elgar.

Hafeez had survived for 85 minutes and 44 balls, and scored 18.

Both openers were out within 11 balls of each other and worse was to follow when Philander removed Azhar (6) with the next delivery.

Azhar was conned by a delivery that kept low outside off stump, edging the ball back into his stumps. Although it is not a pitch batsmen can fully trust, it was a lame stroke by Azhar, hanging a limp bat out to dry.

The West Lane End was giving Abbott steep bounce and that’s what undid Misbah ul-Haq, who provided the slips with an edge as he was squared-up. Alviro Petersen dived low in front of first slip to take a great catch and the Pakistan captain was back in the hut for 10.

Younis had been in for almost an hour when tea arrived, but had scored just 13, while Asad Shafiq was with him on two not out.

Philander had taken two for 21 in seven overs and Abbott two for 16 in six, while Rory Kleinveldt, wicketless in eight overs, had been most unfortunate in his first spell.

He beat the bat several times and seemed to have trapped Farhat in front on 27, only for Hawkeye to say the ball pitched outside leg-stump. It merely added more fuel to the fire for those who don’t have complete faith in DRS’s ball-tracking abilities.

The morning belonged to De Villiers and Philander.

It’s becoming apparent that De Villiers is maintaining his brilliant batting form despite having to keep wicket as well, while Robin Peterson and now Philander have made crucial contributions down the order in successive Tests.

South Africa had resumed on their overnight score of 334 for six, with De Villiers on 98 not out, and his second scoring stroke, another classical drive through the covers, brought him three runs and his 16th Test century. It came off 186 balls and included 13 wonderful strokes to the boundary.

Just a ball later, Pakistan had one of two chances to strike an early blow but fluffed it as Philander edged a drive at Rahat Ali which wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed dived for but could not reach, while first slip Hafeez hesitated.

Philander was obviously going to play his shots on Saturday morning and he went to his second Test half-century off 85 balls and made it to 74, a career-best, before Younis proved the surprise package and had him caught low down by Hafeez at first slip.

De Villiers continued to score freely, going to 121 off 215 deliveries, with 15 fours, before he chased after a short-pitched delivery from Rahat and Shafiq took a very well judged catch on the midwicket boundary.

South Africa were all out four overs later as Rahat claimed his fifth and sixth wickets, removing Kleinveldt (0) and Abbott, the debutant who showed some ability with the bat in scoring 13. The straight drive he hit off Rahat for his only boundary was the shot of the morning.

Rahat was the most successful of the Pakistan bowlers, the Centurion pitch providing him with just enough nibble, while the ball also swung for him, and the 24-year-old who entered the Test scene at the Wanderers finished with six for 127 in 27.2 overs.

The debutant, Ehsan Adil, was unable to bowl on the second morning due to the calf injury that took him off the field shortly before the close of play on the first day, so the visitors were grateful for the penetration Rahat provided.

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