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Ken Borland

The importance of getting those yorkers in in the death overs 0

Posted on February 28, 2017 by Ken


South Africa’s loss in the second ODI in New Zealand this week once again brought home the importance of death bowling in tight finishes. The Black Caps were able to get their yorkers in to great effect in the last few overs and won by six runs, a margin of defeat that flattered the Proteas because they hit the last two balls for fours when they were already out of contention needing 15 off two to win.

For my money, there has been too much emphasis in recent years in South African bowling strategy on bowling the ball into the pitch, varying pace, using the short ball etc. Tim Southee and Trent Boult simply got the ball in the blockhole when it really mattered and the batsmen found it impossible to do anything more than jab the deliveries away.

Sure, if there’s a set batsman in at the time then they can make the margin for error infinitesimally small by moving deeper into their crease or stepping out, but it’s been a long-standing weakness of South African bowlers that they cannot consistently get the yorker in. Perhaps because back at home in domestic cricket on pitches of bounce and seam movement there is less necessity, but in international cricket they get exposed.

This week I sought the wise counsel of Gordon Parsons, the bowling coach of the Highveld Lions team that won the 50-over competition last season, so they must be doing something right.

“The more things change in the game, the more they seem to stay the same. And I’m very much of the belief that nothing’s changed when it comes to a good yorker still being the best ball at the death. If a bowler can master three different variations then he’ll be a quality performer. Trying six, seven, eight different deliveries just complicates the mind and sometimes I feel using variations is an excuse for a lack of execution of the regular skills,” Parsons, the taker of 356 limited-overs wickets at an average of 30.75 and an economy rate of just 4.07, said.

“Sometimes bowlers hide behind the slower ball, but how many deliveries hit the same spot? The best bowlers do the simple things really well – look at Imran Tahir, who is the world’s number one limited-overs bowler and basically bowls wicket-to-wicket. He’s become better the simpler he’s made it. Bowlers have got to keep it simple,” Parsons, who took 809 first-class wickets in a 19-year career for two English counties and three South African teams, said.

The last time the Proteas were in New Zealand was for the 2015 World Cup and for the seventh time they fell short at the ICC’s premier tournament, conceding 9.8 runs per over in the last five overs of their fateful semifinal against the Black Caps.

With Tahir at number one and Kagiso Rabada ranked seventh, South Africa have the makings of a decent attack, but neither of them are known for their death bowling, both instead proving brilliant at breaking partnerships in the middle overs.

Rabada does have a lethal yorker, which I’d like to see him use more, and Chris Morris and Wayne Parnell could both be pretty effective if they can get swing and find the blockhole more consistently. Andile Phehlukwayo has the variations, but the same applies to him.

I saw an interesting statement this week from a radio sports broadcaster that the current attack is South Africa’s best ever in ODI cricket, but for me, the 1996 World Cup line-up of Allan Donald, Fanie de Villiers, Shaun Pollock, Craig Matthews, Pat Symcox and Brian McMillan, with Hansie Cronje and Jacques Kallis as the sixth and seventh bowlers, is hard to beat.



KKR cheering Kallis 0

Posted on May 22, 2012 by Ken

The Kolkata Knight Riders were cheering the outstanding death bowling of Jacques Kallis as he led them to an 18-run victory over the Delhi Daredevils and a place in the Indian Premier League final after their qualifier at the Subrata Roy Sahara Stadium in Pune on Tuesday.


After batting well to score 30, Kallis sunk Delhi’s hopes as he conceded just 11 runs from the 17th and 19th overs and claimed the key wickets of Venugopal Rao and Ross Taylor. The Daredevils were most definitely in the game before the South African’s return to the attack, needing 46 runs from the last four overs, with six wickets in hand.

But Kallis, no doubt delighted to be bowling on a pitch that was not the usual low-bouncing track found in India, used the short ball superbly and bowled with pace as he finished with two for 24 in four overs.

Delhi were chasing 163 but lost big-hitting openers David Warner (7) – to a very mediocre decision by umpire Billy Doctrove – and Virender Sehwag (10), both caught behind by Brendon McCullum off successive deliveries from Shakib Al Hasan and Lakshmipathy Balaji.

So the Daredevils needed to rebuild, and Naman Ojha and Mahela Jayawardene brought Delhi back into a position from which they could win the game as they reached 83 for two after 10 overs, needing just 80 more to win.

Jayawardene was playing a masterful innings, knowing exactly where to place the ball, as he went to 39 off 33 balls, with six sublime boundaries.

Ojha scored a run-a-ball 29 before he cut a short delivery from medium-pacer Rajat Bhatia straight to backward point to give Kolkata a vital breakthrough in the 11th over.

Four overs later, McCullum managed to stump Jayawardene on the second attempt as the Sri Lankan came down the pitch to left-arm spinner Iqbal Abdulla, but was beaten by a quicker, flatter delivery that was fired into his pads.

Tomes have already been written about Kallis’s prowess with the bat, but on Tuesday he showed his brilliance with the ball. The 36-year-old so seldom errs in his reading of conditions and he dug the ball in to menacing effect.

Venugopal and Pawan Negi were surprisingly sent up the order when the Daredevils’ batting line-up houses a destructive, experienced hitter in Taylor, and the two Indians produced stodgy innings.

It was always a safe bet that Venugopal, flapping erratically at short balls on his way to 13 off 22 balls, would eventually run out of luck and he was all at sea against another Kallis lifter on the penultimate delivery of the 17th over, splicing a catch into the covers.

Taylor, completely wasted at No 7 in the order, then clipped Kallis firmly off his legs but straight to deep square-leg to fall for 11 off eight balls.

When Kallis finished his spell, Delhi were on 137 for six and needing 26 off the last over, but mystery spinner Sunil Narine easily accounted for Negi (14) and Morne Morkel (0).

The Daredevils finished on 144 for eight and the Kolkata Knight Riders had sealed their first appearance in an IPL final.


Yusuf Pathan provided the Kolkata Knight Riders innings with a late boost as they posted 162 for four after electing to bat first.

Pathan, who has had a woeful IPL, hammered 40 not out off just 21 balls as the Knight Riders reached a challenging total on a pitch that offered turn and some assistance for the pace bowlers.

The Knight Riders’ top-order struggled to break the shackles of tight fielding and tidy bowling by Delhi, with Gautam Gambhir, McCullum and Kallis all getting set before getting out as Kolkata struggled to 106 for four after 16 overs.

Left-arm spinner Negi was the Delhi bowler who kept the tightest rein on the run-scoring, taking one for 18 in four excellent overs.

Kolkata openers Gambhir and McCullum successfully negotiated the impressive opening burst from Morkel, and Gambhir was humming along splendidly as he raced to 32 off 16 balls.

But McCullum then drove Varun Aaron firmly to mid-off and Gambhir came too far down the pitch, Venugopal scoring a direct hit, which the third umpire ruled had just beaten the Indian star’s effort to get back to his crease.

McCullum was just starting to show some promising signs of blossoming as he went to 31 off 36 balls, but he then sliced a drive off Negi to point.

Kallis scored 30 off 33 balls before he picked out the man at deep midwicket with a wonderfully-struck short-arm pull off Umesh Yadav.

That left the Knight Riders in an awkward position with just four overs remaining, but Pathan hammered three fours and two sixes with the ferocity of an orc, while Laxmi Ratan Shukla set about the bowlers from the start of his innings in a scintillating 24 not out off 11 balls.

Pathan and Shukla added 56 for the fifth wicket off just 24 balls to leave Delhi chasing a testing target against the best spin-based attack in the competition. The pair took 21 runs off the last over of the innings, bowled by Aaron.

The Daredevils’ decision to use just one spinner in Negi backfired, with the South African, Roelof van der Merwe, left on the sidelines as the fast bowlers – Yadav (4-0-37-1), Morkel (4-0-37-0) and Aaron (4-0-48-0) – all leaked the runs at an alarming rate.

Irfan Pathan, the left-armer, was the one pace bowler to impress, conceding just 20 runs in the four-over quota while claiming the wicket of Shakib for a single.

Delhi will now play the winners of the eliminator between the Mumbai Indians and the Chennai Super Kings to decide the other finalist.

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