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Ken Borland

Bursting with pride over Faf 0

Posted on December 01, 2016 by Ken


I think it’s fair to say most South African cricket fans almost burst with pride when Proteas captain Faf du Plessis produced the most magnificent riposte to all his detractors with his century on the first day of the third Test against Australia in Adelaide.

Under huge pressure for a week – hounded by the International Cricket Council’s desire for a scapegoat and persecuted by the Australian media, who even went so far as to launch a physical assault through the pushing-and-shoving goon with a microphone, Will Crouch – Du Plessis played an innings of immense mental strength, skill and determination as he rescued the South African innings from total collapse in tough conditions.

The Adelaide airport incident was undoubtedly a set-up because there were go-pro cameras stationed ahead of time on the walkway and all media were well aware that Du Plessis was not allowed to comment anyway as per ICC rules.

The South African camp believes the original ball-tampering video was placed in the media’s hands by Cricket Australia and, desperate for something to deflect from the massive problems in their cricket, the media pushed it to the limit.

At which point the ICC stepped into the fray and the song-and-dance about the Proteas captain doing two entirely legal things at the same time – eating a sweet and using his saliva to shine the ball – and something the Australian team themselves have sportingly admitted they do as well, turned into a full-scale operetta.

The ICC’s behaviour in this matter has been truly pathetic and to hear CEO David Richardson whingeing on Friday about how disappointed he is that Du Plessis is appealing, as is his right, his guilty verdict astonished me.

Richardson is a trained lawyer and yet he thinks Du Plessis has been fairly treated when the ICC laid the charge and appointed one of their own employees, match referee Andy Pycroft, as the judge, with other employees, the umpires, as the star witnesses. To make matters worse, because the ICC wanted to rush the whole process to completion before the start of the Adelaide Test, Du Plessis was denied the right to have the legal representation he wanted, being unable to fly them in from South Africa in time.

I know this all happened in Australia, but to make it an absolute kangaroo court was taking things too far.

If Du Plessis is guilty of an offence, what about all those cricketers who put sunscreen on and then wipe their sweat on the ball? The infused mixture is a wonderful ball-shiner.

What about the ubiquitous practice of chewing gum and then using your saliva to polish the ball?

If Richardson really wants to uphold the integrity of the game then perhaps he should be applying his mind to the blatant shortcomings in the laws of cricket.

Du Plessis’ tremendous performance in adversity has had even more people wondering if he should not continue as captain even once AB de Villiers returns.

Personally, I rate Du Plessis as the more natural captain and probably someone who wants the job more. But you cannot just ditch De Villiers as he has done little wrong as captain and also has a wonderful cricket brain. Convenor of selectors Linda Zondi has said all the right things in this regard.

I believe you have to leave that sort of decision to De Villiers himself and, with his workload issues, he may well decide to hand over the reins to Du Plessis.

The only other issue is that Du Plessis might have been the batsman earmarked to make way for De Villiers, but you surely cannot leave him out after his Adelaide masterpiece?

Bulls end on a high to restore some pride 0

Posted on July 17, 2014 by Ken

The Bulls didn’t quite do enough to justify sending lawyers’ letters for slander to all their detractors, but they nevertheless ended their Vodacom SuperRugby campaign on a high note as they hammered the Melbourne Rebels 40-7 at Loftus Versfeld last night.

The victory must be judged against the high error-rate in a typical end-of-season match between two sides already out of the running, and the weakness of the opposition – with the result condemning the Rebels to the wooden spoon.

Nevertheless, coach Frans Ludeke must be wondering what might have been as the Bulls gave glimpses of being able to fix many of the things that have plagued them this season.

The Bulls have a formidable lineout, this we know, but they also have a mighty scrum when their front-rankers put their mind to it, which they usually do at home but, frustratingly, not outside of Pretoria. Both set-pieces clicked for the Bulls last night and they thoroughly dominated the Rebels in the tight phases.

Piet van Zyl was eventually given a start at scrumhalf and the Bulls certainly looked a slicker outfit with him directing the traffic. Francois Hougaard was shifted out to the wing, and seemed to enjoy the space he had in which to work his magic, having a busy evening and scoring a fine try in which he beat three defenders.

Springbok considerations have encouraged Ludeke to persist with Hougaard at scrumhalf, but the time has surely come to give Van Zyl an extended run in the number nine jersey.

The Rebels were competitive in the first half, only trailing 7-12 at the break, and that was only due to the absence of a top-class goal-kicker in their team. For all his powerful running and ability to take the gap at flyhalf, Jack Debreczeni had a woeful night with the boot, missing three vital first-half penalties.

The opening minutes provided a foretaste of the Rebels’ biggest problem last night as they spent a prolonged period deep inside Bulls’ territory from the kick-off, but failed to score any points as Debreczeni missed a penalty and they turned over the ball on the tryline.

The Bulls’ first visit into the Rebels’ 22 brought points courtesy of a Handre Pollard penalty for offsides. The youngster enjoyed a faultless night in terms of goal-kicking, epitomising the home side’s ability to turn territory into points, while the Rebels failed to take their chances.

Two tries in the third quarter gave the Bulls security.

A lovely break by fullback Jurgen Visser was followed by Van Zyl firing a pinpoint pass into the gap and lock Paul Willemse galloped on to it to score the Bulls’ first try.

Eleven minutes later, replacement prop Dean Greyling roared off a lineout, smashing the Rebels’ defence and opening the way for Willemse to score his second try.

Hougaard and Greyling, amongst the most frustrating players of this campaign, completed the scoring for the Bulls. Both are potent forces with ball in hand – Hougaard the nimble rapier, Greyling the bludgeoning tank – and Bulls fans will just be wishing they, and their team as a whole, fired more often.

The bonus point victory lifts the Bulls into ninth place on the final log, where they will stay, regardless of what happens today.


Bulls – Tries: Paul Willemse (2), Francois Hougaard, Dean Greyling. Conversions: Handre Pollard (3), Jacques-Louis Potgieter. Penalties: Pollard (4).

Melbourne Rebels – Try: Jack Debreczeni. Conversion: Debreczeni.

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