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Ken Borland

Umhlanga Lagoon Nature Reserve 0

Posted on October 24, 2017 by Ken


Nestled between the rampant development of Umhlanga Rocks is a little 26 ha sanctuary of coastal bush, a refuge for birds and small mammals amidst all the hotels and holiday homes that are mushrooming along the coast north of Durban.

The Umhlanga Lagoon Nature Reserve, with its coastal dune forest, reed beds, ponds and the Ohlange River’s lagoon and mouth, provides an ideal getaway for the public to spend a few hours reconnecting with nature, and there are plenty of interesting birds waiting to be discovered.

The Eastern Olive Sunbird is largely restricted to these coastal forests and it disappears readily into the thick foliage, it’s dark olive plumage lacking any of the metallic shininess of the other sunbirds.

But it makes up for this unobtrusive behaviour by being amongst the most vocal of all sunbirds, and, in a couple of hours spent in the Umhlanga Lagoon Nature Reserve, I managed to find four different individuals singing little “whit-peep” songs from inside the trees.

As charming as the reserve is though, one cannot help but be dismayed by the pace of development squeezing it from all sides; the difference between my January 2014 visit and my previous foray to Umhlanga in 2003 was stark.

A Purplecrested Lourie flew into a bare tree above the forest and seemed to look around anxiously, seemingly perplexed by all the development going on around the oasis of green.

Nevertheless, three species of Weaver can be found in the reserve, including nesting Yellow Weavers, and there were fleeting glimpses of Tawnyflanked Prinia, as well as a Slender Mongoose scampering away into the reedbeds, just proving the wide range of habitats these carnivores can inhabit.

Common Sandpiper and Pied Kingfisher are prominent along the lagoon, while there always seems to be a Goliath Heron around.

Thickbilled Weaver can either be found nesting in the reeds or foraging on the way back through the forest.

Sightings list

Cape Wagtail

Spottedbacked Weaver

Blackeyed Bulbul

Yellow Weaver

Tawnyflanked Prinia

Purplecrested Lourie

Eastern Olive Sunbird

Cape White-Eye

Sombre Bulbul

Southern Red Bishop

Slender Mongoose

Common Sandpiper

Pied Kingfisher

Blackheaded Heron

Goliath Heron

Hadeda Ibis

Bronze Mannikin

Thickbilled Weaver


Talent meeting opportunity at the root of development 0

Posted on May 10, 2017 by Ken


Gift Ngoepe has been making headlines this week, giving South African baseball a rare moment in the sun, and his incredible story just goes to prove that talent meeting opportunity should be at the root of all transformation or development efforts in this country.

Ngoepe became the first ever player born in Africa to play Major League Baseball when he turned out for the Pittsburgh Pirates against the Chicago Cubs, the World Series champions, and made a single in his first at-bat, showing his ability as his hit registered the highest velocity off the bat in the whole game, and he then played a part in the double-play that ended the contest and sealed a thrilling 6-5 win for his team.

As is so often the case, nobody could have guessed what talent Ngoepe possessed for the quintessential American game. It was opportunity that unlocked the door and changed his life, leading to him becoming a tremendous role-model for all the less privileged people with sporting dreams in South Africa.

That opportunity came in the most extraordinary, and yet typical, South African way. His mother just happened to be employed as the cleaner at the national baseball headquarters in Randburg and Gift and his younger brother Victor, who plays in the Gulf Coast minor league, stayed with her in a little room on the premises.

Given the opportunity to have a go at this strange sport that is so foreign to most people on the continent, Ngoepe’s talent rapidly became obvious.

Of course there is a gap of several years between that and making history this week, filled with sacrifice, perseverance and a determination to fulfil his dreams. The joy of becoming the sixth South African and the first Black African to sign a professional baseball contract in 2008 gave way to the hard work of spending nine years in the minor leagues.

The magnitude of his achievement and the character of the man is shown by the reaction of both his team-mates and the Cubs to Ngoepe’s special day.

He was warmly greeted by his team-mates when he came on to field at second base and his single was wildly celebrated in the Pirates’ dugout, with chants of “For the Motherland!” and there were tears all round. The Cubs rolled the ball used for the single into the opposition dugout so Ngoepe could keep it as a memento.

The wonderful story of Ngoepe is in stark contrast to the other big sporting news item of the week, the almost certain demise of Lonwabo Tsotsobe.

Once the number one ranked bowler in international limited-overs cricket, Tsotsobe is the latest player to be charged in the corruption web that began with the machinations of Gulam Bodi.

The story of Tsotsobe features all the talent and even more opportunity than Ngoepe’s. The left-arm paceman comes from a well-off family in the Eastern Cape with strong sporting links, his sister Nomsebenzi being a former captain of the national women’s rugby team.

Tsotsobe had all the backing and opportunity in the world, but he lacked the work ethic and determination that so clearly drives Ngoepe. Conditioning, which is really just about hard work, was always a problem for Tsotsobe, and eventually the Proteas management lost patience with him.

Seduced by the bright lights and a glitzy lifestyle, it was perhaps inevitable that Tsotsobe would ultimately fall victim to the lure of easy money.

And yet there are current rising stars like Andile Phehlukwayo and Lungi Ngidi, who stand poised on the edge of stellar international careers having risen above similarly disadvantaged childhoods as Ngoepe, both being the sons of domestic workers.

All-rounder Phehlukwayo anointed for greater things 0

Posted on March 15, 2016 by Ken


Andile Phehlukwayo turned 20 last week and has already been anointed as a Dolphins bowling all-rounder fit to follow in the footsteps of legends like Shaun Pollock and Lance Klusener, but he has already achieved so much as one of the successes of South African cricket’s development pipeline.

There was clearly something special about Phehlukwayo when he played for the Dolphins in the 2014 Champions League while he was still in his matric year at Glenwood High School. He scored 22 off 17 balls against the powerhouse Chennai Super Kings in his first game and then 37 off just 18 deliveries against the Kolkata Knight Riders.

Since then, his bowling has become his strongest suit, especially in limited-overs matches, and he has produced several match-winning performances for the Dolphins, most notably with his nerveless, skilful death bowling in the RamSlam T20 Challenge playoff against the Cape Cobras.

He certainly does not want to be pigeon-holed, however, as a limited-overs specialist and the work he has been putting into his long-format game is bearing fruit, with Phehlukwayo taking a career-best four for 39 against the Warriors in East London last weekend.

“I was thrown in the deep end playing in the Champions League while I was still at school, which was a tough one, but I’m grateful for the experience and there’s no pressure on me. I’m my own player, different to other all-rounders, but obviously I would like to try and be like guys like Jacques Kallis and Lance Klusener. I need to perform for  SA A first, and there are lots of guys performing as all-rounders in South African cricket, like Chris Morris and David Wiese. I just need to be consistent, I know there will always be chances for me and I believe one day I will play for South Africa, even if maybe not in the next two or four years,” Phehlukwayo says.

The son of a domestic worker in Margate, who earned a hockey scholarship to Glenwood and was then noticed when he went to cricket trials, Phehlukwayo has every reason to be proud of what he has already achieved despite such humble beginnings.

“My big goal is for my mom to come and watch me play. I was fortunate to have good support in the background and my coaches believed in me. For me it’s just about working hard and not giving up on my dream. I never thought that I would be playing franchise cricket at this age and at some stages I thought I would never play professional cricket.

“I’ve made quick progress as a bowler, T20 does fast-track you, you need to adapt quickly in that format and practise your skills. Playing for SA A over the last couple of months, bowling to people like Jos Buttler and Eoin Morgan, taught me that you’ve got to be on-song and stay on your game-plan, back yourself, always believe in yourself. It was definitely an experience I won’t forget, especially bowling a couple of long-hops to Morgan!”


SA A second-tier show development in winter conditions 0

Posted on May 02, 2014 by Ken

Off-spinner Simon Harmer claimed the best-ever figures for SA A - 8-87 - to clinch the series against Australia A

The development of the country’s second tier of top cricketers was shown by the way they improved in winter conditions that were much more suited to the Indian tourists.

Off-spinner Simon Harmer claimed the best innings figures for SA A to bowl them to a series-clinching victory over Australia A in Rustenburg, while left-arm swing bowler Beuran Hendricks produced the best ever match analysis as they beat India A in Pretoria to level that series.

SA A failed to make the final of the limited-overs triangular series against the two touring sides, but it took a record-breaking innings of 248 by Shikhar Dhawan to keep the hosts out of the finale, in which the Indians cruised to victory over Australia A by 50 runs.

The 50-over matches were all played at the L.C. de Villiers Oval at the University of Pretoria, which failed to offer any assistance to the bowlers and SA A coach Vincent Barnes said his players were going to have to learn how to play in such sub-continental conditions if they wished to play at the highest level.

“It was a harsh lesson for our bowlers, they had to work exceptionally hard. I can keep telling them that this is what Test cricket is like, but they have to actually experience playing on these decks. At domestic level, you don’t see reverse-swing and spin doesn’t play a major role.

“But in these conditions, seamers have to revert to other skills and reverse-swing plays a massive part. It helps that Australia and India sent two very strong sides as we tried to get as close as possible to Test conditions. It was a great measuring tool and, as a selector, I have a good idea where everybody is,” Barnes said.

Dean Elgar scored 268 to kick-start a prolific series for the left-hander, with Rilee Rossouw and Thami Tsolekile also scoring centuries against the Australians, while Vaughn van Jaarsveld and Reeza Hendricks managed to reach three figures in the limited-overs matches.

v Australia A @ L.C. de Villiers Oval, Pretoria

A determined Elgar equalled New Zealander Mathew Sinclair’s world record score for A internationals as he batted with tremendous application and concentration to give the national selectors a convincing display of his abilities. The left-hander shared a thoroughly dominating stand of 267 with Tsolekile, who made his best first-class score and joined Adam Gilchrist, Mike Hussey, Damian Martyn and Sir Garfield Sobers as the only players with three shares in sixth-wicket partnerships of over 250 in first-class cricket.

Warner had joined Elgar in making a point to his national selectors on the first day as, after being suspended from the Ashes tour and sent to Africa after trying to punch England batsman Joe Root in a pub, the left-hander hammered his way back into the Test team and shared a partnership of 204 in 38 overs with Maxwell, before being dismissed with what became the last ball of the first day. Warner did rather blot his copybook, however, on the final day as he and Tsolekile came together in an angry exchange.


v Australia A @Olympia Park, Rustenburg

Left-armer Hendricks snared the bulk of the wickets as the South African pacemen took advantage of swing-friendly conditions on the opening morning. The in-form Elgar and a composed Rossouw, who mixed watchfulness with aggression superbly, then overcame a pitch on which batsmen never really felt in to further batter the tourists on the second day.

Off-spinner Harmer then took control on a turning pitch to register the best ever figures for SA A. The 21-year-old Maddinson was the only Australian batsmen to bat with any authority in the match.



Triangular ODI series

6/8 Australia A bt SA A by three wickets

An opening victory for the home side looked a done deal after a fine opening stand between Hendricks and Rossouw of 87 in 15.3 overs had been converted into a formidable total by Ontong’s clean strokeplay, and a ferocious start to the Australia A reply had been weathered. But Shaun Marsh batted through the innings and, with Coulter-Nile playing a dramatic counter-attacking innings, the momentum was totally reversed by the tourists.


8/8 Australia A bt India A by seven runs

A phenomenal innings by Maxwell, who had never made a List A century before, and a top-class display of death bowling by Coulter-Nile clinched a thrilling victory for the Australians. Maxwell transformed an innings in disarray as six wickets had fallen for 32 runs and a devastating final assault saw him score his last 95 runs off just 32 balls, hitting Kaul for three successive sixes in the final over.

A solid Indian reply saw them needing just 23 from the last four overs with six wickets in hand, but a double-wicket maiden by Coulter-Nile in the penultimate over, after he had conceded just two runs in the 47th over, snatched a dramatic victory.


9/8 India A bt SA A by 18 runs

A great effort with the bat by Rossouw, Elgar and Van Jaarsveld was not enough to save SA A from a poor bowling display after they had sent India A in first following morning rain that delayed the start of play, and then returned to end the contest with the hosts struggling against the visiting spinners.


10/8 SA A bt Australia A by 19 runs

Theron did an excellent all-round job in winning the match almost single-handedly, scoring 47 off 25 balls while in the company of last man Hendricks to lift a flagging innings. With Australia A needing less than four-an-over, Theron was then at the centre of a collapse that saw them crash from 160 for two to 183 for eight, Finch’s century not being enough to complete victory for the visitors.


11/8 Australia A bt India A by 25 runs

Australia A booked a place in the final thanks to another inspired effort by Maxwell, who shared a partnership of 139 in 16 overs with Shaun Marsh. His younger brother Mitchell and Coulter-Nile then ensured 54 runs were plundered in the last five overs. India A were in position needing 136 off 18 overs, with seven wickets in hand, but Hazlewood claimed two wickets in the 37th over and then removed the dangerous Rayudu in the 43rd to tip the balance Australia’s way.


12/8 India A bt SA A by 39 runs

A freakish innings by Dhawan set up a thrilling match which was reminiscent of South Africa’s memorable victory in the “438-game” against Australia in 2006.

Dhawan made the second highest score ever recorded in a List A game, joining Sehwag and Tendulkar as the only Indians to score a limited-overs double century. He survived a chance on 154, but it was still one of the greatest innings seen on African soil.

Top-class centuries by Hendricks and Van Jaarsveld gave SA A hope as they kept the required run-rate to less than 10 for 31 overs, but a burst of wickets from Pandey ended the brave challenge as India A earned a place in the final.


14/8 India A bt Australia A by 50 runs

Australia A succumbed with barely a whimper after performing well with the ball. The India A innings looked set for bigger things when Dhawan, playing another fine innings, and Karthik were in full flow, but it rather faded away with Hazlewood and Coulter-Nile once again announcing their talents in the death overs.

But the Australian reply was stymied by a combination of Shami’s two early strikes and the wiles of the spinners.


SA A v India A, Rustenburg

SA A failed to meet the challenge of playing in conditions that were as sub-continental as could probably be reproduced in South Africa, India A’s attack impressing as they sealed victory by bowling the hosts out for the second time in two days to seal victory with just eight overs remaining.

The India A batsmen were willing to be patient against the new ball on the first two mornings, with Rohit Sharma and Suresh Raina playing out six successive maidens to start the second day. The SA A batsmen, except for Duminy, were unable to replicate that sort of application and in both innings their top-order was dismissed quickly. Pandey was particularly impressive as he hit the deck hard and often used cutters to take advantage of the dry pitch.


SA A v India A, Pretoria 4-dayer

Beuran Hendricks’ excellent control of swing – in particular of the reverse variety – brought him match figures of 11 for 63, the best ever for SA A. He was able to bring the ball into the batsman as well as angle it away and he was well-supported by off-spinner Simon Harmer, who took seven wickets in the match.

SA A had made a disastrous start to the match as unfocused strokeplay saw them crash to 97 for six. But Parnell and Harmer then batted together for the second half of the first day and for more than an hour on the second, before Birch added more misery for the Indian bowlers at the end of the innings.

The post-tea session on the second day brought a dramatic Indian collapse from 95 for one to 145 for six at stumps and they were sent in again for four overs before stumps on the third day, losing Vijay to a Hendricks yorker as they chased 307 in 94 overs.

Pujara was run out off the first ball of the last day, heralding a dramatic collapse to 18 for five, before Rahane and Saha batted through to tea. But Hendricks then returned and swung a delivery back through Rahane’s defences to knock over his leg stump. The end came quickly thereafter for the tourists.

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