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Ken Borland



The biggest need for the Proteas is stability 0

Posted on August 22, 2017 by Ken

 

Whoever the new coach of the Standard Bank Proteas will be, the team’s biggest need at present is for stability after all the disruptions of the England tour that ended with South Africa being heavily beaten in four days in the fourth and final Test, losing the rubber 3-1, their first series loss in England since 1998 and their heaviest defeat since losing 3-0 to Colin Cowdrey’s team in 1960.

The frontrunner to replace Russell Domingo, judging by media reports, is Ottis Gibson, the current England bowling coach and the former West Indies head coach who won the World T20 in 2012. The 48-year-old Barbadian has both the international experience – having been involved at that level for 11 years – and the local knowledge, having played in South Africa for the better part of the 1990s for Border, Griqualand West and Gauteng.

The list of disruptions the Proteas suffered on their tour of England, with the Tests following their defeats in both limited-overs series and the disappointment of an early exit in the Champions Trophy, starts with Domingo. The coach was not only in the awkward position of not knowing whether the tour would be his last in charge, but then had the awful heartbreak of his mother being involved in a car accident and eventually tragically passing away, forcing Domingo to leave the squad on two occasions and fly back home.

The Proteas were not only without their coach but they also went into the series without their galvanising skipper Faf du Plessis, who missed the first Test at Lord’s having stayed in South Africa for the difficult birth of his first child; a hard call but a totally understandable one.

Du Plessis returned for the second Test at Trent Bridge, with the Proteas winning by a whopping 340 runs. But they were brought back down to earth, hitting the ground hard, in the last two Tests, losing by 239 and 177 runs respectively.

The combination of Vernon Philander and Chris Morris as bowling all-rounders worked a treat in the second Test, but not in the third as Philander suffered an untimely, debilitating illness having made the ball talk in spectacular fashion as he did great work on the first day at the Oval.

The stalwart of the attack then pulled out of the fourth Test with a sore back, prompting Du Plessis to snipe that Philander needed to work harder on his fitness.

The captain shows refreshing candour in press conferences and he basically also confirmed that AB de Villiers’ Test career is dead and the team need to move on as quickly as possible.

At the moment it seems as though they have been left hanging by De Villiers, with three different batsmen being used in the crucial number four spot against England.

For me, Du Plessis should step up, take responsibility and bat in the number four position. He can bat both time and aggressively, and as captain he also needs to set the tone.

Temba Bavuma and Quinton de Kock, as good as they are, are better suited to coming in lower down the order.

Bavuma has the technique and tenacity to be a middle-order fighter much like Jonty Rhodes was, and his value is often worth more than simply the sum of his runs; he should be batting five or six and can also handle the second new ball and marshal the tail.

De Kock has been touted as the new Adam Gilchrist and needs to be used in the same role as the great Australian wicketkeeper/batsman. De Kock has all the shots and likes to use them, and needs to come in at six or seven where he can play his own, counter-attacking game. Having to rebuild at 40 for two does not suit him and he is the sort of batsman who can shift momentum batting lower down or really take the game away from tired bowlers.

Everything depends on a solid start, however, and South Africa had an average opening stand of just 13.62 against England and nothing higher than 21 between Dean Elgar and Heino Kuhn.

Elgar had a good series in tough conditions, scoring a century and two half-centuries as he made the second most runs (291) for the Proteas, behind Hashim Amla (329), but Kuhn’s place must be under serious threat after he made just 113 runs in eight innings.

Stephen Cook, the man Kuhn replaced, must still be in the mix judging by his century last weekend for the SA A side, while those who believe players of the future must be given as much opportunity as possible will be clamouring for Aiden Markram to make his Test debut against Bangladesh at the end of next month.

But whatever the final selection, there must be far more stability over the coaching situation – who Gibson’s assistants will be is shaping as an interesting discussion – and the captaincy. Surely everyone would feel a lot more settled if Du Plessis was just given the captaincy for all three formats?

The selectors and management also need to make up their minds about batting positions and stick to them, players floating up and down the order is doing nobody any good.

A couple of Tests against Bangladesh should be a good opportunity for the Proteas to regather their balance and get back on the winning trail.

There will be the distraction of the Global T20 League after that, but the South Africans need to get quickly back up to speed because world number one India and Australia, itching for revenge, will be considerable opposition when they arrive on these shores later in the summer.

Proteas’ future muddied by a lot of disruption 0

Posted on August 15, 2017 by Ken

 

The Proteas have just returned from a sorry tour of England and there has understandably been plenty of speculation over what the future holds for South African cricket.

Coach Russell Domingo seems to have accepted his fate, but Cricket South Africa have been absolutely stum over the whole coaching situation, having only too happily made it clear they were looking elsewhere in the middle of the home series against Sri Lanka in January.

Ottis Gibson is clearly the man CSA have earmarked to take over from Domingo, and he has considerable international experience, having been head coach of the West Indies as well as spending a lot of time with England as their bowling coach. The 48-year-old also played in South Africa for a decade, representing Border, Griqualand West and Gauteng.

The uncertainty over the coaching situation, made worse by Domingo having to return home twice due to the tragic death of his mother, clearly unsettled the Proteas, but there were a lot of other disruptions on their tour as well. Faf du Plessis missing the first Test and Vernon Philander’s health problems did them no favours either.

The most crucial thing that CSA need to do for the national team is to provide stability.

AB de Villiers is still leaving the team hanging as to when and what he wants to play and those in the know are quite clear about the fact that his presence has now become at best a distraction and, at worst, a disruption. In terms of talent and reputation, De Villiers is like a supernova, but we all know that a supernova also tends to produce explosive shockwaves that destroy everything in their path.

South Africa’s recent limited-overs form suggests the team is overshadowed when De Villiers plays, so unused to his presence they have become.

So there needs to be complete clarity over De Villiers’ availability and, if he is not available for everything, then he should also not be allowed to captain the limited-overs teams.

Test captain Du Plessis clearly believes De Villiers will retire completely from the longest format, and the question of who should fill AB’s number four berth has not been answered, with three different batsmen filling the spot in the series against England.

It is Du Plessis himself who should take responsibility and step up into the number four berth. He has the all-round game, being able to both attack and defend, that is needed in that position and as captain he also needs to set the tone.

Temba Bavuma is the incumbent number four, but he seems to be more of a gritty middle-order batsman, coming in at five or six. His displays thus far in Test cricket suggest he will inherit the Jonty Rhodes mantle of his value being far greater than just the sum of the runs he scores.

To me, it was an especially poor decision to move Quinton de Kock up to number four, it betrayed a management that was pandering to the views of those outside the camp. The man touted as the new Adam Gilchrist must have the same role as the great Australian wicketkeeper/batsman; De Kock will have much more impact coming in at six or seven where he can play his own game. He does not want to have to rebuild an innings coming in at 40 for two the whole time, he’s the type of batsman to take the game away from the bowlers.

Which brings us to the openers. It is Heino Kuhn’s misfortune that he waited so long for a chance and it came against one of the greatest new-ball pairings in conditions that were always difficult for batsmen; Dean Elgar fared best of all the openers with an average of just 36.37.

But by jettisoning Stephen Cook after four unsuccessful Test matches, the selectors have created a precedent and it would be only fair to give Aiden Markram a go against Bangladesh at the end of next month. He is unlikely to be tested by their gentle pace bowlers, but at least he is a player for the future who needs a chance sooner rather than later.

There is only one round of Sunfoil Series matches before that, so it seems Kuhn will not even have much opportunity to save himself by scoring a whole lot of runs back on home soil. Even Cook will have a better chance as he will play two four-day games for SA A.

Adherence to age-old virtues brings reward for Zondo 0

Posted on June 05, 2017 by Ken

 

An adherence to the age-old cricketing virtue of letting your runs speak for you has seen Khaya Zondo recover from a slump in form in 2015/16 to such good effect that he leaves on Tuesday for England as the captain of the SA A limited-overs team.

It is a richly deserved honour for the 27-year-old as he not only averaged 49.75 in the Momentum One-Day Cup last season and 67.27 in the Sunfoil Series, but also led the Dolphins with aplomb when the captaincy was thrust upon him in mid-season.

It was a far cry from the previous season, when he returned from a tour of India with the Proteas, where he was upset that he did not play a match, and scored just 61 runs in his first 14 innings of the summer. He then scored a 65 against the Titans, but then made just one run in his next three innings.

“I was in the desert and no-one wants to come into the desert with you, only God. But I was told by one of my mentors [whom Zondo wanted to remain anonymous], who gives me lots of spiritual guidance, that the world owes me nothing, rightly or wrongly. What happened can’t be changed and it was up to me to make sure that it helped me to grow as a cricketer.

“So that gave me a lot of comfort. What happened in India was unfortunate, but it was part of a bigger plan, a building block. It gave me a lot of confidence to know that I was strong enough to get out of that bad slump. Lance Klusener [former Dolphins coach] showed me a lot of love and told me that if I’m burning in the fire, then I must make sure that I come out the other side as a roast chicken, I must be something a lot better, make sure I just get through it.

“I think I’ve learnt to be more resilient, to get through what I went through taught me that things can be taken from you, rightly or wrongly, that’s life. Maybe I unintentionally took things for granted a bit, I just relaxed a bit. Now I know never to relax,” Zondo said on Monday.

A greater focus in training and on every ball he faces has led to much better consistency for the Westville product, and he goes to England as one of the most in-form batsmen in the country.

“I just want to be better each day, whether that’s getting underarm throws or full-out nets, I want to leave every training session and every match a slightly better batsman; the greats are always evolving. As a captain, I also like leading from the front, I’m more focused, and last season I didn’t do too much differently, just making sure I watched every ball, made sure I was awake and ready for every ball. My focus was much better, and I just changed my head position a bit,” Zondo said.

https://www.pressreader.com/south-africa/the-citizen-gauteng/20170525/282252370473828

Dala understands the physics of his action better now 0

Posted on May 15, 2017 by Ken

 

Titans fast bowler Junior Dala has ascribed his selection for the South Africa A side’s tour of England later this month to an improved understanding of the physics of his bowling action, which has led to greater control and consistency.

Dala was one of the best bowlers in the country in limited-overs cricket last season, being the joint-highest wicket-taker in the Momentum One-Day Cup with 16 scalps at an average of only 18.68 and an excellent economy rate of just 5.29. He was also outstanding in the CSA T20 Challenge with 11 wickets at 26.63 and he was one of the key performers as the Titans claimed both white-ball titles, where there is huge pressure on bowlers to be more skilful.

“In the last two years I have made a big step up. When I first went to the Titans, I did not really know my action, but Rob Walter and Mandla Mashimbyi really coached me on that, whereas other coaches before that were just happy that I could bowl fast. But I was being found out in franchise cricket, I always felt under pressure because I did not really know what I was doing from ball-to-ball. I would try and bowl a yorker and miss by eight metres!

“But I’ve realised that I can’t just get away with being quick, at times things went horribly wrong in four-day cricket and that has taught me the importance of consistency. I’m a lot more consistent now, Albie Morkel has shown a lot of trust in me and even used me in the powerplay with the new ball. I trust myself 90-95% of the time to hit my mark now,” the unorthodox Dala told The Citizen on Wednesday.

It is a measure of how quick a learner the 27-year-old Dala is that he changed from being mostly an inswing bowler to an away-swinger this last season, simply because he felt batsmen were beginning to read him too easily.

“I sacrificed a little pace but I’m still bowling 140 with more control, and I predominantly shaped the ball away because nobody thought I could do that. Now I’m working on doing all that at 145km/h.

“You have to accept that you’re going to be hit for fours and embrace that, but I have the freedom to express myself at the Titans and then it becomes a lot easier to execute, without that fear of failure.

“I haven’t played in England before so I’m excited for that and I hope it’s a good tour with lots of wickets. Guys are getting reward for their performances in the last six months, whereas before they had to wait two years sometimes. Mark Boucher told me things can happen very quickly at that level and I must just make the most of the opportunity,” Dala, who was born in Lusaka in 1989 as his parents were in exile, said.

 

 



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