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Ken Borland

CSA need to put their faith in building the base, not quick riches 0

Posted on May 30, 2017 by Ken


Two not entirely unconnected happenings in the world of cricket caught my eye this week: The first was an article ( on CricInfo about the looming player strike in Australia and how the relationship between their administration and their players has almost entirely broken down; the second was that Cricket Australia’s executive manager of broadcast, digital and commercial, Ben Amarfio, had come to South Africa and briefed local cricket stakeholders on their successes, in particular the Big Bash League.

The irony of the situation is that although the Big Bash League has been an enormous success in terms of crowds and television revenue, the damage it is doing to all other aspects of Australian cricket reminds one of the south Indian proverb that “nothing grows under the shade of the Banyan tree”.

The T20 competition might be going through the roof, but the rest of Australian cricket is not exactly excelling: results have been indifferent and the players are about to go on strike! The temptation to copy what they are doing should be resisted.

The dollar signs are already rolling in the eyes of Cricket South Africa when it comes to the new Global Destination T20 League that will debut on our shores next summer, but the actual economics of the event have been poorly communicated to many of the stakeholders who will hand over control of their stadia and players for the duration of the competition.

The state of the game in this country is currently strong, and CEO Haroon Lorgat was a well-deserved winner of the Leadership in Sport Business award at this week’s Sports Industry Awards, but the danger still exists that the lower levels of the sport, the foundation, will be ignored in favour of the riches that could suddenly become available.

We all know the immense damage done to the reputation of Cricket South Africa following the hosting of the IPL in 2009 and the money-grabbing associated with it, but our administrators seem to have short memories; how else can one explain the presence of disgraced former CEO Gerald Majola as an honoured guest, seated in the front row, at their own awards ceremony last week?

At the same awards dinner, it was noticeable that the prize for the best scorers association, previously included in the professional operations section along with the umpires, had been demoted to the amateur awards given out at the breakfast earlier on the same day. It may seem like a trivial matter – but it was certainly a slight felt by the scorers, who are an integral part of the game, just like umpires. It points to a lingering suspicion that CSA might just be undervaluing their foundations, the domestic base.

It is a fact that the best organisations look after the interests of all their people – their employees and stakeholders – and a prime example of this is the Northerns Cricket Union, who also held their awards luncheon this week.

Their Titans team is the best in the country, winning two trophies last season and narrowly missing out on the third, and that is partly because of the superb administrative structures that support the on-field performance. The Northerns team is also the dominant force in senior provincial competitions.

The administration is happy and productive because every person is treated well and with enormous respect; they are made to feel part of the success of the union and franchise. There is no greater measure of this than the fact that all the grounds staff, dressed in their Sunday best, were invited to the luncheon and the hug and kiss CEO Jacques Faul received from one of the housekeeping staff when she received her certificate.

Faul is an outstanding CEO who makes every one of his staff feel valued, and that is the secret to getting the best out of people, and the strong relationship between him and president John Wright, a true servant of sport, is also vital.

Cricket South Africa need to be warned that there is a danger of prioritising money over people and the overall well-being of the game of which they are trustees; when things are going well is probably the right time for this reminder.

*Altaaf Kazi, CSA’s head of media and communications, has pointed out, however, in response to this column that the scorers were never previously honoured during the live TV broadcast segment of the awards, whereas this year their award presentation from the breakfast was shown live on SuperSport. The reshuffling was due to the pleasing inclusion of three extra awards for women’s cricket.

Schwartzel poised to show he is fitting successor to Els 0

Posted on March 18, 2015 by Ken

If Ernie Els were to hand over the South African Open trophy he has won five times to Charl Schwartzel in the prizegiving ceremony at Glendower Golf Club late on Sunday afternoon it would be entirely fitting and not unexpected given that the country’s highest-ranked golfer will be taking a five-shot lead into the final round.

But there is a chance that the closing ceremony won’t feature Els metaphorically handing over the baton as South Africa’s pre-eminent golfer, but rather the rise to stardom of Matthew Fitzpatrick, the former world number one amateur playing in his rookie season on the European Tour.

Schwartzel fired a brilliant six-under-par 66 on Saturday to go into the final round on 13-under-par, leaving overnight leader Andy Sullivan in his wake as the Englishman struggled to a 74 and is eight shots behind the world number 31.

But other Englishmen rose up to replace Sullivan as strong challengers for the title, most notably Fitzpatrick, who stole some of Schwartzel’s thunder with an astonishing back nine of just 30 strokes for a 67 and eight-under-par overall.

While most 20-year-olds would be going into the final group of the world’s second oldest national open with wide eyes and huge trepidation, Fitzpatrick seems to have a very level head on his shoulders. But the rising star who has already made two cuts in the Majors is also realistic about his chances.

“I can’t say I’ve been in this position before and I’m just going to try and do what I’ve been doing: hit as many fairways as possible, make greens in regulation and steer away from any trouble near the flag. Just give myself a chance for birdie, even if it’s 20-25 feet away.

“There’s always a bit of pressure associated with being the number one amateur and there was a lot of hype after the majors, which I would love to be able to live up to,” Fitzpatrick said.

For his part, Schwartzel is certainly not feeling uncatchable with a five-shot lead.

“Five shots sounds like a lot, but I still have to play well, although I’d much rather be where I am than where the guys chasing me are. I was driving the ball very well today on the front nine and I’d like to play the same way tomorrow, to stay aggressive. This course can catch you even if you’re trying to protect your score, so I won’t change my game plan. I want to stick with driver because if I have a good day with it then it will be difficult to catch me,” Schwartzel said.

Schwartzel took control of the tournament with a blazing start, picking up birdies on the first four holes, proving what a difference a new year can make. The 2011 Masters champion ended 2014 wanting to disown his swing, but he looks much more like the old Charl Schwartzel at Glendower.

It was a torrid 2014 on the course for the 30-year-old, partly because he and his wife Rosalind started a family, but Schwartzel looks ready to transfer the joy in his private life into his workspace.

“I have swung better in the past, but I’ll definitely take the swing I’ve got now because a couple of months ago I didn’t have anything. 2014 was my worst golf year for a long time, but my best year personally, our daughter coming along was fantastic. But it takes a real adjustment and then I started playing badly and it just snowballed,” Schwartzel said.

Fitzpatrick and friends will have to hope Schwartzel falters in the final round, but he showed little sign of that on Thursday, not allowing bogeys on the par-four seventh and a three-putt bogey on the par-five 13th to halt his momentum. He added to his wonderful start with further birdies on eight, nine, 12 and 14.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better start with the field pretty bunched up. I wanted to try and separate myself and I’m very pleased with the way it went. It was a whole mixed bag – some spectacular shots, some really bad shots, some great putts and some bad putts. But I was chipping very well and after the start I had, I was able to just grind out a good score,” Schwartzel said.

Scotsman David Drysdale joined Fitzpatrick on eight-under with a 68, while Englishman Lee Slattery produced the round of the day with a 65 that sent him soaring into fourth place on seven-under-par.

Ernie Els started superbly with a front nine of 31 to roar back into contention on five-under-par, but then faded on the back nine as his putting woes returned and he finished the third round with a 69, 10 strokes behind Schwartzel.

What I’m looking forward to in the Springbok squad announcement 0

Posted on November 25, 2014 by Ken

The Springbok squad for the end-of-year tour to Europe will be announced on Monday and I will be looking forward to half-a-dozen Black Africans being named in the 36-man group, all of them entirely on merit.

The Springboks will be playing against Ireland, England, Italy and Wales and will be in action from November 8-29. The final Test, against Wales in Cardiff, will be played without any overseas-based players, but from the first-choice 23 that only rules out Bryan Habana, JP Pietersen, Schalk Burger and Bakkies Botha.

Probably the most interesting aspect of the tour will be whether the Springboks can adapt the fast-paced game they seemed to have mastered by beating the All Blacks in their last match to the heavier fields of Europe. It’s important to remember that this is a dress rehearsal for the World Cup because it’s the last time South Africa will play in the United Kingdom before that showpiece tournament starts next September, so there will be limited experimentation.

I’m looking forward to Lwazi Mvovo getting a run on the wing in that Test against Wales, which could also see Western Province flyer and former Springbok Sevens star Seabelo Senatla on the bench as he embarks on the next step of what will surely be a stellar international career.

After all the speculation and comments before the game against New Zealand, there’s no doubt Teboho ‘Oupa’ Mohoje was on trial at Ellis Park and he came through with flying colours with a great all-round display. After plying his trade on the University of the Free State fields a year ago, he can now look forward to strutting his stuff on the famous turf of Twickenham, Lansdowne Road and the Millenium Stadium.

Trevor Nyakane should also be on the bench as cover for the estimable Tendai Mtawarira, while the third hooker behind Bismarck du Plessis and Adriaan Strauss will surely be either Scarra Ntubeni or Bongi Mbonambi now that Schalk Brits is out injured.

The total number of players of colour should be 11 as the Springboks slowly but surely move towards properly representing the demographics of South Africa.

Coach Heyneke Meyer has held his cards close to his chest, but what he has divulged is that the selectors met two weeks ago to discuss the squad so brilliant displays out of the blue in the Currie Cup knockout rounds are unlikely to influence the composition of the squad. The fact that the squad will be announced on Monday and not directly after the Currie Cup final is further indication that Meyer wants to move away from selections based on a fortnight of brilliance.

Nevertheless, he could well want to gather more information on key Lions players like Jaco Kriel, Julian Redelinghuys, Schalk van der Merwe, Ruan Dreyer and Marnitz Boshoff.

He has already gathered some insight into the likes of Senatla, Rudy Paige, Nizaam Carr and Mbonambi at training camps in the last month and they are all in line for their first Springbok call-ups.

Questions that Meyer will also look to get answered during the tour are:

  • Is Handre Pollard still the best choice at flyhalf when conditions call for a more tactical game?;
  • if Ruan Pienaar is still struggling with injury, who is the next best scrumhalf?;
  • What is the best loose trio balance, both starting and on the bench?;
  • What depth exists at tighthead prop and outside centre?;
  • If Willie le Roux gets injured, who plays fullback?


Possible Springbok squad: Willie le Roux, Cornal Hendricks, JP Pietersen, Jan Serfontein, Damien de Allende, Jean de Villiers, Bryan Habana, Lwazi Mvovo, Seabelo Senatla, Handre Pollard, Pat Lambie, Morne Steyn/Marnitz Boshoff, Francois Hougaard, Cobus Reinach, Ruan Pienaar/Rudy Paige, Duane Vermeulen, Warren Whiteley, Nizaam Carr, Teboho Mohoje, Willem Alberts, Marcell Coetzee, Schalk Burger, Jaco Kriel, Victor Matfield, Lood de Jager, Eben Etzebeth, Bakkies Botha, Jannie du Plessis, Julian Redelinghuys, Bismarck du Plessis, Adriaan Strauss, Scarra Ntubeni/Bongi Mbonambi, Tendai Mtawarira, Trevor Nyakane, Schalk van der Merwe, Ruan Dreyer/Lourens Adriaanse.


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