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Ken Borland



Rugby not expediting much joy for me 0

Posted on December 05, 2017 by Ken

 

I must confess to a certain sense of relief today as our rugby season (the 15-man game anyway) comes to an end this weekend with the misfiring Springboks facing a daunting assignment in Cardiff. Sad to say, but I find myself more and more irritated by rugby these days.

The uninspiring fare dished up by the Springboks, made worse by the tantalising glimpse they gave of what they are capable of in the Newlands Test against the All Blacks, brings little joy and the two domestic sides I cover, the Bulls and Sharks, have had more heartache than cheer this year. Even the Lions’ loss in the Super Rugby final still hurts.

Nevertheless, just to get two last parting shots in before Christmas, rugby made me angry twice more this week.

It’s annoying that Springbok coach Allister Coetzee is not expediting the smooth introduction of the tremendously talented Warrick Gelant into international rugby. Instead of playing him in his natural position of fullback, where change is surely required because the solid Andries Coetzee has done little to suggest star-quality, coach Coetzee has plonked Gelant on the wing for his first start.

The selection of players out of position has become something of a Springbok curse in recent years, but the disappointing treatment of Gelant might also be due to the lack of options Coetzee has on the wing. As at fullback, we can all see change is necessary, but the only other specialist wing in the squad is Raymond Rhule, and would he really improve things?

A rugby sage once told me that Springbok coaches stand or fall by selection and, judging by the number of times Coetzee has replaced an injured player with someone who plays in a different position, the current national coach is obviously failing in this regard. Just on this tour, we’ve had an eighthman, Duane Vermeulen, replacing a prop, Coenie Oosthuizen, and lock Ruan Botha came in for flank Jean-Luc du Preez, which clearly shows he got the initial selections wrong.

But the failure of WorldRugby to honour their own processes and award the 2023 World Cup to South Africa was the low point of the year; at least South Africa’s 57-0 thrashing in Albany came with plenty of wonderful rugby from the All Blacks to admire.

The duplicity and lack of integrity shown by their council members makes the blood boil, and the reputation of rugby took a major hit in London a fortnight ago.

So it was with utter shock that I observed the sheer nerve of WorldRugby this week trying to clamp down on players writing messages on their strapping. The rationale was that WorldRugby had no control over what messaging was displayed and with the pettiness typical of the jobsworths who have more regard for their own positions and privilege than the good of the game, the decision was made to clamp down.

Perhaps WorldRugby should worry more about the game being brought into disrepute by their own administrators; the message sent by the 2023 World Cup decision was far worse than anything a player could fit on to his strapping.

Sport did bring me some happiness this week though. It was wonderful to see a cricketing legend of yesteryear, Mike Procter, team up with one of the country’s most talented young writers, Lungani Zama, to launch an updated autobiography.

Procter, of course, played in an era when someone like Zama, who is a good enough cricketer to have played for the KZN Inland side before they gained first-class status, was not allowed to fully express their talents.

Procter, one of the all-time greats of South African cricket and a former national coach and selector, understands these issues and it is wonderful to see him so actively involved in cricket development through his coaching work at the Ottawa Primary School outside Durban, introducing the game to nearly a thousand underprivileged children.

A cricketer capable of taking the new ball and bowling at 145km/h, with prodigious swing, and a good enough batsman to score 254 against Western Province in a Currie Cup game, Procter was obviously a rare talent and one that the current lovers of the game really need to know more about.

He is certainly one of the contenders for the title of greatest all-rounder the game has known and the story of his playing days is augmented with fascinating accounts of his stint as an ICC match referee, having to deal with the major controversies of Darrell Hair abandoning an England v Pakistan Test match, the Harbhajan Singh and Andrew Symonds ‘Monkeygate’ saga, and the bomb blast that ended international cricket in Pakistan.

As Caught in the Middle details, Procter is one of the heroes of the game still adding value in the present day.

 

Absence of Alberts would be major blow for Sharks 0

Posted on August 09, 2016 by Ken

 

The fitness of Willem Alberts, Franco Marais and Conrad Hoffmann are the new concerns facing Sharks coach Gary Gold ahead of his team announcement on Thursday for their SuperRugby match against the Hurricanes in Wellington on Saturday.

The absence of the inspirational physical presence of Alberts would obviously be a massive blow for the Sharks as they take on the runaway leaders of the competition and, although Renaldo Bothma is fit to play, the only other specialist loose forward on tour is Etienne Oosthuizen, who did not have the best of games last weekend against the Highlanders.

The arrival of the experienced Kyle Cooper from South Africa this week means the reserve hooker berth is taken care of should Marais not pass a late fitness test, but the player Cooper replaced, Cobus Reinach, has left a massive gap at scrumhalf.

Reinach has fractured his hand, according to Gold, and his substitute against the Highlanders, Hoffmann, now also has a niggle. The inexperienced Stefan Ungerer could therefore be in for a baptism of fire at The Cake Tin.

After four successive defeats – two of them in ignominious fashion – Gold said he does not believe he needs to light a fire under his squad just yet.

“For me the big stick comes out when you have a look at your play and get a sense of a group of players who are lethargic, non-committed and are not trying hard enough. I do not believe that this is the case at the moment.

“Over the course of my coaching career I have had to use the big stick. Don’t get me wrong, I am by no means satisfied with our performances, but at this moment in time I see a group of players who are hurting a lot and whose pride is at stake.

“As a coach and a leader, one needs to assess the situation. Everybody goes through tough times. I do not believe for a minute that this group lacks commitment, in fact, the players are committed to fixing the problem.

“Difficult times require calm heads and mature leadership. We have a great group of senior guys who are committed to seeing out this campaign.  A lot of lessons have been learnt and a huge amount of lessons can be taken out of this campaign, which will only benefit us down the line,” Gold said.

 

CSA ashamed of their transformation model & rightly so! 0

Posted on June 09, 2016 by Ken

 

It’s not exactly been a glorious week to be South African with disgraceful xenophobic attacks adding to the regular shame brought on the nation by corrupt leaders and authorities, and Eskom. But on the sporting front, Cricket South Africa (CSA) are facing humiliation as the threads start to come apart about what really happened in yet another World Cup disaster.

Mike Horn, the world-renowned adventurer, who became the first person to circumnavigate the equator under his own steam in 2000, and motivational coach, has no reason to lie about what happened in the changeroom ahead of the semi-final against New Zealand and his allegations of interference in selection have merely confirmed what just about everyone believes happened.

Remember, not one of the players has stood up and supported the “official” version provided by CSA and their staff, and neither has the Players’ Association.

The only possible reason for CSA to lie so blatantly about interference in selection is that they are ashamed of their own transformation model, because all right-minded people surely support the broader objectives of the policy?

And CSA are right to feel ashamed because they have shown little desire for ensuring that the goals of transformation are met, rather than merely fulfilling a quota and jumping into action when some heat is applied to them by politicians wanting a quick-fix rather than actually making the effort required to change our society.

Their utter disregard for the spirit of transformation was shown by Aaron Phangiso not getting a single game at the World Cup, a damning indictment of how shallow the whole #ProteaFire campaign was. If South Africa really were strong contenders to win the tournament, as their leadership constantly assured everyone, then it had to be utter nonsense that playing Phangiso against Ireland and/or the UAE would jeopardise their log position.

Half of the games the Proteas played in the World Cup were with only three players of colour, so why, if three was fine for the quarterfinal against Sri Lanka and the matches against West Indies, Ireland and Pakistan, did there need to be an intervention on the eve of the semi-final? Why didn’t the same interferer intervene for Phangiso?

The CSA board have shown before that they are as self-serving as any odium of politicians and there are members of that untrustworthy body who have previously severely undermined the Proteas and the players with cheap points-scoring efforts designed to further their own ambitions rather than the good of South African cricket.

With Horn having pulled the first thread out, the truth will eventually come out and then instead of having #ProteaFire, CSA will have been exposed as just one big #ProteaLiar.

But the CSA board are ruthless bullies and whoever breaks ranks can expect their privileged position in South African cricket to come to a quick end. Chief Executive Haroon Lorgat is the man sitting with the most egg on his face at the moment, but as an employee of the board, he will certainly lose his job if he reveals the truth.

It’s little wonder then that someone like Fanie de Villiers, whose out-of-touch views of South African cricket have led to him being persona non grata with the team, is sadly able to entice one of our brightest talents, Hardus Viljoen, into emigrating to New Zealand.

The basic truth, as it always has been, is that until Cricket South Africa have a board whose priority is the good of the game in this country and not their own ambitions and fiefdoms, real transformation will not be achieved.

 

Stumbling West Indies face uphill struggle to avoid follow-on 0

Posted on March 02, 2015 by Ken

The West Indies were facing an uphill struggle trying to chase down the follow-on mark as they stumbled to tea on 184 for six on the third day of the first Sunfoil Test against South Africa at SuperSport Park in Centurion on Friday.

With South Africa having declared their first innings on 552 for five, the West Indies need 353 to avoid the follow-on, but it was a frustrating day for them as all six dismissed batsmen made it into double-figures, with two of them out in controversial fashion

Vernon Philander’s tight off-stump line with movement away was exacting a heavy toll on the West Indies and he had four for 26 including the big wicket of Shivnarine Chanderpaul for 21.

The awkward, slow-scoring left-hander pushed forward to an excellent delivery that pitched on off-stump and moved away, edging a low catch to second slip, where Alviro Petersen made a good diving take.

The ball was really talking for Philander and four overs later he drew an edge from Jermaine Blackwood (12) that, despite the batsman’s soft hands, just about made it to Petersen diving forward at second slip. It was a superb take, but television replays suggested the batsman should have been given the benefit of the doubt.

Morne Morkel, meanwhile, had given Marlon Samuels a rough, bareback ride in the previous spell from the Hennops River End, but the batsman mounted a spirited defence, surviving for two hours as he scored 33.

Morkel was targeting the body from around the wicket and eventually a delivery jagged back and dribbled off the inside edge into the stumps, ending a 45-run stand with Chanderpaul.

Leon Johnson also made a start, reaching 31 before he was dismissed in soft fashion, driving Kyle Abbott to cover in the third over after lunch.

An opening stand of 72 had nicely teed up the West Indies’ reply before both openers were dismissed and they reached lunch on 110 for two.

Kraigg Braithwaite (34) and Devon Smith (35) were the batsmen who defied the much-vaunted South African pace attack for 21.4 overs in cloudy conditions and it took an extraordinary decision by TV umpire Paul Reiffel for the breakthrough to come.

Philander had just returned for his second spell when Smith tried to pull a shortish delivery and wicketkeeper AB de Villiers, standing in for Quinton de Kock who rolled an ankle in the warm-up, tumbled to his left to make the take. Faf du Plessis was also off the field due to abdominal cramps.

On-field umpire Billy Bowden turned down the caught-behind appeal that came mostly from Philander and South Africa decided to refer the decision.

Reiffel decided that a flimsy scratch on Snicko could be pinned down to when the ball passed the bat and overturned Bowden’s decision, which left most people watching the replays utterly bemused and the West Indians less than happy.

Braithwaite was then nailed by Philander in his next over, the accurate paceman getting a delivery to nip away, a firm push sending the ball low and to the right of Hashim Amla at first slip, the captain claiming a good catch.

 http://citizen.co.za/296582/sa-v-west-indies-day-3-tea/



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