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Ken Borland

Speeding towards the World Cup with an elephant in the dressingroom 0

Posted on June 29, 2017 by Ken


Judging by AB de Villiers’ comments after the Champions Trophy fiasco, South Africa could go speeding towards the 2019 World Cup having still not addressed the elephant in the dressingroom which is their continued, inexplicable failure to perform at their best in ICC knockout matches.

The Proteas are scheduled to play just 36 more ODIs before the June 2019 World Cup in England; they have played 36 ODIs since midway through their series in India in October 2015, just to give some perspective as to how quickly time will fly before the next showpiece ICC tournament starts.

And yet De Villiers maintained after the horrible showing against India last weekend that there was no lack of composure and the run outs and batting failures were not due to a mental problem. Given the skill levels of the players involved, it’s difficult to know what else could be the explanation.

It is probably a good thing, though, that the Champions Trophy disaster is still fresh in the minds as CSA begin the process to decide on who will be the Proteas coach that will guide yet another attempt at the elusive holy grail for South African cricket.

Two former Proteas coaches – who were both involved in coaching capacities during India’s memorable 2011 World Cup triumph – in Gary Kirsten and Eric Simons will sit on the five-man committee that will evaluate the applications and both have been outspoken about the problems South African players have in handling the pressures of ICC knockout matches.

It is one of the unwritten laws of sport that the most successful teams are able to shift pressure on to their opposition; sadly for the Proteas, they seem to crush themselves by piling pressure on to their own shoulders. In between ICC events, they are able to play freely and express themselves, at world cups they play totally differently – tentative and fearful cricket. Reading De Villiers’ autobiography, it is clear he has a Moby Dick sized obsession with winning the World Cup, an unhealthy obsession that probably does more harm than good.

The big difference between De Villiers and Virat Kohli is how the Indian captain invariably makes big runs when they are most needed; his 96 not out in the Champions Trophy semi-final was yet another example of that.

Whoever the Proteas coach will be, he needs to be able to free up the players when it comes to the high-pressure situations. The players need to pledge to each other that they will not change their games in knockout matches and it is the captain and coach who have to drive that.

No team plays with a greater burden of expectation than India, and yet Kirsten and Simons were able to get them winning and expressing themselves when they won the World Cup on home soil under immense pressure.

Simons raised some interesting points in the aftermath of the Champions Trophy loss, both in the SuperSport studio and in a subsequent conversation I had with him.

He pointed out that the Proteas never tried to shift the pressure India exerted on them with an excellent display in the field, India were never asked to try anything different.

When I asked him why India are consistently able to handle the pressure and expectation at ICC knockout events, he said he felt it was because their international players had come through a system featuring millions of cricketers so they have spent their entire lives ensuring they are on top of their game, they are always playing under intense scrutiny and, in a developing nation still wracked by poverty, it’s do or die for many of them. Natural selection and survival of the fittest in many ways.

“It’s not just these 11 Proteas players who have had the problem. CSA need to sit down and decide what to do, what do our teams lack? Somehow the players have got to be freed up … we saw them play differently against India. There needs to be a broader conversation about why? The world is asking the question, it’s time we did too,” Simons said.

I have no doubt Simons will bring the same questions to the panel that will decide the coaching situation moving forward.

But the first step in sorting out a problem is admitting you have a problem. As Paddy Upton, who was the mental coach when India, Kirsten and Simons won the 2011 World Cup, has pointed out, it’s part of the South African macho man psyche to never admit our vulnerabilities.

That has to change.

Critics going to town but Domingo not going anywhere 0

Posted on April 07, 2016 by Ken


All the critics are going to town on Russell Domingo following yet another Proteas failure at a world cup, but the coach himself is defiant that he should not be drummed out of his position at the helm of South Africa’s cricket team.

“I wouldn’t say our form has been bad for 18 months, it’s just the last four or five months, since the India Tests. The ODIs against India were good and the ODIs and T20s against England were good.

“We just did not play the big moments well enough. But my opinion is that our preparation was outstanding, spot on, I can assure you everyone worked extremely hard, we were meticulous in our planning and strategising. It’s part of my job, absolutely, to try and make it happen, to make it all come together, and my impression is that the team does buy into my approach.

“Of course I want to continue in my job and I will just work hard and try and get the best out of the players. I have a good relationship with them and in my opinion our management team is as good as anything in the world,” Domingo said.

South Africa’s premature exit at the ICC World T20 is now the subject of a Cricket South Africa review and CEO Haroon Lorgat, who has previously been a solid backer of Domingo, stopped short of giving him unqualified support. Six months ago, Domingo received a contract extension through to the end of April next year from CSA.

Whether CSA will be satisfied with Domingo eking out results until then remains to be seen, but the man in the firing line does not feel he should go.

“The margins in international cricket are very small and there’s just a tiny difference in making the semi-finals or not. Look at India getting out of jail against Bangladesh. There will always be questions after you fall out of an event like that, but small things just didn’t go for us,” Domingo said.

Van Zyl’s lack of kicking accuracy costs him place 0

Posted on September 04, 2015 by Ken


Springbok scrumhalf Piet van Zyl’s failure to produce accurate kicks from the base has seen him left out of the Bulls’ match-day 23 for their Vodacom SuperRugby match against the Cell C Sharks at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

Van Zyl’s service was also not as clean as Frans Ludeke would have liked, but it was the sight of him kicking up-and-unders when the Bulls were trying to exit their own half against the Hurricanes last weekend, with the prodigious boot of Handre Pollard largely left unused, that has caused the Bulls coach to temporarily call time on the 25-year-old’s participation in the side.

“It was poor execution on those kicks from just outside our 22, because the opposition will just carry the ball back then, it gives them a crucial opportunity to get back into our territory. The kicks were definitely too short,” Ludeke said.

Van Zyl’s demise has led to a promotion to the starting line-up for Rudi Paige, who is often sharp on attack and generally provides crisp service for his backs.

Left wing Francois Hougaard is going to provide scrumhalf cover and the only other changes to the team that lost to the Hurricanes see Marcel van der Merwe, Tian Schoeman, Travis Ismaiel and Jurgen Visser coming on to the bench.

Prop Van der Merwe is being eased back into action after a knee injury, and he and Dean Greyling are obviously going to have a key role to play in the second half if the Bulls are to maintain a solid scrum against a Sharks pack that scrummed the highly-rated Lions to pieces last weekend.

“Marcel and Dean will be used as impact players in the second half, and we’ve obviously been concentrating on the scrums. It’s about endurance, staying there and finishing the job, and then clearing the base well.

“The Sharks have huge strength at the scrum and success always comes from your forwards giving you that sort of base,” Ludeke said at the Bulls team announcement at Loftus Versfeld on Thursday.

Ismaiel has been preferred to fit-again veteran Akona Ndungane because the 21-year-old was more involved in the Bulls’ warm-up program.

Reserve flyhalf Jacques-Louis Potgieter was withdrawn on Thursday morning due to a thigh strain, allowing the uncapped Schoeman to come on to the bench, while outside centre JJ Engelbrecht is going to have to pass a fitness test on Friday. Ludeke said fullback Jesse Kriel would shift to 13 if the Springbok is not fit, with Visser then going to fullback.

*Sharks director of rugby Gary Gold has made two changes to the team that beat the Lions with a bonus point last weekend, with mobile eighthman Ryan Kankowski coming in for Tera Mthembu and powerhouse inside centre Andre Esterhuizen included instead of Heimar Williams.

There is also a change on the bench with Springbok Lourens Adriaanse replacing British Lion Matt Stevens.


Bulls: 15-Jesse Kriel, 14-Bjorn Basson, 13-JJ Engelbrecht, 12-Jan Serfontein, 11-Francois Hougaard, 10-Handrè Pollard, 9-Rudy Paige, 8-Pierre Spies, 7-Lappies Labuschagne, 6-Deon Stegmann, 5-Victor Matfield, 4-Jacques du Plessis, 3-Trevor Nyakane, 2-Adriaan Strauss, 1-Mornè Mellet. Replacements – 16-Callie Visagie, 17-Dean Greyling, 18-Marcel van der Merwe, 19-Grant Hattingh, 20-Hanro Liebenberg, 21-Tian Schoeman, 22-Travis Ismaiel, 23-Jurgen Visser.

Sharks: 15-SP Marais, 14-Odwa Ndungane, 13-Waylon Murray, 12-Andre Esterhuizen, 11-Lwazi Mvovo, 10-Pat Lambie, 9-Cobus Reinach, 8-Ryan Kankowski, 7-Renaldo Bothma, 6-Marcell Coetzee, 5-Pieter-Steph du Toit,
4-Lubabalo Mtyanda, 3-Jannie du Plessis, 2-Bismarck du Plessis, 1-Dale Chadwick. Replacements – 16-Kyle Cooper, 17-Thomas du Toit, 18-Lourens Adriaanse, 19-Marco Wentzel, 20-Jean Deysel, 21-Conrad Hoffmann, 22-Fred Zeilinga/Lionel Cronje, 23-Jack Wilson.


Another bitter Kingsmead failure for SA batsmen 0

Posted on December 27, 2011 by Ken


South Africa’s batsmen suffered another bitter Kingsmead failure as left-armers Chanaka Welegedara and Rangana Herath ran through them on the second day of the second test against Sri Lanka on Tuesday.


    Welegedara claimed career-best figures of five for 52 in 16.4 overs, while spinner Herath took four for 49 as South Africa were bowled out for just 168, giving Sri Lanka a first-innings lead of 170.


    Sri Lanka lost the wicket of captain Tillakaratne Dilshan, caught in the slips off Dale Steyn for four, and reached seven for one in their second innings before the umpires stopped play due to bad light.


    South Africa, who have lost their last three tests at Kingsmead, collapsed dramatically after tea, losing their last seven wickets for 65 runs.


    Several of them were dismissed playing loose strokes, with AB de Villiers (25) steering the fifth ball after tea, from Welegedara, straight to second slip, to give South Africa the worse possible start to the final session.


    Hashim Amla (54) edged a flatfooted prod outside off stump at Welegedara to wicketkeeper Dinesh Chandimal, while Ashwell Prince (11) was caught trying to reverse-sweep Herath.


    Herath also picked up the wickets of Mark Boucher for three and Morne Morkel for a duck as South Africa crashed to 119 for eight. They only managed to avoid the follow-on because the tailenders managed to hang about.


    Imran Tahir scored 11 before one of his few attempts to defend the ball resulted in him being stumped off Herath, while last man Marchant de Lange was caught behind for nine off Welegedara.


    Steyn decided that attack was the best form of resistance as he struck two fours and two sixes in his 29 not out.


    But South Africa’s ignominous collapse followed totals of 138 against Australia and 133 versus England in Durban in 2009; and 131 all out against India a year ago.


    Sri Lanka were forced to come out and bat for 2.1 overs in gloomy light, with the floodlights on, and Dilshan clubbed a four over cover-point before edging Steyn’s next delivery to second slip.


    Tharanga Paranivatana, who is yet to score, and Kumar Sangakkara, on three, will be there to build on Sri Lanka’s considerable lead on the third morning.


    Amla’s counter-attacking half-century had steered South Africa to 100 for three at tea, after the home team had slumped to 27 for three.


Welegedara started the rot with two wickets in four balls, removing Graeme Smith for 15 and Jacques Kallis for a duck.


Jacques Rudolph fell for seven when he pulled a short, leg-side delivery from Thisara Perera to fine-le,g where Welegedara lunged forward to take a good catch.


Earlier, fast bowler De Lange grabbed seven wickets on his debut, while Thilan Samaraweera compiled his 13th test century as Sri Lanka chalked up 338, their biggest total in South Africa.


De Lange took seven for 81 as Sri Lanka were bowled out 35 minutes before lunch. The 21-year-old’s figures are the best by a South African against this opposition – surpassing Shaun Pollock’s six for 30 in Cape Town in 2000-01.


Samaraweera, 35, scored 102 to steer Sri Lanka past their previous best total of 323 at Centurion in 2002-03.


De Lange’s burst of three wickets in eight balls cut short Sri Lanka’s resistance after they had resumed on 289 for seven.


Samaraweera, who resumed on 86, continued to bat in a controlled fashion as he and Herath put on 46 for the eighth wicket.


De Lange then cleaned up the tail by removing Herath (30) and Welegedara (2) with nasty, lifting deliveries.


Samaraweera was last man out, caught by deep cover Prince off the young paceman.


South Africa lead the three-match series 1-0.

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