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Ken Borland



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.

 

 

The most memorable performance by a fast bowler 0

Posted on August 01, 2016 by Ken

 

The thrilling Kagiso Rabada stole the show at the CSA Awards this week by claiming most of the trophies for himself with the same ruthlessness he displays in targeting the batsman’s wicket, but the most memorable performance by a fast bowler, for me, came the night before at the 25 Years of Unity celebration when Vincent Barnes spoke movingly about the challenges he had to face as a cricketer whose career was ruined by Apartheid.

Barnes is currently the high performance manager for Cricket South Africa, having previously served for many years as the national team’s bowling coach. But he was also arguably the greatest cricketer in the non-racial ranks during the decade before 1991’s formation of the United Cricket Board and the return to international cricket.

The pitches were notoriously poor on their side of the divide – the Apartheid government certainly wasn’t bothered with providing facilities for the majority back then – but Barnes’ figures stand head and shoulders above everyone else in his generation: 323 wickets at an average of just 11.95!

The injustices of Apartheid meant Barnes had to work doubly hard just to play cricket and the passion he has for the game overcame the fact that there was no higher outlet for his talents. But the 56-year-old has seldom spoken of those frustrations – unlike some of the privileged set who were denied international cricket due to isolation – and instead focused on passing on his knowledge to the new, unified generation of South African cricketers.

The greats of White cricket were also acknowledged at the celebration, but it was Barnes’ story of overcoming the odds which was the most poignant for me.

As good as the awards dinner was the next evening, the shadow of sports minister Fikile Mbalula’s enormous ego and Donald Trump-like “leadership” did hang over it a bit for me. I am sad that Cricket South Africa’s response to the increase in pressure from the sports minister for a faster transformation pace, purely intended to put the spotlight on himself in this election year, has been to kowtow to a man who is all bluster and no positive action.

First we had HD Ackerman shamefully removed from the hosting duties because he is taking up a job in Australia (Derek Alberts did a fine job standing in), and then the announcement that quotas will be formally introduced at national level. At least that ends the dishonest sham that resulted in disasters like last year’s World Cup semifinal.

As if to really drive home the point that CSA have worked harder on transformation than any other code, Rabada then takes home half-a-dozen awards.

What was miserable Mbalula’s response? – a tweet that read “Congratulatons! Kagiso Rabada, I sincerely believe you not gonna disappear after being used like all others who came bfo”.

 

Hardus wants more Test cricket, gets help from special woman in his life 0

Posted on July 08, 2016 by Ken

 

Hardus Viljoen has had a taste of Test cricket and wants more, so, with the help of the special woman in his life, he has put in the hard yards in the off-season to become an even leaner and meaner fast bowler.

The off-season is pretty much over for the Highveld Lions star as he leaves on Tuesday with the SA A side for two four-day matches in Zimbabwe and then a triangular series in Australia with India A as the other opponents.

And the 27-year-old looked in tremendous shape on Monday as the team had a middle practice session at the University of Pretoria’s Groenkloof field and is clearly not resting on the laurels of last season, when he took 47 wickets, the most in the Sunfoil Series, in nine matches at an average of just 23 and made his Test debut in January at the Wanderers and removed England captain Alastair Cook with his first ball.

The rest of his first game for South Africa did not go as well, though, as he finished with one for 79 in 15 expensive overs and then bowled four wicketless overs in the second innings as England chased down just 74 for a commanding victory.

“Last season has come and gone, no-one’s going to talk about how you bowled last year, there’s no reward on that. So I did a lot of training in the off-season and I’ve lost 10kg because I worked a lot on my fitness and my diet. My lady [girlfriend Rhemi Rynners, sister of Faf du Plessis] is into healthy eating and she helped me a lot with that, it’s become a way of life.

“I took a bit of flak for my fitness levels and it’s a personal thing – by doing this I can have a longer career and there’s less weight on my feet and legs. So I’ve worked hard on getting fitter and stronger, and it’s all about training smarter; I don’t want to just put on muscle like a rugby player,” a clearly focused Viljoen said on Monday.

“It was a good season last year, but it was also disappointing in a way because I didn’t perform as well as I wanted to in my debut. I wanted to really make an impact, so I’m working very hard on my consistency, that’s a massive thing for me. But that won’t happen in one week, it’s an ongoing process.”

Although Viljoen is desperate to earn a place back in the national team, he is being patient in that regard as well, not telling himself that he has to take a whole bunch of wickets in Zimbabwe and Australia.

“I don’t want to put unnecessary pressure on myself. These tours are good preparation for the summer and to see what my hard work has brought in terms of the things I’ve worked on in the off-season. It might be SA A, but I am still representing my country and I don’t want to take anything for granted. Our performances will obviously be looked at, but for me it’s still about how my game has progressed,” Viljoen said.

Viljoen initially sprung to prominence in limited-overs cricket, but he has taken more than 30 first-class wickets in each of the last seven seasons, with his highest average being 30.39 in 2013/14. The Waterkloof High School product whose actual name is just the initials GC, also has his sights set on a place in the Proteas limited-overs teams.

“In Test cricket, you need patience and consistency, but in T20s, for instance, I would love to just come out and bowl at 155km/h. One of my main goals last season was to bowl at 150km/h and I got to 152.4, so to bowl at 155 is another personal goal of mine.

“But you also need to execute your skills in limited-overs cricket and there’s a massive gap for a death bowler in the Proteas set-up, so I’m working on getting more skills in my arsenal. It’s not going to take one season though, you need about 10 000 hours to master those skills!

“So I have a few things to work on … ” Viljoen said.

It is clear, however, that Viljoen is not happy with his career standing in the same spot. The hunger inside him suggests he will be one to watch in Zimbabwe and Australia.

http://citizen.co.za/1190043/viljoen-desperate-to-earn-a-place-in-the-national-team/

Dala has the upgrades to star in all 3 formats 0

Posted on June 08, 2016 by Ken

 

A back-of-the-hand slower ball and a stronger mentality are a couple of the upgrades fast bowler Junior Dala has added to his game as he looks to become a regular member of the Titans team in all three formats in the coming season.

Having spent the 2015 winter at the national academy, Dala showed those improvements in limited-overs cricket last season, especially in the Momentum One-Day Cup, where he played in all 10 matches and ended as the tournament’s third-highest wicket-taker with 16, while conceding barely more than a run-a-ball.

He was also a stalwart of the Titans team that won the RamSlam T20 Challenge, taking eight wickets at an average of 25.12 and conceding less than eight runs an over.

But he only played in four of the Sunfoil Series matches, taking just five wickets at an average of 57, so that is clearly where he wants to improve greatly.

“I had a lot more belief in myself and I learnt valuable lessons with the academy when we toured Sri Lanka and I did reasonably well against Test players. I had early success in the One-Day Cup, I was the leading wicket-taker at the halfway mark, and in the T20 I just went with that flow. I worked on extra skills and I learnt a lot as well from the Proteas bowlers in our squad.

“I felt I was playing for my place the season before that, but last season changed my whole outlook. Sometimes I have to taper down, it’s not just about outright pace, it depends on what’s required for the situation, like the back-of-the-hand slower ball for instance. I’ve grown mentally, I use my head more and I have extra confidence and belief,” Dala said.

“But I haven’t played enough of the long format, the more I play, the better I’ll be. I maybe let myself down a bit in the four-dayers last season, so it’s definitely a major goal to put that right. I’m working hard so hopefully I will play in all three formats next season, I just need to do what I need to do.”

Ironically, the most impressive performance of last season came in a long format game as he destroyed the England second innings with five for 34 in 12 overs for the SA Invitation XI in Potchefstroom, earning the respect of Jimmy Anderson, the leader of the touring attack.

“Taking five against England on a flat Potch pitch made me believe that I can compete at that level, I just need to be more consistent. I got Alex Hales a couple of times and Alastair Cook showed such super skills, but I thought I handled myself well and showed that I can do it. James Anderson came and congratulated me and told me I had big things ahead of me.

“But I never went to a big school and the first time I was ever coached was when I played for Gauteng. So I’m a work in progress and I’m still trying to figure out my action, there are still basics to get right and I need to understand it more,” the unorthodox 26-year-old said.

But the opinions of the great Anderson and coaches Shukri Conrad, the head of the academy, and Rob Walter of the Titans are surely right on the money when it comes to Dala.



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