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Ken Borland

All-round Gayle steers Lions to victory 0

Posted on December 03, 2014 by Ken

Chris Gayle struck a half-century and took four wickets to steer the bizhub Highveld Lions to a six-wicket victory over the Sunfoil Dolphins in the final match of the RamSlam T20 Challenge triple-header at the Wanderers on Sunday night.

The Lions were chasing 173 for victory and Gayle belted six fours and two sixes as he scored a belligerent 56 off 38 balls. He and Jean Symes added 89 off 68 balls after the hosts were struggling on 36 for three in the fourth over, steering them to victory with seven balls to spare as Thami Tsolekile (23* off 12) hit a couple of sixes in the penultimate over to clinch the win.

Symes compiled a beautifully-paced 58 not out off 50 balls, with four fours and two sixes, and played the perfect foil to Gayle, who showed what a big drawcard he is going to be over the next month.

The West Indian left-hander took a while to get going, but was just beginning to break free, having completed his half-century off 35 balls, when Prenelan Subrayen bowled him in the 14th over.

The Lions still needed 48 off the last six overs, but the Dolphins were unable to restrict Symes and Tsolekile, who completed a comfortable victory over the defending champions.

The Dolphins had to break free from their own poor start after winning the toss and electing to bat first, Cameron Delport falling first ball to Lonwabo Tsotsobe, who seems to be well and truly over his long-term injury niggles, and Morne van Wyk (5) being trapped lbw by Hardus Viljoen’s first delivery.

The Dolphins were 27 for two in the fourth over and desperately needed the stand of 71 off 45 balls between Cody Chetty and Vaughn van Jaarsveld.

Van Jaarsveld stood up from a painful blow amidships from Chris Morris to slap the fast bowler for four and six in the seventh over as the Dolphins passed 50, and Chetty completed a 32-ball half-century with five fours and three sixes.

But the introduction of Gayle with his flat and crafty off-spin derailed the Dolphins progress.

The tall 35-year-old claimed wickets in each of his four overs: Van Jaarsveld (40 off 25) mistimed a lofted straight drive to long-on, Jonathan Vandiar (8) and Khaya Zondo (5) both walked across their stumps and missed sweeps to be given out lbw, and Chetty top-edged a sweep to long-on to fall for a classy 68 off 44 balls.

That allowed fast bowlers Viljoen and Morris to gain access to the lower-order and they wrapped up the innings in style as the Dolphins scored 37 for four in the last four overs.

Viljoen returned in the penultimate over to remove the dangerous Subrayen for 26 off 13 balls and Morris claimed two wickets in the final over to leave the Dolphins short of a winning target on 172 for nine.

Gayle finished with four for 36 to claim the bowler of the match award, but Viljoen returned the best figures of two for 14 in three overs, while wrist-spinner Eddie Leie also managed to frustrate the Dolphins in tandem with Gayle.

Bulls don’t have to worry about permutations against Griquas 0

Posted on November 11, 2014 by Ken

The Vodacom Blue Bulls go into the final round-robin match of the Absa Currie Cup Premier Division, against the GWK Griquas at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday, without having to worry about all the permutations that so often confuse the issue at this stage of the season.

Thanks to collecting nine points in the last two weeks, against their main rivals for fourth place on the log – the Free State Cheetahs and the Pumas, the Bulls now just need to beat Griquas to assure themselves of a place in the semi-finals.

The clarity of the situation has also allowed coach Frans Ludeke to make six changes to the team, most of them rotational as they eye out the semi-finals.

Handre Pollard, the newest Springbok flyhalf sensation, will start off the bench on Saturday, a wise move giving the youngster the chance to catch his breath after a dizzying last week and reintegrate himself with the Bulls ahead of the knockout games. Ludeke said there is still a 5% chance that a niggling ankle problem will keep Pollard out, in which case Tian Schoeman will be the reserve flyhalf.

The scrum is one area where the Bulls have really shone in the latter stages of the Currie Cup, but Ludeke will nevertheless field an entirely new front row, with Springbok Marcel van der Merwe starting at tighthead, Bongi Mbonambi at hooker and Morne Mellet in the number one jersey. Callie Visagie and Springbok Werner Kruger will be on the bench.

The rotation continues at scrumhalf with Piet van Zyl starting ahead of Rudy Paige, but as the Bulls surely transit towards the semi-finals, there is one backline position where Ludeke is perhaps still unsure of who the first-choice should be.

Springbok Bjorn Basson starts on the left wing on Saturday in what will probably be his last chance to supplant Sampie Mastriet, who has made great strides in his game this season.

William Small-Smith will return in the number 13 jersey instead of JJ Engelbrecht, who has been stood down as a contracted Springbok – a ridiculous decision by SA Rugby that will not benefit anyone.

Engelbrecht has missed large swathes of the season due to injury and desperately needs to string some games together to rediscover his old form. Instead, he will be forced to sit on the sidelines until next year and will not be able to push for a place on the end-of-year tour.

“The presence of Marcel and Handre will give the team a big boost, they are quality players who produced a high standard in the Rugby Championship. The players working for each other will make us a dangerous team and you can see the team-work, the players complementing each other, and we’re getting momentum, playing off the front foot and scoring tries. But that will only happen if there’s work off the ball,” Ludeke said at Loftus Versfeld yesterday.

The coach will be hoping for a repeat of the display against the Pumas last weekend in Nelspruit, when the Bulls romped to a 37-6 victory.

“Last week against the Pumas was our most clinical performance and I feel like we will be peaking at the right time, which is vital. We need to be quick to spot the big moments because they swing momentum your way,” Ludeke said.

Bulls team – 15-Ulrich Beyers, 14-Akona Ndungane, 13-William Small-Smith, 12-Burger Odendaal, 11-Bjorn Basson, 10-Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 9-Piet van Zyl, 8-Jono Ross, 7-Jacques du Plessis, 6-Deon Stegmann, 5-Grant Hattingh, 4-Paul Willemse, 3-Marcel van der Merwe, 2-Bongi Mbonambi, 1-Morne Mellet. Reserves: 16-Callie Visagie, 17-Werner Kruger, 18-Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg, 19-Wiaan Liebenberg, 20-Rudy Paige, 21-Handre Pollard, 22-Jesse Kriel.


Titans please coach Walter with strong finish to season 0

Posted on April 15, 2014 by Ken

When Unlimited Titans coach Rob Walter sat down on the SuperSport Park outfield with his team as the sun disappeared over Wierda Park after the third day of their final Sunfoil Series match against the Warriors, he no doubt stressed the importance of finishing the season well.

His team did that, fighting hard on the final day of the match for the second weekend in a row, beating the Warriors by 87 runs, to finish in a respectable fourth place on the Sunfoil Series log.

A fortnight ago, the Titans were firmly anchored in last place on the log, 13.60 points behind the Highveld Lions. Victories over the Knights and Warriors meant they leapfrogged both their neighbours and the Eastern Cape side, finishing just 5.88 points off the third-placed Dolphins.

Walter will be the first to admit his team erred badly in the opening stages of the four-day competition, especially in terms of their batting. Limited-overs cricket is clearly this Titans team’s strength, and it was perhaps understandable they took a while to get into occupying-the-crease mode.

But by the end of the campaign, a new four-day modus operandi was being implemented and the depth of the squad was also being established with several fringe players getting a run and many of them doing well enough to suggest they will be part of the Titans’ plans next season.

“There were a couple of things to get excited about at the end of the season, we were playing a better brand of four-day cricket and the right strategies were being implemented. We don’t want to make it too complicated, it’s a very simple game plan and it’s just a matter of executing it,” Walter told The Pretoria News yesterday.

“Young guys have also been doing well at the back end of the season, which shows we do have some depth and able replacements in most areas. The Cobras won the competition because their senior players stood up, but their depth also performed. It’s important that we improve our depth.”

Many critics questioned whether the Titans have the bowlers to succeed in four-day cricket, but they took 20 wickets in their last two matches on relatively flat pitches.

David Wiese, with 30 wickets in six matches at an average of 17.56, did a magnificent job for the Titans, while Shaun von Berg and Marchant de Lange did much for the connoisseurs of leg-spin and fast bowling respectively to look forward to next season.

“How David has grown from a skill point of view has been one of the highlights of the season for me,” Walter said. “He has outstanding skill, he’s good with the new ball or, as he showed against the Warriors, with a 65-70 over ball. So he’s able to bowl in different phases of the game and the key is his accuracy and consistency.

“Marchant showed his old self in patches, he makes it very uncomfortable for the batsman and even guys with a hundred were jumping around. That’s obviously exciting and he can be a real impact player for us moving forward, as will Shaun.

“By his own admission, Shaun struggled with his rhythm on the final day against the Warriors, but I’m very happy with the way he bowled this season. The next step in his development  is knowing what to do when batsmen come after him or when the ball’s not coming out great,” Walter said.

The alleged lack of batting depth in the Titans also seems to be overstated when one considers the runs made by Theunis de Bruyn, Graeme van Buuren, Grant Thomson, Cobus Pienaar and Qaasim Adams in recent weeks.

Young opener Ernest Kemm also had his day in the sun with 62 on the third day of the match against the Warriors.

Walter said that the competition for batting places next season would be healthy for the team.

“Theunis looked really good and it’s great that we have a couple of options in terms of opening batsmen. Dean Elgar won’t be around for every game, so we need to make sure that we have back-up. We have able replacements and they’ll also be pushing Heino Kuhn,” the coach said.

Pienaar and Thomson have also produced valuable bowling performances for the Titans and that only adds to their value, while the strong finish to the season made by Adams means the stocks are healthy in the middle-order.

“The four-day victories where you go the distance to win and put in the hard yards are definitely the most satisfying. And the fact we shared the Momentum One-Day Cup with a set of young players mixed in with the experience and had a good end to the Sunfoil Series with the same mix, is very encouraging,” Walter said.



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