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Ken Borland

Yesterday was a great day for the Proteas, what about 2020? 2

Posted on November 07, 2016 by Ken


Friday was a great day for the Proteas in Australia, neatly silencing all the negativity that was flying about just a day earlier, but it proved yet again just how quickly fortunes can change in top-level cricket.

It was four years ago in Perth that South Africa clinched their most recent series win over Australia, in a match that started in similar fashion with the Proteas bowled out cheaply on the first day, but by the end of an astonishing second day, they led by 292 runs with eight second-innings wickets intact.

Hashim Amla (he was dismissed for just a single on Friday following a duck on the first day) scored a magnificent 196 in 2012/13 and AB de Villiers scored a great 169 as South Africa went on to win by 309 runs.

Our cricket was in good shape back then as we were ranked number one in the world, and we’re not looking bad now either, but it got me thinking about how South Africa’s Test team would look in another four years time, in November 2020 through to January 2021 when a four-Test series is scheduled in Australia.

The fifth round of the Sunfoil Series was also entering its second day on Friday and the four-day domestic competition is obviously where one looks for an idea of what our Test side could look like when we next play the premier form of the game in Australia.

The naysayers and prophets of doom, who are mostly just anti-transformation, will try and con you into thinking the well of talent is being siphoned off overseas, but the first half of the Sunfoil Series has been full of memorable individual performances that are very exciting for the future.

It’s always fun during sleepy moments in play to pick fantasy XIs and this week I chose my Proteas Test squad for that 2020/21 trip to Australia.

Aiden Markram has steadily progressed from playing for a smaller cricketing school (Cornwall Hill College) to Pretoria Boys’ High, SA U19 captain, Northerns and is now plundering runs for the Titans in the Sunfoil Series, and I expect his progression will continue through into the Proteas team.

Opening the batting with him will either be the senior pro Dean Elgar, who will be 33, or Reeza Hendricks, who has come from Kimberley through the Knights to the big city of Joburg and the Highveld Lions.

Theunis de Bruyn was a University of Pretoria team-mate of Markram’s but is now playing for the Knights and accumulating runs with the sort of unflustered calm that makes it look like he’s playing village cricket; I would bet on him being the Proteas number three by 2020.

Temba Bavuma has just added more lustre to his reputation with his dogged half-century on the first day in Perth and, by the next Test series Down Under, I expect him to have even more responsibility as South Africa’s number four and the fulcrum of their batting.

Quinton de Kock was similarly brilliant and whether he goes all the way up the order to open in Tests will depend on whether another wicketkeeper/batsman comes through (Heinrich Klaasen/Clyde Fortuin?), but I’m sure he’s going to be batting in the top six by 2020 and scoring mountains of runs.

It’s going to be interesting to see whether Rilee Rossouw builds on his start in international cricket and becomes a Test regular, while David Miller is potentially going to push him hard judging by his form in this season’s Sunfoil Series.

Jacques Kallis was a massive part of the Proteas being number one in the world with his all-round ability and a position that was a problem once he retired should be well-stocked by 2020.

Was there ever a better start to a first-class career by someone so young as Wiaan Mulder made for the Lions? At just 18 years old he has already scored a century and taken seven wickets in an innings in A Section cricket. Clive Rice was a great Transvaal and Nottinghamshire all-rounder but he had to wait six years for his maiden first-class century and seven before he first took seven in an innings.

Andile Phehlukwayo was a revelation in the ODI series against Australia and will surely be waving for attention as well; Jason Smith has caught the eye for the Cape Cobras as their season goes down the tubes, while the likes of Chris Morris and Dwaine Pretorius might not be ready to say goodbye to international cricket just yet either.

Kagiso Rabada will surely be the spearhead of the South African attack, while Keshav Maharaj fronted up well enough on Test debut to suggest he will certainly be in the picture in 2020, along with fellow spinners Tabraiz Shamsi, Dane Piedt and Eddie Leie.

Who of Marchant de Lange, Hardus Viljoen, Duanne Olivier or Wayne Parnell will share the new ball with Rabada, while Lungi Ngidi has impressed with his bounce and accuracy in his first campaign with the Titans.


AB confident camp will give birth to better fortune 0

Posted on August 17, 2016 by Ken


AB de Villiers says he is confident a “culture camp” the wider Proteas squad held last week will give birth to a resurgence in fortunes for the national side, starting with victory over New Zealand in the two-Test series that gets underway in Durban on Friday.

De Villiers is off for six weeks with an elbow injury the most serious of several niggles he is getting right before the season gets into full swing, but he is clearly still playing a powerful leadership role within the team, speaking confidently about how he backs them to beat New Zealand, when he was interviewed at the launch of the series, at which sponsors Sunfoil announced they would be extending their sponsorship of South African Test and first-class cricket for another two years.

“We had a culture camp five days ago where we were brutally honest with each other about where we are as a team and where we would like to see ourselves. We know exactly where we want to go, we had a lot of hard chats about what is wrong, what issues there are, behind our dip in form.

“A big part of our success in the past has been our culture and we revisited our core values, who we play for. I wouldn’t say we’re in a transitional phase because this is still a fantastic team that can beat anyone. I’m really backing our boys, even though the Black Caps are clearly a force to be reckoned with,” De Villiers said.

The Proteas arrived in Durban extra early for the Test and have had twice-daily practice sessions in order to offset their lack of Test cricket, in contrast to New Zealand, who have just enjoyed a convincing 2-0 win in Zimbabwe. De Villiers, however, predicted that it would be South Africa who would set the early pace in the series.

“One thing we really discussed in our camp was throwing the first punch. We’re proud of our ability to come back from all sorts of trouble, but it’s time for us to dominate from the start now and not be scared of being aggressive, of trying things. Hopefully people will get to see that in this series.

“I think New Zealand could be a bit thin in the batting department and if they don’t score big runs they’ll be in trouble. I don’t think they have an advantage from playing Tests recently, all our guys have played enough cricket and it was much more important for us to connect as players at our camp,” De Villiers said.


Willett in pole position as NGC enters final straight 0

Posted on January 16, 2015 by Ken

Danny Willett was in pole position with a four-shot lead as the Nedbank Golf Challenge entered the final straight at the Gary Player Country Club at Sun City on Sunday.

The English trio of Willett, Luke Donald and Ross Fisher made up the final three-ball and were the only golfers who had a realistic chance of claiming the title and the first-prize cheque of $1.25 million.

Donald began the day with a one-stroke lead over Willett, with Fisher another two shots back.

But Willett roared out of the blocks, his list of birdies in the first five holes earning him a comfortable lead, which he built on with another shot gained at the par-five 10th, taking him to 16-under through 12 holes.

Fisher, who won the Tshwane Open in Centurion earlier this year, was tied for second place on 12-under with Donald after going out in two-under 34 thanks to consecutive birdies at the eighth and ninth holes.

The tall 34-year-old then drained a 15-foot birdie putt on the 10th, but a wayward drive on the 11th, rebounding off the trees but not allowing him a shot at the green with his second, led to a bogey.

Donald also clawed a shot back when he birdied the par-five ninth after laying up – Willett getting on in two but misreading his eagle-putt – but the former world number one immediately gave the stroke back with a bogey at 10, a visit to a fairway bunker which he couldn’t initially get out of costing him an extra shot.

The fickle fortunes of golf were clearly displayed in the opening holes of the final round as Willett snatched a three-shot lead.

Overnight leader Donald must have been contemplating what a harsh mistress the game can be as, on his birthday, he bogeyed two of the first five holes and watched Willett fire his way to the top of the leaderboard with three birdies.

And just to top his frustration, Donald birdied the par-four sixth after a super approach shot but watched Willett escape from trouble as he salvaged a par with a brilliant up-and-down after being embedded in the bunker behind the green.

Willett had a perfect record from the fringe, a delightful chip down the hill on the par-five second setting up a birdie and the 27-year-old then rolled in birdie putts from the fringe on the third and fifth holes, both par-fours.

Donald’s 10-foot birdie putt on the sixth pulled one stroke back after bogeys on the third and fifth holes led to a pair of two-stroke swings with Willett.

On the third, Donald put his approach into the bunker left of the flag, short-siding himself, and an awkward lie meant he could only chip across the green. The birthday boy, celebrating his 37th, short-sided himself again on the fifth with a wayward approach shot over the green.

Fisher would have been perfectly happy with his start as a 10-foot putt on the par-three fourth gave him his second birdie. But successive bogeys then undid those gains, his approach on the fifth finishing short of the green and a wayward drive on six, followed by his third shot going over the green, led to another dropped shot, leaving him five behind Willett.

Frenchman Alexander Levy was also contemplating the vagaries of the game as he took 10 at the par-five ninth, twice hitting from the drop zone into the water surrounding the green. To his credit, he was still smiling as he trudged off the green and he birdied the 10th and 11th holes.


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