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Ken Borland



The thrills and drama of the Sunfoil Series 0

Posted on February 24, 2017 by Ken

 

The Sunfoil Series – the four-day domestic franchise competition – came down to the most thrilling of conclusions last weekend with the Knights claiming the title by just 1.78 points, the equivalent of 89 runs over a tournament that lasted 10 weeks, once again proving that, at least in the minds of the players and the aficionados of the sport, it is the premier trophy in the local game.

Nicky Boje, the Knights coach, confirmed that the four-day competition was the main target in their minds this season, and the other franchise coaches made similar comments through the campaign.

The thing about four-day cricket is that it provides the most all-encompassing test of a player’s skills and of a team’s quality – it’s essentially 40 days of cricket, 96 overs a day, so an examination that can last 3840 overs.

And it still came down to the narrowest of margins, so small in fact that Knights captain Theunis de Bruyn gave a large part of the credit for his team’s triumph to a partnership of just 10 runs between the last pair in their penultimate game against the Cape Cobras.

Akhona Kula and Tshepo Ntuli took the Knights’ first innings in Paarl from 143 for nine to 153 to get them one batting point – 150 is set as the milestone for the first batting bonus point, make 149 and you get zero. Even though the Knights went on to lose the match by 151 runs, that single point made their life a lot easier in the final game against the Highveld Lions because it meant they were targeting 430 in 100 overs rather than around 480.

“It allowed us to believe a little bit more,” De Bruyn said, and we all know belief plays a massive role in any achievement.

I just wish Cricket South Africa had a bit more belief in their four-day competition. It would be unrealistic to expect huge crowds to attend, but they could certainly do more to generate greater interest in the tournament that makes our Test cricketers. They have scheduled media sessions with the franchises before T20 and Momentum One-Day Cup games, why not before Sunfoil Series matches?  Their decision to no longer pay for a scorer to sit in the press box during four-day games suggests their attitude is to cut investment in the competition rather than promote it.

Scorers are an essential help to the media in terms of getting all their stats and figures correct, and it is heartening that CSA’s official statistician, Andrew Samson, is very much a long-format man.

The Oracle, as our media call him – I’m not sure what the BBC Test Match Special team call him but he is also their official statistician – has just brought out a book, The Moon is Toast, which is a celebration of all the quirky statistics the wonderful game of cricket throws up, written in the format of a year-long diary.

Copies of the book are available from http://tinyurl.com/hgbulfp and the wry humour of Samson makes what could become a boring read into an entertaining delight.

Long-form cricket obviously lends itself to more statistical gems than the wham-bam! of limited-overs cricket and the greater scope for all sorts of possibilities to occur was shown by the dramatic conclusion of our own four-day competition.

The longer the game, the greater the chance of an amazing comeback, just as the New South Wales team did in their recent Sheffield Shield game against Queensland at the Sydney Cricket Ground. They were two for two in their first innings before going on to make 603 for six declared which, Samson tells me, is only the fourth time in all first-class cricket that a team has lost their first two wickets for two or less runs but still gone on to score more than 600.

The South African example is Griqualand West recovering from one for two and then three for three to make 602 all out against Rhodesia in Kimberley in 1930, thanks to a double-century by the exotically-named Xenophon Balaskas, the Test all-rounder.

Titans hard at work in midwinter to find a new coach 0

Posted on July 25, 2016 by Ken

 

It may be midwinter but the Titans are hard at work for the cricket season ahead, announcing Multiply, Momentum’s lifestyle and wellness program, as their new team sponsor for 50-over and four-day cricket on Tuesday, but their major focus is on finding a new coach to replace Rob Walter.

Walter is heading to New Zealand to coach Otago from September 1 and, although the Titans were in negotiations with a former South African international based in England, they were frozen out due to the problems with trying to match a pounds salary with rands.

“We’ll be advertising the post from today, so the process starts. We did look at a few candidates initially, we made approaches, but it’s not always possible to get the people you want. It’s difficult to attract guys because of the currency weakness and not all the guys are available. But we hope to complete the search in two or three weeks,” Titans chief executive Jacques Faul said on Tuesday.

“Looking at the squad we have, we need someone who can keep winning trophies. We need to fit the coach with the squad because the players have just come off a helluva season. Obviously the coach must bring something new to the table, but he must be able to work with the squad we’ve got. Rob did so well, winning trophies, but there’s also the bigger picture of producing Proteas, and that’s what the new coach needs to duplicate.”

Although Walter has joined HD Ackerman and Pierre de Bruyn as high-profile coaches leaving South Africa this year, Faul said he believes there is still more than enough talent available when it comes to coaching.

“I’m very positive. There are a lot of young coaches coming through, a guy like Malibongwe Maketa energised the Warriors and they are playing an exciting brand of cricket, and I think we have good systems, I think there is a lot of talent around the country. If one or two guys leave, it doesn’t mean that the system is in trouble.

“A guy like Geoff Toyana is a very good coach, but he had to get the opportunity first and somebody had to leave. We’re part of a global village that attracts good coaches, and I think we’ll get a lot of overseas applications. We’re not hitting any panic buttons,” Faul said.

Pace quartet key to Lions’ triumph, but batsmen & back-up bowlers too 0

Posted on May 05, 2016 by Ken

 

The presence of all four first-choice pace bowlers in the top five of the Sunfoil Series averages was obviously a key factor in the Highveld Lions clinching the four-day title with a match to spare, but Geoff Toyana also praised the batsmen and the back-up bowlers for their vital role in the franchise’s third trophy in three seasons.

Dwaine Pretorius (19 wickets @ 18.52), Chris Morris (27 @ 20.44), Kagiso Rabada (34 @ 21.67) and Hardus Viljoen (31 @ 22.22) proved the adage that bowlers win matches as they played key roles in the Lions’ six wins, but they could not have done it without the support provided by the batsmen.

Captain Stephen Cook was obviously the outstanding contributor in this regard with 889 runs at 68.38, including five centuries, but the contributions of Temba Bavuma (545 @ 77.85), Neil McKenzie (487 @ 48.70) and Thami Tsolekile (424 @ 42.40) were also immense.

Back-up bowlers like Sean Jamison, with 12 wickets in three games, Pumelela Matshikwe (7wkts) and Eddie Leie (13wkts) were also crucial in filling in when the top four weren’t around.

“That combination of Kagiso, Chris, Hardus and Dwaine was really special, but we were fortunate because our depth was very good. We beat the Cobras by an innings with only Dwaine playing out of those, so those other bowlers don’t get the headlines but they really came through for us.

“With the bat, Stephen scoring five centuries was really special, plus there was his experience and leadership, while Neil was also in the runs and Temba came back from the Test team and did the business for us,” Toyana said.

It is the first time the Lions have won the four-day title since 1999/2000, in the pre-franchise days when they played as Gauteng, and Toyana said that made the triumph extra special.

“It’s the trophy we’ve wanted all these years and I’m very happy for the squad because it was tough last season, when we finished last in all competitions. But the belief in the squad was there because we did not make many changes, it was just a change in attitude that did the trick,” Toyana said.

Coach Walter praises hard work of Titans team over last 3 years 0

Posted on April 14, 2016 by Ken

 

The Titans’ phenomenal performances over the last two rounds of the Sunfoil Series caught the eye as they clinched the four-day title at the weekend, but coach Rob Walter said there has been a tremendous amount of hard work over the last three years leading up to their triumph.

The Titans first of all produced an epic batting display to save their game against the second-placed Highveld Lions, batting for 10-and-a-half hours in their second innings, and then, last weekend, defended a target of just 136 as they bowled the Cape Cobras out for only 125, left-arm paceman Rowan Richards taking seven for 40.

“Everyone loves success but it’s a great feeling when you know what went into winning the title. When I started coaching the Titans, we said we wanted to win the first-class competition and there has been systematic improvement, going from last to fourth to second last season and now first.

“And that’s thanks to the effort that was put in, for three seasons in a row, and the extra time the players spent on their games and on their preparation for matches. We have worked very, very hard and we spoke continuously about what it means to be a champion side, the kind of behaviours needed, what that looks like. It’s a bit intangible until you do it, then those performances in the last two games come along.

“The last two games have been at the opposite ends of the cricketing spectrum – against the Lions we were purely trying to save the game, and the second match was just about all-out attack to try and win. It was huge for the players and an awesome achievement,” Walter told The Citizen on Monday.

Despite having to do without their national team players for the bulk of the season, it is clear that the killer instinct remains in the Titans camp and Walter praised the heroes of their campaign.

“It’s very much down to mindset, you must be prepared to win the game in the last session of the last day, and the players were geared to go the full distance. That killer instinct is just in their nature, it runs through their veins.

“You could see Dean Elgar’s hunger ball-after-ball as he set about batting at a higher level, like a Test batsman. To score over 1100 runs, Heino Kuhn must have played well but it was high-quality batting and he didn’t put a foot wrong in scoring that century against a really decent Cobras attack – with four international-grade bowlers – and it stood out that he’s good enough to play Test cricket, if he’s not in the national selectors’ discussions then there’s a problem.

“Qaasim Adams just grows and grows, gets better and better. He had an outstanding season and was able to deliver in varying situations – when we were on top or when we were very much under pressure. Theunis de Bruyn is a high-quality young cricketer who had a really good season and Henry Davids delivered in the last two weeks when we were horribly under the pump.

“The bowling unit also had a lot to do with the success of the team. Rowan Richards is always a competitor and when he got a sniff, he was able to find that little bit extra, like all x-factor players do. He just loves bowling and his 16 overs on the trot against the Cobras – and it was hot – were quick and on the money.

“Marchant de Lange had a change in length and mindset and had instant reward, while Ethy Mbhalati did well, was always solid. Then Tabraiz Shamsi got 41 wickets, with two 12-fors, which is a huge feat for a spinner in South Africa, so he’s very exciting,” Walter said.

 

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  • Thought of the Day

    1 Corinthians 3:3 - "For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way?"

    One of my favourite U2 songs is a collaboration with Johnny Cash called The Wanderer, and it features the line "they say they want the kingdom, but they don't want God in it".
    Many people say they believe in God, but they don't experience his loving presence. They may be active in Christian work, but only if they have their way. If they cannot be leaders, they refuse to be involved.
    Because they refuse to allow God to fill their lives with his love, they remain weak and powerless.
    Spiritual maturity means developing a greater love for others.

    "When the love of Christ saturates you, immature attitudes such as pettiness, jealousy and strife are dissolved.
    "It is only when you have an intimate relationship with the Lord that you receive sufficient grace to rise above this immaturity and enjoy the solid food that the Holy Spirit gives you." - Solly Ozrovech, A Shelter From The Storm



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