for quality writing

Ken Borland



‘Lack of bonus points has hurt us’ – Nollis 0

Posted on June 29, 2016 by Ken

 

“The lack of bonus points is what has hurt us,” Bulls coach Nollis Marais said on Tuesday as he contemplated the three-point gap between them and the Sharks and the four extra points the Stormers have, deficits they now have three weeks to make up, starting with this weekend’s awkward trip to Buenos Aires to play the Jaguares .

The Bulls, Sharks and Stormers all won seven of their dozen matches in the first segment of SuperRugby, so Marais is spot on with his analysis.

“Not getting bonus points when we beat the Reds and Rebels is now a problem for us and we have to make sure we win our next three games, just to control our destiny a bit. But it doesn’t help if we now just allow ourselves to stagnate, we must definitely move forward in our intensity and in the way we want to play.

“We want to show our fight and we must go out and play an attacking brand of rugby. We definitely have that mindset. We can’t just maul sides, that’s not the way we want to play. We want to play more with the ball in certain areas, play a high-intensity game. The maul and set-pieces still play a big part, but we can’t just have that, we must also break the line,” Marais said.

The Bulls squad that will leave for Argentina on Wednesday has been rocked by injuries.

Flank Deon Stegmann, lock Grant Hattingh and wing Bjorn Basson have injured themselves in training, to add to the injuries picked up on international duty by prop Trevor Nyakane and lock RG Snyman.

The Bulls will also be led by Lappies Labuschagne because Springbok captain Adriaan Strauss is being given a rest as per the agreement with Saru.

“Nothing needs to be said by me, everyone knows what needs to be done and we’re all working towards the same goal. We’re in a good space, it’s a big game and one we really want to win. The past is in the past, but we can rectify the mistakes we made and we’re really fired up for the rest of the season. We’re really positive for what lies ahead,” Labuschagne said.

Markram rumours wide of the mark, but 4 other Titans will leave 0

Posted on March 14, 2016 by Ken

 

The rumours that junior world cup winning captain Aiden Markram could be lost to South African cricket are wide of the mark with the 21-year-old confirming on Tuesday that he has signed a contract with the Titans, who will, however, be losing four of their talented youngsters ahead of next season.

Markram will be spending the off-season playing for Walkden in the Bolton League, but the promising top-order batsman will be back in time for what is already shaping up as a massive summer for him. Especially since Theunis de Bruyn and Graeme van Buuren, two of his team-mates in the all-conquering Tuks side, are moving on to fresh pastures. Corbin Bosch, the opening bowler for Markram’s triumphant SA U19 team, has already relocated to Australia, having failed to break into the Titans team this season.

The Titans have also lost out on the services of wicketkeeper/batsman Mangaliso Mosehle, who is moving to the Highveld Lions next season.

Van Buuren has earned a two-year contract with Gloucestershire and, because his wife Hannah, the former Tuks conditioning coach, was born in London and has a British passport, he will try to qualify for England.

De Bruyn, one of the brightest batting talents in the country, will be moving to the Knights for the 2016/17 season, opening the way for Markram to play more regular franchise cricket, having made just two Momentum One-Day Cup appearances this season.

“I’m looking forward to spending the off-season in different conditions and growing my game, but I’m happy with where I am in my career. Any opportunity I get for the Titans I’m just going to try and take, but at the moment I’m really focusing on my preparation. At school, there might be four or five good players in the opposition, but in senior cricket there’s a lot more good players, so it takes time to work out how to play at that level. But the more cricket you play, the faster you learn,” Markram told The Citizen on Tuesday.

Van Buuren has been a highly-valued performer for the Titans, averaging 45 in the Momentum One-Day Cup and 30 in the RamSlam T20 Challenge, as well as bowling economical left-arm spin, but with doors opening up for him in county cricket, it was only natural that he would seize the opportunity.

“I’m not going with any regrets, I’m not at all complaining about anything, I owe the Titans for everything I’ve achieved, having played for them since Northerns U7s 18 years ago. So I’m very thankful to them, but this is a great opportunity in terms of my career as a professional cricketer and not a lot of players have this chance.

“I’m excited for something new, an unbelievable opportunity and a new chapter. Obviously I want to play international cricket, that’s the main reason for playing because you always want to push yourself to be the best. I’ll qualify for England when I’m 29 and until then I’ll just let things take their course,” Van Buuren told The Citizen.

Good times to be a gambler 0

Posted on February 14, 2016 by Ken

 

Judging by South Africa’s performance in the World Cup quarterfinal against Sri Lanka this week, these are good times to be a gambler and, seeing as though I am at Sun City for the Chase to the Investec Cup final, I’m going to put R1000 each on three, four and eight at the roulette table tonight, in honour of JP Duminy’s three wickets in three balls, which meant the Proteas got away with only having four specialist bowlers, and Quinton de Kock coming good after previously averaging just eight in the tournament.

Okay, the bit about me gambling tonight is a joke because times are still tough for journos and instead I may treat myself to a lager and ponder over how good it felt to get my predictions for the quarterfinal against Sri Lanka so utterly wrong.

Coach Russell Domingo has never struck me as the gambling type, although he does have a profound love for figures, which is not to say he’s not willing to make tough decisions. He’s done that before and was even willing to leave the great Jacques Kallis out of limited-overs teams when he didn’t fit into the game-plan.

But as far as gambles go, taking on the strong Sri Lankan batting line-up on a flat Sydney Cricket Ground pitch with Duminy as the fifth bowler and AB de Villiers as the back-up ranks up there with the biggest in World Cup history, and, were it not for the brilliance of the pace bowlers and Imran Tahir in taking early wickets, it was a move that could have gone stupidly wrong.

But it worked, as did the faith shown in De Kock. As the confidence seeped back into the young left-hander, emboldened by the support of his management and team-mates, his talent and class was plain to see.

You would rightly expect South Africa to keep the same XI for Tuesday’s semi-final against the winner of today’s match between New Zealand and the West Indies, which means the pressure will once again be on the bowlers to reach the same heights they did in Sydney.

Apart from the pleasure of watching such a complete performance and celebrating South Africa’s first win in a World Cup knockout game, I really liked the send-off given to Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene.

Those two great batsmen have given South African bowlers a terrible time over the years but their strength of character, charm and integrity means they will be remembered as so much more than just prolific employees of Sri Lanka Cricket.

In my opinion, Sangakkara is one of the greatest batsmen to have played the game, in the same exalted realms of excellence as Sachin Tendulkar, Ricky Ponting, Brian Lara and Kallis.

The Proteas obviously hold him and Jayawardene in similarly high esteem judging by the genuine warmth they showed in farewelling them, and Sangakkara’s response when asked how he would like to be remembered speaks to the very essence of sport:

“If anyone can say they’ve enjoyed playing against me and playing with me, I’ll be more than happy.”

Cricket South Africa sent out a special tribute statement when Tendulkar retired; Sangakkara is surely deserving of the same honour?

 

Englishman & Spaniard lead, but locals well-positioned 0

Posted on October 28, 2015 by Ken

Englishman Matt Ford and Spaniard Edoardo de la Riva are leading the way after the second round of the Africa Open at East London Golf Club on Friday, but four South Africans are just below them, well-positioned to continue the history of local success in the co-sanctioned Sunshine/European Tour event.

Ford, who held a share of the overnight lead with Kevin Phelan, shot a brilliant six-under-par 66 on Friday to go to 11-under-par, one stroke ahead of De la Riva, who also fired a 66 to move to 10-under.

But the South African presence is strong with Jaco van Zyl and Erik van Rooyen in a tie for third with Frenchman Gregory Havret on eight-under, and Trevor Fisher Junior and Neil Schietekat in a tie for sixth on seven-under-par with Germany’s Maximilian Kieffer, Mark Tullo of Chile and Englishmen David Howell and John Parry.

One of the many attractions of East London Golf Club is the multitude of different challenges it can present depending on the weather conditions, and golf here is never boring.

After a blustery first day, the wind switched direction on Friday and calmed down, before regaining strength again in the afternoon.

As Ford pointed out, on the 12th hole on Thursday he hit a driver and four-iron to reach the green, whereas on Friday he hit a driver and then holed a 50 degree wedge for an eagle.

“The wind was just starting to pick up, but the course was very different today and very scorable because conditions were slightly easier. I just wanted to hit good shots and take advantage, and I gave myself lots of opportunities – I was inside 15 feet 11 times but I had a couple of missed putts,” Ford said.

Van Zyl, who has a tremendous record at East London Golf Club, said the course keeps you honest, as shown by his first round when he was three-over on the front nine, before fighting back brilliantly to post a 70.

“This is a very difficult golf course because there are so many different elements. I wasn’t too shocked by my start because the smallest mistake gets magnified a hundred times by this course. But it was really nice to bring it back and today it was much easier in the morning and I was able to capitalise on quite a few holes,” Van Zyl said.

Of all the men in the top-10, Van Zyl has the most experience of winning, except for former world top-10 golfer Howell, and the 13-time Sunshine Tour winner is determined to keep knocking on the door.

“I’ve got to take it one shot at a time and not get ahead of myself. But if I give myself as many opportunities as I can to win, then it has to happen some time. But you’ve obviously got to play nicely and being in contention brings different pressures and expectations. But life will become a lot easier once I get a co-sanctioned win under the belt,” Van Zyl said.

The 36-year-old said it was far from his best ball-striking day, but improved form with the putter means he is strongly in contention midway through the R14.5 million event.

“I’m probably at about 70% of how well I can drive, but now I’m making the putts. I had 27 yesterday and 25 today. Yesterday was really tough though and I was very chuffed I managed to shoot two-under. It was a lot easier this morning, it was totally different today, a lot of the holes were into a little breeze but there were still quite a few holes to capitalise on,” Van Zyl said.

Phelan slipped far down the leaderboard with a level-par 72 and now trails Ford by six shots, while Richard Bland, tied third overnight, also could not break par.

If Van Zyl falters, then Schietekat and Van Rooyen are a pair of younger South Africans for whom there are high hopes and they could get the job done to ensure the trophy stays at home for an eighth year.

“It was quite nice to have some calm weather this morning but I’m not hitting the ball exactly the way I want to. But my putting got me out of trouble and the draw worked nicely for me. Maybe something will happen this weekend … ” Schietekat said.

“I played well at Joburg Open last week and I’m putting really nicely. I couldn’t have asked for a better result today and I’m right in there,” a delighted Van Rooyen said after his 66.

http://citizen.co.za/339531/ford-leads-africa-open/



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