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Ken Borland



The biggest need for the Proteas is stability 0

Posted on August 22, 2017 by Ken

 

Whoever the new coach of the Standard Bank Proteas will be, the team’s biggest need at present is for stability after all the disruptions of the England tour that ended with South Africa being heavily beaten in four days in the fourth and final Test, losing the rubber 3-1, their first series loss in England since 1998 and their heaviest defeat since losing 3-0 to Colin Cowdrey’s team in 1960.

The frontrunner to replace Russell Domingo, judging by media reports, is Ottis Gibson, the current England bowling coach and the former West Indies head coach who won the World T20 in 2012. The 48-year-old Barbadian has both the international experience – having been involved at that level for 11 years – and the local knowledge, having played in South Africa for the better part of the 1990s for Border, Griqualand West and Gauteng.

The list of disruptions the Proteas suffered on their tour of England, with the Tests following their defeats in both limited-overs series and the disappointment of an early exit in the Champions Trophy, starts with Domingo. The coach was not only in the awkward position of not knowing whether the tour would be his last in charge, but then had the awful heartbreak of his mother being involved in a car accident and eventually tragically passing away, forcing Domingo to leave the squad on two occasions and fly back home.

The Proteas were not only without their coach but they also went into the series without their galvanising skipper Faf du Plessis, who missed the first Test at Lord’s having stayed in South Africa for the difficult birth of his first child; a hard call but a totally understandable one.

Du Plessis returned for the second Test at Trent Bridge, with the Proteas winning by a whopping 340 runs. But they were brought back down to earth, hitting the ground hard, in the last two Tests, losing by 239 and 177 runs respectively.

The combination of Vernon Philander and Chris Morris as bowling all-rounders worked a treat in the second Test, but not in the third as Philander suffered an untimely, debilitating illness having made the ball talk in spectacular fashion as he did great work on the first day at the Oval.

The stalwart of the attack then pulled out of the fourth Test with a sore back, prompting Du Plessis to snipe that Philander needed to work harder on his fitness.

The captain shows refreshing candour in press conferences and he basically also confirmed that AB de Villiers’ Test career is dead and the team need to move on as quickly as possible.

At the moment it seems as though they have been left hanging by De Villiers, with three different batsmen being used in the crucial number four spot against England.

For me, Du Plessis should step up, take responsibility and bat in the number four position. He can bat both time and aggressively, and as captain he also needs to set the tone.

Temba Bavuma and Quinton de Kock, as good as they are, are better suited to coming in lower down the order.

Bavuma has the technique and tenacity to be a middle-order fighter much like Jonty Rhodes was, and his value is often worth more than simply the sum of his runs; he should be batting five or six and can also handle the second new ball and marshal the tail.

De Kock has been touted as the new Adam Gilchrist and needs to be used in the same role as the great Australian wicketkeeper/batsman. De Kock has all the shots and likes to use them, and needs to come in at six or seven where he can play his own, counter-attacking game. Having to rebuild at 40 for two does not suit him and he is the sort of batsman who can shift momentum batting lower down or really take the game away from tired bowlers.

Everything depends on a solid start, however, and South Africa had an average opening stand of just 13.62 against England and nothing higher than 21 between Dean Elgar and Heino Kuhn.

Elgar had a good series in tough conditions, scoring a century and two half-centuries as he made the second most runs (291) for the Proteas, behind Hashim Amla (329), but Kuhn’s place must be under serious threat after he made just 113 runs in eight innings.

Stephen Cook, the man Kuhn replaced, must still be in the mix judging by his century last weekend for the SA A side, while those who believe players of the future must be given as much opportunity as possible will be clamouring for Aiden Markram to make his Test debut against Bangladesh at the end of next month.

But whatever the final selection, there must be far more stability over the coaching situation – who Gibson’s assistants will be is shaping as an interesting discussion – and the captaincy. Surely everyone would feel a lot more settled if Du Plessis was just given the captaincy for all three formats?

The selectors and management also need to make up their minds about batting positions and stick to them, players floating up and down the order is doing nobody any good.

A couple of Tests against Bangladesh should be a good opportunity for the Proteas to regather their balance and get back on the winning trail.

There will be the distraction of the Global T20 League after that, but the South Africans need to get quickly back up to speed because world number one India and Australia, itching for revenge, will be considerable opposition when they arrive on these shores later in the summer.

AB relieved to get 1st Test win under the belt 0

Posted on January 27, 2016 by Ken

 

 

AB de Villiers was understandably relieved after getting his first victory under the belt as the new Proteas Test captain after South Africa rode Kagiso Rabada’s record-breaking 13-wicket haul to hammer England by 280 runs in the fourth Test at Centurion on Tuesday.

Although the win was not enough to prevent England from winning the series 2-1, it did bring to an end a run of nine Tests without victory for South Africa, their worst streak since nine draws and a loss between February 1964 and July 1965 against New Zealand and England.

“Teams go through phases and I never felt it was panic stations. In this game we managed to apply pressure for longer and did the basics better, and because of that we got it right in terms of the result, it’s not that complicated. If you do the small things right, more often than not you’ll win.

“It feels a bit like a new beginning, although it’s dangerous to say that. We’re doing the same things we’ve done for the last few years and we haven’t changed our thought processes. Our attitude was always good, but this is definitely a step in the right direction. There are a lot of reasons to feel that,” De Villiers said.

The 31-year-old said his own form with the bat – he made the first pair of his Test career and his third duck in a row – did not taken any shine off the triumph.

“I’ve always said I love it when we win, I honestly don’t care how many ducks I get as long as we win. I’m a very happy man,” De Villiers smiled.

Rabada was an obvious man of the match after his phenomenal performance, beating out brilliant showings by Hashim Amla, Stephen Cook, Quinton de Kock and Temba Bavuma, with De Villiers saying he was impressed by the 20-year-old’s maturity.

“Every time I asked him to perform he did. He’s shown the maturity of someone who’s played more than a hundred Tests, while he’s got the pace of someone who’s just played one or two!

“KG has impressed us all, we need to look after him very well and make sure that he’s always fresh when he walks on to the field. A guy like him is always hugely exciting,” De Villiers said.

Rabada ensured that it was all over in a rush on the final morning, South Africa needing just 68 minutes to take the last seven England wickets for a paltry 49 runs. After Morne Morkel (three for 36) and spinner Dane Piedt made early strikes, Rabada rushed through the rest to finish with six for 32.

It gave him match figures of 13 for 144, which are unprecedented for a fast bowler of his age.

In the history of Test cricket, only one bowler, Indian spinner Narendra Hirwani, has had a better return at a younger age, taking 16 for 136 for India against the West Indies in Chennai when he was just 19 years and 85 days old.

Rabada’s figures are also the best ever for South Africa against England, and the second-best against all opposition, bettered only by Makhaya Ntini’s 13 for 132 against the West Indies at Port-of-Spain in 2004/5.

 

 

Rabada is the man – AB 0

Posted on January 20, 2016 by Ken

 

 

Man of the match Kagiso Rabada believes he still hasn’t “arrived” in Test cricket despite becoming the youngest fast bowler to take 13 wickets in a game as he bowled South Africa to a massive 280-run victory over England in the fourth Test at SuperSport Park in Centurion on Tuesday.

Rabada finished with six for 32 as England were routed for just 101 in their second innings, losing their last seven wickets in just 68 manic minutes on the final morning, giving the 20-year-old match figures of 13 for 144.

In the history of Test cricket, only one bowler, Indian spinner Narendra Hirwani, has had a better return at a younger age, taking 16 for 136 for India against the West Indies in Chennai when he was just 19 years and 85 days old.

Rabada’s figures are also the best ever for South Africa against England, and the second-best against all opposition, bettered only by Makhaya Ntini’s 13 for 132 against the West Indies at Port-of-Spain in 2004/5.

“The ball was coming out very nicely and I had good rhythm as the match went on, it felt better today. I just tried to do the basics right, I’m a youngster and I’m still learning. I still haven’t arrived yet but I’m just going to enjoy the moment because in my first bowl of the series I only took three wickets and got smashed everywhere. It’s great to take 13 wickets, something you don’t do every day,” Rabada said.

As far as captain AB de Villiers is concerned though, Rabada is the man.

“Every time I asked him to perform he did. He’s shown the maturity of someone who’s played more than a hundred Tests, while he’s got the pace of someone who’s just played one or two!

“KG has impressed us all, we need to look after him very well and make sure that he’s always fresh when he walks on to the field. A guy like him is always hugely exciting,” De Villiers said.

South Africa’s comprehensive victory, although not enough to prevent England from winning their first series on these shores since 2004/5 – which were also times of transition in the Proteas Test team – does bring to an end a run of nine Tests without victory and De Villiers was obviously mightily relieved to enjoy the turnaround in fortunes.

“Teams go through phases and I never felt it was panic stations. In this game we managed to apply pressure for longer and did the basics better, and because of that we got it right in terms of the result, it’s not that complicated. If you do the small things right, more often than not you’ll win.

“It feels a bit like a new beginning, although it’s dangerous to say that. We’re doing the same things we’ve done for the last few years and we haven’t changed our thought processes. Our attitude was always good, but this is definitely a step in the right direction. There are a lot of reasons to feel that,” De Villiers said.

The arrivals of Rabada, the most exciting bowler to emerge in South Africa since Dale Steyn, as well as the difference made by Stephen Cook as a solid specialist opener and Temba Bavuma in the middle-order, have clearly, however, provided a boost to a struggling Proteas outfit.

“A couple of changes were necessary, they brought a fresh vibe and confidence from having done well in domestic cricket. Stephen Cook also brought a lot of experience into the squad because he’s played a lot of first-class games and scored a lot of runs.

“Temba has been a real bright spark. There were signs in Bangladesh and India that he looked at home, like he belonged. So I knew it was just a matter of time before he scored big runs and he’s had a fantastic series. Him and KG coming through has been fantastic. We all know the history of our country and the racial issues, and having them step up and perform together has been one of the highlights of my career,” De Villiers said.

 

 



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