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Ken Borland



The importance of getting those yorkers in in the death overs 0

Posted on February 28, 2017 by Ken

 

South Africa’s loss in the second ODI in New Zealand this week once again brought home the importance of death bowling in tight finishes. The Black Caps were able to get their yorkers in to great effect in the last few overs and won by six runs, a margin of defeat that flattered the Proteas because they hit the last two balls for fours when they were already out of contention needing 15 off two to win.

For my money, there has been too much emphasis in recent years in South African bowling strategy on bowling the ball into the pitch, varying pace, using the short ball etc. Tim Southee and Trent Boult simply got the ball in the blockhole when it really mattered and the batsmen found it impossible to do anything more than jab the deliveries away.

Sure, if there’s a set batsman in at the time then they can make the margin for error infinitesimally small by moving deeper into their crease or stepping out, but it’s been a long-standing weakness of South African bowlers that they cannot consistently get the yorker in. Perhaps because back at home in domestic cricket on pitches of bounce and seam movement there is less necessity, but in international cricket they get exposed.

This week I sought the wise counsel of Gordon Parsons, the bowling coach of the Highveld Lions team that won the 50-over competition last season, so they must be doing something right.

“The more things change in the game, the more they seem to stay the same. And I’m very much of the belief that nothing’s changed when it comes to a good yorker still being the best ball at the death. If a bowler can master three different variations then he’ll be a quality performer. Trying six, seven, eight different deliveries just complicates the mind and sometimes I feel using variations is an excuse for a lack of execution of the regular skills,” Parsons, the taker of 356 limited-overs wickets at an average of 30.75 and an economy rate of just 4.07, said.

“Sometimes bowlers hide behind the slower ball, but how many deliveries hit the same spot? The best bowlers do the simple things really well – look at Imran Tahir, who is the world’s number one limited-overs bowler and basically bowls wicket-to-wicket. He’s become better the simpler he’s made it. Bowlers have got to keep it simple,” Parsons, who took 809 first-class wickets in a 19-year career for two English counties and three South African teams, said.

The last time the Proteas were in New Zealand was for the 2015 World Cup and for the seventh time they fell short at the ICC’s premier tournament, conceding 9.8 runs per over in the last five overs of their fateful semifinal against the Black Caps.

With Tahir at number one and Kagiso Rabada ranked seventh, South Africa have the makings of a decent attack, but neither of them are known for their death bowling, both instead proving brilliant at breaking partnerships in the middle overs.

Rabada does have a lethal yorker, which I’d like to see him use more, and Chris Morris and Wayne Parnell could both be pretty effective if they can get swing and find the blockhole more consistently. Andile Phehlukwayo has the variations, but the same applies to him.

I saw an interesting statement this week from a radio sports broadcaster that the current attack is South Africa’s best ever in ODI cricket, but for me, the 1996 World Cup line-up of Allan Donald, Fanie de Villiers, Shaun Pollock, Craig Matthews, Pat Symcox and Brian McMillan, with Hansie Cronje and Jacques Kallis as the sixth and seventh bowlers, is hard to beat.

 

 

Failure to pitch a recipe for disaster for Boks 0

Posted on February 01, 2017 by Ken

 

Meeting a fired-up Argentina team on their home turf is never an easy prospect, regardless of what happened the previous week, so when the Springboks decided not to “pitch” physically for their Rugby Championship Test in Mendoza at the weekend, it was always going to be a recipe for disaster.

For whatever reason, the Springboks failed to match the intensity and physicality of the Pumas and for long periods it just looked as if they weren’t “up” for the game.

With Argentina attacking the collisions and breakdowns with tremendous ferocity, it meant the Springboks were always on the back foot and had little decent ball to actually launch the attacking side of their game, which had been so impressive the weekend before back in Johannesburg.

The Springboks eventually won the Test 22-17 with two late penalties by Morne Steyn, but it was hardly an authoritative performance. The massive physicality that had blown the Pumas away at the FNB Stadium and set up the record 73-13 victory a week earlier was as absent this weekend as the president of the South African Rugby Union.

The home side pressed forward from the outset and, after robbing scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar of possession at a ruck – he endured a torrid day as he was hassled throughout at the breakdowns – they scored the opening try through flank Juan Manuel Leguizamon after just two minutes.

It meant the Pumas’ prayers were answered in terms of getting their passionate crowd behind them and they enjoyed a 10-3 lead after 10 minutes as Felipe Contepomi and Steyn traded penalties.

Centre Contepomi was then partly to blame for the Springboks’ only try, in the 14th minute, as he failed with a clearance kick, gifting the ball to the Springbok backs. Willie le Roux – he didn’t have the best of games overall – then showed tremendous hands to put wing Bjorn Basson away for the try.

But the Springboks’ hopes were severely dented just before half-time when centre Marcelo Bosch crashed through to score Argentina’s second try.

The Pumas had generally tried to avoid lineouts – a Springbok strength – in the first half, but eventually they had one inside the 22, only the third of the match. From there, another direct attack with short pop passes led to Bosch powering over.

The Argentine loose forwards continued to rob and spoil the Springboks’ ball in the second half and their more direct approach with ball-in-hand also hurt the South Africans. But there is something almost naive about this Springbok side in that they sometimes give the impression that they expect the opposition to be placid, to allow them an easy stroll through a game. And so not enough numbers were committed to the breakdowns or the defence close-in and the Pumas were adept at exploiting the gap in the first channel from the ruck.

The Springboks were, frankly, being bullied and they even sought referee Steve Walsh’s attention, alleging eye-gouging and biting. Two Argentinean loose forwards, Leonardo Senatore and Pablo Matera, would later be cited for foul play, but the whistleman’s focus during the match seemed to be on all sorts of peripheral things rather than keeping the breakdown contest tidy and enforcing offsides lines.

The Pumas’ ill-discipline was eventually punished by Walsh, allowing Steyn to kick four second-half penalties that won the game.

Questions, though, will be asked over some of coach Heyneke Meyer’s decisions, such as leaving the struggling Pienaar on for the entire game or not giving the more physical Flip van der Merwe a longer run in the second row.

But it’s the failure of the Springboks to lift themselves – having spoken all week about how they expect the Pumas to bounce back ferociously – that is perhaps of most concern.

They will now travel to Australasia next weekend for their two Tests against the Wallabies and the All Blacks and they are not going to win those unless their pack rediscovers the fire they showed at the FNB Stadium.

The Springbok backline are not going to be able to win those Tests on their own; the forwards are going to have to do the gruntwork and lay the foundation.

https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2013-08-26-rugby-boks-win-but-without-conviction/#.WJHMPVN97IU

UJ lift themselves to pick up 2nd successive title 0

Posted on May 25, 2016 by Ken

 

The University of Johannesburg lifted themselves up from a tough first half to claim their second successive Varsity Hockey men’s title as they beat the University of Pretoria Tuks 4-2 in a thrilling final at their home astroturf in Westdene.

Tuks were outstanding as they gave the defending champions a real run for their money and they led for the first 39 minutes through a fine goal by the prolific Richard Pautz. But UJ equalised through Ryan Crowe, one of the best players of the tournament, and the hosts picked up three more goals in the final quarter to seal victory.

But the result was still in the balance in the final minute as Tuks cut the lead to 2-3 through Grant Glutz and they then earned a short-corner, which was charged down and then resulted in a goal at the other end to complete one of the best finals seen in local hockey in recent years.

Tuks took their chances better in the first half and scored after 20 minutes through Pautz, who went on a weaving run and then beat UJ goalkeeper Matthew Martin at his near post with a powerful reverse-sticks strike for a top-grade goal.

UJ had numerous chances but at times seemed too intent on forcing short-corners, and they were also stymied by a superb display of goalkeeping by Tuks number one Hendrik Kriek.

A couple of saves by Kriek in the 12th and 14th minutes and a double-save in the 21st minute were top-drawer and UJ would have gone into halftime knowing they had to be more clinical in the Tuks circle.

The introduction of the powerplay by Tuks two minutes into the second half meant the focus of UJ was initially on defence, but four minutes later they wasted their most obvious chance of the match as they created a two-on-one with the goalkeeper but the excellent scrambling and reflexes of Kriek saw him save Brynn Cleak’s shot.

But three minutes later, the combined efforts of Cleak and Amkelwa Letuka were enough to set up Crowe in the middle of the circle and he finally managed to beat Kriek.

The end of the third quarter came with Glutz flicking wide from a short-corner and the tension levels of the large crowd reached feverish levels as the final went into the last 15 minutes at 1-1.

Like all champion sides, this was when the composure and class of UJ shone through.

The powerplay did not bring reward either for the hosts, but the heroics of Kriek did keep a high reverse-sticks strike by Crowe out in the 48th minute, shortly after it ended.

The deadlock was broken just a minute later though when Taylor Dart, named the player of the tournament, won a short-corner. UJ kept their composure well when the set-piece initially went awry, and Dart passed the ball back to Gareth Heyns, the captain, and he powered a flick into the top left corner of the goal.

The defending champions took a firm grip on the title in the 51st minute when the umpire, John Wright, officiating alongside his brother Peter, awarded the home side a penalty stroke as the tide suddenly turned against Kriek.
The Tuks hero felled Le-Neal Jackson after his great run into the circle, leaving the umpire with little choice but to point to the spot and give the goalkeeper a yellow card. Heyns duly flicked past Keagan du Preez, the substitute goalkeeper, and UJ had control of the game with a 3-1 lead.

But the result was once again put in doubt just three minutes later – setting up a delicious finale – when Stephen Cant’s fine run earned Tuks a short-corner. Cleak cleared nicely off the line off Glutz, but Tuks then won another short corner and this time Glutz succeeded with his low flick. Martins will perhaps feel he could have done better with the shot, that went between his legs.
Tuks then earned another short-corner in the final minute, Glutz showing his tremendous skill to the joy of his team-mates and the Pretoria students’ supporters.

But that soon turned to awful dismay as Jackson roared up as first wave and charged down the shot, running most of the length of the field before finding Cleak on the baseline. The Namibia-born 23-year-old passed back to Jackson, but his shot was kept out by Du Preez. But the rebound fell to Tyson Dlungwana, who buried it in the goal.

Tuks, with several students playing in their last Varsity Hockey tournament, will return to Pretoria bleak, but they played a full role in a thoroughly crowd-pleasing final.
For UJ, the celebrations will be long and joyous as they keep the trophy in Johannesburg.

http://varsitysportssa.com/uj-lift-pick-second-successive-title/

Bulls not able to get attacking play going 0

Posted on May 16, 2016 by Ken

 

Bulls coach Nollis Marais admitted that his team were never able to produce the attacking play they are aiming for after they went down 31-8 to the Waratahs in Sydney at the weekend, leaving them with must-win games against the Stormers and Lions at home over the next fortnight.

The Bulls only crossed the tryline in the 74th minute against the Waratahs, at which stage the game was already gone, having spent most of the second half pegged back in their own territory.

“We’re focusing on how we want to play and I know it did not look like that today. We were in the game in the first half, but we weren’t accurate enough, we should have scored but we didn’t use those opportunities. The next 30 minutes we weren’t in the game at all, there were too many turnovers and easy exits for the Waratahs.

“But they are a good, experienced side and there’s a huge difference in the number of caps between the two sides. We always knew that it would be a long road this year with a dozen guys making their SuperRugby debuts. But we have to be better next week against the Stormers, our arch-enemies, and then against the Lions. We have to beat those teams if we are to have hopes of contending,” Marais said.

While there was some endeavour in the first half, the Bulls played slow, risk-free rugby after the break, but still managed to make numerous mistakes, and it sadly resembled much of the rugby they played last year before Marais came in with his new approach.

“It’s always difficult travelling and if you have five to 10 minutes when you slip tackles and concede too many penalties then you can get a hiding. We just need to focus on what we need to do better and there are so many things we need to focus on,” Marais lamented.

 



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