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Ken Borland



Super summer for Proteas, never mind your last game 0

Posted on April 17, 2017 by Ken

 

They say you’re only as good as your last game, but that would be an unfair measure of the Standard Bank Proteas’ brilliance over a remarkable summer during which their resurgence left them as the number one ranked side in ODI cricket and the nearest challengers to India for supremacy in the Test format.

Of course, their second-placed ranking in Tests is thanks to them beating New Zealand 1-0 in their series that ended last week, with the Proteas escaping probable defeat in the final Test thanks to rain on the last day.

Then again, this Proteas side has shown before that they are at their best under pressure and who knows what Faf du Plessis and Quinton de Kock, with the help of the tail, might have achieved on the fifth day in Hamilton.

South Africa’s next assignment is the major challenge of a tour to England, but they can take heart from the fact that the conditions they overcame in New Zealand are probably the nearest to what they will experience in the United Kingdom during their visit for three ODIs, the Champions Trophy, three T20 internationals and four Tests, starting on May 19.

“We feel nicely set up for England having won all three series in New Zealand, which is not done often down there. Obviously we’re all gearing up towards the Champions Trophy and the fact that we won the ODI series 3-2 by winning what was like a final at Eden Park will be good going forward.

“Conditions were probably closest to what we will find on the England tour, there was always seam movement but not excessive bounce, which is what we expect in England. We’ve used various combinations and we have an idea for what works. We’re particularly pleased that all-rounders came to the fore and that batsmen in the lower-order were winning us games,” assistant coach Adrian Birrell said upon the Proteas’ return to South Africa.

For the Test matches, there are question marks over opener Stephen Cook and veteran middle-order batsman and part-time off-spinner JP Duminy. It will be interesting to see whether the selectors will branch out towards a new-look future team by making a couple of changes to the batting line-up.

But to make a change at the top of the order for the third Test in Hamilton, and introduce a debutant in Theunis de Bruyn batting out of position in place of Cook, was probably not the wisest move, and senior opener Dean Elgar spoke about how such selections cause uncertainty in the batting line-up.

“We had a good thing going but selection is out of the players’ control, it’s one of those things. It’s not easy for Stephen, I’ve been through it before and you can go into a dark place. The team has still been winning though, so it’s very difficult, especially when you know how much hard work he has put in and he’s a massive team guy.

“But the general thing with batsmen is that if you think you’re safe, you’re not. Your head is always on the chopping block and a good ball or a bad decision could cost you your spot. It’s unsettling that a guy like him can be left out when he’s been working his butt off,” Elgar said.

Cook will be preparing for the England tour by playing for Durham in the County Championship, while De Bruyn, who predictably failed in Hamilton having not been given the best chance to succeed, should be chosen for the SA A tour that precedes the Proteas’ trip, allowing the selectors to compare their form.

Or will Aiden Markram, also surely a certainty for the SA A squad, be the bolter who makes his debut in the first Test at Lord’s from July 6?

Or does De Bruyn not deserve another chance given that nobody should be dropped after just one game?

These are the questions that the selectors have left themselves with.

South Africa will certainly go to England with a settled attack though.

Morne Morkel, Kagiso Rabada and Vernon Philander had the Black Caps batsmen under constant pressure, relieved only by the sheer class of Kane Williamson, and spinner Keshav Maharaj will go to England raring to go after a stellar tour of New Zealand in which he topped the averages with 15 wickets in three Tests at an average of just 19.93.

There is a chance, however, that the Proteas will go the route of four seamers against England, in which case Chris Morris, full of runs and wickets at the back end of the summer, should be turned to as an all-rounder.

As brilliantly as the players have performed, enormous credit must go to coach Russell Domingo and his staff.

Nine months ago, it did not seem likely that Domingo would be taking the Proteas to England. Whether he is going to continue after the tour is another uncertainty hanging over the Proteas, but Elgar has no doubt he is the man to take the team further forward.

“If I can say one word to sum up the summer it’s that we are grateful. A year ago we were fading away, worrying about our own performance, but since then we’ve started playing for the badge and the environment has a big role in making it all possible. The last year has been amazing, but we must stay humble because we’re still not number one in Tests.

“But personally I would love to see Russell stay on, he’s still got the best years of his coaching career ahead of him over the next couple of years. He’s getting better with age. I’m a big Russell Domingo fan and I’d be more than happy if he stayed on.”

‘Staid attack was Proteas’ biggest problem’ – Donald 0

Posted on April 11, 2016 by Ken

 

South African fast bowling great Allan Donald believes a staid attack was the Proteas’ biggest problem in their failed ICC World T20 campaign in India.

“The batting was mostly wonderful, but where we lacked was in our bowling – there was no serious x-factor in the attack, that was missing and you could see it a mile away. There was a lack of imagination with the ball.

“That’s a serious team that went over there but one thing it lacked, if we analyse it honestly, was x-factor. When it came to crunch time with the ball, we couldn’t come up with something while other teams always found a way and there was some amazing death bowling in the tournament.

“We just couldn’t seem to find that way to step up during the big moments, which was particularly heartbreaking against England. We needed someone able to change the course of the game, that’s what we were missing,” Donald told The Citizen.

South Africa’s former bowling coach wondered whether Dale Steyn, the one fast bowler with the skill and prior experience of turning games around, should rather have just stayed at home given that he only bowled six overs in the tournament.

“Why does Dale play so little if you take him to the world cup, I didn’t quite get that. You choose a guy after one club game but then you hardly use him, as a champion fast bowler should you not back him?

“Kagiso Rabada is still a puppy, Chris Morris is making his way, he’s learning but is an exciting prospect. But that x-factor ability to change games comes with experience, you have to have the nous, the ability to suss the game out, see what’s going to happen four or five overs ahead of time, like a Shane Warne or Glenn McGrath for example,” Donald said.

As a recent member of the Proteas management, Donald said he did not want to carp about the performance of coach Russell Domingo.

“The coach has to make some tough selection decisions and Russell is quite smart in what he wants, he’s quite astute and has a good understanding of the game. I’m not going to give him heaps when it’s the team that hasn’t produced the goods. It’s very tough for a coach in those circumstances, it’s the toughest job in the world when things go wrong. Russell has enough on his plate dealing with all those pressures,” Donald said.

‘In general, AB will open in T20s’ – Faf 0

Posted on February 26, 2016 by Ken

 

 

South Africa’s T20 captain, Faf du Plessis, says that in general he wants AB de Villiers to open the batting in the shortest format of the game and particularly in the ICC World T20 starting in India next month.

While De Villiers displayed his complete mastery of the role with his superb innings against England at the Wanderers at the weekend, Hashim Amla showed in the same game that he is also a great opening option and Quinton de Kock also fits the job description of being able to hit boundaries up front while playing normal cricket.

“I’ve always wanted AB to open because he has the potential to blast a team away, especially in India, so there’s just one spot left and Hashim and Quinton have both been excellent as well. It’s a tricky one, but it’s not a headache because it’s great to have options. The plan wasn’t to have all three playing, but by all means we’ll look at it.

“The whole world was screaming and shouting for AB to open the batting and then, if we have a shaky chase like at Newlands, then everyone starts questioning whether he might not be better in the middle-order. But AB is still a great finisher and we’ll go for the strongest team in the conditions. In England or South Africa it may be different to India … ” Du Plessis said.

The captain said he was confident that the squad for the ICC World T20 had all the practitioners of the different skills required for success in a tournament where South Africa’s best finishes have been semi-final appearances in 2014 and 2009.

“The great thing about the squad is that for the first time I believe any XI we field will be as strong as any other. We have a lot of options and the quality of the squad is such that I honestly don’t feel there are any holes. It’s well-balanced and it’s been consistent, which is what I always look for. The T20 results have been excellent over the last two years and it’s great to be winning. But we still have to improve against Australia and take that momentum into the world cup,” Du Plessis said after their eighth win in nine matches.

 

 

Miller able to capitalise on life & find top form 0

Posted on November 02, 2015 by Ken

 

David Miller was able to find the form that eluded him in India as his unbeaten half-century took the Dolphins to a six-run win against the Titans in their RamSlam T20 Challenge match at Centurion on Sunday night.

Miller was able to double his score off his next 10 balls after being dropped on 31, as his brilliant 62 not out off 32 balls carried the Dolphins to 179 for four after they were sent in to bat. The left-hander survived the crucial let-off in the 18th over as Marchant de Lange put down a comfortable catch at backward point after Miller failed to clear the fielder with a cut off wrist-spinner Tabraiz Shamsi.

Miller then hit Chris Morris for 19 runs in the penultimate over and then belted the hapless De Lange, who conceded 48 runs in three overs, for 14 off the last as he finished with eight fours and two sixes.

It provided the Dolphins with the strong finish they needed after they had slid away in the middle overs, thanks to excellent bowling by Albie Morkel (4-0-28-2) and spinners Shamsi (4-0-31-0) and Henry Davids (3-0-14-1).

The Dolphins had started strongly with Morne van Wyk (41 off 29), Cameron Delport (25 off 18) and Kevin Pietersen (22 off 21) taking them to 88 for one in the 10th over, but Morkel then dismissed Pietersen to restrict the visitors just as they were gaining dangerous momentum.

Cody Chetty (21 not out off 16) provided able support to Miller in their unbeaten fifth-wicket stand of 63 off 35 balls.

Morkel, having shone with the ball, then so nearly carried the Titans to victory with his blazing 67 off 34 balls, before being run out trying to get back for a second in the final over.

The Dolphins used their spinners well, with Prenelan Subrayen managing to remove the dangerous Quinton de Kock (11) in the second over, before seamer Andile Phehlukwayo removed Grant Mokoena (6) and Heino Kuhn (5) in successive overs to leave the Titans under pressure on 54 for three in the eighth over.

Opener Henry Davids went to 31 off 26 balls before left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj bowled him round his legs and Subrayen then returned to claim the key wickets of Farhaan Behardien (11), Chris Morris (14) and Mangaliso Mosehle (11), the batsmen battling to get after his slow off-spin.

Morkel hit Maharaj for three sixes and two fours as 30 runs came off his last two overs, but Subrayen conceded just five runs in the 18th over and dismissed Mosehle to finish with four for 22, the third-best T20 figures for the Dolphins and best against the Titans.

Phehlukwayo (4-0-29-2) then bowled an outstanding penultimate over, conceding just four runs to leave Kyle Abbott with 24 runs to protect in the final over.

 



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