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Ken Borland



Keeping aggressive attitude leads to untroubled win for Shubhankar 0

Posted on December 14, 2017 by Ken

 

Shubhankar Sharma, the winner of the weather-disrupted Joburg Open at Randpark Golf Club on Monday, said he worked hard on keeping an aggressive attitude on the course and, as a consequence, the rising Indian star never looked in trouble as he sealed a three-shot victory on 23-under-par.

The tri-sanctioned tournament had to be completed on Monday morning due to the fourth afternoon being almost entirely washed out, and it made for an anxious wait for Shubhankar, who led by four shots overnight.

“I obviously did not sleep last night, I woke up four times, every couple of hours, because it was raining so hard. There were a lot of nerves beforehand, absolutely, because if you are chasing then you have nothing to lose, but if you are leading then you can only maintain that.

“But I was really calm once I got going, I just stuck to my game-plan and kept saying to myself to be aggressive, I never wanted to defend my lead. I set myself a target of finishing 25-under, but 23-under will do. I just kept imagining that I was three shots back,” Shubhankar said after his first victory outside of India.

As impeccable as his golf was – the accuracy of Shubhankar’s driving was particularly impressive – the standout feature of the 21-year-old’s tournament was his composure and he obviously has a very good head on his shoulders, showing maturity beyond his years.

While having one of the hottest putters in the 240-man field obviously helped a great deal in accumulating 26 birdies over the week, the absence of bogeys in his last three rounds is what pleased Shubhankar most.

“I hit the ball good and putted very well, but the up-and-downs I made the whole week were very crucial. Those par-saves get your round going and I made vital pars on 10, 13 and 15 today. Not having any bogeys was one of my main objectives today and not dropping any shots over the last three days is what makes me most happy, that’s good golf and the best part of my win,” he said.

Shubhankar resumed his round on the eighth hole on Monday and the looming presence of South African Erik van Rooyen meant he could not relax, even after birdieing the par-four ninth hole from 25 feet.

Van Rooyen shot a brilliant 66 to finish second, but Shubhankar notched pars all the way home to ensure he did not provide a back door for the chaser to slip through.

Van Rooyen said he was “really proud” of his effort but “I just could not squeeze any more birdies the way I wanted to”.

Fellow South African Shaun Norris also had plenty of reasons to smile as he roared through the field with a 65 to finish tied for third with Finland’s Tapio Pulkkanen (68). Both Van Rooyen and Norris, who pipped Pulkkanen due to his better world ranking, qualified to join Shubhankar at next year’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.

https://citizen.co.za/sport/south-africa-sport/sa-golf-sport/1755454/it-pays-off-to-be-aggressive-says-joburg-open-winner-sharma/

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.

 

 



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