for quality writing

Ken Borland



Proteas end high up in rankings but hardly inspired in 2017 0

Posted on January 12, 2018 by Ken

 

South Africa ended last year ranked second in Tests and first in one-day internationals in the International Cricket Council rankings, but they were hardly inspired in 2017.

In fact, the Proteas were more like the bully in the schoolyard, bolstering their self-esteem, and rankings, by picking on easy-beats like Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe at home. But when they were up against the big boys, most notably in the Champions Trophy and in the four-Test series in England, they folded in a heap.

Although they won in New Zealand, the ODIs were tightly-contested and they had good fortune in the Tests, rain washing out the final game when the Black Caps were in an excellent position to level the series.

In terms of individual performances, Hashim Amla and Kagiso Rabada continued to deliver world-class performances on a consistent basis, with the batting of AB de Villiers, Quinton de Kock and Faf du Plessis helping to make the ODI batting unit a dominant force.

Imran Tahir was their best white-ball bowler but it was the Test spinner, Keshav Maharaj, who perhaps made the greatest strides in 2017 and, at the age of 27, he is clearly a future star for the Proteas.

The arrival of Aiden Markram as a technically solid opening partner for Dean Elgar, who was the mainstay of the Test batting with 1128 runs, behind only India’s Cheteshwar Pujara and Aussie maestro Steve Smith in the year’s tally, helped bolster a batting line-up that was exposed in England, especially during De Villiers’ hiatus from Test cricket.

Markram will obviously face far sterner challenges than Bangladesh and Zimbabwe in 2018, but he couldn’t have been expected to do much better than 380 runs in his first four innings, including two centuries.

But that there were more question marks than answers over the Proteas’ performance was borne out by the departure of Russell Domingo as coach before the start of the summer and the arrival of former West Indies head coach and England assistant Ottis Gibson.

After a gentle introduction into the job, his charges feasting on minnows Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, Gibson faces his first real test in the new year as world number ones India arrive.

He will need to keep De Villiers available for Tests just to settle the batting line-up, while the bowlers are certainly there to challenge for the number one ranking, the only problem being keeping them fit and getting the right balance in selection due to the transformation targets.

Most importantly, Gibson will be focused on the creation of a steely edge in the team, and has already created expectation for the 2019 World Cup by declaring that winning that elusive trophy is his goal.

When put under proper pressure by the likes of England, and by Pakistan and India in the Champions Trophy, the old signs of muddled thinking and near-panic were once again there. Gibson will want to make the Proteas a side that plays the big moments well and seizes every opportunity that comes their way.

The South African women’s team provided some of the highlights of the year and captured the imagination of cricket fans back home by narrowly missing out on a place in the Women’s World Cup final, hosts and eventual champions England just sneaking through in a pulsating semi-final.

Players such as Marizanne Kapp, the number one ODI bowler in the world, and Dane van Niekerk became global stars.

 

The crude & immoral reasons behind the Lorgat witch-hunt 0

Posted on November 24, 2017 by Ken

 

And so, finally, we know why the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) have been so keen to sideline Haroon Lorgat, and why English and Australian administrators sided with them in agreeing to a witch-hunt that would keep the former International Cricket Council CEO sidelined while those three countries stage a hostile takeover of the game.

 If you’re going to stage a coup that hands almost complete power in cricket to the three greedy pigs of India, England and Australia, using the flimsiest of economic reasons to justify it, then the last person you want in the boardroom is a trained chartered accountant with in-depth knowledge of the ICC and their global events, someone able to see through the efforts to bamboozle with lots of numbers, and able to rally the other nations into rejecting, with the utter contempt it deserves, the crude and immoral proposal to change the ICC’s structure.

While Lorgat’s suspension from ICC activities was ostensibly part of India’s efforts to punish him for not kowtowing to their every whim while he was the global body’s CEO, it has now become clear that the BCCI’s shameful interference in Cricket South Africa affairs was part of a much bigger plan – an evil attempt to seize control of cricket, along with England and Australia. David Becker’s ill-judged letter then provided the perfect ammunition to force Lorgat’s removal from ICC affairs.

While the players – through Fica, their international union – and fans the world over have expressed their dismay at the new low the world’s leading cricket administrators are now proposing, the aptly-named Wally Edwards, the Cricket Australia chairman and one of the three men responsible for drafting the bombshell proposal, expressed his annoyance that anybody has dared to question the bona fides of himself, Narayanaswami Srinivasan of India (the Jabba the Hutt of world cricket) and the odious Giles Clarke of England.

“Traditionally, Cricket Australia does not comment on ICC discussions it is about to have – we talk to other ICC nations across the table rather than via the media. But we were today disappointed to see the Federation of International Cricketers’ Associations question whether CA and others have met their fiduciary duties as ICC members,” Edwards harrumphed.

But his feeble protestations cannot hide the fact that three nations are trying to use their current wealth to ensure a monopoly over the game that will only widen the gap between them and the rest of the cricket-playing world; cricket will become like American Football, a game reserved for the few and ignored by the rest of the world.

Which makes it clear that Edwards has not met his fiduciary duties as an ICC director. He and the other two conspirators are proposing something that is patently not in the best interests of the game as a whole, but will rather serve the narrow self-interest of three countries only.

It will take cricket back to the dark days of the Imperial Cricket Conference, where you had to be a member of the British Empire to join and England and Australia both held a veto when it came to voting on anything to do with the game.

It was only in 1993, with the formation of the International Cricket Council, that this stranglehold on the game was broken. One can only hope that when the ICC board meets at the end of this month, the other seven Full Members don’t vote themselves back into slavery again.

And while they are at it, Edwards, Srinivasan and Clarke, a former investment banker, should all be summarily fired as directors and Lorgat should be exonerated of all wrongdoing.

It’s all gone very quiet when it comes to his inquiry, by now the ICC really should have been able to find evidence if there was any unethical behaviour on his part. But then again, the evil triumvirate will have achieved what they set out to do with their spurious allegations if Lorgat is not inside the ICC Board meeting at the end of the month, having already been absent when the restructuring proposal was sprung on the other directors on January 9.

The BCCI have already issued a thinly-veiled threat to boycott ICC events like the World Cup and the World T20 if the Board does not submit to their plan for world domination.

In a statement released on Thursday, the BCCI said it had “authorised the office bearers to enter into agreements with ICC for participating in the ICC events and host ICC events, subject to the proposal being approved in the ICC Board.”

Once India have control of the international cricket schedule, along with England and Australia, there is little doubt that no cricket will be allowed to be played during the IPL, therefore ensuring the newest, least gratifying format of the game takes centre-stage.

Fortunately for cricket fans and the players, there is still hope even if the ICC Board do the unthinkable and sell-out to India, England and Australia.

If the ICC act unconstitutionally, or even if their directors are deemed to have breached the code of conduct and failed in their fiduciary duties to act in the interests of the sport and not their own narrow agendas, then there are stakeholders willing to take the matter all the way to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Perhaps Cricket South Africa should send their independent lead director, Norman Arendse, a fiery, outspoken advocate, to shake things up at the ICC?

The governing body seems to have totally lost sight of the reason for their existence: which is to grow the game, not take it back 100 years.

And the point of the game is fair competition: the idea that India, England and Australia should be exempt from any possible Test relegation is laughable and goes against the very principles of fair play. The last five years suggest all three countries are being incredibly arrogant to presume they will remain strong on the playing field ad infinitum.

But then again the smugness currently coming out of England at their own cleverness in finding a devious way of returning to the top table of world cricket (never mind how shocking the on-field performance has been recently), bugger the rest of the world, suggests fair play is no longer the defining characteristic of cricket.

https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2014-01-23-cricket-the-mystery-of-the-lorgat-witch-hunt-unravelled/#.Wh6eSFWWbIU

The ICC: Growing and promoting cricket and making all the wrong decisions 0

Posted on July 26, 2017 by Ken

 

On their own website, the International Cricket Council state their vision as custodians and administrators of the game.

They say it is to “lead the continued drive towards more competitive, entertaining and meaningful cricket for players and fans. We will grow the sport by creating more opportunities for more people and nations to enjoy it and increase the competitiveness of international cricket at all levels. We will promote cricket by delivering exciting and engaging global events, attracting new and diverse fans and building long-term successful commercial partnerships. And finally, we will continue to make considerable efforts to protect the integrity of the sport.”

It’s all good and well that that is their vision, but unfortunately the ICC have a notorious history of almost inevitably making the wrong decision when it comes to the good of cricket.

The citing and subsequent suspension of Proteas fast bowler Kagiso Rabada for the second Test against England, which started in Nottingham on Friday, is a case in point.

Yes, Rabada was a naughty boy for swearing on the field. Thank heavens the ICC are stamping down on such behaviour that clearly poses a major threat to the game. I look forward to the day when they have undercover agents patrolling the stands, banning spectators who swear. I am sure, too, that the ICC will be putting pressure on their beloved broadcast partners to ensure they do not show movies with any of that vile language on their channels. Standards are standards after all.

Rabada was not suspended for swearing per se, of course, but rather because the one demerit point he was given took him to the threshold of four points that brings with it a one-match ban. The majority of those four points came from an incident in January when he shoved Sri Lankan batsman Niroshan Dickwella.

It is important, of course, to ensure decent standards of player behaviour, but there are better remedies than removing a star player from a crucial game in a high-profile series. Cricket is ultimately the loser this week as those watching the Trent Bridge clash are denied the joy of watching a great fast bowler locking horns with some fine batsmen. Rabada versus the combative Ben Stokes is always compelling viewing, and a fast bowler with fire has always been one of the best sights in cricket.

Instead of devaluing their own product, which is in desperate need of proper marketing, why does the ICC not rather fine players for their misdemeanours? I know some people will say the cricketers earn so much they don’t care about paying thousands of Rands in fines, but my experience of contract negotiations and the general behaviour of players shows they care just as much about money as the rest of us do.

The ICC have far more important things to worry about than a swear word uttered in the heat of combat.

Justice has been swift in Rabada’s case, but when are the ICC going to put in place a proper structure and context for international cricket? Their incompetence in this regard is putting their premier product – Test cricket – at risk. They have put their heads together innumerable times to discuss this issue and yet they have still come up with nothing. It’s enough to make a puritan want to swear.

In England, at this time of year, the sun stays up right into what we (except for those living in Cape Town, which is part of Europe anyway) would consider night – at 8pm it is still quite bright enough to play cricket. But in the first Test at Lord’s, those in the paying seats and those watching in their lounges did not see the prescribed 90 overs of play on any of the four days of play.

I get a little tired of some of the obsession about over-rates, because, if it’s a gripping contest, nobody cares if a team is bowling 12 overs per hour or 14. But if the conditions allow it, then play should continue for as long as necessary to get the prescribed overs in.

What brought the game of cricket more into disrepute – Rabada’s outburst or the actions of the match officials in Durban in 2016 when a Test against New Zealand was abandoned in bright sunshine with both teams keen to play?

The ICC, in their ivory tower, are firmly in the corner of their officials even when they are ensuring there is no cricket.

Impossible for the ICC Awards to ignore AB 0

Posted on December 06, 2014 by Ken

AB de Villiers made it impossible for the International Cricket Council’s enumerators who decide on the nominees for their annual awards to ignore him and South Africa’s ODI captain was yesterday duly announced as one of four candidates for the ICC Cricketer of the Year award as well as being shortlisted in the individual one-day international category.

De Villiers will go up against Australian fast bowler Mitchell Johnson and Sri Lankan run-machines Angelo Mathews and Kumar Sangakkara for the Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy that goes to the best cricketer overall between August 26, 2013 and September 17, 2014.

Fellow South Africans Quinton de Kock and Dale Steyn, as well as Indian batting star Virat Kohli, will be his rivals for the ICC ODI Cricketer of the Year award.

Hopefully the judges will also take into account the fact that De Villiers has been keeping wicket exceptionally well while starring with the bat. Scoring 932 runs in 10 Tests at an average of 54.80 and 963 runs in 20 ODIs at an average of over 60 is great work in anyone’s book.

The fiery Johnson enjoyed a phenomenal haul of 59 wickets from his eight Tests in the period under review, three of which were against world number ones South Africa, while Sangakkara gathered 1502 runs from 11 Tests, with four centuries, and Mathews, who took over the Sri Lankan captaincy from Mahela Jayawardene, averaged 92 in Tests and just under 54 in ODIs.

De Kock’s five centuries in ODIs during the qualifying period, including three in a row against India, made him a certainty for the ODI shortlist but how he was not named amongst the four for the Emerging Player of the Year award is a mystery. Instead Kiwis and Englishmen dominate that category, with Jimmy Neesham, Corey Anderson, Gary Ballance and Ben Stokes nominated.

Steyn ended the visits to the crease of 36 batsmen in 16 ODIs and had an economy rate of just 4.32 runs-per-over, and was selected to the ICC Test Team of the Year for a record seventh successive year, while the honour has gone to De Villiers for the fifth time.

De Kock has joined that duo in the ICC ODI XI of the year to give South Africa equal-most representation with India – captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Virat Kohli and Mohammad Shami.

Amazingly, Hashim Amla has failed to crack the nod for any ICC awards this year.

 



↑ Top