for quality writing

Ken Borland

A buzzing that killed the Wanderers buzz … until Pierre arrived 0

Posted on February 07, 2017 by Ken


The buzzing atmosphere of a full Wanderers Bullring has always been one of the standout features of South African cricket, but there was also a buzzing of a kind less conducive to cricket on Saturday as the third one-day international between the Proteas and Sri Lanka was interrupted for an hour by a swarm of bees.

Midway through the Sri Lankan innings, the players were forced to lie flat on the ground by the swarm, which also colonised wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock’s helmet left behind him on the field. Play resumed for a short while but then the umpires took the players off the field.

The groundstaff tried to cajole the hive into a wheelie-bin and also sprayed a couple of fire extinguishers on them, which just temporarily dispersed them and presumably made them more angry.

Enter one Pierre Hefer, who has obviously been taught the parable of the Good Samaritan.

Hefer, who describes himself as a hobbyist beekeeper, said he was sitting at home in Emmarentia watching the cricket and the delay as none of the plans against the bees worked, when he realised he could help.

Amazingly, and fortuitously, security allowed him to park outside the stadium and gain entry without a ticket nor accreditation. Being dressed in white overalls, with long boots and gloves and carrying trays containing honey and wax, obviously helped him convince the authorities that he was supplying an emergency service.

Hefer said the honey and wax were the key ingredients in attracting the bees into a container. The trick, according to the silver-haired hero of the day, is to keep the bees congregated on whatever they have settled on, making them far easier to move.

The Wanderers has seen many heroes during the 61 years it has been in use, but few have been as unlikely as Pierre Hefer, the beekeeper who was sitting at home and came over to help. It was certainly the biggest crowd he has ever performed in front of and the gratitude of the masses who had gathered for the Pink ODI in order to raise awareness and funds for the fight against breast cancer was obvious.


Rehabilitated Hawken soaring at Titans & national academy 0

Posted on June 03, 2016 by Ken


Up-and-coming Titans fast bowler Eldred Hawken had his promising first season of franchise cricket interrupted by a back injury, but he has managed to rehabilitate himself in time to take up a place at the prestigious national academy at Cricket South Africa’s Centre of Excellence, an indication of what a talent he is.

Hawken only played four of the champion Titans’ Sunfoil Series games, but showed enough in taking nine wickets at an average of 30.44 to suggest he has a bright future. He may be 27 already, but there is something reminiscent of Dale Steyn in him in the way he is able to swing the ball at high pace and in his physique.

“I’m pretty excited moving forward. My back seized up during last season so I was helluva surprised to be called up for the academy. I thought maybe I was past it in terms of age, but it’s nice to know my good work paid off,” Hawken told The Citizen.

“The Titans side made me feel very comfortable, even though my first over went for 14 runs! But I felt comfortable after that [a change of ends helped!] and I got settled in for cricket at that level, although I still have a lot of work to do, especially on my conditioning. I can bowl 20 overs in a day in amateur cricket, but it’s harder to bowl 15 in franchise cricket because there’s more intensity.”

The similarities with Steyn don’t end with just the physical, however, as Hawken is from Tzaneen and also attended Merensky High School. The lithe Titans prospect admits that the great fast bowler was his role-model growing up as a cricketer in the Limpopo province.

“Dale was my hero. My dad, who was president of Limpopo Cricket, coached both of us at the Hornbills club in Tzaneen and when I was 12 or 13 I would go and watch them play. I would bring my whites just in case and often I would be standing at mid-off watching Dale bowl or watching clips of him on TV.

“I was actually an off-spinner until I was 16 and then when I changed, I envisaged in my mind his action as the basis for what I was trying to do. Those days were a big influence for me, I had the structures to flourish. The area has produced quite a few fast bowlers including Dale, Ethy Mbhalati and Marchant de Lange,” Hawken said.

The expert attention Hawken gets at the national academy means he has a good chance of following in the footsteps of those bowlers and becoming the leader of the Titans attack.


Northerns Cricket Union history 0

Posted on December 07, 2014 by Ken

Cricket may be the archetypal English sport, but there is a long history of it being played in Pretoria and one of the earliest mentions of the game in the city was in August 1874 when a Volksraad meeting was interrupted by Jim Nobel, President Burgers’ secretary, slogging a ball through the window of the chamber and narrowly missing the Speaker.

Those early Landvaders almost decided to ban cricket from the city square, but President Burgers and the attorney-general were both lovers of the game and the sport was given a reprieve.

Those pioneering Pretoria cricketers moved to a cattle compound on Widow Hoffman’s farm, in what is now Fountains Valley, in 1882 and their ground became known as Berea Park, where several Pretoria v Potchefstroom matches were held.

There was already a black cricket club playing in Elandsfontein, the Diggers, in 1898 and by 1937 there were more than 50 black clubs spread between Randfontein and Nigel.

Those were the days of the Transvaal Republic and the best cricketers from the Pretoria region would play for Transvaal, until 1937 when North-Eastern Transvaal was included in South African domestic cricket in its own right.

North-Eastern Transvaal’s first first-class match was played in December 1937, in the 25th edition of the Currie Cup, as they took on Western Province at Berea Park. Lennox Brown, who played in two Tests for South Africa in 1931/32, took five for 54 and William Lance, the father of Tiger, claimed three for 19 as the inexperienced home side limited the powerful Capetonians to just a 10-run first-innings lead.

Brown then top-scored with 42 in the North-Eastern Transvaal second innings, but the debutants ultimately went down by just three wickets.

North-Eastern Transvaal also often played in Benoni, at the same Willowmoore Park ground that has become a Titans stronghold in the present day, but they were considered a second division team and only played in the A Section of the Currie Cup again in 1960/61 and 1967/68.

In 1971, the North-Eastern Transvaal Cricket Union became the Northern Transvaal Cricket Union, and in 1979/80 they returned to the A Division.

But with all the socio-economic problems in South Africa and Berea Park now being nearly a hundred years old, Northerns cricket remained a hospital case and they needed a doctor to steer them into the bright future they now enjoy.

That doctor was chemical engineer Willie Basson and as chairman of the NTCU he began chasing what he would later describe as “a ridiculous dream” in 1981/82 when the search for a new home for the union began.

It was a momentous year on the field as well as the Northerns B side was entered into first-class competition for the first time, playing in the Bowl, and the senior team won for the first time in the A Section as they beat Eastern Province in Port Elizabeth under captain Norman Featherstone. English swing bowler Chris Old took eight wickets in the match and there were important 70s from Rodney Ontong and Vernon du Preez.

And in 1982, former Transvaal stars such as Lee Barnard and Noel Day arrived in Pretoria and would play vital roles in the rise of Northerns cricket. The other major acquisition was that of former New Zealand captain John Reid who was put in charge of the team and proved an inspirational figure working in tandem with captain Barnard.

The move to Centurion Park – the name was chosen after a Name The Ground Competition – happened from 1984/85 and it is the only cricket ground in the world to have given its name to the suburb that sprung up around it. The first match was played on November 15, 1986.

The 1980s was the decade when the rise of Northerns cricket really began and in 1984/85 they played in two of the three domestic finals. They beat Western Province for the first time in the Currie Cup semi-final, thanks to Mandy Yachad’s century and Eric Simons taking seven wickets and scoring a crucial 58.

The elusive first A Section trophy would only come in 1996/97 however, the same year the NTCU became the Northerns Cricket Union, when 59 years of waiting ended with Keith Medlycott and Mark Davis steering them to the Standard Bank League title, Mike Rindel breaking the record for the most number of runs in a season in the day/night competition and Rudi Bryson spearheading the attack.

Limited-overs cricket continued to be the main source of success for Northerns and the Titans franchise as they became known in 2004, with the team winning the 1998/99 Standard Bank League, the Pro20/T20 competition in 2004/05, 2007/08 and 2011/12, and the one-day competition in 2007/08, 2008/09 and 2013/14.

The Titans have won the four-day competition four times – in 2005/06, 2006/07, 2008/09 and 2011/12 .

The Northerns Cricket Union has become a place where the different language groups and races of South Africa pull together for the success of the team, and no franchise won more trophies than the Titans between 2004 and 2014.

This has obviously led to many players from the Pretoria region being selected for the national team and the likes of Dale Steyn, AB de Villiers, Faf du Plessis, Morne Morkel and Paul Harris have been integral to the rise of the Proteas to the number one Test side.

Off the field, the calm, visionary leadership of people like Basson, Alan Jordaan, Richard Harrison, Brandon Foot, Vincent Sinovich, Elise Lombard, Jesse Chellan, and now Jacques Faul, Patricia Kambarami and John Wright has been crucial to the success of the Northerns and Titans teams.


↑ Top