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Ken Borland



Bavuma opening? That’s not the only weirdness we’ll see 0

Posted on September 12, 2016 by Ken

 

Temba Bavuma will open the batting on his ODI debut for South Africa in Benoni on September 25 having done that job in just two of the 69 List A games he has played in his career, but that’s not likely to be the only selection weirdness we see in the Proteas’ limited-overs teams this season.

That’s because, in order to meet the new quotas that will apply as an average at the end of the season across all three formats, it seems the national selectors will follow the sensible option of ‘loading’ the limited-overs teams in order to give themselves more leeway when it comes to Tests.

The targets they have to meet at the end of the season are 54% players of colour and 18% Black African players – measured as 27 matches with 11 players a side, therefore 297 individual playing opportunities, of which 161 must go to players of colour, including 54 appearances by Black Africans.

The last time Bavuma opened the batting in a List A match was actually in February, in the Lions’ Momentum One-Day Cup match against the Knights in Mangaung, when he scored just five before being caught behind off the evergreen Dillon du Preez.

Prior to that, the only time he had opened was back in March 2010 for Gauteng against Northerns in the CSA Provincial competition at the L.C. de Villiers Oval at the University of Pretoria. He scored 18 off 20 balls before being caught behind off Tumi Masekela. His opening partner that day was Grant Mokoena, and that’s not the only thing they have in common as they both scored sparkling centuries this week in the eKasi Challenge between the Lions and Titans at the Soweto Cricket Oval. Both hundreds were of sufficient quality to disprove the nonsense that there are no talented Black African batsmen around.

I am not criticising the quotas now imposed by Cricket South Africa at national level – I can see their need, I’m delighted that we are now being honest about them and don’t know how else much-needed transformation can happen at a reasonable pace – but I would like to point out that they are a double-edged sword.

While someone like Mokoena has undoubtedly benefited from the targets imposed at franchise level last season – he played more first-class matches than he had ever before and had his highest tally of runs as well as his best 50-over campaign – the other side of the equation is how established players like Bavuma could find themselves shifted into unfamiliar roles to fill gaps.

Is it fair on a wonderful craftsman like Bavuma, who showed against New Zealand how he has become a key figure in the Test line-up, to make his ODI debut in a once-off game batting out of position? The squad for the series against Australia that follows has already been named, so even if the 26-year-old scores a double-hundred against Ireland, Hashim Amla will take his place in the next game.

And what if Bavuma gets a good ball up front and is dismissed cheaply? What if he struggles to 12 off 38 balls on a Willowmoore Park pitch that can be tricky in the first hour? Will it dent the selectors’ confidence in him?

Bavuma has shown already that he has incredible mental strength so I don’t think it will dent his confidence, and he really is batting beautifully at the moment. When he gets on top of the bowers as he did against the Titans in Soweto, he is a wonderful strokeplayer, but just as impressive is the tenacity he showed in the second innings of the second Test against New Zealand to score 40 not out.

Andile Phehlukwayo will also make his ODI debut later this month and he is a real talent for the future. Also gifted with a great temperament – as displayed in his excellent death bowling – he will also get a chance against Australia. If he does not immediately succeed in this tough first assignment at the highest level, I hope he is not tarnished with a reputation for not being up to it, seeing as though he is only 20 years old!

Mark Boucher the coach 0

Posted on August 19, 2016 by Ken

 

Mark Boucher, the heartbeat of the South African team from the late 1990s to 2012, is hoping the experience and wisdom gained from all those years of playing and inspiring the changeroom will rub off on the new career of coach that he has chosen for himself, with the 39-year-old set to land the job as the new Titans mentor.

Boucher’s stellar career, in which he played 147 Tests and 295 ODIs and took the most dismissals in Test history, was ended on the 2012 tour of England when he suffered a serious eye injury after being hit by a bail in a warm-up game.

Since then Boucher has become a leading figure in rhino conservation and is with the Proteas squad in Durban at the moment, working as a consultant for the Test series against New Zealand. The Titans coaching job is the best-paid franchise post in the country and the Centurion-based team won two of the three domestic trophies on offer last season, so the famously nuggety cricketer has landed a high-profile role at the start of his coaching career.

‘I always said I would take five or six years off from the game and it’s been five years now so I’m ready to get involved again. I’m not sure where it’s going to take me, but I’ve always enjoyed imparting knowledge,” Boucher said this week when asked about his invitation to join the Proteas coaching staff.

“I’ve been through quite a few coaches and teams and cultures in my career, and also eras, I was part of the old Proteas team as well as the new. So the lessons I’ve learnt I’d be stupid not to use. I don’t really like the term ‘coach’, I’d like to be more of a man-manager. The game has changed and you see specialist coaches come in more these days,” Boucher said.

Although Boucher’s tenacity and competitiveness were his most famous attributes, he said he was also a student of the technical side of the game and would certainly bring that into his coaching.

“Even though people think of me more on the mental side, you pick up a few things behind the stumps, it provides a very good view. But I always used to sit behind the computer a lot too and look at opposing batsmen, I got a lot of knowledge that way, looking at head and hip positions because you’re trying to get these batsmen out.

“Being brought up in Border, where we didn’t have the best sides, you just had to make it work. Not every player in a team is going to have the technique of a Kallis or De Villiers, but that doesn’t mean he’s not a good player. You have to make do with what you’ve got, you can be technically sound but be lacking mentally, while someone like Graeme Smith didn’t have the greatest technique, but he had a very strong head,” Boucher pointed out.

Titans CEO Jacques Faul was unable to confirm Boucher’s appointment.

“The process has been completed and we have appointed a candidate that we feel can take the team forward and we will announce his name on Monday. Unfortunately we cannot speculate before that,” Faul said.

Sharks do the job in first half as they romp to victory 0

Posted on May 23, 2016 by Ken

 

The Cell C Sharks did most of the job in a scintillating first half as they romped to a 53-0 win over the Southern Kings in their Vodacom SuperRugby match at Growthpoint Kings Park on Saturday.

Although the Sharks produced some dazzling rugby and were ruthless in punishing Kings mistakes, the sheer lack of nous and effort on defence by the visitors did irk for those who want to see a good contest.

The Kings were much-improved in the second half, but by then, with the Sharks already 43-0 up at halftime, they were left with far too much of a mountain to climb.

The Sharks sealed the bonus point with a devastating burst of three tries in five minutes midway through the first half, and the five points they collected from the game ensures that they stay in touch with the Lions, the pacesetters from Joburg having gained a bonus point win over the Jaguares earlier in the afternoon.

The Sharks’ strategy of avoiding the physical Kings at close quarters and instead attacking them out wide paid dividends because the defence was too narrow and slow to shift across.

And the opening try came in the eighth minute as the Sharks shipped the ball wide and found outside centre Paul Jordaan in space, and then flyhalf Pat Lambie produced a great supporting run on his inside to receive the scoring pass.

Lambie and replacement flank Tera Mtembu then produced good runs to set up a 14th-minute penalty for Lambie (8-0).

Five minutes later, Kings wing Lukhanyo Am roared through the defences and was stopped just short of the line. To the utter frustration of the Kings, possession was then recycled but knocked on, with the rampant Lambie picking up the loose ball and racing away, passing to Jordaan for the pace man to finish off (15-0).

The Kings were not only battling to handle the width and pace of the Sharks game, but they were also being ousted off the ball at scrum time. One such strong scrum by the Sharks in the 22nd minute saw the home side fashion a try any skilful Australian backline would have been proud of – Willie le Roux found Jordaan out wide with a lovely pass, the outside centre then passing back inside for the fullback to storm over for the try.

From the kickoff, a very good interchange between wing JP Pietersen and flank Keegan Daniel saw the Sharks attack down the right before Jordaan was sent racing down the outside for his second try.

Some fine play by the Sharks had been rewarded on the scoreboard as they raced into a 29-0 lead in the first half-hour, but the lovely rugby was not quite over yet as the home side sealed a sumptuous first half with two more tries.

A good run by wing Lwazi Mvovo was followed by Le Roux’s acute vision putting centre Andre Esterhuizen in the gap, and although he probably should have passed, he powered over for the try himself, taking a defender over the line with him.

Lovely hands by the forwards then worked Pietersen over in the corner for the sixth try two minutes before the break, Lambie converting from the touchline to make the score 43-0.

There was no coming back from that awful first half for the Kings, but they did at least restore some pride in the second half.

The Sharks did score in the first 10 minutes after the break, Lambie getting on the end of a chip from Pietersen and running 50 metres to score, but a more sturdy defensive effort from the Kings meant the Sharks only scored again with just three minutes left in the match.

Replacement Odwa Ndungane fielded a kick and launched a superb counter-attack from the back, the kick ahead by Mvovo forcing the penalty inside the Kings’ 22. From the tap and then the ruck, replacement prop Thomas du Toit picked up and rumbled over the line for the eighth and final try.

Lambie, Jordaan and Daniel were the stars of the show for the Sharks, but the scrum laid the perfect platform and the good, clean ball from the forwards was put to fine use by the home side.

Scorers

Cell C Sharks: Tries – Pat Lambie (2), Paul Jordaan (2), Willie le Roux, Andre Esterhuizen, JP Pietersen, Thomas du Toit. Conversions – Lambie (5). Penalty – Lambie.

Bulls retain starting XV that did the job in Perth 0

Posted on May 04, 2016 by Ken

 

Bulls coach Nollis Marais has unsurprisingly chosen the same starting XV that did the job so well in Perth for their SuperRugby match against the Brumbies in Canberra on Friday.

The only change to the 23 that hammered the Western Force 42-20 is on the bench, where Dan Kriel replaces Dries Swanepoel as the reserve centre.

“We’ve gained good momentum from our last time out so I’ve made just the one change, Dan and Dries swopping around because I’ve been rotating them every week and they can both play 12, 13 and wing.

“There are certain things that we will try and improve on, but we’re getting better every game, small things are getting better every week, but it’s really just about winning,” Marais said on Tuesday from Sydney, where they are based for their preparations.

The bonus point win over the Force means the Bulls are not only sitting pretty in Africa Conference 1, just one point behind the Stormers with a game in hand, but it also highlighted the tremendous depth that Marais now has as he negotiates their playoff push with the competition just over the halfway mark.

The loose trio of Lappies Labuschagne, Arno Botha and Hanro Liebenberg, with Jannes Kirsten coming off the bench, dovetailed superbly against the Force; Marvin Orie’s performance at lock was highly encouraging given that the Bulls also have the outstanding RG Snyman playing superbly, as well as rising star Jason Jenkins and the reliable Grant Hattingh in reserve; while Francois Brummer has settled in well at flyhalf, with Piet van Zyl and Rudy Paige being two accomplished scrumhalves who are good enough to have played for the Springboks.

“At the beginning of the season, we only had three loose forwards, so it’s great that there’s now healthy competition. I’ve backed Hanro because I believe in his future, Arno was brilliant at seven and Jannes had one of the highest work-rates we’ve ever recorded when he came off the bench. So to keep your place in the loose trio, you have to play to your potential.

“Marvin has great talent and led the lineout calls last year in the Currie Cup. Although it didn’t go so well for him at the start of this season, Jason’s injury gave him an opportunity and he took his chance.

“In terms of the half-backs, we want to play a fast game and be tactical, and they struggled with that a bit at the start. But Piet gets us quickly over the advantage line and Francois is kicking at 90% and his commitment in making that corner-flag tackle was outstanding,” Marais said.

Bulls team – SP Marais, Travis Ismaiel, Jesse Kriel, Jan Serfontein, Bjorn Basson, Francois Brummer, Piet van Zyl, Hanro Liebenberg, Arno Botha, Lappies Labuschagne, Marvin Orie, RG Snyman, Marcel van der Merwe, Adriaan Strauss (c), Trevor Nyakane. Bench: Bandise Maku, Lizo Gqoboka, Werner Kruger, Jannes Kirsten, Roelof Smit, Rudy Paige, Tian Schoeman, Dan Kriel.

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  • Thought of the Day

    1 Corinthians 3:3 - "For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way?"

    One of my favourite U2 songs is a collaboration with Johnny Cash called The Wanderer, and it features the line "they say they want the kingdom, but they don't want God in it".
    Many people say they believe in God, but they don't experience his loving presence. They may be active in Christian work, but only if they have their way. If they cannot be leaders, they refuse to be involved.
    Because they refuse to allow God to fill their lives with his love, they remain weak and powerless.
    Spiritual maturity means developing a greater love for others.

    "When the love of Christ saturates you, immature attitudes such as pettiness, jealousy and strife are dissolved.
    "It is only when you have an intimate relationship with the Lord that you receive sufficient grace to rise above this immaturity and enjoy the solid food that the Holy Spirit gives you." - Solly Ozrovech, A Shelter From The Storm



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