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Ken Borland

Good times to be a gambler 0

Posted on February 14, 2016 by Ken


Judging by South Africa’s performance in the World Cup quarterfinal against Sri Lanka this week, these are good times to be a gambler and, seeing as though I am at Sun City for the Chase to the Investec Cup final, I’m going to put R1000 each on three, four and eight at the roulette table tonight, in honour of JP Duminy’s three wickets in three balls, which meant the Proteas got away with only having four specialist bowlers, and Quinton de Kock coming good after previously averaging just eight in the tournament.

Okay, the bit about me gambling tonight is a joke because times are still tough for journos and instead I may treat myself to a lager and ponder over how good it felt to get my predictions for the quarterfinal against Sri Lanka so utterly wrong.

Coach Russell Domingo has never struck me as the gambling type, although he does have a profound love for figures, which is not to say he’s not willing to make tough decisions. He’s done that before and was even willing to leave the great Jacques Kallis out of limited-overs teams when he didn’t fit into the game-plan.

But as far as gambles go, taking on the strong Sri Lankan batting line-up on a flat Sydney Cricket Ground pitch with Duminy as the fifth bowler and AB de Villiers as the back-up ranks up there with the biggest in World Cup history, and, were it not for the brilliance of the pace bowlers and Imran Tahir in taking early wickets, it was a move that could have gone stupidly wrong.

But it worked, as did the faith shown in De Kock. As the confidence seeped back into the young left-hander, emboldened by the support of his management and team-mates, his talent and class was plain to see.

You would rightly expect South Africa to keep the same XI for Tuesday’s semi-final against the winner of today’s match between New Zealand and the West Indies, which means the pressure will once again be on the bowlers to reach the same heights they did in Sydney.

Apart from the pleasure of watching such a complete performance and celebrating South Africa’s first win in a World Cup knockout game, I really liked the send-off given to Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene.

Those two great batsmen have given South African bowlers a terrible time over the years but their strength of character, charm and integrity means they will be remembered as so much more than just prolific employees of Sri Lanka Cricket.

In my opinion, Sangakkara is one of the greatest batsmen to have played the game, in the same exalted realms of excellence as Sachin Tendulkar, Ricky Ponting, Brian Lara and Kallis.

The Proteas obviously hold him and Jayawardene in similarly high esteem judging by the genuine warmth they showed in farewelling them, and Sangakkara’s response when asked how he would like to be remembered speaks to the very essence of sport:

“If anyone can say they’ve enjoyed playing against me and playing with me, I’ll be more than happy.”

Cricket South Africa sent out a special tribute statement when Tendulkar retired; Sangakkara is surely deserving of the same honour?


Duminy looks forward to serving as a senior 0

Posted on June 23, 2014 by Ken

JP Duminy is excited by the extra responsibility heading his way, serving as a key lower middle-order batsman, second spinner and senior figure in the changeroom as the South African cricket team head to Sri Lanka on their first tour without the stalwart triumvirate of Graeme Smith, Jacques Kallis and Mark Boucher.

In fact, the 30-year-old feels that the increase in responsibility has not been a sudden thing: Duminy has gradually been taking on more and more of a senior role in the South African team, becoming a key player as his batting and bowling have grown to maturity.

“I’m looking forward to the challenge, but it hasn’t just started now. It started a few months ago already, especially when Graeme retired. There’s already been added responsibilities, definitely in the shorter formats, and I think it brings the best out of me and my game.

“But this season will determine whether I can sustain that, but I think I’ve played enough cricket now to know what leadership is about,” Duminy said yesterday at the Cricket South Africa Centre of Excellence in Pretoria, where the Proteas were having a two-day fitness camp.

Duminy admitted that the Proteas have been stung by the loss of their number one Test ranking to Australia and he said they needed to start strongly in the three-match ODI series that precedes the two Tests against Sri Lanka.

“Obviously we don’t have a good record playing Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka and it’s going to be a tough ask. But we have a nice squad and it’s going to be important to start well in the ODIs. That’s a very important aspect of the tour and we need to get our games right heading into the Tests, where we want to get that number one ranking back,” Duminy said.

Batting at number six (he deserves to be treated as one of the top six with either Stiaan van Zyl or Quinton de Kock at seven), Duminy can put money on the fact that he is going to face plenty of spin in Sri Lanka, an area of weakness previously which he has now greatly improved.

“Playing spin is going to be crucial and I have had an issue with it in the past, but I’ve put that behind me. I’ve definitely improved a lot from three or four years ago and I feel confident facing spin now. I feel like I now have good game plans facing spin and my experience in the IPL has improved me too,” the stylish left-hander said.

There is a sense of calm now about the veteran of 115 ODIs, 55 T20 internationals and 24 Tests and Duminy says life is not going to be radically different as the Proteas enter a new era under Hashim Amla.

“The team culture is there already and there’s a great balance in the squad. Small things will change, but we understand what we stand for and the guys stepping into the side have the freedom to express themselves and there are still several guys who have been around for a long time.

“We want to dominate the international circuit; yes, there’ve been big losses from the team, but we see it as a great opportunity for the new breed of players,” Duminy said.


No panic likely, but Duminy & Peterson in the spotlight 0

Posted on February 17, 2014 by Ken

Panicky wholesale changes to the South African team are not likely to be considered ahead of the second Test against Australia starting in Port Elizabeth on Thursday, but JP Duminy and Robin Peterson will be in the spotlight.

South Africa were crushed by 281 runs in the first Test at Centurion yesterday, which was only fair given how poorly they batted, bowled and fielded, and how superbly Mitchell Johnson bowled and the likes of Shaun Marsh, Steven Smith, David Warner and Alex Doolan batted.

Duminy scored 25 and 10 in the Test and, in both innings, batted for over an hour. In the first innings he was looking good, had seen off Johnson but then threw away his wicket holing out to spinner Nathan Lyon, and in the second innings he fell to a freakish catch at short-leg by Doolan.

But Duminy has underperformed for a while, scoring just 77 runs in his last seven innings and the under-pressure selectors may feel change has to come in the number six position.

South Africa’s spin bowling stocks are often the subject of despairing, even furious letters in the pages of this newspaper, and it will be difficult for the selectors to solve this long-standing problem.

Peterson was selected on the basis of being the most accurate, reliable spinner, someone who can hold up an end. But the orthodox left-armer went for 136 runs in 34 overs and was easily milked by the Australian batsmen. He did claim three wickets, but generally looked entirely unthreatening.

Imran Tahir remains the best wicket-taking spinner in the country, but we all know what happened to him the last time he was up against the Australians.

Warriors off-spinner Simon Harmer is next in line, but we should be cautious before throwing an untried 25-year-old into action against a team that plays spin bowling so well.

South Africa’s attack looked ineffectual across the board, mostly due to bad strategy, but the selectors will certainly consider employing an all-pace attack and bringing in left-armer Wayne Parnell on his home ground, to add something different.

That would probably save Duminy, who would then be the spinner in the team, although his probable replacement, Dean Elgar, bowls slow left-arm too.

Alviro Petersen could be under pressure at the top of the order, given how insecure he looked at Centurion, but dropping him would be harsh considering he made consecutive half-centuries in the two Tests against India before the massacre by Australia.

Although Ryan McLaren did not make a telling contribution in the Test, he performed his role as a holding bowler well and the huge defeat had its origins elsewhere.

Yesterday’s result will be a massive blow to the confidence of the South Africans, but it should be remembered that, barring the large hole left by Jacques Kallis, this is the same team that took them to number one and beat Australia on their home turf.

The talent and skill is there, it just needs to be activated by a change in mental approach by the South Africans. It was noticeable in the field how low the intensity was and it was poor decision-making that compounded their woes.

The decision to bowl first was an awful one, the bowling strategy was misguided and the batting against Johnson was laborious.



Kallis & JP nurdle SA to satisfying victory 0

Posted on September 11, 2012 by Ken

Jacques Kallis and JP Duminy nurdled South Africa to a satisfying seven-wicket victory over England in the first T20 international at the Riverside Ground in Chester-le-Street on Saturday.

18th over – Ravi Bopara is back but his first ball is a low full toss outside leg stump as a back-of-the-hand slower ball goes horribly wrong, and Kallis flicks it away for four.

17th over – Stuart Broad over-pitches and Kallis lifts him over mid-on for four.

16th over – Kallis gives himself some room and swishes Jade Dernbach through the covers for four.

13th over – Duminy squeezes a full delivery from Steven Finn through point for four. Finn has knocked the bowler’s end stumps with his knee again and Broad, typically, has a moan to the umpire about why it wasn’t a dead ball like in the test series. Funnily enough, Finn does it again in the over and this time umpire Rob Bailey does call dead ball … costing Duminy and South Africa a single.

11th over – Left-arm spinner Samit Patel comes on, but his first delivery is a low full toss which Duminy reverse-sweeps for four. The next delivery is full, but Duminy manufactures a splendid reverse-paddle very fine for another boundary.

7th over – A bit of width from Bopara and Kallis chops the ball behind square on the off-side for four. Bopara seems to be trying to bowl too fast, bizarrely, and his next delivery is down leg and tickled away for four by Kallis.

6th over – Kallis steers Stuart Broad past slip for four runs.

5th over – Steven Finn is targeting Duminy outside off stump, but the left-hander drives beautifully through the covers for four.

4th over – Four runs to Kallis with an edgy uppercut over the slips off Dernbach. Two balls later, AB de Villiers unveils a superb back-foot drive for four through extra cover. On the penultimate ball of the over, Dernbach drags down a slower ball and De Villiers slaps it in front of point for four more. WICKET – But De Villiers (10) targets the same area off the next ball, but the delivery is too full and too straight and he ends up getting an edge and presenting a simple catch to wicketkeeper Craig Kieswetter.

3rd over – WICKET – Faf du Plessis comes and goes for four as he tries to drive Finn through midwicket, misses a straight ball and is plumb lbw.

2nd over – WICKET – Richard Levi is out for eight as he tries to chop Dernbach down to third man, but the line is too tight and he ends up edging the ball to slip.

1st over – Levi gets going with a forehand smash straight down the ground for four off Finn, and he then pulls the next delivery through wide mid-on for another cracking boundary.

England innings

England’s ailing batsmen could only muster 118 for seven against South Africa’s incisive attack in the first T20 international at the Riverside Ground in Chester-le-Street on Saturday.

20th over – And Graeme Swann starts the final over brilliantly too as he cleverly steps across to off-stump and flicks Dale Steyn over short fine-leg for four.

19th over – Swann starts the penultimate over in fine fashion for England as he smites Jacques Kallis over extra cover for four.

18th over – Swann reaches a long way down the pitch to sweep Robin Peterson in front of midwicket for four. Stuart Broad ends the over by leaning back and whacking the ball straight down the ground for another boundary.

16th over – WICKET – Samit Patel (4) mishits a lofted drive off Peterson and Kallis comes storming in from long-off, dives forward and takes a great catch.

14th over – WICKET – Another big blow for England as Jonny Bairstow (15) just clips a fullish delivery from Albie Morkel straight to long-on.

13th over – WICKET – Peterson strikes now in his first over back. Jos Buttler (6) waltzes down the pitch to drive, but Peterson has held the delivery back beautifully and it turns past the bat to bowl the youngster.

11th over – WICKET – Eoin Morgan is deceived by a wonderful step up in pace by Johan Botha. The left-hander tries to sweep, but is beaten for pace and bottom-edges the ball on to his stumps to be bowled for 10.

9th over – Wonderful power and timing from Bairstow as he just strokes off-spinner Botha through extra cover for four.

8th over – WICKET – Ravi Bopara falls to Steyn once again! The hapless Bopara is out for six as he edges a flatfooted push at a delivery that just shapes away a bit, straight to slip. Great attacking captaincy by AB de Villiers to bring Steyn back and to have a slip.

7th over – WICKET – Botha strikes with his first ball back for South Africa in five months as Craig Kieswetter steps across to try and play the delivery to leg, but is beaten by sharp turn into him and trapped lbw for 25 off 24 balls. Morgan gets his first boundary as he drives beautifully, with superb timing, just to the right of the diving extra cover, for four.

5th over – Another wild heave by Kieswetter off Lonwabo Tsotsobe is edged over the vacant slips for four. More misfortune for Tsotsobe ends the over as Kieswetter, on 22, mistimes a cramped stroke to deep mid-on where a leaping Botha can only get fingertips to the catch at full-stretch.

4th over – WICKET – Kieswetter inside-edges Morkel into the leg-side and Alex Hales comes charging for the quick single. But Kieswetter doesn’t respond, Hales has to try and turn and make his ground, but Kallis beats him with a direct hit. Hales is out for 11 off just six balls.

3rd over – Glorious shot by Kieswetter as he comes down the pitch, giving himself room, and cracking a sweetly-timed shot through the covers for four off Tsotsobe. It prompts captain De Villiers to take slip out and Kieswetter edges a wild heave at the next delivery just past the wicketkeeper’s right hand for four! Kieswetter ends the over by heaving Tsotsobe over cow-corner for six.

1st over – Hales ends the first over with successive boundaries off left-arm spinner Peterson, whishing a sweep through square-leg and then driving beautifully through cover-point.

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