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Ken Borland



The thrills and drama of the Sunfoil Series 0

Posted on February 24, 2017 by Ken

 

The Sunfoil Series – the four-day domestic franchise competition – came down to the most thrilling of conclusions last weekend with the Knights claiming the title by just 1.78 points, the equivalent of 89 runs over a tournament that lasted 10 weeks, once again proving that, at least in the minds of the players and the aficionados of the sport, it is the premier trophy in the local game.

Nicky Boje, the Knights coach, confirmed that the four-day competition was the main target in their minds this season, and the other franchise coaches made similar comments through the campaign.

The thing about four-day cricket is that it provides the most all-encompassing test of a player’s skills and of a team’s quality – it’s essentially 40 days of cricket, 96 overs a day, so an examination that can last 3840 overs.

And it still came down to the narrowest of margins, so small in fact that Knights captain Theunis de Bruyn gave a large part of the credit for his team’s triumph to a partnership of just 10 runs between the last pair in their penultimate game against the Cape Cobras.

Akhona Kula and Tshepo Ntuli took the Knights’ first innings in Paarl from 143 for nine to 153 to get them one batting point – 150 is set as the milestone for the first batting bonus point, make 149 and you get zero. Even though the Knights went on to lose the match by 151 runs, that single point made their life a lot easier in the final game against the Highveld Lions because it meant they were targeting 430 in 100 overs rather than around 480.

“It allowed us to believe a little bit more,” De Bruyn said, and we all know belief plays a massive role in any achievement.

I just wish Cricket South Africa had a bit more belief in their four-day competition. It would be unrealistic to expect huge crowds to attend, but they could certainly do more to generate greater interest in the tournament that makes our Test cricketers. They have scheduled media sessions with the franchises before T20 and Momentum One-Day Cup games, why not before Sunfoil Series matches?  Their decision to no longer pay for a scorer to sit in the press box during four-day games suggests their attitude is to cut investment in the competition rather than promote it.

Scorers are an essential help to the media in terms of getting all their stats and figures correct, and it is heartening that CSA’s official statistician, Andrew Samson, is very much a long-format man.

The Oracle, as our media call him – I’m not sure what the BBC Test Match Special team call him but he is also their official statistician – has just brought out a book, The Moon is Toast, which is a celebration of all the quirky statistics the wonderful game of cricket throws up, written in the format of a year-long diary.

Copies of the book are available from http://tinyurl.com/hgbulfp and the wry humour of Samson makes what could become a boring read into an entertaining delight.

Long-form cricket obviously lends itself to more statistical gems than the wham-bam! of limited-overs cricket and the greater scope for all sorts of possibilities to occur was shown by the dramatic conclusion of our own four-day competition.

The longer the game, the greater the chance of an amazing comeback, just as the New South Wales team did in their recent Sheffield Shield game against Queensland at the Sydney Cricket Ground. They were two for two in their first innings before going on to make 603 for six declared which, Samson tells me, is only the fourth time in all first-class cricket that a team has lost their first two wickets for two or less runs but still gone on to score more than 600.

The South African example is Griqualand West recovering from one for two and then three for three to make 602 all out against Rhodesia in Kimberley in 1930, thanks to a double-century by the exotically-named Xenophon Balaskas, the Test all-rounder.

‘Knights fully deserve their triumph’ – Boucher 0

Posted on February 20, 2017 by Ken

 

Titans coach Mark Boucher said his team has not played to the best of their ability and that the Knights fully deserve their narrow triumph in the Sunfoil Series.

The Knights beat the Highveld Lions by an innings and 121 runs in the final round of fixtures, but they only topped the log by 1.78 points and it could have been so different for the Titans had they just batted better in the first innings of their last game, against the Warriors, when they were bowled out for just 227 and only earned 2.54 batting points; just 90 more runs and the Titans would have won the title.

“We knew what we had to get, we knew we had to bat well, but we haven’t played the way we can the whole season and we didn’t deserve to win the title. The Knights threw their all into their game against the Lions, their gamble worked and they played unbelievable cricket to score 443 and then bowl the Lions out for just 87.

“Our batting in general has to improve, particularly in terms of partnerships, centuries win you trophies. We only played to within 60-70% of our capabilities and were within a point or so of winning the title, but I don’t blame the last game, there were other matches where we didn’t bat well enough and we tended to lose sessions badly. There were some great individual performances, but we didn’t quite gel as a unit, we played good cricket but not great cricket,” Boucher said.

Two of those great individual performances came in the final game against the Warriors as Shaun von Berg became the first player to score a century and take 10 wickets in the match in a franchise game, and Heino Kuhn steered the Titans to a record target of 315 with an exceptional 165 not out.

“Every time Shaun comes into the team, he produces the goods and does the business. Last week he and Heinrich Klaasen won the game for us and he’s a street-fighter, I really enjoy having him in the team. He’s one of those guys that it would do the Proteas no harm to have a look at – his leg-spin has come on leaps and bounds, he consistently hits good areas, and he could do a good job as a second spinner on the subcontinent.

“Heino showed what a great player he is and showed his character by toughing it out when he said he didn’t feel great. That innings answered everything when it comes to questions over him playing for the Proteas, he carried his bat and won the game,” Boucher said.

The coach danced around the issue, however, of whether the Titans had unsuccessfully gambled with a Willowmoore Park pitch that had inconsistent bounce from the first day, making it very difficult for them to keep up with the Knights’ haul of 6.70 batting points.

“The pitch was strange, it was up-and-down on the first two days but then it flattened out. It was a bit of a mystery and when the ball is keeping low it will be in the back of the batsman’s mind, but we should still have somehow got to 320. There were some indifferent shots so we can’t blame the pitch, we didn’t apply ourselves in the first innings and it was only an unbelievable knock from Shaun that got us in front of the Warriors. The first hour of the second day was a train smash,” Boucher said.

 

http://www.pressreader.com/south-africa/the-citizen-gauteng/20170214/282089161522672

Knights triumph about a unit playing for a higher purpose – De Bruyn 0

Posted on February 15, 2017 by Ken

 

VKB Knights captain Theunis de Bruyn said on Saturday that his team’s Sunfoil Series triumph was all about a unit playing for a higher purpose.

The Knights wrapped up their first four-day title since 2007/8 on the third day of the final round of fixtures, their innings-and-121-runs win over the bizhub Highveld Lions at the BidVest Wanderers Stadium giving them an insurmountable lead at the top of the table.

Having reached a tremendous 443 in their first innings, the Knights then bundled the Lions out for just 87 on the second day to set up their victory. The Lions were 193 for five in their follow-on innings when play resumed on Saturday morning, and the Knights needed just 100 minutes to dismiss the home side for 235.

Duanne Olivier was once again the leading wicket-taker, with four for 59 in 20 overs, taking his season’s tally to a phenomenal 52 wickets in eight matches at an average of just 18.13. As has been the case throughout the season, South Africa’s newest Test cricketer was superbly supported by Marchant de Lange (22.1-5-75-3) and Shadley van Schalkwyk (20-5-41-3).

“This team plays for the man upstairs and his purpose for us, and that’s why we have been blessed. In cricket, you cannot control the outcomes, but we have managed to get a unit that believes we are playing for a bigger purpose. We’ve set high standards and, although we didn’t do well in the T20, we backed ourselves in this competition,” De Bruyn said after winning the most prestigious domestic title in his first season as captain, for the franchise he joined from the Titans, who were the defending champions and closest challengers.

“It’s been a rollercoaster season, but I believe we truly deserve to win the trophy. We’ve lost the least games – only two – and we bowled as a unit. Duanne took over 50 wickets and Marchant had 34, and then you add in Shadley’s 29 and Mbulelo Budaza also chipped in. The bowling was relentless from both sides and when the attack was switched on, they were really able to dominate all opposition batting line-ups.

“The batsmen also put the runs on the board for the bowlers to bowl at, Rudi Second worked on technical aspects of his game, he’s a wicketkeeper but as a batsman he’s dominated at four or five, while someone like Pite van Biljon only played four matches but played a couple of brilliant innings, like his hundred here. Luthando Mnyanda gave us our best starts all season in the last two games and Diego Rosier came in and scored runs as well,” De Bruyn said.

The 24-year-old did not mention his own considerable contribution to the triumph, De Bruyn scoring 751 runs at an average of 57.76. Second was second in the Knights averages with 684 runs at 52.61.

Knights coach Nicky Boje’ said winning the Sunfoil Series was up there with the best moments of his long and decorated career in cricket.

“It’s definitely right up there because we see the four-day tournament as the main competition and it got to a tough stage for us after we were outplayed in Paarl. But we managed to produce an almost-perfect performance in this ‘final’ after all the sides were still in the mix for the trophy. We played good cricket and set ourselves high standards,” Boje’ said.

The former international spinner is in his first season as the full-time Knights coach, making the fledgling Boje’/De Bruyn partnership and achievement even more impressive.

“As a new coach, you’ve got to get the players to trust what you are trying to do and I had to make a couple of changes and bring a couple of new guys in. But Theunis as captain, Marchant and Duanne with the new ball and David Miller bringing his international experience have all been massive,” Boje said.

It’s been more than six years since the Knights won a trophy, but Boje’ is adamant this team are still in the early stages of their journey.

“The Knights were in a building phase and didn’t win trophies for the last couple of years, but it’s a process. We want to leave a legacy for young guys coming in so they know how to be a Knight. We are still busy getting everything in place and we have to make sure we keep building. Today was just the first step,” Boje’ said.

It may sound silly, but in a tournament that was defined by small margins, De Bruyn described a last-wicket stand of just 10 between Akhona Kula and Tshepo Ntuli during last weekend’s heavy defeat at the hands of the Cape Cobras as being crucial to their title success.

“In Paarl, we may have lost badly but the two spinners at the end of the first innings took us from 143 for nine to 153 to get us one batting point [150 is set as the milestone for the first batting bonus point]. That extra point turned out to be a massive moment because it meant this week we only needed 120 more runs than the Titans rather than 170 more. It just allowed us to believe a little bit more,” De Bruyn said.

http://citizen.co.za/sport/sport-cricket/1424613/at-least-one-drought-in-the-free-state-is-broken/

Misfortune of Rossouw the joy of De Bruyn 0

Posted on December 16, 2016 by Ken

 

The continued misfortune of Rilee Rossouw has turned out to be the joy of Theunis de Bruyn, with the Knights captain called up to the South African Test squad for the first time on Wednesday, ahead of the three-Test series against Sri Lanka which starts on Boxing Day.

Rossouw, who toured Australia without playing in any of the Tests, has been ruled out of action by another foot injury and his place in the squad has been taken by uncapped Knights team-mate De Bruyn.

The tall 24-year-old has been considered an obvious future international for the last three seasons, boasting an impressive first-class average of 48.73 with six centuries in 32 matches including a double for  SA A against the England Lions. Convenor of selectors Linda Zondi told The Citizen that De Bruyn is considered a future star of all three formats.

“Theunis a good talent and has done well for both his franchise and SA A. Obviously we aren’t pleased with Rilee’s injury because he’s the next batsman in line, and Stiaan van Zyl would probably also have been in line had he not signed a Kolpak deal, but Theunis is next in the pecking order. It’s good to get him into the set-up because we definitely see him as a future star for the Proteas, playing in all the formats,” Zondi said.

“It’s obviously very disappointing for Rilee, I spoke to him in Australia and he really wants to do well for South Africa and was very happy with the way we backed him in the ODIs. He’s obviously an exceptional player and he will still do well in the future for South Africa and contribute immensely going forward because it’s still a long season ahead and he’s definitely still in our plans.”

Because the Proteas are now back on home soil, the squad has been reduced to 13 players, with Wayne Parnell the fast bowler called in to replace the injured Morne Morkel and Dale Steyn. Wrist-spinner Tabraiz Shamsi, all-rounder Dwaine Pretorius and reserve wicketkeeper Dane Vilas are no longer part of the squad.

The likelihood of De Bruyn making his debut will depend on whether captain Faf du Plessis escapes a ban from his appeal for ball-tampering on Monday, but just being in camp with the Test team will be of immense benefit to the development of the elegant right-hander.

“Even if he doesn’t make the starting XI, he’s going to gain more experience and fitting into those surroundings and the culture of the team will only enhance his belief that he will be able to fit in at international level,” Zondi said.

http://www.pressreader.com/south-africa/the-citizen-kzn/20161215/282209420496484



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