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Ken Borland

Charlton & the semi-pro competitions: promoting excellence 0

Posted on June 14, 2017 by Ken


Mark Charlton has been promoted to high performance manager for the Titans, having won four trophies in the last three years with the Northerns team, and he says the rapid progress of players who have spent time in the amateur provincial competitions shows how important the second tier of domestic cricket is for the pipeline.

The Grahamstown product was understandably delighted with the recent news that Cricket South Africa CEO Haroon Lorgat had said they were aiming to uplift the semi-professional level rather than create a seventh franchise.

“If you look at the senior provincial teams and what they do in the South African landscape, it’s a brilliant job. Guys like Aiden Markram and Heinrich Klaasen spent four seasons with me at Northerns and then after one franchise season they’re on the verge of the national squad. A guy like Lungi Ngidi spent one-and-a-half seasons with me, one-and-a-half with the Titans and then made the national team. Tabraiz Shamsi is another guy who played a lot of semi-pro cricket, there are a lot of guys like that.

“The profile of that level needs to be lifted, the Africa Cup has been brilliant in that respect, we need to raise the level of their exposure. So it’s great news if CSA back that, because the second tier produces some really hard, tough cricket. We [Northerns] tested ourselves against Leicestershire recently, with just nine of our regular players and we beat them, plus we’ve beaten the whole Ireland team before. So the standard is pretty good and we do our job when it comes to producing players,” Charlton told The Citizen.

Charlton subscribes to the belief that good people make better sportsmen, and says a key part of Northerns’ success was ensuring the players were as honourable off the field as they were excellent on it.

“We tried five years ago to put the building blocks in place with a code of behaviour and ethics that was about how we were seen and how we saw ourselves. It was our core policy, about how we operate. The basis of the team was very young and inexperienced back then, but I felt they could be champions and they’ve showed it.

“Since that start five years ago, we’ve produced eight Titans players. My job was to look at young talent and take them to the next level. In terms of selection, I tried to stay as consistent as possible, to give guys opportunities to perform. We’re very lucky with players from the local universities and schools, there’s always a lot of quality coming through. Cobus Pienaar, Shershan Naidoo, Markram, Klaasen and captain Thomas Kaber have all been brilliant and I’ve just tried to keep players together and moving in the same direction,” Charlton said.

Coach Walter praises hard work of Titans team over last 3 years 0

Posted on April 14, 2016 by Ken


The Titans’ phenomenal performances over the last two rounds of the Sunfoil Series caught the eye as they clinched the four-day title at the weekend, but coach Rob Walter said there has been a tremendous amount of hard work over the last three years leading up to their triumph.

The Titans first of all produced an epic batting display to save their game against the second-placed Highveld Lions, batting for 10-and-a-half hours in their second innings, and then, last weekend, defended a target of just 136 as they bowled the Cape Cobras out for only 125, left-arm paceman Rowan Richards taking seven for 40.

“Everyone loves success but it’s a great feeling when you know what went into winning the title. When I started coaching the Titans, we said we wanted to win the first-class competition and there has been systematic improvement, going from last to fourth to second last season and now first.

“And that’s thanks to the effort that was put in, for three seasons in a row, and the extra time the players spent on their games and on their preparation for matches. We have worked very, very hard and we spoke continuously about what it means to be a champion side, the kind of behaviours needed, what that looks like. It’s a bit intangible until you do it, then those performances in the last two games come along.

“The last two games have been at the opposite ends of the cricketing spectrum – against the Lions we were purely trying to save the game, and the second match was just about all-out attack to try and win. It was huge for the players and an awesome achievement,” Walter told The Citizen on Monday.

Despite having to do without their national team players for the bulk of the season, it is clear that the killer instinct remains in the Titans camp and Walter praised the heroes of their campaign.

“It’s very much down to mindset, you must be prepared to win the game in the last session of the last day, and the players were geared to go the full distance. That killer instinct is just in their nature, it runs through their veins.

“You could see Dean Elgar’s hunger ball-after-ball as he set about batting at a higher level, like a Test batsman. To score over 1100 runs, Heino Kuhn must have played well but it was high-quality batting and he didn’t put a foot wrong in scoring that century against a really decent Cobras attack – with four international-grade bowlers – and it stood out that he’s good enough to play Test cricket, if he’s not in the national selectors’ discussions then there’s a problem.

“Qaasim Adams just grows and grows, gets better and better. He had an outstanding season and was able to deliver in varying situations – when we were on top or when we were very much under pressure. Theunis de Bruyn is a high-quality young cricketer who had a really good season and Henry Davids delivered in the last two weeks when we were horribly under the pump.

“The bowling unit also had a lot to do with the success of the team. Rowan Richards is always a competitor and when he got a sniff, he was able to find that little bit extra, like all x-factor players do. He just loves bowling and his 16 overs on the trot against the Cobras – and it was hot – were quick and on the money.

“Marchant de Lange had a change in length and mindset and had instant reward, while Ethy Mbhalati did well, was always solid. Then Tabraiz Shamsi got 41 wickets, with two 12-fors, which is a huge feat for a spinner in South Africa, so he’s very exciting,” Walter said.


Too many coaching changes at Sharks – Smit 0

Posted on June 26, 2015 by Ken

Changing coaches at the Sharks has become something that is not even triennial these days but a regular occurrence that has seen three different men in charge over the last three years, which is why chief executive John Smit is adamant that Gary Gold is going nowhere and will continue to coach the team in next year’s Super Rugby competition.

After John Plumtree was let go in 2013, Brendan Venter filled in alongside Brad Macleod-Henderson and Sean Everitt for the rest of that year, before Jake White was appointed for 2014. It was a high-profile signing, but it didn’t last the year amid talk of a player rebellion against the former Springbok coach.

“We were thrown a curve-ball with Jake and his exit last October was like a bride being left at the altar. It was uncontrollable and it’s inconsequential who wanted who to leave. We wanted Gary Gold to fulfil the same role as Jake, but he couldn’t get out of his contract and arrived late, with Brenden running the show until then.

“But there’s just been too much change in terms of coaching, so Gary has to continue. I know there’s been media speculation about him no longer coaching, but that’s only for the Currie Cup. Gary will continue to be heavily involved with the Super Rugby squad and will coach them. The other six months of the year, he’ll be involved in planning and procurement and improving the academy. We are busy finalising a coach to replace Brad Macleod-Henderson for the Currie Cup,” Smit told The Citizen.

While Smit wants a more settled atmosphere in terms of the coaching structure, he says the academy and the pipeline delivering talent to the Sharks team needs to be shaken up.

“In terms of the academy, every other union copied us, but it’s without doubt not performing the way we want it too. It’s a work in progress, we need to tweak it, because that’s the only way we’re going to be leaders. There are 200 students at the academy at any one time and the majority pay for that. They think they have what it takes and they share the fields and the gym with the professional squad.

“We pay the fees for those we decide are worth backing, those we’ve identified with talent. The academy also gives us an unbelievably strong club structure because the players are billeted out to the Premier League clubs and some of those guys will graduate into being part of the Currie Cup now,” Smit said.

The former Springbok captain said he was at peace over the recruitment of players even though the Sharks have been severely criticised for signing veterans such as Matt Stevens and Mouritz Botha.

“The criticism is probably well-founded based on the performance, but I played with Matt, he was contracted while he was on a British and Irish Lions tour, which means he was rated amongst the top three tightheads in the UK. But that form didn’t transfer here and he was particularly poor at scrum time, although his work-rate was still far superior to any of the other number threes. But European champions Toulon are still willing to pay him double what we are paying him!

“Mouritz has come in for unnecessary criticism because there are not many hardened number four locks around and he hasn’t performed that badly. The public perception may be very different, but then television influences that a lot.

“I can’t control that, but the ‘jobs-for-mates’ thing people are so fond of writing about is nonsense. I don’t pick players on my own, it’s decided by a procurement committee, Smit said.


Tuks take their dominance to a global stage 0

Posted on September 11, 2014 by Ken

Assupol Tuks took their dominance of South African club and universities cricket for the last three years on to a global stage at the end of July as they won the Red Bull Campus Cricket World Finals at the Oval in London.

For Aiden Markram and Corbin Bosch, it was their second World Cup triumph of the year, following their victory with the South Africa U19 team at the ICC Junior World Cup in the United Arab Emirates in March. The Campus Cricket World Finals are effectively a Varsity T20 World Cup, with the student champions from eight nations taking part.

While Markram and Bosch, and other star players such as Theunis de Bruyn, Vincent Moore and Heinrich Klaasen all enjoyed excellent tournaments for Tuks, their heroes in the crucial knockout stage were two of their lesser-known players, Johan Wessels and Ruben Claassen.

Tuks had breezed into the semi-finals by beating Bangladesh’s University of the Liberal Arts, hosts Leeds Bradford MCCU and the Jamaica Inter-Collegiate Sports Association, but they had their hands full when they took on defending champions Rizvi College of Mumbai in the final four.

Rizvi had won the toss and elected to bat first, and had cruised to 83 for two in the 12th over before Tuks regained control through spinners Claassen and David Mogotlane.

Lanky off-spinner Claassen produced a brilliant spell of 4-1-10-2, with Mogotlane adding pressure with four overs for just 20 runs, and the Indian team’s lower-order then collapsed to the canny death bowling of Bosch (2-26) and Moore to finish on 122 for nine.

The Tuks run-chase had an anxious start openers Markram and Gerry Pike were out in the first three overs, before De Bruyn (31) and Wessels steadied the innings with a third-wicket stand of 54 in 7.2 overs.

But the loss of three wickets in quick succession, including captain De Bruyn, meant Tuks were under pressure at 90 for five after 15 overs.

But Klaasen (18* off 12) and the inspired Wessels (56* off 52) mounted a rousing comeback that took Tuks home in the 20th over.

In the final, the Tuks total of 188 for six against the Jamaica Inter-Collegiate Sports Association was built around a ferocious 61 off 40 balls from Wessels.

Pacemen Moore and Bosch then shared seven wickets as the Jamaicans were restricted to 148 for nine in their 20 overs.

Much of the hard work, however, was done by the outstanding Claassen, who took one for 10 in four overs.

Markram, who finished as the tournament’s second highest run-scorer behind De Bruyn, had given the Tuks innings a good start, after they had won the toss, with his 33 off 26 balls, but Wessels, who has no first-class experience nor national U19 caps, kept the scoreboard ticking over and then accelerated brilliantly as the University of Pretoria students posted a formidable total.

Dickson scored 39 off 31 balls to finish the job, while Tian Koekemoer and Bosch provided important cameos right at the death.

Coach Pierre de Bruyn was full of praise for Wessels, the 22-year-old who was superb on finals day, and Claassen.

“It’s the guys without the reputations who really stood up on the final day. Joe Wessels is proving to be a very good player, he played two magnificent innings in the knockout games and I’m ecstatic for him. I used him as a bit of a wildcard and he’s really impressed me as a cricketer.

“Ruben out-bowled everybody in the tournament, including the spinners from the sub-continent. He and Corbin Bosch were the top two wicket-takers and Ruben has improved so much. He’s unique, he’s tall, he gets bounce and he’s not scared to experiment,” De Bruyn said.

While Wessels was named man of the match in both the semi-final and final, Theunis de Bruyn was selected as the Player of the Tournament, having set the tone for Tuks’ triumph with a phenomenal 137 not out off 60 balls against the Bangladeshis on the opening day.

“We’ve had three years of dominance in South Africa and now we wanted to represent our country and measure ourselves on the world stage. I’m over the moon to be able to say we are the best university cricket team in the world, but we worked for it,” coach De Bruyn said.

“We planned for everything and we proved ourselves to everyone. I’m proud of the success and the culture of this team, and nobody can take that away from this side.”


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    James 1:5 - "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him."

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