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Ken Borland

AB confident camp will give birth to better fortune 0

Posted on August 17, 2016 by Ken


AB de Villiers says he is confident a “culture camp” the wider Proteas squad held last week will give birth to a resurgence in fortunes for the national side, starting with victory over New Zealand in the two-Test series that gets underway in Durban on Friday.

De Villiers is off for six weeks with an elbow injury the most serious of several niggles he is getting right before the season gets into full swing, but he is clearly still playing a powerful leadership role within the team, speaking confidently about how he backs them to beat New Zealand, when he was interviewed at the launch of the series, at which sponsors Sunfoil announced they would be extending their sponsorship of South African Test and first-class cricket for another two years.

“We had a culture camp five days ago where we were brutally honest with each other about where we are as a team and where we would like to see ourselves. We know exactly where we want to go, we had a lot of hard chats about what is wrong, what issues there are, behind our dip in form.

“A big part of our success in the past has been our culture and we revisited our core values, who we play for. I wouldn’t say we’re in a transitional phase because this is still a fantastic team that can beat anyone. I’m really backing our boys, even though the Black Caps are clearly a force to be reckoned with,” De Villiers said.

The Proteas arrived in Durban extra early for the Test and have had twice-daily practice sessions in order to offset their lack of Test cricket, in contrast to New Zealand, who have just enjoyed a convincing 2-0 win in Zimbabwe. De Villiers, however, predicted that it would be South Africa who would set the early pace in the series.

“One thing we really discussed in our camp was throwing the first punch. We’re proud of our ability to come back from all sorts of trouble, but it’s time for us to dominate from the start now and not be scared of being aggressive, of trying things. Hopefully people will get to see that in this series.

“I think New Zealand could be a bit thin in the batting department and if they don’t score big runs they’ll be in trouble. I don’t think they have an advantage from playing Tests recently, all our guys have played enough cricket and it was much more important for us to connect as players at our camp,” De Villiers said.


All-rounder Phehlukwayo anointed for greater things 0

Posted on March 15, 2016 by Ken


Andile Phehlukwayo turned 20 last week and has already been anointed as a Dolphins bowling all-rounder fit to follow in the footsteps of legends like Shaun Pollock and Lance Klusener, but he has already achieved so much as one of the successes of South African cricket’s development pipeline.

There was clearly something special about Phehlukwayo when he played for the Dolphins in the 2014 Champions League while he was still in his matric year at Glenwood High School. He scored 22 off 17 balls against the powerhouse Chennai Super Kings in his first game and then 37 off just 18 deliveries against the Kolkata Knight Riders.

Since then, his bowling has become his strongest suit, especially in limited-overs matches, and he has produced several match-winning performances for the Dolphins, most notably with his nerveless, skilful death bowling in the RamSlam T20 Challenge playoff against the Cape Cobras.

He certainly does not want to be pigeon-holed, however, as a limited-overs specialist and the work he has been putting into his long-format game is bearing fruit, with Phehlukwayo taking a career-best four for 39 against the Warriors in East London last weekend.

“I was thrown in the deep end playing in the Champions League while I was still at school, which was a tough one, but I’m grateful for the experience and there’s no pressure on me. I’m my own player, different to other all-rounders, but obviously I would like to try and be like guys like Jacques Kallis and Lance Klusener. I need to perform for  SA A first, and there are lots of guys performing as all-rounders in South African cricket, like Chris Morris and David Wiese. I just need to be consistent, I know there will always be chances for me and I believe one day I will play for South Africa, even if maybe not in the next two or four years,” Phehlukwayo says.

The son of a domestic worker in Margate, who earned a hockey scholarship to Glenwood and was then noticed when he went to cricket trials, Phehlukwayo has every reason to be proud of what he has already achieved despite such humble beginnings.

“My big goal is for my mom to come and watch me play. I was fortunate to have good support in the background and my coaches believed in me. For me it’s just about working hard and not giving up on my dream. I never thought that I would be playing franchise cricket at this age and at some stages I thought I would never play professional cricket.

“I’ve made quick progress as a bowler, T20 does fast-track you, you need to adapt quickly in that format and practise your skills. Playing for SA A over the last couple of months, bowling to people like Jos Buttler and Eoin Morgan, taught me that you’ve got to be on-song and stay on your game-plan, back yourself, always believe in yourself. It was definitely an experience I won’t forget, especially bowling a couple of long-hops to Morgan!”


Why I don’t want to go back to Benoni 0

Posted on July 09, 2015 by Ken

In the last week my job as a cricket writer has taken me to Willowmoore Park in Benoni twice, to the Mamelodi Oval once and to the glamour and glitz of the national team’s World Cup send-off at Melrose Arch once.

While the Mamelodi Oval is rapidly becoming one of my favourite grounds – it has a beautiful setting in the Magaliesburg hills, the local community is obviously proud of the ground and facilities have improved with every visit there, I am largely cynical about how much the Melrose Arch razzmatazz will do for our World Cup chances and, frankly, I will be happy if I never have to go back to Willowmoore Park again.

That’s because half the games in Benoni are disrupted by the awful facilities at that ground. On Thursday night, it was embarrassing to see South Africa A and the England Lions tourists have to hang around and wait for over half-an-hour while an electrician was found to get the floodlights working properly.

For the Titans, Willowmoore Park has become an infuriating home ground for them.

Last weekend, a short 20-minute shower nearly led to their Momentum One-Day Cup game being abandoned due to the shocking drainage at the ground, not helped by the ground staff pouring the water that had accumulated on the covers on to an already wet patch.

The potential loss of points would have been critical for the Titans in their efforts to secure a home playoff, while the match being shortened to 20 overs due to the delay was hugely prejudicial to them because it meant the Highveld Lions had all 10 wickets in hand for just a short run-chase.

Fortunately the Lions batsmen were terrible and the Titans still won, but they had a match abandoned, losing all the points, in November due to a sub-standard, dangerous pitch. Several Titans players have suffered hand injuries due to similar pitches at the ground.

India had a warm-up game there in December 2013 cancelled due to the field being wet despite Benoni being bathed in bright sunshine for three days and it’s well-known that even the slightest bit of rain at Willowmoore Park causes major delays.

Simply put, Willowmoore Park is a disgrace. A prehistoric looking super-sopper, with practically no sponge left on the roller, merely shifts the water around the field; a rope is sometimes driven around the ground by the groundsman in a battered old car. Compared to Mamelodi, there seems to be a complete lack of pride in the venue, a distinct attitude of “who cares?” when it comes to maintaining the facility.

Top-class cricket should be taken away from Benoni by Cricket South Africa to ensure that franchises and international touring teams are given the facilities they deserve. It’s sad that a ground that has been operational since 1924 and was made famous by Denis Compton’s triple-century in three hours for England against North-Eastern Transvaal in 1948 has fallen into such disrepair.

I would even suggest moving games scheduled for Willowmoore Park to the Mamelodi Oval, which is also going to help transformation, and channelling the considerable amounts of money poured down the drain or simply not used in Benoni to that ground.

It’s probably not going to happen for political reasons though. Easterns cricket will bring their vastly overinflated influence in the CSA boardroom into play and let’s not forget that the murky hand of the Guptas is probably most strongly present at Willowmoore Park.



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