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Ken Borland



Time for the Cape Cobras to learn to ‘tai’ 0

Posted on December 18, 2017 by Ken

 

The Kalenjin tribe of Kenya’s Rift Valley are famous for their dominance of long-distance running, numerous world and Olympic champions having come from their population of about five million, a staggering statistical anomaly that has had sports scientists scrambling to study them.

While scientists have pointed to a complex interaction between genetic and socio-economic factors for their success, the Kalenjin runners are also famous for their stoicism and endurance. It is that combined with natural abilities, that makes them world-beaters. They use the word ‘tai’ as an exhortation to keep going forward and they certainly do just that.

Much of the work on the persevering, “no gain without pain” Kalenjin has been done at the University of Cape Town and perhaps the cricket fraternity based in the city that enjoys the best standard of living in the country needs to go and study up on key traits for sporting success like determination and not blaming your failures on your opposition.

The RamSlam T20 Challenge final takes place on Saturday in Centurion and some of the Cape Cobras management and media seem to believe that they are not there due to some incredible conspiracy that involves the Titans and the weather conspiring against them. Never mind the fact that the star-studded Cobras team did not win their first three games and then threw away a winning position in their last round-robin match, where victory would have seen them hosting the semi-final against the Dolphins that was washed out on Thursday evening in Durban.

As the 2019 World Cup nears and the mental fortitude of our players is once again put under the most ruthless of microscopes, it is alarming that many of our Proteas are playing in an environment where excuse-making, blaming others and even accusing other teams of matchfixing is encouraged.

The Titans, by topping the log by miles, earned the right to prepare for their semi-final in whatever manner they saw fit, and they decided to spare their leading players the exertions of travelling to Cape Town to play on Friday, then to Durban to play on Sunday and then returning to Centurion on Monday, leaving just one day to prepare for the knockout match.

Such are the rewards for performance and they should be praised for the high standards they have brought to the competition, not tainted by slanderous allegations in the Cape that they were involved in some sort of matchfixing.

Instead of trying to bring everyone down to their under-performing standards, the Cobras, who have a wealth of talent at their disposal, should rather be focused on bridging the gap between themselves and the Titans.

In keeping with the sore-losers image they are cultivating so well in Cape Town, some of their media were quick to jump all over the Titans for only fielding five players of colour in their semi-final win over the Warriors, due to Henry Davids mangling his knee shortly before the toss.

The word from Cricket South Africa is that there will be no action taken against the Titans because the move was cleared by the head of their transformation committee, Max Jordaan, beforehand. It was a common sense decision because four minutes before the toss is hardly the time to rush someone in from outside the squad, without a warm-up.

There was no complaint from the Warriors, either, but there will always be that element in the Western Cape that knows better, watching from their vantage point behind the Mountain.

It seems there will always be the haters in South African sport when a team enjoys prolonged success.

 

https://www.pressreader.com/south-africa/the-citizen-gauteng/20171216/282570198460108

Organisers learning the hard way about tournament integrity 0

Posted on April 26, 2016 by Ken

 

The organisers of the Varsity Cup rugby tournament look set to learn the hard way that, in order for followers to remain invested in their product, the integrity of a sporting competition is most important.

By “integrity” I mean that the way the tournament is run and governed has to be seen to be giving all the competing teams an equal chance, a level playing field. Like English Premier League football, where every team plays the others home and away and the top team on the log wins the trophy.

For students, the Varsity Cup has been a breath of fresh air, a place to hang out with your bros and, no doubt, check out the ladies, all accompanied by typically student quantities of alcohol. But for the organisers, the real target has always been television, where the big money is, hence their decision to play matches this year off-campus.

And for television viewers, a level playing field will be more important than any of the many gimmicks they have come up with in terms of rule-changes. Perhaps Varsity Sports should have paid more attention to simplifying their complex eligibility rules than to coming up with weird and wonderful law variations that, frankly, make me consider the Varsity Cup to be the IPL of South African sport.

The allegation that Pukke had an ineligible player on the park while they beat Maties in the showpiece final is obviously a PR disaster. But it was made even worse because Varsity Sports had already made their bed by earlier slapping an extremely harsh 12-point penalty on the UKZN Impi for the same technical offence – both teams having had their players cleared by the tournament-appointed auditors, KPMG – ensuring that the KwaZulu-Natalians, who have dominated the Varsity Shield for two seasons, no longer had any chance of promotion.

The harsh decision, which their advocate presciently warned was creating a dangerous precedent, caused further disgruntlement for a side that had been forced to play some of their home matches at the ground of their biggest rivals, Wits, albeit because of the unrest that was sweeping university campuses.

UKZN were already feeling like they weren’t really wanted in the big league and there were even allegations from elsewhere in the country that Varsity Sports wanted to ensure foundation members UCT and Wits were in the Varsity Cup, partly because of the cost of playing games in the relatively-isolated province of KwaZulu-Natal.

Whether they remain consistent and strip Pukke of the title or reinstate UKZN, the Varsity Cup management are in a quandary, their failure to run the tournament in a professional manner having been exposed.

But they are not the only ones.

Sanzaar just don’t seem able to settle on a SuperRugby format that will work, with the current competition clearly lopsided in favour of some teams. Some sides don’t have to play the top teams from last year, while some franchises, like the Bulls and Stormers, don’t even have to tour New Zealand, while the Lions and Sharks do.

A competition that was confusing before has become even more complex and unfair, alienating supporters.

Social media was alive this week with another example of an organisation that is playing fast and loose with the integrity of the game – Cricket Australia.

The first day/night Test against New Zealand last November was not an overwhelming success, whatever CA have been saying in the many propaganda press releases they have sent out this week. It was all over in three days, which rather nullifies the commercial advantages because of two days of lost television coverage, and the views of the players involved was hardly one of unbridled enthusiasm.

The problems with seeing the pink ball once it becomes worn meant the Adelaide Oval pitch was a grassy seamer, and 224 was the highest innings total.

AB de Villiers was quite right to point out that the prior experience Australia have of playing in those conditions was a massive advantage, especially in the potentially decisive final Test of the series, at that level where the margins are so small. Perhaps they’re trying to pull a fast one because South Africa was triumphant in the last two Test tours Down Under?

It would be akin to the Springboks being asked to play a Test with a new scrum rule they had never played under.

The concept of day/night Test cricket is a good one, but I have a feeling it will only work if the white clothes go and a white ball is used.

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