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Ken Borland



Hardus wants more Test cricket, gets help from special woman in his life 0

Posted on July 08, 2016 by Ken

 

Hardus Viljoen has had a taste of Test cricket and wants more, so, with the help of the special woman in his life, he has put in the hard yards in the off-season to become an even leaner and meaner fast bowler.

The off-season is pretty much over for the Highveld Lions star as he leaves on Tuesday with the SA A side for two four-day matches in Zimbabwe and then a triangular series in Australia with India A as the other opponents.

And the 27-year-old looked in tremendous shape on Monday as the team had a middle practice session at the University of Pretoria’s Groenkloof field and is clearly not resting on the laurels of last season, when he took 47 wickets, the most in the Sunfoil Series, in nine matches at an average of just 23 and made his Test debut in January at the Wanderers and removed England captain Alastair Cook with his first ball.

The rest of his first game for South Africa did not go as well, though, as he finished with one for 79 in 15 expensive overs and then bowled four wicketless overs in the second innings as England chased down just 74 for a commanding victory.

“Last season has come and gone, no-one’s going to talk about how you bowled last year, there’s no reward on that. So I did a lot of training in the off-season and I’ve lost 10kg because I worked a lot on my fitness and my diet. My lady [girlfriend Rhemi Rynners, sister of Faf du Plessis] is into healthy eating and she helped me a lot with that, it’s become a way of life.

“I took a bit of flak for my fitness levels and it’s a personal thing – by doing this I can have a longer career and there’s less weight on my feet and legs. So I’ve worked hard on getting fitter and stronger, and it’s all about training smarter; I don’t want to just put on muscle like a rugby player,” a clearly focused Viljoen said on Monday.

“It was a good season last year, but it was also disappointing in a way because I didn’t perform as well as I wanted to in my debut. I wanted to really make an impact, so I’m working very hard on my consistency, that’s a massive thing for me. But that won’t happen in one week, it’s an ongoing process.”

Although Viljoen is desperate to earn a place back in the national team, he is being patient in that regard as well, not telling himself that he has to take a whole bunch of wickets in Zimbabwe and Australia.

“I don’t want to put unnecessary pressure on myself. These tours are good preparation for the summer and to see what my hard work has brought in terms of the things I’ve worked on in the off-season. It might be SA A, but I am still representing my country and I don’t want to take anything for granted. Our performances will obviously be looked at, but for me it’s still about how my game has progressed,” Viljoen said.

Viljoen initially sprung to prominence in limited-overs cricket, but he has taken more than 30 first-class wickets in each of the last seven seasons, with his highest average being 30.39 in 2013/14. The Waterkloof High School product whose actual name is just the initials GC, also has his sights set on a place in the Proteas limited-overs teams.

“In Test cricket, you need patience and consistency, but in T20s, for instance, I would love to just come out and bowl at 155km/h. One of my main goals last season was to bowl at 150km/h and I got to 152.4, so to bowl at 155 is another personal goal of mine.

“But you also need to execute your skills in limited-overs cricket and there’s a massive gap for a death bowler in the Proteas set-up, so I’m working on getting more skills in my arsenal. It’s not going to take one season though, you need about 10 000 hours to master those skills!

“So I have a few things to work on … ” Viljoen said.

It is clear, however, that Viljoen is not happy with his career standing in the same spot. The hunger inside him suggests he will be one to watch in Zimbabwe and Australia.

http://citizen.co.za/1190043/viljoen-desperate-to-earn-a-place-in-the-national-team/

Sweet success for Stone on toughest day of his life 0

Posted on January 11, 2016 by Ken

 

Sweet success in winning the South African Open made it the best day of Brandon Stone’s young life, but the 22-year-old admitted that it had also been the toughest day of his life as he clinched victory by two strokes in a fraught final day at Glendower Golf Club on Sunday.

Having completed his third round early on Sunday morning with three birdies to go into the final round with a two-shot lead, Stone was in sublime form in the opening holes of the fourth round, two more birdies stretching his lead over Englishman Daniel Brooks to five strokes after four holes.

And then the wheels fell off.

Stone began leaking the ball left and right off the fairway and missing short putts as his lead all but evaporated with three successive bogeys from the fifth hole. A birdie on the par-five eighth, where he was fortunate to get away with another wayward drive, brought brief relief, but another trio of bogeys followed on nine, 10 and 11.

Stone was in freefall, but with the advisory words of his father and successful former Sunshine Tour pro Kevin in his mind, the highly-rated prospect showed remarkable composure and mental strength to get back on track, finishing in style with four birdies in his next five holes to reclaim the lead, confirming his victory with nerveless pars on the last two holes.

“It’s incredible to win a tournament that I’ve watched so passionately since I was about five and to have my name on that trophy … you just can’t put a value to it. It’s not meant to be easy, but today was definitely the hardest day of my life. Today was a real roller-coaster, I left every single thing I had out there, which is why I sank down on my knees after the final putt. I was so overcome by emotion, but it’s special.

“I had a stern talk to myself on the 12th tee and a quiet word with my caddy Chris Simmons, who said just get the drive in play. It felt better, like I had been swinging on the first few holes, and there the ball was, middle of the fairway, my favourite yardage. I hit it to six feet and everything just clicked after that,” Stone said.

The winner of the Freddie Tait Cup for leading amateur in the 2011 SA Open, is the first local golfer to win the national open since Hennie Otto’s triumph that year at Serengeti and, in a sure sign that the future of South African golf was in full view on Sunday at Glendower, 21-year-old Christiaan Bezuidenhout finished alone in second place on 12-under-par after an inspired 67 that included seven birdies.

Brooks played solidly but just could not get the birdies he needed in the closing holes to catch Stone, and a bogey on the last left him with a 72 and alone in third place on 11-under.

Family friend Ernie Els, the tournament host but also a mentor for Stone, was in the clubhouse ready to warmly embrace the winner, who is the youngest SA Open champion since the Big Easy’s own breakthrough triumph in 1992 in Houghton.

Stone said a tricky eight-footer for par on the 17th, and a similar length bogey putt he made on the par-three sixth, after his tee shot was short and in the water, was where he won the tournament.

Glendower Golf Club, where Stone lost a lead in the final round of the 2011 SA Amateur Championship, surely saw the unveiling of a new South African golfing superstar on Sunday.

 

 

Mosehle makes it straightforward for the Titans 0

Posted on December 14, 2015 by Ken

 

Mangaliso Mosehle played the innings of his life to set up a straightforward run-chase for the Unlimited Titans and victory over the Sunfoil Dolphins by seven wickets with 19 balls to spare in the RamSlam T20 Challenge final at SuperSport Park in Centurion on Saturday night.

The Titans had sent the Dolphins in to bat and stuck to their basics well as they restricted them to 159 for five in their 20 overs. It was a challenging enough total in a final, but Mosehle blasted 87 off just 39 balls to rush them to their target in only 16.5 overs.

The 25-year-old Mosehle  has always been highly-rated by the Titans, but coach Rob Walter has had to be patient and back the talented Duduza product long after many others have called for him to be dropped. In the nets, Mosehle is one of the cleanest ball-strikers in a team of great batsmen, but, often impetuous, he has struggled to produce innings that really matter.

But he is the sort of batsman who always looks to take the game forward, and on Saturday night he played what could be the defining innings of his career as he slammed six fours and seven sixes to win the final almost single-handedly.

There were enough streaky shots to keep the Dolphins interested, but the skill and talent was abundantly evident as his confidence grew and grew. The highlight of his innings was when he launched a sensational assault on South Africa’s number one T20 spinner, Imran Tahir, hitting the first four balls of the 12th over for six, six, four and six as 28 runs came off the over and all but settled the contest.

“The key for us was to rotate the strike, but after I hit the first one down the ground, it felt good, so I told Henry Davids that I was going to take him on,” was the unassuming Mosehle’s explanation.

By the time Mosehle was out in the 15th over, caught-and-bowled splicing a hook at Kyle Abbott, the Titans needed just 12 runs off 34 balls; the fat lady had not only sung, she was downing beers somewhere in the heaving, festive capacity crowd that gave the final a tremendous atmosphere.

The experienced Davids, who became just the second batsman after Dolphins captain Morne van Wyk to score 2000 RamSlam T20 Challenge runs, was the ideal foil for Mosehle, finding the gaps to rotate the strike as he scored 35 off 38 balls and shared in a record 123-run second-wicket partnership off just 71 deliveries. The previous record for the Titans was 111 between Gulam Bodi and Heino Kuhn against the Highveld Lions at the Wanderers in 2006/7.

Davids was dismissed, caught behind off Abbott, straight after Mosehle fell, but the Dolphins had all but conceded defeat, the talismanic Kevin Pietersen telling Mosehle that his dismissal had merely delayed his drinking time!

Quinton de Kock (12) was dismissed, caught off a leading edge, off Andile Phehlukwayo’s first ball, but that was the last moment of joy for the Dolphins for an hour as Mosehle launched his withering offensive.

Van Wyk had earlier shot out of the blocks as he opened the batting for the Dolphins, scoring 29 off 24 balls as the visitors reached 47 without loss in the powerplay.

The wicketkeeper/batsman had timed the ball beautifully, collecting two fours and two sixes, but was then caught on the cover boundary off Junior Dala, punished for hitting a shot too well.

Young paceman Lungi Ngidi came on for one over midway through the innings and claimed the massive scalp of Pietersen, caught for 10 as David Wiese took a steepling catch on the midwicket boundary with impressive calm.

Davids then really put the Dolphins on the back foot as he removed opener Jonathan Vandiar (26) with his first delivery, leaving them on 76 for three at the start of the 12h over.

West Indian pro Dwayne Bravo, though, finally made his mark on the Dolphins’ season as he scored 53 off 30 balls, a clever innings full of nifty strokes as well as powerful ones, as he and David Miller (33 off 25) added 83 off 53 deliveries.

Titans captain Albie Morkel once again called on eight bowlers and they all had their moments.

Fast bowler Chris Morris was probably the most impressive, although he did not take a wicket in his four overs that cost 30 runs. Dala, the other fast man, took one for 33, while Wiese, called on to bowl the last two overs from the Hennops River End, ended the innings with the wickets of Miller and Bravo off successive deliveries.

But even if both those balls had been hit for six, it would not have stopped the Titans army from marching on, their ninth victory in 11 RamSlam T20 Challenge matches this season indicating a team that is on top of their game, marrying tremendous personnel with a spot-on tactical approach.

http://citizen.co.za/906421/906421/

Nkumane says SA Conference is impossible to pick 0

Posted on July 16, 2015 by Ken

Former Springbok hooker Owen Nkumane is probably one of the better people to ask for SuperRugby tips because he spends much of his life snooping around the franchises in his role as a SuperSport analyst and commentator.

But even someone as knowledgeable as Nkumane believes tipping the winner – even of just the South African Conference – would require calling into service a crystal ball. Typically for a front-ranker, Nkumane has little time for things as flighty as guessing games and prefers to concentrate on the reality of the different franchises’ strengths and weaknesses.

And as a former Lions star, the 1998 UK tourist has most to say about his former team and is particularly interested to see whether they will employ the same brand of expansive rugby that took them to the Currie Cup final.

“I think it’s an exciting season for the Lions because they’ve got the money and the players now, so in a way there can be no excuses and that brings pressure. The element of surprise has gone and I think they’ll need to be a bit more structured and not try and force the issue with ball-in-hand. In a way they might have to be more conservative, they need to get the right balance in their play.

“They’ve got what it takes to break defences so they mustn’t chance it on attack. If they have a three-versus-two, they know how to convert it, whereas other teams will maybe try and force it,” Nkumane cautioned.

Another crucial factor in determining how successful the Lions are will be how coach Johan Ackermann uses flyhalves Marnitz Boshoff and Elton Jantjies.

“That’s going to be crucial and he needs to get the balance right there, like when it comes to running the ball or not. And conditioning and when to peak will also be vital. The Lions play for nine straight weeks and you don’t want the players hitting the wall in April and May. If you do too much now, then the guys will be gatvol in four weeks time,” Nkumane said.

The Bulls and Cheetahs were both major disappointments for Nkumane last season and he sees only one of those franchises having a chance this year.

“The Bulls lost games they should have won and couldn’t get any points away from home last year. But I think they are dark horses.

“The Cheetahs had a wonderful season in 2013 but didn’t come close to competing last year, and their defence is their Achilles heel,” Nkumane said.

The Sharks kissed their SuperRugby chances goodbye last year by not qualifying for a home semi-final and Nkumane says they have to see the season through to its completion and nail down top spot because they have the depth in the squad to do that.

Nkumane believes the Stormers will bring confidence from being Currie Cup champions to the Southern Hemisphere competition, but saying goodbye to long-serving coach Allister Coetzee, who is bound for Japan at the end of the campaign, might serve to motivate them even more.

“The Stormers have a good mix, but winning the Currie Cup does not guarantee success in SuperRugby. Fortunately they found out early about Allister Coetzee leaving and if they have a good start, then that might give them something to play for,” Nkumane said.

Looking to the overseas teams, Nkumane tipped the usual strongholds of the Crusaders, Blues, Reds, Waratahs, Brumbies and Chiefs to be most competitive.

http://citizen.co.za/324783/nkumane-talks-superrugby/



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