for quality writing

Ken Borland



Last rites for sad Bulls with Matfield last link to glory days 0

Posted on December 14, 2016 by Ken

 

The Bulls will complete another sad SuperRugby campaign in Pretoria today against the Cheetahs and, by the end of the game, Victor Matfield could be the last person remaining at Loftus Versfeld with any link to the glory days of 2007-2010 when they won the competition three times in four years.

The Bulls confirmed yesterday that the match against the Cheetahs will be the last for captain Pierre Spies and flyhalf Jacques-Louis Potgieter as they join the overseas exodus of players that will also include Jacques du Plessis, Flip van der Merwe and Akona Ndungane, while Francois Hougaard is heading for Japan but negotiations are underway for him to return for next year’s SuperRugby tournament.

Matfield is not playing against the Cheetahs because he is being rested as per the agreement with the Springbok management, but he has already announced that his playing days will be over after the World Cup.

But the veteran lock is bound to be back at Loftus Versfeld in the new year because he is the favourite to replace Frans Ludeke as coach. The man who was behind the 2009 and 2010 wins faced the Bulls board yesterday in a last-ditch attempt to save his job, but unless there was a late change in heart, Ludeke is also on his way out.

So there will be a sombre mood at Loftus Versfeld tonight, made worse by the knowledge that even a Bulls victory will do little to change their fortunes in another season that has fallen way short of expectations.

At least the rugby on offer could provide some entertainment.

New Cheetahs coach Franco Smith is preaching an expansive, linking style of play, while Spies has stressed how determined the Bulls are to end on a high.

“There’s plenty of motivation because we want to end on a high. If we can get five points and finish in the top eight on the log then the picture looks a bit better. We want to play a good attacking brand of rugby and hold on to the ball for a few more phases. There should be plenty of broken-field play and the Cheetahs love that as well,” Spies said.

Putting their bodies on the line in defence is probably not going to rank too high on either side’s list of priorities, but the Bulls should have a slight edge in motivation as they look to avoid a third defeat on home soil this season.

 

Ruthless AB makes it all look so easy … but it ain’t 0

Posted on April 07, 2015 by Ken

AB de Villiers slamming six after six at the Wanderers and the peaceful surrounds of the Kruger National Park may not have much in common, but seeing as though I was at the Bullring last weekend and I am now in South Africa’s corner of paradise up north, I’m going to link them anyway.

I say the peaceful surrounds of Kruger because it certainly brings a wonderful feeling of wellbeing and there is a sense of the universe being in harmony as you watch the swallows cruising in the sky and zebra and elephant feeding contentedly.

Of course, as children we have this idyllic image of nature, but the truth is that there is a battle for survival going on in the great outdoors every moment, and it’s generally a case of eat or be eaten.

Watching this great show unfold on the plains north of Punda Maria, I was reminded of De Villiers, cricket tragic that I am.

It’s been many years – probably back to 2005/06 when Herschelle Gibbs annihilated the Australians at the same venue – since I have seen an innings at international level in which a batsman so ruthlessly dominated the opposition bowlers.

Much like the peaceful façade going on in Kruger Park, De Villiers made batting look like child’s play on the surface. He seemed to be toying with the bowlers: If he wanted to score on the leg-side, he was able to even if they bowled a metre outside off stump; if he wanted to score on the off-side, there was precious little the West Indians could do about it; on any length, De Villiers was able to hit straight back down the ground.

It may have looked easy, but it most certainly isn’t; it took hours and hours of work in the nets and mastering the mental side of the game, plus an extraordinary talent switched on to close to full power for that innings to happen.

International sport relies on the competition being fierce; these are the top athletes in their chosen sports competing with each other and there needs to be the thrill of the hunt.

Mixed in with the feelings of awe at watching De Villiers bat were pangs of regret that he was making batting look as easy as a hit-about on the beach.

But the fact that De Villiers was so utterly dominant should not detract from his innings – that is his genius, to create another level for himself above the ‘mediocrity’ of international sport. To find or clear the boundary 25 times from 44 balls is an almost super-human feat, but by his own admission, De Villiers has not yet fully explored his talent – there were a handful of dot balls (oh, the horror!) in his innings and some of his fours would have been sixes if they had come entirely out of the meat of the bat.

I was wearing a Proteas shirt driving up to Kruger Park the day after the Wanderers ODI and received several very positive comments from locals living in rural Limpopo which suggests Cricket South Africa, after some acrimonious years of discontent, are doing a great job in spreading the game.

It helps, of course, to have young men like De Villiers providing such incredible entertainment.

 

  • Recent Posts

  • Archives

  • Thought of the Day

    1 Corinthians 3:3 - "For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way?"

    One of my favourite U2 songs is a collaboration with Johnny Cash called The Wanderer, and it features the line "they say they want the kingdom, but they don't want God in it".
    Many people say they believe in God, but they don't experience his loving presence. They may be active in Christian work, but only if they have their way. If they cannot be leaders, they refuse to be involved.
    Because they refuse to allow God to fill their lives with his love, they remain weak and powerless.
    Spiritual maturity means developing a greater love for others.

    "When the love of Christ saturates you, immature attitudes such as pettiness, jealousy and strife are dissolved.
    "It is only when you have an intimate relationship with the Lord that you receive sufficient grace to rise above this immaturity and enjoy the solid food that the Holy Spirit gives you." - Solly Ozrovech, A Shelter From The Storm



↑ Top