for quality writing

Ken Borland

Umhlanga Lagoon Nature Reserve 0

Posted on October 24, 2017 by Ken


Nestled between the rampant development of Umhlanga Rocks is a little 26 ha sanctuary of coastal bush, a refuge for birds and small mammals amidst all the hotels and holiday homes that are mushrooming along the coast north of Durban.

The Umhlanga Lagoon Nature Reserve, with its coastal dune forest, reed beds, ponds and the Ohlange River’s lagoon and mouth, provides an ideal getaway for the public to spend a few hours reconnecting with nature, and there are plenty of interesting birds waiting to be discovered.

The Eastern Olive Sunbird is largely restricted to these coastal forests and it disappears readily into the thick foliage, it’s dark olive plumage lacking any of the metallic shininess of the other sunbirds.

But it makes up for this unobtrusive behaviour by being amongst the most vocal of all sunbirds, and, in a couple of hours spent in the Umhlanga Lagoon Nature Reserve, I managed to find four different individuals singing little “whit-peep” songs from inside the trees.

As charming as the reserve is though, one cannot help but be dismayed by the pace of development squeezing it from all sides; the difference between my January 2014 visit and my previous foray to Umhlanga in 2003 was stark.

A Purplecrested Lourie flew into a bare tree above the forest and seemed to look around anxiously, seemingly perplexed by all the development going on around the oasis of green.

Nevertheless, three species of Weaver can be found in the reserve, including nesting Yellow Weavers, and there were fleeting glimpses of Tawnyflanked Prinia, as well as a Slender Mongoose scampering away into the reedbeds, just proving the wide range of habitats these carnivores can inhabit.

Common Sandpiper and Pied Kingfisher are prominent along the lagoon, while there always seems to be a Goliath Heron around.

Thickbilled Weaver can either be found nesting in the reeds or foraging on the way back through the forest.

Sightings list

Cape Wagtail

Spottedbacked Weaver

Blackeyed Bulbul

Yellow Weaver

Tawnyflanked Prinia

Purplecrested Lourie

Eastern Olive Sunbird

Cape White-Eye

Sombre Bulbul

Southern Red Bishop

Slender Mongoose

Common Sandpiper

Pied Kingfisher

Blackheaded Heron

Goliath Heron

Hadeda Ibis

Bronze Mannikin

Thickbilled Weaver


A passionate, top-class SA coach without a job 0

Posted on May 24, 2017 by Ken


Despite a poor final year in charge of the Springboks, there is little doubt Heyneke Meyer remains a top-class coach and it is a symptom of a sick South African rugby system that the 49-year-old is without a full-time coaching job despite making it clear that he still wants to make a difference to the game in this country.

Meyer was back at Loftus Versfeld a couple of days ago to launch the Beachcomber World Club 10s, a unique tournament for professional teams in a social environment, that will be held in Mauritius next month, but there is no doubt he still harbours a burning desire to be involved in the cauldron of top quality rugby again judging by the passion with which he answered a range of questions on South African rugby.

Although a great admirer of New Zealand rugby and a personal friend of All Blacks coach Steve Hansen, Meyer makes a good point when he says a drive to play like the Kiwis do is a case of chasing the wind for South African rugby.

He reckons it will take us 10 years to catch up to their style of play, by which time their game will have evolved and they will still be 10 years ahead of South Africa. It is perhaps a symptom of our insecurity as a nation that we are always trying to copy other teams – in the early 2000s it was Australian rugby that was the flavour of the month.

Meyer, who has been working with plenty of New Zealanders and Fijians in his part-time role as coach of the Asia Pacific Dragons team, points to a higher innate skills level as one of the main reasons South Africans will find it very difficult to emulate the free-flowing, expansive style of the Kiwis.

“South Africans don’t have the same natural understanding of space that they do, but I truly believe any of our teams can still beat a New Zealand team, especially at home. But if we try and follow them then we’ll never be the best in the world. We have to rediscover what we stand for and play South African rugby – brilliant set-pieces, driving, strong defence. We must do what we’re good at and kick intelligently, not just kick the ball away,” Meyer said.

The national coach from 2012 to 2015 made the point that ex-Springbok coaches are practically driven out of the country and pointed to Eddie Jones travelling from Australia to South Africa and now to England as an example of the value of experience, even if it comes from losing a few games.

“Eddie lost eight games in a row with Australia and was fired, he then helped the Springboks and learnt a lot there. In fact England are now playing like the Boks used to – they have great set-pieces, a great defence and kicking game, they still score tries and they’re on a winning run. It would be 50/50 right now between them and the All Blacks.”

Many observers have pointed to the speed at which New Zealand teams play the game and Meyer said this difference was most marked towards the end of matches, due to the superior fitness of the Kiwis.

“The All Blacks have always been superior in terms of fitness. We have big, strong guys, but it’s harder to get them fit. New Zealand have smaller but more mobile players and they run you ragged in the last 10-15 minutes. Central contracting means Steve Hansen knows the fitness of all his players and whether they need to rest or work harder.

“But you can’t do major fitness work if your players are tired or injured and our guys going overseas makes it very difficult, I’m very concerned about all the guys in Japan because you can’t play for 12 months. Before the last World Cup, I did not see the players for eight months so I asked for fitness reports from the franchises and nobody sent them in.

“So when I got the players I knew we were in trouble and the guys were not fit for the first game against Japan. But the All Blacks get to rest for three months after SuperRugby, so they’re super-fit for the next year, but we’re playing Currie Cup or in Japan. It’s very difficult for the South African coaches,” Meyer said.

Cheetahs can surprise everyone with attack variations – Reinach 0

Posted on March 24, 2017 by Ken


Everyone knows that the Cheetahs are an attacking side, but Sharks scrumhalf Cobus Reinach says his team are wary of all the little variations to their game coach Franco Smith could have up his sleeve for their SuperRugby clash in Bloemfontein on Saturday.

“Franco Smith has brought in a lot of different attacking lines, they don’t just go from wide to wide anymore. So that’s going to keep us on our feet, the Cheetahs have a lot of good attacking players and it’s a good challenge for us to have. The Cheetahs have a lot of exciting players and they can really bring anything to the party,” Reinach said.

The Sharks surprised – in a bad way – in their match last weekend against the Southern Kings, struggling to a two-point victory in which they made far too many errors and showed little fluency. While insisting that the team had moved forward since that setback, Reinach agreed that the performance was no laughing matter.

“We’ve put that match behind us, but it certainly was not the way we want to perform, it was a below-par display. It’s about attitude and we let ourselves down. We need to get our mental preparation right and make sure we’re up for every game. We train in a squad system so making changes to the team should not influence how we play, we all know the calls and when to do things and what not to do,” Reinach said.

Little goes right for Lions, hammered by Knights 0

Posted on June 19, 2015 by Ken

Little went right for the bizhub Highveld Lions as they were hammered by seven wickets with 12 overs to spare by the Chevrolet Knights in their Momentum One-Day Cup match at the Wanderers on Friday night.

Set a mediocre 228 for victory, the Knights had little trouble registering a crucial bonus-point win, reaching 229 for three in 38 overs.

As disciplined and probing as they were with the ball in sunlight, the Knights were ruthless with the bat under floodlights, with Gerhardt Abrahams, Rudi Second and Pite van Biljon all scoring bright half-centuries.

Van Biljon was there at the end with 51 not out off 58 balls, alongside Obus Pienaar (25*), their unbeaten 53-run stand providing the finishing touches to a tremendous victory.

Having produced a terrible batting display in meandering to 227 for nine in their 50 overs, the Lions began awfully with the ball.

Hardus Viljoen, on his return from long-term injury, was here, there and everywhere. He bowled four wides in the first over, which went for 12 runs, and added three more wides and a couple of no-balls in his second.

Pumelela Matshikwe also struggled, conceding 31 runs in his opening spell of four overs, and the Knights were quickly away.

Viljoen managed to get one ball on target in his opening burst, Lefa Mosena edging to second slip to be caught for six, but there was precious little for the Lions to cheer about for the next 17 overs as Abrahams and Second added 107 off 108 balls.

Abrahams, who was brought into the side to replace SA A batsman Reeza Hendricks, was dashing and able to put away the bad delivery as he raced to 62 off 54 balls with 10 fours, before he was bowled by wrist-spinner Eddie Leie attempting a big slog-sweep.

There was no respite for the Lions, however, as Second and Van Biljon continued scoring freely, another 39 runs being added before Second was also bowled by Leie, although he was deceived by a yorker. The wicketkeeper scored a fine 55 off 78 balls, with seven fours.

The scoring slowed down during the partnership between Van Biljon and Pienaar, but the Knights had no reason to rush with the bonus point always well in their sights.

Viljoen returned and was struck for successive boundaries by Van Biljon to end the game, conceding 60 runs in his seven overs, to perhaps suggest he was rushed back into action too early.

Leie tried enthusiastically to get the Lions back in the game, taking two for 48 in nine overs, while Kagiso Rabada was tidy, conceding just 37 runs in his nine overs.

The five points for the win lifts the Knights back into contention on 13 points in fifth place, now just two behind the Lions.

The Highveld Lions never got out of first gear before falling away badly in the middle overs, and, on the same pitch on which South Africa scored billions of runs just two weeks ago, they could never get close to a run-a-ball, despite a solid platform laid by the top three.

The Knights won the toss and gave the Lions batsmen first use of a bare, bouncy pitch and openers Stephen Cook and Rassie van der Dussen gave the home side an ideal start by bringing up their fifty partnership off 66 balls.

A shifting of gears was required but Cook (34 off 39, 5×4) tried to pull a delivery from fast bowler Quinton Friend and, cramped for time and space, he could only dolly a simple catch to midwicket.

Alviro Petersen came in and looked top-class as he cruised to 39 off 51 balls, with five fours, before paceman Dillon du Preez held on to a sharp return catch.

The Lions were still in a strong position on 124 for two after 28 overs, but a dramatic middle-order collapse then ensued as they slumped to 162 for seven in the 41st over.

Van der Dussen’s 57 off 90 balls was a passable effort in terms of building a foundation, but he needed to go on and anchor the innings. Instead he became one of three wickets to fall in four deliveries as he drove outside off stump and was caught behind off Shadley van Schalkwyk.

Temba Bavuma (3), caught trying to pull Du Preez, Neil McKenzie (15), top-edging a sweep off Werner Coetsee, and Dwaine Pretorius, caught behind for a duck off Van Schalkwyk as he wafted outside off stump, all made little impression.

Viljoen was brilliantly caught by a diving Michael Erlank in the covers for 10 off Du Preez.

Thami Tsolekile (34) and Rabada (22) did at least add 49 off 45 balls for the eighth wicket to give the Lions something to bowl at, but the probing Knights bowlers remained in control throughout the innings.

Du Preez was outstanding with four for 34 in 10 overs – yes, he even bowled yorkers regularly at the death – while Van Schalkwyk (10-2-43-2) and Friend (10-1-45-1) could also be happy with their contributions.

  • Recent Posts

  • Archives

  • Thought of the Day

    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."

    The lessons Christ taught were intensely spiritual, but also extremely practical. For him, everything - every thought and deed - was an expression of his relationship with his heavenly Father. All of our life must be an expression of the spiritual.

    "I wait upon God to renew my mind, to make me creative, instead of becoming the clanging cymbal that Paul spoke of." - Paul Tournier

    "The spiritual life touches the realities of every day and enables you to look, to a certain extent, at people's problems as God does." - Solly Ozrovech

↑ Top