for quality writing

Ken Borland



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.

https://www.pressreader.com/south-africa/the-citizen-gauteng/20170513/282578787965088

Talent meeting opportunity at the root of development 0

Posted on May 10, 2017 by Ken

 

Gift Ngoepe has been making headlines this week, giving South African baseball a rare moment in the sun, and his incredible story just goes to prove that talent meeting opportunity should be at the root of all transformation or development efforts in this country.

Ngoepe became the first ever player born in Africa to play Major League Baseball when he turned out for the Pittsburgh Pirates against the Chicago Cubs, the World Series champions, and made a single in his first at-bat, showing his ability as his hit registered the highest velocity off the bat in the whole game, and he then played a part in the double-play that ended the contest and sealed a thrilling 6-5 win for his team.

As is so often the case, nobody could have guessed what talent Ngoepe possessed for the quintessential American game. It was opportunity that unlocked the door and changed his life, leading to him becoming a tremendous role-model for all the less privileged people with sporting dreams in South Africa.

That opportunity came in the most extraordinary, and yet typical, South African way. His mother just happened to be employed as the cleaner at the national baseball headquarters in Randburg and Gift and his younger brother Victor, who plays in the Gulf Coast minor league, stayed with her in a little room on the premises.

Given the opportunity to have a go at this strange sport that is so foreign to most people on the continent, Ngoepe’s talent rapidly became obvious.

Of course there is a gap of several years between that and making history this week, filled with sacrifice, perseverance and a determination to fulfil his dreams. The joy of becoming the sixth South African and the first Black African to sign a professional baseball contract in 2008 gave way to the hard work of spending nine years in the minor leagues.

The magnitude of his achievement and the character of the man is shown by the reaction of both his team-mates and the Cubs to Ngoepe’s special day.

He was warmly greeted by his team-mates when he came on to field at second base and his single was wildly celebrated in the Pirates’ dugout, with chants of “For the Motherland!” and there were tears all round. The Cubs rolled the ball used for the single into the opposition dugout so Ngoepe could keep it as a memento.

The wonderful story of Ngoepe is in stark contrast to the other big sporting news item of the week, the almost certain demise of Lonwabo Tsotsobe.

Once the number one ranked bowler in international limited-overs cricket, Tsotsobe is the latest player to be charged in the corruption web that began with the machinations of Gulam Bodi.

The story of Tsotsobe features all the talent and even more opportunity than Ngoepe’s. The left-arm paceman comes from a well-off family in the Eastern Cape with strong sporting links, his sister Nomsebenzi being a former captain of the national women’s rugby team.

Tsotsobe had all the backing and opportunity in the world, but he lacked the work ethic and determination that so clearly drives Ngoepe. Conditioning, which is really just about hard work, was always a problem for Tsotsobe, and eventually the Proteas management lost patience with him.

Seduced by the bright lights and a glitzy lifestyle, it was perhaps inevitable that Tsotsobe would ultimately fall victim to the lure of easy money.

And yet there are current rising stars like Andile Phehlukwayo and Lungi Ngidi, who stand poised on the edge of stellar international careers having risen above similarly disadvantaged childhoods as Ngoepe, both being the sons of domestic workers.

https://www.pressreader.com/south-africa/the-citizen-gauteng/20170429/282437054017674

New captain misses out but SA women producing more depth 0

Posted on July 15, 2016 by Ken

 

Newly-appointed South African women’s cricket captain Dane’ van Niekerk will miss her team’s first engagement since her appointment as she and three other leading players will not be making the trip to Ireland for a four-match ODI and two-match T20 series in Dublin from 1-11 August.

All-rounder Van Niekerk, fast bowler Shabnim Ismail and batters Marizanne Kapp and Lizelle Lee are the current stars of the South African team and have, deservedly, won contracts to play the England Super League T20 competition.

This is a great opportunity for the country’s top women’s players, who are way behind the men and their own counterparts from places like England, Australia and New Zealand when it comes to being able to make a decent living out of cricket, and, given that the Irish invited the Proteas after they had already been given No Objection Certificates and signed contracts with the Super League, Cricket South Africa have wisely decided to allow them to honour their commitments in England.

The absence of the four stars will also, however, boost CSA’s efforts aimed at producing more depth in the women’s national team.

“We see this as a good opportunity to give our young, up-and-coming players some vital international experience,” coach Hilton Moreeng said. “This will help us with the depth of the side and it will be a good test to see what they have to offer, especially after campaigning for a place in the side for so long. All of them have represented South Africa before and will value the opportunity to play more cricket against a good Ireland side on foreign soil.”

The South Africans will have a well-travelled replacement captain in Dinesha Devnarain, who leads the KZN side and is also a leading coach, one of only eight women in the country with a Level III certificate.

There is still plenty of top-class talent in the side with former captain Mignon du Preez, Trisha Chetty, Ayabonga Khaka, Marcia Letsoalo, Chloe Tryon, Moseline Daniels and Sune Luus all included in the touring party.

Medium-pacer Letsoalo said there is a hunger in the side to ensure they do not make the same mistakes as last season.

“We can improve, we know what we’re capable of. We let ourselves down last season, we know the mistakes we made and we’re working hard not to repeat them. It boils down to preparation and fitness, and being able to execute. You have to be wise and able to perform in the game.

“Having a strong batting department is the key thing we have been working on at the centre of excellence academy, batting long hours, rectifying the mistakes and weaknesses. The bowlers must just keep doing what we’re doing,” Letsoalo said.

 

Team: Dinesha Devnarain (KZN), Trisha Chetty (Gauteng), Mignon du Preez (Northerns), Lara Goodall (Boland), Ayabonga Khaka (Border), Yolani Fourie (Gauteng), Marcia Letsoalo (Northerns), Andrie Steyn (Western Province), Laura Wolvaardt (Western Province), Masabata Klaas (Northerns), Chloe Tryon (KZN), Moseline Daniels (Boland), Suné Luus (Northerns), Odine Kirsten (Northerns).

 

Fixtures: 1 August – 1st T20I (YMCA); 3 August – 2nd T20I (YMCA); 5 August – 1st ODI (Merrion); 7 August – 2nd ODI (YMCA); 9 August – 3rd ODI (Malahide); 11 August – 4th ODI (The Hills).

 

Stats & personal experience show new quotas are a mixed success 0

Posted on February 29, 2016 by Ken

 

Hopefully this year Cricket South Africa (CSA) will call in the consultants and the experts before making any decisions about transformation quotas in franchise cricket, but something that happened in the lift at the Wanderers suggests this season’s increased targets have been a mixed success.

It was after the T20 international against England and a group of youngish Black African fans, three guys and a woman, walked into the lift in animated, festive mood, having obviously had a good evening.

They were raving about the whole Wanderers stadium experience and one of them said “I’ve actually been to the Wanderers more times this season than I ever have before!”

Now, considering that there have only been three international matches in Johannesburg this summer, that tells you that the demographic most sought after by CSA is coming to franchise matches, which is surely a good thing.

I had a more scientific look at the situation via the averages and they show that there are several Black African bowlers of quality. The Knights are challenging for the Sunfoil Series title thanks to the efforts of Mbulelo Budaza, Tumi Masekela and Malusi Siboto, who have taken 39 wickets between them at an average of 15.25 at the halfway mark, providing superb support for Duanne Olivier (19 wkts @ 14.84).

Ethy Mbhalati is top of the Titans averages with 18 wickets at an average of 17, while, in the Momentum One-Day Cup, Siboto is the leading wicket-taker with 19, Junior Dala is third with 16, Tshepo Moreki has 15 scalps and Sisanda Magala 14. Eddie Leie and Andile Phehlukwayo have both taken 11 wickets, while Pumelela Matshikwe and Aaron Phangiso have been amongst the most economical bowlers in the competition, helping the Highveld Lions to the final.

Some of the same names featured prominently in the RamSlam T20 Challenge, with Magala finishing with the second-most wickets, Phangiso and Siboto having outstanding campaigns in terms of both wickets and economy, while Leie and Phehlukwayo were both among the leading wicket-takers. Lungi Ngidi showed promise in seven matches for the Titans.

But in terms of the bowlers, we already knew that was where the Black African talent is concentrated. Where are the batsmen looking to follow Temba Bavuma?

An average of 39 for Omphile Ramela is a bit disappointing for him considering he averaged 48 for the Cape Cobras last season, while there have been brief flashes of brilliance from Mangaliso Mosehle with his spectacular match-winning innings in the T20 final, Khaya Zondo in the One-Day Cup and Letlotlo Sesele, Thami Tsolekile and Somila Seyibokwe here and there.

To be fair though, the batting averages are dominated in general by the old guard – Vilas, Petersen, Cook, Kuhn, Ontong, Smit and Ingram.

As predicted in this column before the season started, coloured players are the ones losing out most in terms of opportunity and CSA are going to have to undergo a thorough review with the franchise coaches, players’ association and Corrie van Zyl’s cricket department to properly unpick the effects of a new system that was implemented on the whim of an individual.

There is currently a lot of negativity around South African domestic cricket, but to some extent the quality of local competition has always ebbed and flowed.

What is clear is that some of the sternest critics are sourcing their information from the sort of people who thought Geoff Toyana fielding for the Lions last week was due to quotas. What nonsense, especially since it was a White student who eventually replaced the coach as an emergency 12th man, forced into duty due to two injuries, one in the warm-up and one in the first half-hour.

These are the same sort of people who think protesters interrupting a rugby match is racist. How on earth does that make sense unless they believe rugby actually belongs to white people?

Fortunately cricket is further down the road away from that attitude. If the majority of the population love cricket, it can only be good for the game.

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  • 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



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