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Ken Borland



It was an unpromising start … but Boucher has flourished in new role as coach 0

Posted on May 31, 2017 by Ken

 

As a player, Mark Boucher showed many times that he was a difficult man to rattle, a tenacious character who was at his best when his back was against the wall. But even he was shaken by the start to his coaching career.

Due to a prior commitment to play golf in the prestigious Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland, Boucher was not actually at SuperSport Park when the Titans began their competitive season with a four-day game against the Knights. It started well enough with the Titans securing a 113-run first-innings lead on the opening day.

Boucher was keeping a regular eye on proceedings via his mobile phone and was on the 14th tee box at Carnoustie, rated one of the nastiest courses in the world with a particularly tough stretch of closing holes, when he checked the latest score on the second day of the Sunfoil Series match.

The Titans had been bowled out for 57, their lowest score ever, and Boucher had to phone a friend to check that the extraordinary collapse was, in fact, real.

“On 14, 15, 16 and 17, I hit all my tee shots out of bounds. But I guess it’s one of those things that happens in cricket; the other day the Bangalore Royal Challengers were bowled out for just 49 with Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers and Chris Gayle in their line-up.

“But it wasn’t great to see and I knew the only way the players would really get better is by being very honest about it. But we lost the next game as well, another poor performance, so we had to work really hard at practice and we won the next two games really well, both by an innings, and that was the turnaround,” Boucher told Saturday Citizen.

From the unpromising beginnings of that spluttering start, the Titans dominated the rest of the season. They only just failed to repair the damage of those first two Sunfoil Series losses, finishing only 1.78 points behind the Knights, but claimed the CSA T20 Challenge and Momentum One-Day Cup in convincing fashion.

Boucher modestly suggests he had luxury sedans to deal with in terms of the players at his disposal, but the way he has worked with cricketers from throughout the spectrum – seasoned former internationals, current Proteas, exciting youngsters who have pushed themselves to the brink of international cricket, and those journeymen who are the stalwarts of a team – as well as the media and administrators, has been highly impressive.

“The Titans always had a very successful set-up, the culture was very strong, and I always looked up to them as a player. They’ve had years of good discipline and a good team ethic.

“And they knew how to win. So it was just a case of trying to keep that culture and adding my knowledge. It would be difficult not to be successful with all that talent,” the 40-year-old said.

But he has handled the challenges of balancing a team with the Black players and keeping the left-out White players happy extremely well.

“I knew it would be a challenge, but I’ve enjoyed it. The emphasis has been on team, there are a lot of stars and great players here, but team is what makes it tick. A lot of players who would play every game with the other franchises have had to sit out and in the limited-overs finals Shaun von Berg and David Wiese had to miss out, which was really hard because they both had very good seasons. But they made good with the time they had,” Boucher said.

The nuggety wicketkeeper/batsman had an inspirational effect on his Proteas team-mates and it seems those qualities have transferred to his new career as a coach.

“Not every good player becomes a good coach but I have always enjoyed working with players. Mickey Arthur said I should go help the bowlers with their batting so they could stick around with me in the lower-order, and I spent a lot of time giving Paul Harris, Morne Morkel and Dale Steyn short balls from the bowling machine. They didn’t particularly like it, but it worked!

“So I think there is a bit of that mould in me, but I’m a completely different coach to how I was as a player. I don’t mind using harsh words, but I try to be fair. I had so many coaches in my playing days so my attitude is ‘what would I have liked as a player in this situation?’,” Boucher said.

Surprisingly, he finds the white-knuckle moments the hardest.

“My big challenge is dealing with pressure, it’s twice as bad as the coach because you can’t do anything about it out in the middle! So I have to look in the mirror and tell myself I need to calm down because the players can feed off that. I’m still a young coach and I’m still learning.”

https://www.pressreader.com/south-africa/the-citizen-gauteng/20170520/282497183600083

Bulls will be without unsung hero Paige 0

Posted on June 27, 2016 by Ken

 

Scrumhalf Rudy Paige has probably been the unsung hero of the Bulls’ climb to the top of the South African SuperRugby Conference, but now they are going to have to do without the man who has become their attacking heartbeat for the crunch encounter with the Stormers at Newlands on Saturday.

Paige suffered a grade 1 medial ligament tear of his knee in the impressive win over the Sharks and will be out of action for at least two weeks, coach Frans Ludeke admitting that it is a major blow to his team.

“Rudy’s a very busy player and he gets a lot going for us, especially in terms of go-forward on attack. He brings a lot to our game,” Ludeke said.

The 25-year-old has not only provided a crisp, clean service from the base, but has also impressed with excellent decision-making in terms of who to pass to and when to probe gaps on his own.

Ludeke has two options when it comes to replacing Paige.

Francois Hougaard has played more rugby for the Springboks at scrumhalf than at wing, but the mercurial Paul Roos Gymnasium product has become an integral part of a Bulls back three that has produced some exceptional rugby and Ludeke could well decide not to potentially create two problems by moving him to halfback.

Piet van Zyl’s rugby has gone backwards since he moved to Pretoria, but he is likely to get a chance to shine now, at least for a couple of weeks, in the number nine jersey.

Stormers coach Allister Coetzee is keeping his cards very close to his chest this week, but he will be well aware of some Bulls’ weaknesses this season.

The Bulls are not a side that deals in offloads so the Stormers defence don’t need to worry about that, while, despite upstaging the Sharks last weekend at the breakdown, their record in the rucks has been far inferior to that of the Stormers’ this year.

You know what you’re going to get with the Bulls – the blunt instrument of forwards monotonously carrying the ball up – but it works for them and they have actually scored two more tries than the Stormers thus far in the campaign, even though the Capetonians boast the attacking abilities of Damian de Allende, Cheslin Kolbe, Juan de Jongh and Dillyn Leyds.

 

 

Relief and a tear in the eye 0

Posted on September 29, 2015 by Ken

 

South Africa’s Rugby World Cup victory over Samoa brought relief but soon there was a tear in the eye as the news filtered through that they had lost their captain, Jean de Villiers, one of the great Springboks, for the rest of the tournament. The man with 109 Test caps, 37 of them as skipper, announced his retirement the next day.

De Villiers had, of course, been the centre (pardon the pun) of intense speculation over whether he deserved his place in the team after a run of injuries and a distinct lack of sharpness in the awful loss to Japan. The 34-year-old was shifted to outside centre for the match against Samoa, with Damian de Allende making a massive impact with his hard, direct running over the gain-line and into space in the number 12 jersey.

While De Allende was the man who made the most difference to the Springbok backline, it was heartening that De Villiers was at least able to go out on a high, leading the Springboks to an impressive win and playing well himself.

The Springboks also gained a considerable amount by having Willie le Roux at fullback – he was able to be a second “general” at first-receiver, taking some of the load off young Handre Pollard, while his ability to read space made his intrusions into the backline in wider positions a consistent threat.

Fourie du Preez also provided a top-class service from scrumhalf – one can scarcely recall a single pass going astray – and the veteran 2007 World Cup winner is not only a brilliant reader of the game but also a fantastic enabler in terms of allowing the team to change their tempo.

But where the turnaround for the Springboks came was up front. I said before the match that grunt and physicality up front would be needed against the big, mean and physical Samoans, who carry the ball with an intent not matched by many, and the Springboks really needed all hands on deck at the gain-line, rather than forwards standing out in the backline.

My wife is no connoisseur of the dark arts of forward play and the tight exchanges, but even she noticed how the Springbok pack “really seemed to be playing” against Samoa.

It was most heartening that the first Springbok to step up and lead the way was Victor Matfield, who was a standout figure in the opening exchanges, leading from the front with the sort of talismanic performance coach Heyneke Meyer was no doubt hoping for.

The Springboks showed that they can use the ball on attack as well as anybody, providing their forwards have laid the platform first; they need to earn the right to throw the ball around and there is no shame (and an awful lot of good sense) in playing to your own strengths instead of trying to copy the All Blacks.

The good news for South Africa is that the damage of the Japan loss has almost been undone with the Springboks sitting on seven log-points, thanks to bonus points, only one shy of where they would have wanted to have been heading into this weekend’s game against Scotland.

The campaign is back on an even keel and the relief and joy in the Springbok camp after the Samoa game was obvious. But the level of performance now needs to be raised another notch against Scotland; the consistency of this Springbok team has been a concern throughout the four years of Meyer’s tenure and hopefully, with the pressure now having eased, they don’t slump back into bad habits.

 

 

Rabada announces himself as the future of SA pace 0

Posted on August 26, 2015 by Ken

 

Kagiso Rabada announced himself on Sunday as the man to lead the future South African pace attack as he single-handedly destroyed the Dolphins and set up a resounding 10-wicket win for the bizhub Highveld Lions in their Sunfoil Series match at the Wanderers.

Rabada claimed a phenomenal nine for 33 in 16.2 overs on Sunday to finish with match figures of 14 for 105.

Only one other man has taken 14 wickets in a franchise match and that was Dale Steyn for the Titans against the Eagles in Bloemfontein in 2007/8.

Rabada could well be South Africa’s next great fast bowler, with the 19-year-old confirming all the good things followers of the game are hearing about him with a thunderous performance at the Wanderers.

The Dolphins were bundled out for just 134 by Rabada, leaving the Lions with a target of just 16 to win, those runs being knocked off by openers Stephen Cook and Rassie van der Dussen.

The Dolphins, trailing by 119 runs on first innings, had resumed on 22 for one on Sunday morning after the third day’s play had been limited to just 29.1 overs by bad light and rain, and they were immediately rocked by Rabada having Daniel Sincuba caught behind for four.

The Wanderers pitch was far from her most venomous, but Rabada managed to swing the ball and generated impressive pace, having Cody Chetty (5) caught in the slips in his third over of the day before taking a break.

Rabada’s second spell was the perfect marriage of control, pace and movement as he ripped through the Dolphins lower-order in a dazzling spell of six for 10 in 6.2 overs.

Rassie van der Dussen dived full-length at backward point to catch Morne van Wyk for seven, but the five other batsmen dismissed by Rabada were all bowled or trapped lbw, save for last man Daryn Dupavillon (0), who popped a return catch back to the St Stithians product.

Opener Divan van Wyk was the only Dolphins batsman to resist for long, batting for 204 minutes and scoring 56 before he chopped Rabada into his own stumps.

Rabada is the youngest South African to take 13 wickets in a first-class match and he will surely continue to follow in Steyn’s considerable footsteps.

 



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