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Ken Borland



Relax people, Hashim Amla is back to his best 0

Posted on May 15, 2017 by Ken

 

Proteas batting coach Neil McKenzie said on Monday that people were justified in feeling some concern over Hashim Amla’s batting form, but that they can all relax now because the Bearded Wonder has shown he is back to his best with two centuries in the Indian Premier League.

Amla slammed an aggressive 104 off just 60 balls for the Punjab Kings XI against the Gujarat Lions at the weekend, having two weeks earlier made the same score off the same number of deliveries in an unbeaten knock against the Mumbai Indians. Amazingly, Amla ended on the losing side in both games, the first player to suffer this fate twice in IPL history, while he is only the third batsman after Chris Gayle (2011) and Virat Kohli (3 in 2016) to score multiple centuries in an IPL season.

“Hashim’s form had dipped, he was only averaging 30 in ODIs and Tests over the last 18 months, his form was a little erratic and people aren’t used to that. But you can’t keep a player of his quality down for long. He sets such high standards for himself but this happens in cricket and his returns have not been what he would have expected and it went on for longer than he would have liked. But to score two hundreds in an IPL season is a serious feat,” McKenzie told The Citizen on Monday.

The Highveld Lions and Proteas stalwart disputed the theory that Amla’s dip in form had anything to do with any weakening of the eyes, but put it down to slight changes in the batsman’s approach.

“I don’t buy that business about the eyes going, Hashim’s only 34. But if you look at how he’s been working on being ultra-positive, his power-hitting and the areas he’s hitting the ball, then it’s like a golfer who changes his swing: you sometimes need to go through that little dip, you just need time to work it all out.

“There hasn’t been any drastic change in Hashim’s batting and it’s just a matter of finding the right balance. In 20/20 cricket he’s looking to play some shots, to take it on, and it’s freed him up. Previously he’s just batted normally and he’s been really good for us in 50-over cricket as our banker, batting aggressively but playing his own game and taking us through 30 or 40 overs. That’s worked well and when he scores hundreds for the Proteas, we normally win,” McKenzie, who was still scoring plenty of first-class runs in his 40s, said.

Most pleasingly, it means Amla will now take great form into the Champions Trophy, which starts in England on June 1.

“He’ll be really happy to be taking runs into the Champions Trophy and you want your huge players like him going into tournaments with a lot of confidence, and it gives the team confidence as well. We have a lot of matchwinners and we just need one or two of them to find some serious form. We know we’ve got the players, and now it’s just a matter of timing, form and some luck,” McKenzie said.

 

 

 

How to play Dale Steyn – according to Neil McKenzie 0

Posted on August 05, 2015 by Ken

 

Dale Steyn became the quickest to 400 Test wickets in terms of the number of deliveries bowled at the weekend and former Proteas star and Highveld Lions stalwart Neil McKenzie had some advice for the many batsmen who have fallen to the great fast bowler’s skills and the many who will try and play him in future.

McKenzie, who played 58 Tests and occasionally crossed swords with Steyn on the domestic circuit, said the key to facing the fiery 32-year-old lay in punishing the few bad balls that come your way and being able to handle the short-pitched delivery.

“Of course the batsman is always up against it against Dale, but if you can jump all over the occasional bad ball that comes your way then it helps release the pressure. You’ve also got to be able to play the short ball well because Dale uses that a lot. He has more of a skiddy bouncer, but he uses it to take away the batsman’s feet and the follow-up ball or two deliveries later is often the one that gets the wicket. So the feet have to be working well,” McKenzie told The Citizen.

The scorer of more than 19 000 first-class runs and maker of centuries in England, India, Bangladesh, the Netherlands, Zimbabwe, New Zealand, Australia, Sri Lanka and South Africa said what made Steyn special as a bowler was his ability to even be a threat on true batting pitches.

“What makes Dale such a great bowler is that he has weapons for whatever pitch, whatever the conditions are. If the pitch is seaming, he can obviously use that, if there’s bounce he uses that, if there’s swing he’s a master of moving it both ways, both conventional and reverse swing. If the pitch is slow or flat, then he has the skills to still be dangerous. That’s the ultimate bowler, McKenzie said.

 

 



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