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Ken Borland



Top of the log speaks volumes for Dragons’ clinical edge 0

Posted on November 30, 2017 by Ken

 

It speaks volumes for the new clinical edge in Sihle Ntuli’s Drakensburg Dragons side that last year’s Premier Hockey League wooden-spoonists overcame vastly different challenges to win both their games and top the men’s log after the opening weekend of the 2017 competition at the Randburg Astro.

In their opening game, the Dragons hammered last year’s runners-up, the Addo Elephants, 4-0, defending stoutly and being ruthless in finishing their chances at the other end.

The next day, they had to survive the anxiety of a shootout to beat the Golden Gate Gladiators 3-1, after the match ended 2-2 after full time.

“The biggest disappointment last year was that if we look at all our games, we actually outplayed our opponents. The stats were in our favour but we just didn’t convert, so for us to come away with four goals was a really good start to our tournament.  A big thing for us was to not concede – that’s a very good sign for us. The Elephants team have some good players up front so it was a great defensive effort,” coach Ntuli said.

In the women’s tournament, the defending champion Blyde River Bunters ensured that they finished the first weekend on top of the standings as they beat the Namaqualand Daisies SA U21 side in a washed out match that had to be decided by a shootout, and then beat the St Lucia Lakers 3-1 thanks to a brace from Thati Segaole.

“The conditions were difficult to play flowing hockey. There were a couple of concepts that we did very well though. We’ve just got to do a few tweaks and I’m happy that we can do that. So I have all the confidence in the world that we will get better as the tournament progresses,” coach Lindsey Wright said.

 

Those were the days of struggle & now Benkenstein is back 0

Posted on November 29, 2017 by Ken

 

New Proteas batting coach Dale Benkenstein’s last involvement with the national cricket set-up was 15 years ago, in October 2002, when he played his 23rd and final ODI for South Africa against Bangladesh in Benoni, perhaps a suitably low-key finale to an international playing career that promised much but was never brought to full bloom.

Those were the days when South African cricket was still recovering from the demise and tragic death just four months previously of Hansie Cronje, the much-admired captain who was then exposed as a match-fixer.

Those were also the days when the World Cup curse was really starting to engulf the South African team – Benkenstein was watching from the changeroom as a non-playing squad member when they threw away their 1999 semifinal against Australia in farcical circumstances and was a spectator at Kingsmead in 2003 when the shambles over their understanding of the Duckworth/Lewis calculations knocked them out of the tournament.

Benkenstein, having marked himself out as a natural leader with his captaincy of the SA U19 side, was given the reins of a star-studded Natal team at the age of just 22 and did such a great job that he quickly became the heir apparent to Cronje in the national team.

But those were also the days when there appeared to be a tendency for the existing captain to suppress the development of his closest rival: Under Cronje’s watch, Benkenstein was never really given a fair chance to establish himself in the national team. He would play one or two games and then be left out, or would be shifted up and down the batting order, in a manner that seemed to suggest life was being made as tough as possible for him.

Neil McKenzie, similarly, seemed to struggle to hold down a place while Shaun Pollock was skipper and it was Graeme Smith who finally ended the trend as he actively pushed for McKenzie’s return to the national team.

Benkenstein did have his shortcomings as an international batsman – but almost all batsmen at that level have weaknesses which they work hard to avoid being exposed. But those very flaws help make the 43-year-old an excellent batting coach because he understands the dynamics of technique and the massive importance of the mental side of batting, having wrestled with those issues himself.

The best coaches are often not the former players with the best records, simply because they have empathy for the struggling cricketer, and Graham Ford, who played such a key role in the development of players such as Benkenstein, Pollock, Jonty Rhodes and Lance Klusener at Natal, is the prime example of that.

Benkenstein and the new Proteas head coach, Ottis Gibson, are former team-mates at Durham, the English county that was only elevated into top-level cricket in 1992, and it was the arrival of the Natal captain that ended years of disappointment and elevated them into a force in the UK. So the West Indian is well aware of his new batting coach’s inspirational qualities, and he and Benkenstein added 315 for the seventh wicket in 2006 to avoid relegation. Gibson played a major role with the ball in the trophies won thereafter.

Given that South Africa’s World Cup struggles are symptomatic of muddled mental skills at key times, the arrival of one of the clearest thinkers on the game can only be a positive.

But one hopes that the skills of McKenzie, another ex-Protea who brings immense value to the changeroom, will not be lost to South African cricket now that Benkenstein has taken his place in the national set-up.

The appointment of Malibongwe Maketa as the assistant coach is also pleasing as the development of Black African coaches is vital if the transformation of South African cricket is to progress, but one obviously feels for Geoff Toyana, the Highveld Lions coach who seemed certain to be involved with the national team in some capacity.

The acquisition of a few more domestic trophies will certainly keep Toyana’s name in the conversation to succeed Gibson, however.

https://www.pressreader.com/south-africa/the-citizen-gauteng/20171125/282325385282186

‘You can’t ask for much better’ – Gibson 0

Posted on November 01, 2017 by Ken

 

“When you come in as a new coach, you can’t ask for much better,” Proteas mentor Ottis Gibson said on Monday when asked how he rated South Africa’s performance in their triple-series sweep over Bangladesh that was completed over the weekend.

“When you consider the way we played, I’d like to give the team more than 10/10. It’s gone really well. I know there’s been a lot of talk about the opposition, but we were able to play dominating, front-foot cricket, while also unearthing some new talent like Aiden Markram and Wiaan Mulder.

“We played the way we wanted to play, we were able to go out and do that, and there’s been a very positive and relaxed vibe in the changeroom. I’ve built up a really nice relationship with Faf du Plessis, he’s honest and very passionate about representing and leading his country. We speak with the same voice and he’s been a very good sounding board,” Gibson said.

The former West Indies fast bowler confirmed that he will be looking after the specialist pace bowling coaching from now on, and he can rest easy that the batsmen are back on the right track given how well they have started the summer with runs aplenty.

“The batting was a huge positive, because there were a lot of questions asked about it in England, they had a tough time in tough conditions that they weren’t accustomed to. I would hope that their confidence is back now because we have scored 10 hundreds across the different formats. It says a lot for the ability and talent of the batsmen that they’ve been able to go out and dominate.”

Gibson said he would still be employing four other back-up coaches – an assistant, and specialist batting, field and spin-bowling consultants.

“It’s quite likely that there will be new faces, I will do the fast bowling myself and I’ve spoken to Charl Langeveldt about that. I’ve given Cricket South Africa my wish-list, guys who I believe can add value, and they now have to make that happen.

“I want to make more use of guys who are working in South Africa, I want to use the franchise system so that those guys can continue with the work if I leave. So there will be four guys plus myself, some key positions that I hope can make a real difference to the country. But I also want to set up a lead bowling and batting coach for the country as a whole, a person who can tell me who the next best fast bowler is, for instance,” Gibson said.

Long shot Nips in at end of T20GL draft 0

Posted on September 11, 2017 by Ken

 

Kyle Nipper, the 29-year-old Dolphins all-rounder, was watching the closing stages of the T20 Global League draft on Sunday, thinking that it was becoming an increasingly long shot that he would be involved in the much-anticipated new tournament that starts on November 3.

Nipper, slow left-arm orthodox and a left-handed batsman, lives in Pietermaritzburg and, just like the famous last runner to beat the clock in the Comrades Marathon that ends every second year in the KwaZulu-Natal capital, he was the focus of sporting drama on Sunday as he was the last of the 144 players chosen in the draft in Cape Town, picked by outgoing Proteas coach Russell Domingo for the Pretoria Mavericks.

“I had been out on the golf course during the day and once I got home I started streaming the draft. It was quite nerve-wracking and I thought it wasn’t going to happen for me, so it was a pleasant surprise to be the last guy chosen. I’m extremely excited about this tournament,” Nipper said on Sunday evening.

Nipper has spent a long time on the fringes of the Dolphins squad, having made his debut for them back in 2009/10, but has never made a fool of himself at franchise level, with an economy rate of 7.88 with the ball in the dozen T20 Challenge matches he has played.

And now he is part of a squad that includes global superstars like AB de Villiers, Dwayne Bravo and Morne Morkel, as well as fellow spinners Keshav Maharaj and Johan Botha, the veteran former Proteas captain now based in Australia.

“I have no concerns about being in Pretoria, I would have taken anywhere. I feel like I am part of KZN and I’ve tried to be loyal as a homegrown player, although I am a bit disappointed that I haven’t played more because I believe I’ve proven myself more than I had to.

“But it’s awesome to be chosen by the Proteas coach, hopefully he’s seen a bit of potential in me. Obviously they know what they want and it’s nice to be involved in their plans. I hope I get to play a couple of games, but I’m very happy for Kesh, he’s taken to the international stage so well, he’s got that experience now and someone like Johan Botha has been around the world. So I’m very keen just to learn a bit more from them,” Nipper said.

 

https://citizen.co.za/sport/south-africa-sport/sa-cricket-sport/1629755/the-long-shot-that-nipped-in-last-in-the-t20-global-league-draft/

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