for quality writing

Ken Borland



Du Toit looks to Stormers after turning back on Sharks 0

Posted on August 10, 2017 by Ken

 

Springbok lock Pieter-Steph du Toit looks set to become a Stormers player after announcing his decision on Tuesday to leave the Sharks at the end of October.

Du Toit was scouted by the Sharks while still at school at Swartland High School in Malmesbury, but the highly-promising 22-year-old has proven injury-prone with two serious knee injuries in the last two years.

Having earlier said he owed loyalty to the Sharks for looking after him during these tough times, it now seems he is going to Cape Town. The Stormers have not officially confirmed his signing but did reveal two weeks ago that they were negotiating with him.

“Our medical team has invested immense time and effort into Pieter-Steph’s rehabilitation and recovery process and we are saddened to lose him, but I guess we cannot hold the player back if he has made up his mind,” Sharks CEO John Smit said.

Du Toit is believed to be in a relationship with a physiotherapist that works with the Stormers.

On the plus side for the Sharks, they have confirmed powerhouse flank Marcell Coetzee has signed for another two years.

Proteas selectors have some tough decisions to make 0

Posted on August 31, 2015 by Ken

 

South Africa have only really done what was expected of them in beating an under-strength New Zealand team in their one-day series and their selectors still have some tough decisions to make for their tour of India in October.

Sure, South Africa were missing players as well, but only a trio – JP Duminy, Morne Morkel and Faf du Plessis – compared to the half-dozen stars the Black Caps were without, including tone-setting batsman Brendon McCullum, middle-order kingpin Ross Taylor and strike bowlers Trent Boult and Tim Southee.

So, playing at home, one would have expected the Proteas to win the series, which they did with an impressive performance in Durban.

But with Duminy, Morkel and Du Plessis all set to return for the five ODIs in India, the selectors have to decide how to fit them back into the squad.

Their most pressing issue is that they still have not solved the all-rounder problem.

David Wiese was unable to have any impact with the bat, scoring just 34 runs in three innings at a strike-rate of 72, and he also met his match in the New Zealand batsmen, conceding over seven runs an over, although he did make an improved contribution with the ball in the win in Durban, taking three wickets.

He bowled 20 overs in those three games and whether he met the expectations of the selectors remains to be seen … their deliberations for the India tour squad will surely also involve Duminy taking Wiese’s place or maybe even giving Ryan McLaren or Chris Morris another go.

One player who most certainly proved himself in the series against New Zealand was Farhaan Behardien.

The 31-year-old has been one of the best finishers in domestic cricket for the last few years and showed that ability with his calm knocks of 70 off 87 balls in Potchefstroom and 40 off 28 deliveries in Durban.

Behardien is seemingly one of those sportsmen that has to work doubly hard to win over the demanding South African public; I’m reminded of Springbok fullback Zane Kirchner in that respect.

The strength of Behardien is his ability to play a dual role – he can play the role of supporting batsman, rotating the strike, for a top-order player who is set, and he can clear the boundary himself in the closing stages. Throw in a couple of overs of medium-pace and his fielding skills and it is clear Behardien is a useful limited-overs package.

Obviously the returns of Duminy and Du Plessis will put his place in the starting XI in danger, but Behardien is the type of player the Proteas should be very happy to have in their squad.

The other big selection decision is whether to persevere with Morne van Wyk after his half-century in Durban. Although the conditions were testing, Van Wyk’s 58 was on the slow side, coming off 100 deliveries and the way he struggled against the slower bowlers, when the ball was not coming on to the bat, suggests the Indian tour could also be a tough one for him.

There seems little point in delaying the return of Quinton de Kock, who went away and did everything the selectors would have asked of him by scoring three centuries for SA A in those same Indian conditions.

While he is certain to be in the squad, the place of David Miller in the starting team could also be on the table after the left-hander continued his run without a half-century to 11 innings, going back to the unbeaten century he scored against Zimbabwe in the opening game of the World Cup. In his defence though, there have been two 49s, a 46 not out and a 44 in that run.

 

Titans claim 1st franchise trophy of new season 0

Posted on September 15, 2014 by Ken

The Unlimited Titans already have a franchise trophy in their cabinet and it’s not even October as they claimed the inaugural Global Softech Sixes title in a thrilling final at SuperSport Park yesterday.

The Titans, having won all three of their games on the first day, were knocked over by both the Knights and Cape Cobras yesterday and, with three teams ending on six points, they had to rely on the Highveld Lions beating the Knights in the last round-robin match in order for them to sneak into the final against the Dolphins.

The Titans batsmen were utterly clinical after being sent into bat in the final with captain Henry Davids setting the tone by hitting spinner Keshav Maharaj’s first three balls for six.

Mangaliso Mosehle then hammered off-spinner Thandi Tshabalala for four successive sixes in the second over and retired on 33 off just seven balls, with Farhaan Behardien (36 not out off 10 balls, 5x6s) and David Wiese (35 retired off seven balls, 5x6s) then picking up the cudgels as the Titans posted 126 for one, the highest total in the Franchise Challenge.

The Titans bowlers were considerably less focused, however, and the Dolphins raced to 94 for one in the first three overs of their chase, Wiese conceding 25 runs, Davids 33 and Dean Elgar 36 in an over that included six sixes and a no-ball.

Morne van Wyk, farcically omitted from the South African team to play in the Africa Challenge over the weekend because it was chosen before this tournament even started, was again the chief destroyer, belting five sixes in his 35 retired off just seven deliveries.

But left-arm spinner Roelof van der Merwe then produced a magnificent over, firing the ball into the blockhole, conceding just eight runs and removing Khaya Zondo and the dangerous Robbie Frylinck (28 off six balls).

That left the Dolphins with 23 to score in the final over to win and Behardien contrived to bowl them back into the game with two wides and conceding a six. With 14 needed off three balls, Sibonelo Makhanya pulled the medium-pacer to the square-leg boundary where captain Davids deliberately put down the catch to ensure Van Wyk had to stay in the dugout and could not return to the crease.

Tshabalala’s six off the last ball brought the Dolphins within a tantalising run of victory, but the clear-thinking of the Titans in the final over – as well as Van der Merwe’s brilliance – is what won them the match, with Behardien also bowling outside off stump so the batsman could not shoulder arms and be bowled.

In their first game of the day, the Titans lost by five runs to the resurgent Knights, despite Behardien taking two for eight and scoring 31 not out.

The match against the Cape Cobras was another nailbiter, with Mosehle seemingly having secured victory as his off-drive was heading for six, before it was intercepted by a leaping Stiaan van Zyl, who parried the ball back infield. The Cobras coach, Paul Adams, playing because of the injuries to Justin Ontong and Justin Kemp, dived to catch the ball one-handed to dismiss Mosehle and leave the Titans still needing four to win off the last delivery.

Wiese, who had excelled with the ball, dismissing Rory Kleinveldt and Dane Vilas with the first two deliveries of the Cobras innings, couldn’t find the boundary and the Titans lost by three runs.

But the Cobras were edged out of the final by the Lions’ victory and there was further celebration in the Titans camp when Mosehle, Wiese and Behardien, who will captain the team, were named in the South Africa squad for the weekend’s Africa Challenge.

Titans assistant coach Mandla Mashimbyi will be the head coach of the national side.

Scores in brief

Cape Cobras 91-1 (Stiaan van Zyl 32*, Dane Vilas 31*, Qaasim Adams 20*). Dolphins 96-0 (Morne van Wyk 31*, Keshav Maharaj 31*, Robbie Frylinck 31*). Dolphins won by six wickets.

Knights 99-0 (Reeza Hendricks 32*, Werner Coetsee 26*, Dillon du Preez 37*). Warriors 95-3 (Colin Ingram 42*, Jon-Jon Smuts 36*). Knights won by four runs.

Knights 102-3 (Reeza Hendricks 32*, Werner Coetsee 30, Tumelo Bodibe 33 not out; Farhaan Behardien 2-8). Titans 97-3 (Henry Davids 20, Theunis de Bruyn 28, Farhaan Behardien 31 not out; Werner Coetsee 2-16). Knights won by five runs.

Lions 78-1 (Brian Barnard 33*, Chris Morris 28, Basheer Walters 1-3). Warriors 81-2 (Colin Ingram 30, Jon-Jon Smuts 24*). Warriors won by four wickets.

Cape Cobras 97-2 (Stiaan van Zyl 32*, Qaasim Adams 32, Aviwe Mgijima 31*; David Wiese 2-6). Titans 94-2 (Farhaan Behardien 36*, Henry Davids 32*; Stiaan van Zyl 1-10). Cape Cobras won by three runs.

Warriors  112-1 (Jon-Jon Smuts 35*, Christiaan Jonker 36*, Rusty Theron 24*). Dolphins 113-0 (Morne van Wyk 31*, Robbie Frylinck 34*, Keshav Maharaj 24*, Khaya Zondo 24*). Dolphins won by six wickets.

Knights 82-1 (Reeza Hendricks 32*, Werner Coetsee 29, Dillon du Preez 20*). Highveld Lions 84-0 (Dwaine Pretorius 36*, Chris Morris 28*). Highveld Lions won by six wickets.

Titans 126-1 (Mangaliso Mosehle 33*, Farhaan Behardien 36*, David Wiese 35*). Dolphins 125-3 (Morne van Wyk 35*, Keshav Maharaj 29, Robbie Frylinck 28; Roelof van der Merwe 2-8). Titans won by one run.

South Africa team: Chris Morris (Highveld Lions), Mangaliso Mosehle (Titans), Khaya Zondi (Dolphins), Robbie Frylinck (Dolphins), Cameron Delport (Dolphins), David Wiese (Titans), Farhaan Behardien (Titans).

Weekend fixtures

Saturday10h00 Kenya v Namibia; 10h50 Uganda v Tanzania; 11h40 South Africa v Zimbabwe; 12h30 Tanzania v Kenya; 13h20 Zimbabwe v Uganda; 14h10 Namibia v South Africa; 15h00 Kenya v Zimbabwe; 15h50 Uganda v South Africa.

Sunday10h00 Tanzania v Namibia; 10h50 South Africa v Kenya;11h40 Namibia v Uganda; 12h30 Tanzania v Zimbabwe; 13h20 Uganda v Kenya; 14h10 Tanzania v South Africa; 15h00 Namibia v Zimbabwe; 16h10 Africa Sixes final.

 

 

 

Last October a long time ago for embattled Lions & Mitchell 0

Posted on July 05, 2012 by Ken

Last October seems a long time ago now for Lions fans as their union gets knocked from all sides, not just on the playing field but also in the boardroom.

John Mitchell, having overseen their fairytale Currie Cup triumph on October 29 last year, has now been suspended, adding to all the financial worries and the threat of SuperRugby expulsion hanging over the Lions’ heads.

To say Mitchell has an overbearing personality would be putting it mildly. There are very few people in Lions rugby who are willing to say they will be sad to see him go.

The New Zealander deserves credit for restoring pride to the Lions, but once he had done that, his limited man-management skills came to the fore and Mitchell’s old-school views on discipline and treating players like kids in boarding school eventually lost him the team.

In this professional era when even the players’ breakfasts are measured,  getting them to run a marathon around the Johannesburg Stadium athletics track just two weeks before their opening SuperRugby fixture looks pretty dumb.

Mitchell has had a simmering relationship with the media as well. While any dissenting voices amongst the team were quickly put in their place, any questions from the press that Mitchell did not approve of would lead to cold-shoulder treatment and public ridicule.

I was not the only journalist who was told “Well I don’t know what match you were watching, mate.” Mitchell seemed to take delight in cutting down the media, preferably in front of large audiences in the Lions auditorium, as he did one day to the 94.7 Highveld Stereo man, who’s question was totally well-meaning and non-confrontational. And that’s the same radio station that have been long-term sponsors and supporters of the embattled team.

The players have been the brunt of some criticism suggesting they wanted to get rid of Mitchell because they just wanted a nice holiday when it came to training.

But it took enormous courage, led by impressive captain Josh Strauss, for them to stand up to their bullying coach. There is a good spirit of hard-working endeavour at Ellis Park, as president Kevin de Klerk pointed out.

“The spirit in the camp is very good and, if you think where the Lions were three years ago, we are substantially better off now. Rugby is a dynamic business and we would love it to be a plain-sailing ship, but we fool ourselves if we think that will be the case. We will deal with the John Mitchell matter with the correct protocol,” De Klerk said.

When De Klerk says the correct protocol, he is not beating around the bush – the Lions will have to religiously stick to the straight and narrow in the disciplinary process if they are going to successfully rid themselves of Mitchell.

The 48-year-old will show the same street-fighting attitude he imbued in the Lions in challenging his suspension. Mitchell has done it before – in 2008 the Western Force’s senior players staged a similar intervention, but his watertight contract meant they could not sack him.

Which is why there has been no criticism of Mitchell spewing forth from either the players or the board, and why De Klerk has made an about-turn and stressed that the suspension was not driven by the team.

“It’s inaccurate to say it was player-driven, it was not just the players on their own. And one can’t say Josh Strauss led the complaints, that would be inaccurate too. There were a number of issues,” De Klerk said.

The reason for this is that if it was just the players that had complaints about their treatment, Mitchell could turn around and say he was merely doing his best as the coach to make them a winning team, tough-love if you like. A lot of what coaches do to their teams could be considered unfair, but would it be illegal in terms of labour law?

Fortunately, it’s not just the players and media that Mitchell has alienated. It’s sponsors as well.

Did you see a whole heap of extra Lions coverage during their SuperRugby tour this year?

No, and that’s despite the considerable amount of money that MTN were willing to pay for two journalists to travel with the team. The sponsors obviously felt that their effort would be rewarded with extra coverage for the Lions and exposure for themselves.

Unfortunately, the journalists were left to survive on the same scraps given to the Australian and New Zealand reporters … Mitchell would not go out of his way to give them anything extra.

The Lions, under pressure from all sides, desperately need good PR, so it is time they called an end to the John Mitchell era.



↑ Top