for quality writing

Ken Borland



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

Rostron to double up as coach of both women’s & men’s teams 0

Posted on August 31, 2017 by Ken

 

In a first for South African hockey, Sheldon Rostron will double up as the head coach of both the women’s and men’s teams at the African Cup of Nations in Egypt in October, the South African Hockey Association (Saha) announced on their website on Friday.

Rostron has enjoyed success as the head coach of the women’s national team since 2014 and has already qualified them for the next World Cup, thanks to their fifth-place finish in the recent Hockey World League Semifinals. But the underperforming men are under pressure to qualify and only the winners of the Africa Cup tournament go through to the World Cup.

“Obviously the double role brings with it some logistical issues like making sure both teams are together so we can prepare and alternating training sessions, but I really just wanted to assist the process of finding a new permanent head coach for the men and make sure they qualify for the World Cup,” Rostron told Saturday Citizen on Friday.

“There will be a sharing of resources, with a joint management team, and obviously the assistant coaches will have to step up. But it’s a good opportunity for them to grow and some of them are in the running for the head coach position.”

It is a move not without precedent in the world of hockey, as Carlos Retegui steered both the Argentina men’s and women’s teams to bronze medals at the 2014 World Cup.

“It’s difficult to apply the same processes that have been successful with the women, but as someone who works with men as well it’s not a major concern. We can adapt one or two things, there don’t need to be massive changes, and some of the philosophies we can take across. Because women’s hockey usually goes the same way as the men’s game, I study men’s hockey as well and I know the trends. But the main thing is to make sure that we are all focused towards qualifying our men’s side for the World Cup,” Rostron said.

Saha are hoping to appoint someone as a permanent new men’s head coach by the end of the year, the Africa Cup being the team’s last engagement of 2017.

 

 

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.

 

  • Recent Posts

  • Archives

  • Thought of the Day

    James 1:5 - "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him."

    The lessons Christ taught were intensely spiritual, but also extremely practical. For him, everything - every thought and deed - was an expression of his relationship with his heavenly Father. All of our life must be an expression of the spiritual.

    "I wait upon God to renew my mind, to make me creative, instead of becoming the clanging cymbal that Paul spoke of." - Paul Tournier

    "The spiritual life touches the realities of every day and enables you to look, to a certain extent, at people's problems as God does." - Solly Ozrovech



↑ Top