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Ken Borland



The ICC: Growing and promoting cricket and making all the wrong decisions 0

Posted on July 26, 2017 by Ken

 

On their own website, the International Cricket Council state their vision as custodians and administrators of the game.

They say it is to “lead the continued drive towards more competitive, entertaining and meaningful cricket for players and fans. We will grow the sport by creating more opportunities for more people and nations to enjoy it and increase the competitiveness of international cricket at all levels. We will promote cricket by delivering exciting and engaging global events, attracting new and diverse fans and building long-term successful commercial partnerships. And finally, we will continue to make considerable efforts to protect the integrity of the sport.”

It’s all good and well that that is their vision, but unfortunately the ICC have a notorious history of almost inevitably making the wrong decision when it comes to the good of cricket.

The citing and subsequent suspension of Proteas fast bowler Kagiso Rabada for the second Test against England, which started in Nottingham on Friday, is a case in point.

Yes, Rabada was a naughty boy for swearing on the field. Thank heavens the ICC are stamping down on such behaviour that clearly poses a major threat to the game. I look forward to the day when they have undercover agents patrolling the stands, banning spectators who swear. I am sure, too, that the ICC will be putting pressure on their beloved broadcast partners to ensure they do not show movies with any of that vile language on their channels. Standards are standards after all.

Rabada was not suspended for swearing per se, of course, but rather because the one demerit point he was given took him to the threshold of four points that brings with it a one-match ban. The majority of those four points came from an incident in January when he shoved Sri Lankan batsman Niroshan Dickwella.

It is important, of course, to ensure decent standards of player behaviour, but there are better remedies than removing a star player from a crucial game in a high-profile series. Cricket is ultimately the loser this week as those watching the Trent Bridge clash are denied the joy of watching a great fast bowler locking horns with some fine batsmen. Rabada versus the combative Ben Stokes is always compelling viewing, and a fast bowler with fire has always been one of the best sights in cricket.

Instead of devaluing their own product, which is in desperate need of proper marketing, why does the ICC not rather fine players for their misdemeanours? I know some people will say the cricketers earn so much they don’t care about paying thousands of Rands in fines, but my experience of contract negotiations and the general behaviour of players shows they care just as much about money as the rest of us do.

The ICC have far more important things to worry about than a swear word uttered in the heat of combat.

Justice has been swift in Rabada’s case, but when are the ICC going to put in place a proper structure and context for international cricket? Their incompetence in this regard is putting their premier product – Test cricket – at risk. They have put their heads together innumerable times to discuss this issue and yet they have still come up with nothing. It’s enough to make a puritan want to swear.

In England, at this time of year, the sun stays up right into what we (except for those living in Cape Town, which is part of Europe anyway) would consider night – at 8pm it is still quite bright enough to play cricket. But in the first Test at Lord’s, those in the paying seats and those watching in their lounges did not see the prescribed 90 overs of play on any of the four days of play.

I get a little tired of some of the obsession about over-rates, because, if it’s a gripping contest, nobody cares if a team is bowling 12 overs per hour or 14. But if the conditions allow it, then play should continue for as long as necessary to get the prescribed overs in.

What brought the game of cricket more into disrepute – Rabada’s outburst or the actions of the match officials in Durban in 2016 when a Test against New Zealand was abandoned in bright sunshine with both teams keen to play?

The ICC, in their ivory tower, are firmly in the corner of their officials even when they are ensuring there is no cricket.

Batsmen can bank on being unsettled – Elgar 0

Posted on April 12, 2017 by Ken

 

South Africa opener Dean Elgar said on Thursday night that the one thing a batsman can bank on at international level is that your head is always on the chopping block following what he described as the “unsettling” axing of his opening partner Stephen Cook for the last Test against New Zealand.

The Proteas returned to Johannesburg on Thursday night after rain spared them the likelihood of defeat on the final day of the third Test, allowing them to win the series 1-0, but there are still rumblings over the controversial decision to drop Cook, who scored only 17 runs in four innings but had made three centuries in his previous nine Tests.

Theunis de Bruyn was then forced to make his Test debut as a makeshift opener, without success.

“We had a good thing going but selection is out of the players’ control, it’s one of those things. It’s not easy for Stephen, I’ve been through it before and you can go into a dark place. The team has still been winning though, so it’s very difficult, especially when you know how much hard work he has put in and he’s a massive team guy.

“But the general thing with batsmen is that if you think you’re safe, you’re not. Your head is always on the chopping block and a good ball or a bad decision could cost you your spot. It’s unsettling that a guy like him can be left out when he’s been working his butt off,” Elgar said at O.R. Tambo International Airport upon the team’s return.

South Africa’s success – they won the T20, ODI and Test series – in New Zealand on pitches that closely approximate the conditions they will find in England for the Champions Trophy and a much-anticipated Test series, suggest they are on track to do well on that tour in mid-year.

“We feel we are nicely set up for England having won all three series, which doesn’t happen often in New Zealand,” assistant coach Adrian Birrell said. “Obviously we’re all gearing up for the Champions Trophy and the fact that we won the ODI series 3-2 by winning what was like a final at Eden Park will be good going forward.

“Conditions were probably closest to what we will find on the England tour, there was always seam movement but not excessive bounce, which is what we expect in England. We’ve used various combinations and we have an idea for what works. We’re particularly pleased that all-rounders came to the fore and that batsmen in the lower-order were winning us games.”

http://www.pressreader.com/south-africa/the-citizen-gauteng/20170401/282419874094770

 

Tight players could make the difference for Cheetahs in playoff 0

Posted on June 08, 2016 by Ken

 

All eyes will be on the Cheetahs this Sunday in their Vodacom SuperRugby qualifying playoff against the Brumbies in Canberra. Poor weather notwithstanding, the Cheetahs may have to rely on other team members to win this game.

The likes of Willie le Roux and Piet van Zyl have stolen the limelight as far as the Cheetahs go this season. But front-rankers like Coenie Oosthuizen and Lourens Adriaanse and new Springbok Trevor Nyakane, and locks Lood de Jager and Ligtoring Landman could have more impact on their Vodacom SuperRugby qualifying playoff against the Brumbies.

Much has been made of the Cheetahs supposedly being the most flamboyant of sides and playing the most running rugby of the South African sides, but coach Naka Drotské has put their best season ever down to improved defence and greater experience.

Brumbies coach Jake White is not buying the popular view of the South African side either.

“There’s this perception, it is funny how it works, that certain teams score a lot of tries and they run from everywhere,” said White.

“It’s not the case at all. I think the Cheetahs are probably one of the most conservative teams in the competition. They kick a lot, they let you play in your own half, and if you make a mistake then they pounce.”

White’s strategy to nullify the Cheetahs will be simple: he will be searching for momentum and front-foot ball and will want to dominate the collisions. But for that to happen, the Brumbies will have to secure good ball from the set-pieces and this is where a window of opportunity presents itself for the Cheetahs.

Oosthuizen and Nyakane both played for the Springboks this year and Adriaanse was an unused squad member, so the Cheetahs scrum should provide a stern test for the Brumbies. They will rely heavily on the experience of their tighthead, Ben Alexander, and hooker Stephen Moore, who have played 51 and 79 times respectively for the Wallabies.

The lineouts also provide a key area for the teams to launch from and De Jager, one of the finds of the season, and Landman, the admirable journeyman, will back themselves against Scott Fardy and Sam Carter.

The Cheetahs hid away at Coogee Beach outside Sydney for the build-up to the game and the ice-cold weather in Canberra, with even the possibility of snow being mentioned in the Australian capital, would have been something of a shock for them.

But they are expecting a hot reception on Sunday morning and the violence of the collisions will not be for the faint-hearted.

Since the start of the season, their loose trio of Lappies Labuschagne, Philip van der Walt and Heinrich Brüssow have been outstanding and they will also be key figures in Sunday’s knockout match.

The Brumbies have not made the SuperRugby playoffs since winning the competition in 2004, but the presence of George Smith in their line-up provides a link to their glory days.

The fetcher flank has not always been a favourite of White, the coach who took the Springboks to World Cup glory in 2007, but the clash between Smith and Brüssow will be one of the features of the game.

The openside flanks do also, however, rely on their fellow forwards providing front-foot ball or stopping opponents on the gain-line, as do the backs.

The pace and power of the Brumbies back three of Henry Speight, Joe Tomane and Jesse Mogg will seriously test the Cheetahs defence if they are allowed the space to run free, while the centre pairing of Christian Lealiifano and Tevita Kuridrani is the perfect mix of guile and brute force.

But the Cheetahs also have the backline players to hurt the Brumbies … whether the SuperRugby surprise packets will get to enjoy a successful uprising in the Australian capital will all come back to their forwards though.

If the Cheetahs manage to upset the Brumbies, it will ensure that the Bulls will host the winner of the Crusaders/Reds playoff next weekend.

The Reds will be hoping that the return of Will Genia and James Horwill will lift them after their poor performance last weekend that saw them just scrape by the Waratahs 14-12 in a game that they really should have lost.

But the Reds have beaten all other New Zealand opposition this season and coach Ewen McKenzie, who has been appointed as the new Wallabies coach for mostly that reason, will want to ensure that he bags the biggest scalp of them all in Christchurch on Saturday.

The Crusaders, however, are probably the form team of the competition and the four-match winning streak they are on includes the phenomenal 43-15 dismantling of the defending champion Chiefs a fortnight ago.

The Reds will not only have to overcome the seven-time champions at their home fortress, but also see off the talents of Dan Carter and Richie McCaw.

The All Blacks flyhalf has, typically, peaked at the business end of the competition, while the New Zealand captain has been named on the bench.

The Reds have not been as dazzling this year as their reputation suggests – and the absence of star wings Rod Davies and Digby Ioane on Saturday will hurt them further in this regard.

The 2011 champions have scored just 31 tries, which puts them in the bottom four, while the Crusaders have scored 44 tries, which puts them in the top three.

http://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2013-07-19-superrugby-chilly-weather-could-put-cheetahs-on-the-back-foot/#.V1lZwbt97IU

Stormers rely on emotion & pride to stop Bulls going top 0

Posted on May 30, 2016 by Ken

 

The Bulls will finish on top of the Vodacom SuperRugby log if they can beat the Stormers in the final round at Newlands on Saturday, but the home side will be relying on emotion and pride as star wing Bryan Habana pulls on the blue and white jersey for the last time.

Finishing on top of the log would bring with it enormous reward for the Bulls because it means they advance directly to the semi-finals, without having to expend any extra energy on a playoff match and they would play their remaining matches in this year’s competition on the hallowed turf of Loftus Versfeld.

And we can banish any thoughts of rugby in South Africa being played along the lines of what’s best for the country and other democratic notions; the Stormers are not going to hold back on their fiercest rivals just because they are the country’s best hope of winning the competition.

For one, the Stormers will be out to ensure a winning send-off for France-bound Habana, the greatest Springbok winger since The Prince of Wings, Carel du Plessis, and, secondly, they will also want to satisfy their demanding supporters, who have sold out Newlands to come and see another epic north/south derby.

Captain Jean de Villiers, who returns to the team at inside centre, has been speaking of playing for pride in the build-up to the game.

“The focus is on our pride and playing for the jersey,” said De Villiers. “We are professional rugby players and we have a job to do, and that is to go out and do our best to win. We have disappointed ourselves this season and we’ve also disappointed our coaches and supporters and we are busy trying to make up for that by finishing the season well. We’ve won four in a row and we would like to make it five against the Bulls.

“Clashes between the Stormers and the Bulls are always huge and the ticket sales for this game have summed that up. The focus is on our pride as a team and playing for the jersey, which means we will do our best to win the game.”

Stormers supporters did not see too much pride from their team when they last played the Bulls – they meekly succumbed to a 25-17 defeat at Loftus in the opening round of South African action.

Bulls flyhalf Morne Steyn killed the Stormers’ chances that day with his kicking, both tactically and at goal, and coach Allister Coetzee has responded by dropping his flyhalf Elton Jantjies and replacing him with the inexperienced Gary van Aswegen. To be fair, though, regular fullback Joe Pietersen, the Stormers’ best kicker, is out injured and choosing Van Aswegen gives them a right and left-footed kicker with Gio Aplon moving into the number 15 jersey.

Rynhardt Elstadt has returned to the starting loose trio and will help beef up a Stormers pack that will have to face up to the physicality of the Bulls far better than they did in their previous meeting.

The Bulls also have important changes, with Springboks Jan Serfontein and Francois Hougaard both out injured and replaced by Francois Venter and Jano Vermaak respectively.

The 22-year-old Venter is another bright midfield prospect and he started all but one game for the Bulls at inside centre in last year’s Currie Cup and also made eight SuperRugby appearances.

Vermaak is arguably the form scrumhalf in South Africa this year and made his return from the bench last weekend after a hamstring injury that cut short his Springbok campaign. He and Steyn form a formidable half-back combination and that is one area where the Bulls seem to have a clear advantage over the youthful Stormers partnership of Van Aswegen and Louis Schreuder.

There will possibly be even more emotion at King’s Park on Saturday as the end of a Sharks era is reached, while the Southern Kings will be desperately hoping they are not playing their last SuperRugby match.

There have been few more dedicated servants of KwaZulu-Natal rugby over the past 30 years than Hugh Reece-Edwards, but he and his co-coach Grant Bashford, both standing in after the unceremonious firing of their boss, John Plumtree, will be in charge for the last time before John Smit’s regime change takes effect in Durban.

The Sharks players, understandably ill-at-ease over the way Plumtree was dispensed with even though he had been promised a two-year contract extension, probably have more to gain from the game than their Kings opponents, who are a second-string outfit anyway.

At this stage, nothing is more important for the Kings than the promotion/relegation games against the Lions in a fortnight’s time, so they have rested all their regular starters who have injury niggles.

That means no more than three players who started last weekend against the Stormers – lock David Bulbring, terrific eighthman Jacques Engelbrecht and wing Marcello Sampson – are in the run-on XV for King’s Park.

No team has had more selection challenges than the Sharks in this year’s competition and this week the complications were Butch James’s four-week suspension for his wild tackle against the Bulls and a concurrent injury to Pat Lambie.

That means Riaan Viljoen, who showed in last year’s Currie Cup that he is more than comfortable in the number 10 jersey, shifts from fullback to flyhalf.

And while Habana is saying goodbye in Cape Town, fellow Springbok wing JP Pietersen returns to action this weekend in Durban.

The stadium may have been called King’s Park since 1891, but it has also been dubbed The Shark Tank. The second-string Kings are more likely to feel that they’ve been dropped inside the latter than feeling at home on Saturday.

Teams

The Sharks (v Southern Kings, Saturday 17:05): Odwa Ndungane, JP Pietersen, Louis Ludik, Meyer Bosman, Lwazi Mvovo, Riaan Viljoen, Charl McLeod, Keegan Daniel, Jean Deysel, Marcell Coetzee, Franco van der Merwe, Edwin Hewitt, Jannie du Plessis, Bismarck du Plessis, Tendai Mtawarira. Replacements: Kyle Cooper, Wiehahn Herbst, Jandré Marais, Willem Alberts, Jacques Botes, Cobus Reinach, Fred Zeilinga.

Southern Kings (v The Sharks, Saturday 17:05): Siviwe Soyizwapi, Hadleigh Parkes, Waylon Murray, Shane Gates, Marcello Sampson, George Whitehead, Nicolas Vergallo, Jacques Engelbrecht, Mpho Mbiyozo, Devin Oosthuizen, David Bulbring, Steven Sykes, Kevin Buys, Hannes Franklin, Charl du Plessis. Replacements – Grant Kemp, Bandise Maku, Darron Nell, Thabo Mamojele, Aidon Davis, Shaun Venter, Michael Killian.

Stormers (v Bulls, Saturday 19:15): Gio Aplon, Gerhard van den Heever, Juan de Jongh, Jean de Villiers, Bryan Habana, Gary van Aswegen, Louis Schreuder, Nizaam Carr, Rynhardt Elstadt, Deon Fourie, De Kock Steenkamp, Eben Etzebeth, Brok Harris, Scarra Ntubeni, Steven Kitshoff. Replacements – Martin Bezuidenhout, Pat Cilliers, Gerbrandt Grobler, Don Armand, Nic Groom, Elton Jantjies, Damian de Allende.

Bulls (v Stormers, Saturday 19:15): Zane Kirchner, Akona Ndungane, JJ Engelbrecht, Francois Venter, Bjorn Basson, Morné Steyn, Jano Vermaak, Dewald Potgieter, Jacques Potgieter, Deon Stegmann, Grant Hattingh, Flip van der Merwe, Werner Kruger, Chiliboy Ralepelle, Dean Greyling. Replacements – Callie Visagie, Frik Kirsten, Jacques du Plessis, Jono Ross, Rudy Paige, Jürgen Visser, Morné Mellett.

Other fixtures: Crusaders v Hurricanes (Friday 9:35); Melbourne Rebels v Highlanders (Friday 11:40); Blues v Chiefs (Saturday 9:35); Waratahs v Reds (Saturday 11:40); Force v Brumbies (Saturday 13:45). Bye – Cheetahs (who will climb from 6th to 5th if the Reds lose to the Waratahs).

http://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2013-07-12-superrugby-preview-bulls-should-expect-no-patriotism-from-stormers/#.V017ufl97IU



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