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Ken Borland



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

 

Saru have enough money to throw at the Springbok problem 0

Posted on December 08, 2016 by Ken

 

That the South African Rugby Union have a major problem with their flagship product – the Springboks – is undeniable, and it’s going to take all their wisdom and sound judgement to make the right decisions to fix the mess. One thing in their favour though is that they have enough money to throw at the problem.

Their latest financial statements, for the year ending 2015, show that Saru had revenue of close to a billion rand, with R249 million spent on the rugby department, under which all the national teams and their management fall.

Springbok coach Allister Coetzee has made his fair share of blunders and his ability to inspire his current group of players is debatable, but there is no doubt that he was given the job with one hand tied behind his back by not being able to choose his coaching staff.

Forwards coach Matt Proudfoot was the one exception, while he inherited Johann van Graan from the previous era of Heyneke Meyer, so at least he had experience of working at international level. But for all their promise, the likes of Mzwandile Stick, Chean Roux and Louis Koen have only coached at much lower levels. Apart from Proudfoot, and Franco Smith, a belated addition to the squad after just one season of Super Rugby, who amongst his assistants has experience of running a top franchise?

Compare that to the All Blacks’ situation, where assistant coaches Ian Foster, who spent eight years in charge of the Chiefs and three with the New Zealand juniors, and Wayne Smith, who guided the Crusaders to two Super 12 titles and is a former All Blacks head coach, are vastly experienced.

Perhaps the primary problem affecting the Springboks is the lack of attention Saru have given them; can they truly say the wellbeing of their national team has been their priority?

So many incidents suggest not: from Meyer having to go begging to Gavin Varejes to pay the salary of breakdown specialist Richie Gray up until the parlous decision to appoint, on the cheap, the majority of Coetzee’s backroom staff, Saru are not backing the Springboks as they should.

Are the Springboks not CEO Jurie Roux’s new sweetheart? Before he joined Saru, Roux was able to source R35 million to beef up the Stellenbosch University rugby team. Why is he not willing to put big money towards finding the best assistant coaches possible or keeping more players on these shores?

I also wonder what Rassie Erasmus, still the flavour of the month in many quarters, actually achieved in terms of boosting the Springboks during his four-year tenure as Saru’s high performance general manager before ducking to Munster?

While mapping out new structures for SA rugby and running the Mobi-Unit of specialist coaches, Erasmus’s detractors, some of whom were and are intimately involved with the Springboks, say everything he did was geared towards making himself the next national coach.

But when it became clear that Saru would have to speed up transformation within the Springboks in order to get the government out of their hair, Erasmus suddenly turned his attention overseas. His about-turn led directly to Coetzee’s appointment being made very late, just a couple of months before the first Test.

Just to be clear, I don’t believe transformation is the foe of Springbok rugby, in fact it’s the game’s best long-term survival plan.

According to reports this week, Coetzee will remain as national coach next year, but will now be able to choose his own support staff as Saru have belatedly realised the error of their ways.

Well duh.

It reminds me of Kim Kardashian suddenly deciding she wants to withdraw herself and her children from the spotlight after they were robbed in Paris in early October; she decided to flaunt her lifestyle, bling and children on reality TV, why is she surprised it attracted nefarious attention?

The hapless Springboks are the way they are at the moment for many reasons, but it all comes down to haphazard decision-making by Saru.

All agree Glendower will be stern SA Open test 0

Posted on March 09, 2015 by Ken

The leading contenders used various terms to describe the rough at Glendower Golf Club, but one thing they all agreed on was that this year’s South African Open starting on Thursday in Edenvale will be a stern test.

Anything offline and away from the fairway will be punished, with chipping out of the rough often the only option.

Ernie Els, recently announced as the tournament’s ambassador and searching for his sixth SA Open title, is pleased that the Glendower set-up is tough.

“If you stray just off the fairway, you can really get a very tough lie. I hit one at 18 yesterday where I was a metre off the fairway and I could only advance it maybe 100 yards. But it’s what Opens are all about it, isn’t it? I think for a tournament of this stature it needs to be tough.

“Kikuyu is obviously a very thickly-laid grass and they’ve obviously let it go when there’s been a lot of rain, so it’s as thick and as tough as I’ve ever seen rough. But we want to find the best player this week and that’s what we’re going to get. You’re not going to get a guy who’s hitting it offline and getting lucky lies in the rough winning. You’re going to have to play proper golf and that’s what I think a national Open should be like,” Els said on Wednesday.

Charl Schwartzel thought the rough should have been even longer, while Branden Grace hoped it would be cut a bit, and George Coetzee described the course as “a real challenge”.

“If you miss a fairway, there is an 80% chance that you’ll have to chip out and I hit an eight-iron about 15 yards on one hole,” the Joburg Open champion said.

The greens, however, are soft and receptive, so conditions will favour the most accurate golfer rather than the most powerful.

“If there’s no rough then it’s usually a big hitter that wins, but this week is about hitting fairways and greens, which changes things a bit,” Danie van Tonder, the leader of the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit, said. “I won’t be stupid and hit driver everywhere. I’ll take three-wood or four-iron and lay-up before going for the green. To the pins I’ll be aggressive, but not on the tee shots.”

That doesn’t suit a guy like Coetzee, who likes to bomb it off the tee, but the 28-year-old said he will apply himself and look to adapt.

“I prefer tricky greens to tricky rough, but you’ve got to make your game suit the course. Hopefully I’ll hit it straight and make a few putts. You’ve got to hit a lot of fairways, because I don’t think the best putter will win it this week,” Coetzee said.

What is certain is that the leading South Africans – Schwartzel, Els, Coetzee, Grace, Richard Sterne and Hennie Otto – are all extremely hungry to claim their national Open and return the imposing trophy to home soil for the first time since Otto’s triumph in 2011.

Victory would be especially sweet for Ekurhuleni products like Els, Otto, Van Tonder and J’be Kruger.

“It’s wonderful to be back at the SA Open, especially here at Glendower in Ekurhuleni, the city where I’m from,” Els said. “I’ve played a lot of golf at Glendower, I grew up 12km from here and we’ve got a great venue this week. I feel very motivated to win as many as I can before I’m done,” the 45-year-old said.

 

 

 

 



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