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Ken Borland



There’s 1 positive from T20GL collapse, but will we get the answers? 0

Posted on October 31, 2017 by Ken

 

The only positive to come out of the T20 Global League fiasco right now is that all the best players in South Africa will be available for the domestic T20 competition that will fill the gap created by the collapse of the ambitious but overhyped get-rich-quick scheme.

The CSA T20 Challenge was going to be played from mid-March, in the middle of the Test series against Australia, and would have ended in mid-April, by which time everyone would probably have been exhausted by cricket anyway after what was going to be the most hectic summer in South African history. The tour by India was going to be sandwiched in between the T20 Global League and the arrival of the Aussies.

But now the domestic T20 will actually have a decent window and the participation of the Proteas, so that is at least some good that has come out of the crater-sized hole that has been left in our cricket, both in terms of the calendar and financial resources.

Given the magnitude of the crisis – it has the potential to dwarf the Gerald Majola bonus scandal – it is only right and proper that Cricket South Africa shares with all their stakeholders – the public, the players and sponsors – just how they managed to get this so wrong.

The South African Cricketers’ Association’s call for an independent review to be set up is exactly right, but after the machinations of the board during the bonus scandal (there were a couple of reviews that were disgracefully lacking in integrity), I have some doubts over CSA’s ability to put all their cards on the table so their stakeholders can get to the bottom of exactly what went wrong.

It is obvious that the CSA board once again, as in Majola’s case, allowed their CEO far too much latitude to just operate on his own, doing what he liked without proper oversight. Another CEO told me that Haroon Lorgat’s sidelining of the chief financial officer from the biggest financial project the organisation has ever undertaken should have set off obvious alarm bells for the board.

The lack of timely action taken by the board (at least they did something before the bleeding became terminal) raises questions over the culpability of their own members in this disaster and that is something that should be within the scope of an independent review.

A more pressing issue is compensation for the players. While CSA are now so financially squeezed that they are like a lemon at a seafood festival, they are going to have to make payouts to the 144 players who were set to play in the T20 Global League.

Many of those had signed on for juicy contracts and have made financial commitments that are now in tatters; many gave up on other opportunities, some of them even at international level. Think of the players who qualified to be rookies this year, but by next year will be 24 and too old.

“The total player loss is very significant and there are many sad stories out there,” SACA head Tony Irish said.

And let’s not forget the bad PR that will follow from many of the top international players who will be spreading news around the world of how disgruntled and let down they feel.

Lorgat used to boast about how CSA were the top sports federation in the country, but after his ignominious fall, they are in the same position they were in when they appointed the former International Cricket Council CEO – desperately trying to win back the confidence of the players and public.

https://www.pressreader.com/south-africa/the-citizen-gauteng/20171014/282445644283171

Lorgat defends lack of T20GL transformation quotas 0

Posted on September 25, 2017 by Ken

 

Cricket South Africa CEO Haroon Lorgat on Monday defended the absence of transformation quotas in the T20 Global League, saying it was a risk that had paid off with 55 players of colour amongst the 144 players chosen in the draft, including 19 Black Africans.

“We did debate having targets but we decided not to because we have a bottom-up approach with our hubs and schools. It was a risk but we want to see our players come through naturally and it was very pleasing to see Black players chosen as some of the best-paid by people who had no compulsion to do so.

“It shows that our system is working, foreign coaches wanting those players is what we are aiming for. We will not relent in terms of our development of Black players either, because your market is where your majority is and you don’t have to be a professor of economics to understand that. We’re doing it the hard way, from the bottom up,” Lorgat said on Monday.

The CEO and tournament director Russell Adams announced the fixtures for the T20 Global League on Monday in Cape Town, with 57 games being played over six weeks. With each team playing the other seven franchises home and away, that means there will be no playoffs but the top two teams after the league phase will go straight into the final at the Wanderers on Saturday, December 16.

With Johannesburg guaranteed the final for the foreseeable future, it means Cape Town will host the opening game, between the Knight Riders and the Pretoria Mavericks, on Friday, November 3, at least this year.

“In future the opening match will be played at the home of the winners of the previous year’s tournament. We also had a big debate about where to stage the final, but there are logistical challenges around having it in Cape Town around December 16 – there’s the World Sevens Series tournament and everyone is on holiday.

“Wanderers has a bigger capacity and there are more flights and accommodation available in Johannesburg. And we are looking to make the final at one host venue a fixture of the tournament which means people can do their planning, they can even make their bookings for the Wanderers on December 16, 2020,” Lorgat said.

“We also had debates about playoffs and semi-finals, but the league is the reason for the competition and we wanted to reward the two best sides with a place in the final, otherwise a team could come through at the expense of someone who’s had a great league season.”

https://citizen.co.za/sport/south-africa-sport/sa-cricket-sport/1630775/csa-defends-lack-of-formal-quotas-in-t20-global-league/

The John McFarland Column: Positive about Bok prospects 0

Posted on August 16, 2017 by Ken

 

Springbok coach Allister Coetzee has picked the best players for the Rugby Championship based on how well they did in the French series and I am really positive about their prospects, I believe they are in the best position of all the teams.

It reminds me a bit of 2013, when we won 10 of our 12 Tests. There was also a British & Irish Lions tour that year – to Australia – and we had time to bed the players in.

The Springboks played really well against France, who were a full-strength side that came out with tremendous intent. The fact that their coach Guy Noves is now under pressure to keep his job if they don’t improve in November shows how good the Boks were, in terms of attack, defence and the way they created a new team culture.

Meanwhile, Argentina were losing 3-0 to England, Australia lost to Scotland and only just beat Italy, and the All Blacks could only draw with the British & Irish Lions.

With some of our SuperRugby teams falling out early, the Springbok coaches were given extra preparation time and I think we all see that there is definitely a new culture about this Springboks group. You can see that the positivity and confidence is back, both in terms of the public and the players, after a disastrous 2016.

This has been built on respect for each other and there is a high energy within the group on the field. Their return-to-action time and kick-chase were both very good and the improvement under the good doctor, Brendan Venter, on defence was obvious. They only conceded four tries in the three Tests against France and they got off the line quickly with intensity, intent and attitude.

Return-to-action time is one of the keys for any side to succeed in the modern game. A player is likely to have to get up off the floor after a carry or cleaning at the ruck about 40 times per game and it is very hard to do this after hard contact. The standard figure in international rugby is to be off the ground in three seconds so it offers you more numbers on attack, to get your shape, or on defence to ensure your line has width. The Springboks did incredibly well with this and it is the basis of their defensive system.

The Springboks are now employing a far more aggressive line-speed, similar to what the British Lions used and it definitely gave New Zealand problems: they weren’t able to play with their normal width and freedom because they were worried about making mistakes on attack, and turnover ball is the most lethal in the game.

The architect of that defence was Andy Farrell and he worked under Brendan Venter for a few years at Saracens, so I think there will be a lot of similarity in the defensive system the Springboks employ and I believe they will certainly give the All Blacks problems this year.

Also, due to a loss of form, neither Julian Savea nor Waisake Naholo are in the New Zealand squad, so they don’t quite have the same size out wide as before. In any case, a wing very rarely defends against his opposite wing off first-phase, he’s virtually always on the second-last man, which is the fullback. The All Blacks will have Ben Smith or Israel Dagg at fullback and I’m certain our wings will be of a similar size.

What’s important for a wing these days is his ability to score tries, defend and catch high-balls, and one would never be picked at that level if they can’t catch box-kicks off lineouts.

Coetzee has obviously picked his wings for their finishing ability, work-rate and understanding of the system, and for me, Courtnall Skosan and Raymond Rhule are the incumbents and really showed superb work-rate and an ability to pull off try-saving cover-tackles against France.

The Springboks also employ the defensive system – well, everyone does these days – of the fullback coming into the line very early, so a wing can’t just have the ability to make tackles, he also has to make line-breaks and expose the props acting as pillars round the ruck area, and has a big role in covering grubbers, he becomes the last defender. Modern-day wings will cover an enormous amount of ground in a game.

I wouldn’t rule out JP Pietersen coming back into the mix, especially in World Cup year. His decision-making is so good and he adds a calmness and maturity in the backline. He has, however, recently changed clubs from Leicester to Toulon and we all know how their owner feels about his players taking part in the Rugby Championship …

Anyway, Allister Coetzee has obviously decided to back the home-based players who really performed in the incoming series to see if they can do it as well in the Rugby Championship. Let’s not forget two of the back three played against the Hurricanes for the Lions in the SuperRugby semi-final and gave them 44 points with six tries.

So we must be positive about Allister’s wing selections until we see evidence otherwise.

Argentina showed a lot of attacking intent against England in June, but they were really playing against England B and were well-beaten. Plus the Jaguares were disappointing in SuperRugby, they blew hot and cold.

So Saturday’s Test is a really good opportunity for the Springboks to hopefully get a good win that sets them on the road for the really difficult part of the Rugby Championship – those three away games in the middle that South Africa always get and which are very difficult because of all the flying.

Our best performance in Argentina in the last few years came in 2015 when we trained in South Africa and only left on the Wednesday, arriving on the Thursday evening. We had a captain’s run and then went to Buenos Aires for a convincing 26-12 win.

Our worst display in Argentina was in Mendoza when we drew 16-16 in 2012 and we had to sit in the bus for two hours just to get to practice. I remember there was even a stray dog running faster than our coach was going!

The Springboks have the opportunity this year to play hit-and-run Tests in Perth and Salta and that makes you much more alert. They can stay on South African time and not change their body clocks, like we used to do at the Bulls when we would leave for Australasia on a Tuesday evening, arrive on Thursday morning and usually win our first game. It was definitely a winning formula.

The Springboks have a fantastic record in Port Elizabeth [17 wins & 2 draws in their last 20 Tests there] and I’m looking forward to this new-look side continuing in the same positive manner against Argentina on Saturday and hopefully gaining a really good win.

 

 

John McFarland is the assistant coach of the Kubota Spears in Japan and was the Springbok defence coach from 2012 through to the 2015 World Cup, where they conceded the least line-breaks in the tournament and an average of just one try per game. Before that, McFarland won three SuperRugby titles (2007, 09, 10) with the Bulls and five Currie Cup crowns with the Blue Bulls. In all, he won 28 trophies during his 12 years at Loftus Versfeld.

Lions players with heavy hearts after semi-final loss 0

Posted on July 07, 2017 by Ken

 

There were plenty of Lions players with a heavy weight on their shoulders after Saturday night’s heartbreaking Currie Cup semi-final loss to Western Province.

The Lions, defending the title they had won in fairytale fashion last year, had dominated most of the match and seemed to have finally secured victory – when everything changed.

The Lions’ apparent lead all turned belly-up after flyhalf Elton Jantjies had kicked an angled penalty to switch the score to 16-14 with less than two minutes remaining.

Then the ball was carried back from the kickoff and Jaco Taute put too much on his clearing kick, the ball sailing directly into touch to give Western Province a vital lineout inside the Lions’ 22. The visitors’ rolling maul once again carried too much momentum to be stopped, and the Capetonians had the match-winning try with a dozen seconds left in the game.

While the loss will weigh most heavily on Taute and Jantjies, who missed three first-half kicks that denied the Lions vital reward for their dominance, it was also a sad end to an era. This Lions team that showed the courage to win the Currie Cup last year after they had been humiliated in SuperRugby, who stood up as a unit to get rid of their bullying coach, John Mitchell, and who shrugged off the awful news that they would not be playing in the Sanzar tournament in 2013, will now break up.

Already, Jantjies, Taute, lock Michael Rhodes and prop Pat Cilliers have been confirmed as heading to the Stormers, while two unsung heroes of the tight five, Franco van der Merwe (Sharks) and Jacobie Adriaanse (Scarlets), are also departing.

The loss of these players, and probably more in the near future, means the Lions will have to rebuild yet again.

“We’ve lost guys who we’ve worked on for two or three years to get to this level, and now we’ll have to get new guys to that level as quickly as possible,” coach Johan Ackermann admitted.

“This group has become so close, they really play for each other. For the first time in years, we have a number of players in every position and we would have gone into SuperRugby with some depth and with players going into their second or third year in that competition.

“But now this whole group breaks up and we have to start building up a new team again … I know those are words Lions supporters don’t want to hear, but we have to do it.”

The mere fact that the Lions finished the year as strong Currie Cup contenders, hosting a semi-final, and not as the clowns some haters like to portray them as, is amazing considering all the obstacles they faced.

“We could of fallen apart and finished sixth and gone into a promotion/relegation playoff, but instead our goal was to win the Currie Cup. I’m still very positive, even though we’re just disappointed now because that was a game we should have won. But I’d rather be losing in a semi-final than playing promotion/relegation,” Ackermann said. 

The Sharks, having seen off the Bulls 20-3 in difficult conditions in Durban, will now go into the Currie Cup final as firm favourites.

Thus far in the competition, they have undoubtedly been the most cohesive unit, they have the best all-round players and they will have home ground advantage.

Ackermann predictably backed his former Sharks side to beat the Streeptruie next weekend, saying “they can’t get that lucky twice, Christmas only comes once a year”, but even Western Province coach Allister Coetzee was saying the Natalians would be favourites.

“We’ll be up against the best side in South Africa; the Sharks are unbelievably strong, to hold the Bulls to just three points is very telling. They are a real quality side, they are good on attack and defence and they have good kickers. Maybe we’ll need all 22 players on the field to beat them … ” Coetzee said.

If you believe their detractors, Western Province tend to “choke” in the big games, but their victory over the Lions showed there is immense character and patience in their side. Nothing seemed to be going for them for three-quarters of the match, but then, as the game entered the crucial final stages, they were able to up the tempo and be clinical on attack.

“It’s one of the best wins I’ve experienced with Western Province, the character of the team really stood out and they never gave up. In the latter stages of the second half, we found space and width and the bench gave us great impetus on attack.

“The team showed a great will to win and the side that capitalises on their opportunities normally wins playoffs. People like to throw out that ‘chokers’ term at us, but the connection in this team is incredible, both to each other and to the game plan,” Coetzee said.

To upstage the Sharks, however, Western Province are going to have to improve markedly up front. The Lions bossed them at scrum time and the Sharks front row, spearheaded by Springboks Jannie du Plessis and Tendai Mtawarira, will be looking to do the same.

The Sharks forwards were magnificent in stopping the big Bulls’ ball-carriers’ efforts to get over the gain line and they certainly have the backline to make better use of possession than the Lions did.

A sopping wet day in Durban was an equaliser, helping the Bulls’ strengths, but to win so convincingly just shows that the Sharks have the quality to rise to any occasion or conditions.

https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2012-10-21-currie-cup-lions-fans-welcome-to-heartbreak-hotel/#.WV99GISGPIU



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