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Ken Borland



Markram waits patiently for his chance to join Rabada 0

Posted on March 22, 2017 by Ken

 

2014 Junior World Cup winner Kagiso Rabada is about to be unleashed on the international stage as he tours with the Proteas to Bangladesh, but what of his captain at that prestigious tournament, Aiden Markram?

Rated as one of the most promising young players in the country, Markram is learning the hard way that it takes much longer for batsmen to break through in the senior ranks than it does for bowlers. But the 20-year-old Northerns player is still full of optimism and says there is plenty of opportunity lying ahead for him.

“Obviously I’m happy that KG is with the national team, he completely deserves it. But it’s tough as a top-order batsman trying to play for your franchise and then your country, so I’m not concerned with my progress,” Markram told The Citizen.

The Tuks product has played 10 first-class games for Northerns, scoring 424 runs at an average of 30.28, including three half-centuries. His limited-overs returns have been more spectacular, scoring two List A centuries in five innings on his way to an average of 71.25, a strike-rate of 95.95 and a nomination for the CSA Provincial One-Day Cricketer of the Year award.

Markram was also brilliant in the T20 competition, scoring 165 runs in four innings, with two half-centuries, an average of 55 and a strike-rate of 146.

“I’ve played a lot more limited-overs cricket in my life. I have game-plans in place for those formats but in the longer format it was only towards the end of the season that I had identified a plan. So that was a big positive and I’m really looking forward to next season’s three-day competition. I don’t want to be labelled a limited-overs player, but I’m happy with the way the season went.

“In the season ahead, it would be nice to play franchise cricket for the Titans, that’s definitely a goal for me, in any format. But all I can control is scoring runs and putting myself in contention. If I’m selected, great, but if not then I want to make a big contribution for the Northerns team. I enjoy my role there and I’m looking forward to more responsibility,” Markram said.

For someone who has such a solid technique, it is surely only a matter of time before Markram makes his mark in first-class cricket, having already shown in the shorter formats that he has the measure of most bowlers in provincial cricket.

“I’d only played two three-day games in my life before this season, so it’s been a new challenge. As a top-order batsman, the bowlers are fresh and armed with a new ball, so if you get in then you must kick on. And it’s usually tough batting on day one.

“I just need to re-set myself more during my innings, make sure I get myself in properly and then just bat time,” Markram said.

For someone as talented as him, it is surely also only a matter of time before he is back playing on the same stage as his former team-mate Rabada.

Rehabilitated Hawken soaring at Titans & national academy 0

Posted on June 03, 2016 by Ken

 

Up-and-coming Titans fast bowler Eldred Hawken had his promising first season of franchise cricket interrupted by a back injury, but he has managed to rehabilitate himself in time to take up a place at the prestigious national academy at Cricket South Africa’s Centre of Excellence, an indication of what a talent he is.

Hawken only played four of the champion Titans’ Sunfoil Series games, but showed enough in taking nine wickets at an average of 30.44 to suggest he has a bright future. He may be 27 already, but there is something reminiscent of Dale Steyn in him in the way he is able to swing the ball at high pace and in his physique.

“I’m pretty excited moving forward. My back seized up during last season so I was helluva surprised to be called up for the academy. I thought maybe I was past it in terms of age, but it’s nice to know my good work paid off,” Hawken told The Citizen.

“The Titans side made me feel very comfortable, even though my first over went for 14 runs! But I felt comfortable after that [a change of ends helped!] and I got settled in for cricket at that level, although I still have a lot of work to do, especially on my conditioning. I can bowl 20 overs in a day in amateur cricket, but it’s harder to bowl 15 in franchise cricket because there’s more intensity.”

The similarities with Steyn don’t end with just the physical, however, as Hawken is from Tzaneen and also attended Merensky High School. The lithe Titans prospect admits that the great fast bowler was his role-model growing up as a cricketer in the Limpopo province.

“Dale was my hero. My dad, who was president of Limpopo Cricket, coached both of us at the Hornbills club in Tzaneen and when I was 12 or 13 I would go and watch them play. I would bring my whites just in case and often I would be standing at mid-off watching Dale bowl or watching clips of him on TV.

“I was actually an off-spinner until I was 16 and then when I changed, I envisaged in my mind his action as the basis for what I was trying to do. Those days were a big influence for me, I had the structures to flourish. The area has produced quite a few fast bowlers including Dale, Ethy Mbhalati and Marchant de Lange,” Hawken said.

The expert attention Hawken gets at the national academy means he has a good chance of following in the footsteps of those bowlers and becoming the leader of the Titans attack.

 

Grace plays with aplomb to stretch his lead 0

Posted on February 09, 2015 by Ken

It’s no laughing matter trying to follow up a 62 in the first round of a prestigious tournament like the Alfred Dunhill Championship, but Branden Grace played with great aplomb once again at Leopard Creek as he stretched his lead with a 66 on Friday.

That gave the 26-year-old a commanding five-stroke lead at the halfway mark of the European Tour co-sanctioned event and Grace said he was entirely comfortable leading from the front as he goes in search of his fifth European Tour title and his first since 2012 in the Alfred Dunhill Links at St Andrew’s.

“I’m very chuffed, it was a very good round. It’s always hard after a round like yesterday [Thursday], it’s so easy to come out and try and protect your score, but I didn’t do that, I was out the blocks quickly with birdies on 11 and 13 and I just kept the ball rolling very well,” Grace said after his round, which he began on the 10th hole.

“I have a good history when I’m leading, at the Alfred Dunhill I was quite a few ahead after two days, so I’ve done it before. I’m just going to stick to what I’m doing and stay patient. On this course, a 10-under could happen again and guys will come at you,” Grace said.

One man who was not cowed by Grace’s phenomenal start was experienced Italian Francesco Molinari, who started the second round six behind the South African but kept himself in contention with a superb seven-under-par 65 to climb to second on 11-under.

“I tried not to think about his big lead and just do my best, and it worked out very well. Five shots is obviously still a very good margin, but the greens are firming up nicely and it might be different on the weekend,” Molinari said with all the calmness that comes from a successful career that has seen him rise as high as number 14 in the world rankings and appear in two triumphant Ryder Cup campaigns for Europe.

South African Tjaart van der Walt was another to roar up the leaderboard with a five-under-par 67 taking him to 10-under overall and third place, while compatriot Shaun Norris and Denmark’s Lucas Bjerregaard both cruised to 67s as well and were tied for fourth on nine-under with Danny Willett.

Last weekend’s Sun City winner started on the easier back nine and battled to get going, playing the first eight holes in level-par. But Willett was much happier around the turn, eagling 18 after hitting a six-iron to six feet and then picking up birdies on the second, fifth and ninth holes.

Van der Walt started on the 10th tee and, having to hit a long-iron into the green he left himself 25 feet from the hole. But he made the putt with little fuss and that set the tone for a fine day on the greens as he collected five more birdies before eventually dropping a shot on the ninth, his last hole.

“The first hole was a swinging right-to-lefter and I made it, so I felt good from the first hole onwards. You’ve always got to fancy your chances and I was just happy to get out there and get a few numbers on the board early on. I played well. Leopard Creek is a long golf course for me, so I’m not going in with short-irons like some of the other guys, but when I got it on the greens I rolled the putts well, a couple went in, which kept the momentum going,” Van der Walt said.

Grace, however, continues to make hay while the sun shines and it would take something remarkable for him to be denied victory.

 

Roper has theory for lack of SA success at Sun City 0

Posted on February 01, 2015 by Ken

Englishman Danny Willett’s impressive triumph at the Nedbank Golf Challenge over the weekend means it is now seven years since a South African won the prestigious title at Sun City, and tournament director Alastair Roper has an interesting theory why.

Trevor Immelman won the 2007 Nedbank Golf Challenge by one stroke from Justin Rose but since then the best South African finishes have been runners-up slots for Tim Clark (2010) and Charl Schwartzel (2012).

This year it was a trio of Englishmen – Willett, Ross Fisher and Luke Donald – who dominated at the Gary Player Country Club.

Sun City is obviously one of the favourite tourist destinations of South Africans and, being at the end of the year, there is a general holiday vibe around the complex. The South Africans in the field inevitably have an entourage of friends and family joining them at the tournament.

“It’s a pity none of the South Africans showed up, it would have been really nice if Charl or Louis [Oosthuizen] had been up there with the Englishmen on Sunday. Just generally, in the last 18 months/two years, South African performances on the world tours have been sub-standard, so it’s partly a form thing that none have won at Sun City.

“Maybe it’s just a lean period, but something else bothers me and that is that there may be too many distractions for the South African golfers. I remember for many years [8] Ernie Els was trying to win here and it bothered me the number of distractions he had.

“At the South African Open or the Alfred Dunhill, there’s not as much of a demand on their time. Here, all their friends want to be with them and they’re asking for tickets, for access and when they can have dinner together. A guy like Willett was here with his caddy, his wife and maybe one friend,” Roper told The Citizen on Monday.

Roper said the increase in the size of the field from 12 to 30 had led to a similar rise in interest in the tournament.

“I was always the biggest skeptic about going to 30, I was very confident that 12 was the right way to go. But last year it surprised me what a positive reaction we had from the sponsors and we’re getting that same feeling again. More players and more golf is what they want to see.”

That has translated into the number of corporate hospitality suites – the lifeblood of the tournament – rising to 35 and including a diversity of sponsors.

“We want a demand for those facilities, that’s key to the success of the tournament, it’s built around hospitality, and those sponsors continue to be happy. We’ve had more this year in terms of numbers of sponsors and it’s been a whole different bunch of sponsors as well,” Roper said.

The tournament director said there had been little change in the number of spectators attending the event, with just over 60 000 coming over the four days, while the reach of the Nedbank Golf Challenge on television – showcasing Sun City as a tourism destination – continues to grow.

 

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  • Thought of the Day

    1 Corinthians 3:3 - "For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way?"

    One of my favourite U2 songs is a collaboration with Johnny Cash called The Wanderer, and it features the line "they say they want the kingdom, but they don't want God in it".
    Many people say they believe in God, but they don't experience his loving presence. They may be active in Christian work, but only if they have their way. If they cannot be leaders, they refuse to be involved.
    Because they refuse to allow God to fill their lives with his love, they remain weak and powerless.
    Spiritual maturity means developing a greater love for others.

    "When the love of Christ saturates you, immature attitudes such as pettiness, jealousy and strife are dissolved.
    "It is only when you have an intimate relationship with the Lord that you receive sufficient grace to rise above this immaturity and enjoy the solid food that the Holy Spirit gives you." - Solly Ozrovech, A Shelter From The Storm



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