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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

‘You can’t ask for much better’ – Gibson 0

Posted on November 01, 2017 by Ken

 

“When you come in as a new coach, you can’t ask for much better,” Proteas mentor Ottis Gibson said on Monday when asked how he rated South Africa’s performance in their triple-series sweep over Bangladesh that was completed over the weekend.

“When you consider the way we played, I’d like to give the team more than 10/10. It’s gone really well. I know there’s been a lot of talk about the opposition, but we were able to play dominating, front-foot cricket, while also unearthing some new talent like Aiden Markram and Wiaan Mulder.

“We played the way we wanted to play, we were able to go out and do that, and there’s been a very positive and relaxed vibe in the changeroom. I’ve built up a really nice relationship with Faf du Plessis, he’s honest and very passionate about representing and leading his country. We speak with the same voice and he’s been a very good sounding board,” Gibson said.

The former West Indies fast bowler confirmed that he will be looking after the specialist pace bowling coaching from now on, and he can rest easy that the batsmen are back on the right track given how well they have started the summer with runs aplenty.

“The batting was a huge positive, because there were a lot of questions asked about it in England, they had a tough time in tough conditions that they weren’t accustomed to. I would hope that their confidence is back now because we have scored 10 hundreds across the different formats. It says a lot for the ability and talent of the batsmen that they’ve been able to go out and dominate.”

Gibson said he would still be employing four other back-up coaches – an assistant, and specialist batting, field and spin-bowling consultants.

“It’s quite likely that there will be new faces, I will do the fast bowling myself and I’ve spoken to Charl Langeveldt about that. I’ve given Cricket South Africa my wish-list, guys who I believe can add value, and they now have to make that happen.

“I want to make more use of guys who are working in South Africa, I want to use the franchise system so that those guys can continue with the work if I leave. So there will be four guys plus myself, some key positions that I hope can make a real difference to the country. But I also want to set up a lead bowling and batting coach for the country as a whole, a person who can tell me who the next best fast bowler is, for instance,” Gibson said.

Pretorius focusing on the long game & Sunfoil Series 0

Posted on October 20, 2017 by Ken

 

Highveld Lions all-rounder Dwaine Pretorius faces stiff competition from all the other all-rounders currently in the Proteas picture, but the 28-year-old says he is going to channel his focus into the Sunfoil Series and try to separate himself from the rest on the basis of his batting.

Chris Morris, Wayne Parnell, Andile Phehlukwayo, Vernon Philander and Pretorius have all played for the Proteas across the three different formats in the last year, but Pretorius is the only one who has a first-class batting average of more than 40 (42.46).

Last season was his most productive with the bat as he averaged 52.40 in the Sunfoil Series and he is eager to continue that form when the four-day competition starts next week, with the Lions opening their campaign on Tuesday by hosting the Warriors at the Wanderers.

“I would love to play more cricket for the Proteas, especially Test cricket, but I’m just going to concentrate on the Sunfoil Series and hope I perform there. I don’t know Ottis Gibson at all or what sort of players he likes, only time will tell. So I’ll just go back to my processes, if I get those right then I can perform and from there I hope I get selected.

“I was quite pleased with last year’s four-day competition, I batted up the order at six or seven and I was under pressure, basically coming in at 60 for four about a dozen times! But I really liked the opportunity to bat longer, for 80 overs, because normally I come in needing to take the game forward.

“I think I’m more of a 50/50 all-rounder, maybe even more of a batting all-rounder, than a bowling all-rounder, so I want to put myself in a different bracket and replicate what I did in last season’s Sunfoil Series, but keep the same bowling standard. It’s unbelievable to have four other quality all-rounders around and I am close to all of them as mates. But I’m not competing against them, I’m competing against myself because we’re all different cricketers,” Pretorius said.

The Randfontein-born Pretorius, whose consistent accuracy and skilful use of the ball are his greatest bowling attributes, believes the Lions have the resources to lift themselves from a fifth-place finish last season back into contenders for the Sunfoil Series title.

“Things are looking up and guys like Rassie van der Dussen, Reeza Hendricks and Stephen Cook should know that they are close to the national side, so they don’t need any extra motivation. Beuran Hendricks, Omphile Ramela and Craig Alexander have come over to us and will add a lot of value.

“This year there’s competition for batting spots and the older guys know they have to perform or the younger batsmen will come for them. We’ve lost Temba Bavuma, but it doesn’t feel as much of a shock as it would have three years ago and Omphile will add a lot of stability,” Pretorius said.

https://www.pressreader.com/south-africa/the-citizen-gauteng/20170916/282333975077119

KG keen to tap into finger-on-the-pulse McCullum 0

Posted on September 04, 2017 by Ken

 

If anyone has their finger on the pulse of the future direction of cricket it is former New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum and Joburg Giants Proteas marquee player Kagiso Rabada is really looking forward to tapping into his knowledge when the T20 Global League gets underway.

McCullum was snapped up by the Johannesburg franchise as the second pick in the draft for international marquee players, providing the tantalising prospect of a batsman and captain who did much to reinvent the game teaming up with a young fast bowler who is tipped to become one of the greats.

“As captain of New Zealand he was a really positive influence with the way he was able to lead a young side. He’s a very experienced campaigner who does not play by the book, the way he approached his cricket was very interesting and it shows he does not just conform to the boxes people impose.

“He questions all the strategies of the game, which is a really good thing. And he can certainly give me insights on what balls are hard or easy to hit, so I’m looking forward to tapping into his experience and picking his brain. He has dominated a lot of bowlers so it will be interesting to hear from him where batsmen can’t score,” Rabada told The Citizen on Saturday night.

West Indian all-rounder Kieron Pollard was the first pick of the evening and will be playing for the Bloemfontein City Blazers, while his compatriot, Chris Gayle, will turn out for the Cape Town Knight Riders.

The Durban Qalandars plumped for England limited-overs captain Eoin Morgan, while another West Indian star, Dwayne Bravo, will be plying his all-round skills for the Pretoria Mavericks.

“It’s fantastic to have Dwayne, he will bring a winning mentality having played in T20 World Cup and IPL winning sides, he can contribute with both bat and ball and all the players who have played with him previously speak very highly of him, so I’m really excited to have him in our team,” Mavericks coach Russell Domingo said.

“It’s great to have one banker at six or seven plus he can bowl four overs under pressure and then we have AB de Villiers at four. And Dwayne has great death bowling skills which is of paramount importance, particularly at Centurion.”

The other international marquee placements saw Englishman Jason Roy joining fellow opener Quinton de Kock at the Benoni Zalmi, Kevin Pietersen heading to Port Elizabeth to join his mate Mark Boucher’s Nelson Mandela Bay Stars side and Sri Lankan pace bowler Lasith Malinga playing for Faf du Plessis’ Stellenbosch Monarchs.

https://citizen.co.za/sport/south-africa-sport/sa-cricket-sport/1629151/kagiso-rabada-cant-wait-to-learn-from-a-new-zealand-legend/

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