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Ken Borland

Provided with decent support, our sportswomen flourish 0

Posted on August 01, 2017 by Ken


Women’s sport has always taken the back seat in this macho country of ours, but the last 10 days have shown just how much can be achieved, and how much joy our female sports stars can bring us when they are provided with decent support.

The Proteas women’s cricket team are the obvious example and one could only salute a magnificent effort when they were pipped by eventual champions England in their World Cup semi-final, which was one of the classic games of the tournament as the hosts and favourites were so nearly undone by the tenacious underdogs.

Our national women’s cricket team have become the most-improved team in the game thanks to the wonderful support they have been given by Momentum and Cricket South Africa. Many young girls will have been inspired by their efforts and it is vital that the momentum created by their exploits is not lost.

The national women’s hockey team have just finished a global tournament of their own in the Hockey World League, which will go down as yet another international showpiece sporting event that we have hosted with aplomb.

Unfortunately, South African hockey does not have the same sort of backing as our cricketers, and it still sticks in the craw to see Investec, founded in Johannesburg in 1974, emblazoned all over the England team. But they have arguably more female talent than even the cricketers do simply because it has been ‘acceptable’ in our misogynistic society for women to play hockey for far longer than it has for cricket.

They showed that they have the ability to consistently be in the top-10 in the world rankings by finishing fifth in the Hockey World League Semifinals, pulling off a memorable win over eventual champions, the United States, as well as beating Ireland and Japan and finishing above India in the final standings. They also qualified automatically for the World Cup.

The obvious enjoyment they get from playing alongside each other, their tremendous team spirit, is one of their greatest assets, but sadly, it was obviously lacking from the men’s team, who managed to avoid relegation but did not win any other games.

Again, South Africa has the male talent to push for a top-10 place, with several of our players sought-after members of overseas clubs, which enables them to escape the poor economic prospects of an amateur sport in this country.

But it is this split-nature of the team – made up of locally-based and overseas-based players – that is causing problems, just as it did with Springbok rugby. According to players who are part of the expanded national squad, the environment in the camp is “hostile” and this threatens to scupper any hopes of our men’s team recouping the losses they have suffered over the last few years of neglect.

Sure, hockey overseas is more professional and better, but the returning players need to realise their job is to lift up their team-mates who are still slogging it out back at home, not belittle them. The team culture is non-existent, with some stars apparently staying in their own hotels, and it is up to the senior players to set an example.

Apart from results, there has been one casualty already with coach Fabian Gregory resigning to take up a position overseas. He says he battled to get his ideas through to the team, that he had a hard time dealing with certain “know-it-all” players.

The senior players, apparently, found it hard to take Gregory seriously as a coach, especially those who are based overseas.

So a new coach will have to be found before the Africa Cup in October – which will be crucial for World Cup qualification – and, hard as it will be for some absolute stalwarts of South African hockey, the time seems right to make a new start with the men’s team, who are really rather old in global terms.

My new broom would be Garreth Ewing, who was one of Gregory’s assistants at the Hockey World League, and I have been highly-impressed by the work he has done with both the SA U21 and University of Johannesburg sides, both in terms of the brand of hockey they play and the team culture he has grown.

Kuhn has hope and inspiration from Cook’s selection 0

Posted on April 04, 2016 by Ken


The fact that the national selectors were willing to choose a 33-year-old new cap for Test cricket in Stephen Cook this summer has provided hope and no little inspiration to Heino Kuhn, who is the leading run-scorer in the Sunfoil Series this season.

The 31-year-old Titans batsman also averaged 60 in the Momentum One-Day Cup and a golden summer has pushed Kuhn right back into the picture for national honours after playing five T20 internationals for South Africa as a wicketkeeper/batsman between 2009 and 2011.

Kuhn is now strictly an opening batsman (and a quality fielder too) and regularly goes big, with six centuries in the last two seasons. His tally of 18 first-class hundreds includes three doubles and a 191 for South Africa A against Bangladesh A.

“It was nice to see Stephen Cook get an opportunity with the Proteas, I was happy for him because for years he’s been flippen good for the Lions. It was great that he took his chance and it’s great to see that South African cricket is now like Australian cricket where, if you’re a good enough batsman, you’re never too old.

“As long as my body holds, I’ll always believe that I can play for South Africa again and my fiancé Trudie probably believes even more than me! But I’m playing the best cricket of my career and luckily enough I have another two years on my contract with the Titans, so I hope I can continue this run because it’s the best I’ve ever batted,” Kuhn says.

The Titans stalwart – he has been granted a benefit season by the franchise – says his purple patch is not down to anything new in his technique but rather a better focus on the basics of top-order batting.

“I just try to bat time and play straight. I know I have the square shots, but if I just try and play straight and face a lot of balls then I know I’ll get runs. I know that if I face 200 balls then I’ll be close to a hundred. It’s about sticking to the basics and Rob Walter [Titans coach] is big on us just worrying about our own things and not the opposition,” Kuhn says.

It’s amazing to think of all the different jobs Kuhn has fulfilled on a cricket field since his days at Affies in the early 2000s, playing alongside AB de Villiers and Faf du Plessis. He was actually a middle-order batsman who dabbled in leg-spin.

“I batted four at Coke Week for Northerns, behind AB and Faf, and I batted twice, scoring 40 not out and four not out, the winning runs. And at club level, Roelof van der Merwe kept wicket and I bowled leg-spin, and then one day I said we should swop. I made a stumping off Roela and our ways were set!

“I was very fortunate to keep to guys like Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel, Alfonso Thomas, Paul Harris and Imran Tahir in my early days at the Titans. But if opening the batting is the only way I can play in a team, I’ll definitely take it. Not many people enjoy opening, but I put up my hand, I like the challenge. It’s like I prefer a green pitch because then you have to work for your runs and you know you deserve them. It’s lovely to get runs in those tough conditions,” Kuhn says.

The likeable man from Piet Retief certainly deserves a successful benefit and another look-in at international cricket, and there have been few more loyal servants of the Titans.

“At the beginning of my career I was fortunate to have traditional team-mates like Martin van Jaarsveld and Pierre de Bruyn, so that was the way I grew up. My family are all here in Pretoria and the Titans are the best franchise in the land. I can’t see myself playing in another country and, if I don’t play any more cricket for South Africa, then I won’t play international cricket for anybody else,” Kuhn says.

Last 2 holes boost Madsen into Tshwane Open lead 0

Posted on December 10, 2015 by Ken


The last two holes provided just the boost Morten Orum Madsen needed for him to claim the lead in the first round of the Tshwane Open at Pretoria Country Club on Thursday.

Madsen, who started his round on the 10th tee, spun a 54-degree wedge back a long way on the 123-metre eighth hole for a fabulous hole-in-one and then posted an eagle-three on the ninth for a seven-under-par 63 that gave the Dane, the 2014 SA Open winner, the early lead in the co-sanctioned event.

Englishman David Horsey also posted a 63 later in the day, with seven birdies and no bogeys, to share the lead after the first day, one shot ahead of South Africa’s in-form Wallie Coetsee and Australian Brett Rumford.

There are even more locals on five-under-par, in a tie for fifth, with Dean Burmester, Keith Horne, and Merrick Bremner all shooting 65s, while Chris Swanepoel, Oliver Bekker, last week’s Africa Open winner Trevor Fisher Junior, Justin Walters, Ockie Strydom and Erik van Rooyen are all on four-under.

Madsen’s efforts on Thursday follow closing rounds of 64 and 66 in last weekend’s Africa Open.

“I’ve put it in the fairway a lot more recently. I’m giving myself a lot more looks at birdie and that makes everything easier. It takes the stress off the putter a bit and it’s easier to relax,” Madsen said.

Horsey picked up three birdies on the front nine and was delighted with his finish, especially birdies on the 16th and 17th holes.

“The last five or six holes are tough and there aren’t many chances, so those were nice birdies. And it’s always good to not have any bogeys because one loose tee-shot here leads to bogey or worse,” Horsey said.

But it was Madsen who gained four shots on his last two holes to steal the limelight.

“I hit a fantastic shot on eight, I couldn’t hit it better, and it spun back into the hole. Then when you stand on the next tee you’re pretty pumped and confident. I succeeded in gathering my thoughts and hit a really nice drive and then a great second shot to 12 feet. It was the kind of thing you dream about, but don’t expect,” Madsen said.




Illogical playing conditions & inflexible officials mar 2nd day in Benoni 0

Posted on March 30, 2015 by Ken

Cricket so often errs by failing to fulfil its primary function of entertainment due to illogical playing conditions and inflexible officials, and the second day of the Sunfoil Series match between the Unlimited Titans and the bizhub Highveld Lions at Willowmoore Park in Benoni on Friday provided another example of that.

With the sun shining brightly, the umpires took the reluctant players off the field at 5.30pm, the usual time for close of play, despite the fact that nearly three hours of play had been washed out by heavy thundershowers in the early afternoon.

So there was no effort to extend the hours of play by half-an-hour, the reason given to the players being that the allotted overs for the day had been bowled. Which doesn’t make sense because only 64 overs were actually bowled on the second day.

The Titans had moved to 27 without loss in the six overs they had to face before stumps, Jacques Rudolph showing that he is not ready to be pensioned off just yet as he cruised to 18 not out with four fours. Heino Kuhn was with him on seven not out.

Geoff Toyana is a coach who prefers to err on the side of positivity and the Lions had declared at 4.50pm on 485 for seven declared, thinking that they would get a good hour to bowl at the Titans, before the early close left them bemused and frustrated.

They managed to post that score thanks to the efforts of Dwaine Pretorius and Dale Deeb, who added 137 for the seventh wicket in 140 minutes and 239 balls, and regained control for the Lions after the Titans had struck hard with the second new ball.

Captain Stephen Cook and Neil McKenzie had resumed on 264 for two and quickly rattled up a fifty partnership off just 54 balls, but then JP de Villiers, bowling at good pace and enjoying some movement, took three wickets in five deliveries as the Lions crashed from 311 for two to 313 for six.

McKenzie was the first to go, playing around a straight ball from De Villiers and being trapped lbw for 47, and the 25-year-old seamer then dismissed Gulam Bodi (1) and Thami Tsolekile (0) with successive deliveries in his next over.

Cook, elegant on the drive but measured in all his strokeplay, had chugged along to 122 in 379 minutes, off 241 balls, when he flicked at a leg-side delivery from left-arm paceman Rowan Richards and wicketkeeper Mangaliso Mosehle flung himself far to his left to take a superb catch.

Pretorius and Deeb batted with admirable good sense though, but neither did they allow any scoring opportunity to pass, and by lunch they had brought up their fifty partnership off 65 balls.

One can probably put money on Pretorius being named the Lions’ most improved cricketer at the end of this season and his plucky 67 took his batting average to 39, to go with a bowling average of 15. He fell, however, in the 10th over after the rain delay as he forgot the rule that you can’t cut left-arm spinner Roelof van der Merwe off the stumps and was bowled by the arm-ball.

Deeb added some more quick runs, finishing with a well-struck 89 not out, including seven fours and a six, before the Lions declared in order to try and buy themselves some time to push for victory on a flat pitch.

De Villiers was the most impressive of the Titans bowlers, with three for 75 in 18 overs. Richards also claimed three wickets, but his control was disappointing as he conceded 118 runs in 26 overs.

If the Titans manage to bat for most of Saturday’s third day, then you can’t see any other result than a draw at Willowmoore Park, despite their improved drainage.

*Batsmen were not loving the conditions on a rain-interrupted day at St George’s Park in Port Elizabeth, with the Nashua Cape Cobras struggling on 137 for seven in reply to the Chevrolet Warriors’ 203 all out.

The Warriors’ opening bowlers – Andrew Birch and Basheer Walters – had done most of the damage with two wickets each, and the defending champions lost the mainstay of their innings, opener Omphile Ramela, in the last over of the day.

Ramela had defied the bowlers for 229 minutes and 146 balls in scoring 45, before Walters had him caught in the slips.

The run out of Yaseen Vallie (6) saw the Cobras plunge to 35 for three, before the middle-order rallied. But the Warriors kept chipping away and the wickets of Dane Vilas (15), Sybrand Engelbrecht (26) and Justin Kemp (19) were the reward.

*Cody Chetty stood tall in Kimberley as his century put the Sunfoil Dolphins in a commanding position against the Chevrolet Knights.

Chetty scored 101 not out, sharing in a fifth-wicket partnership of 97 with Khaya Zondo (51), to steer the Dolphins from their overnight score of 251 for four to 452 all out.

The Knights found batting a stiff ask against a fired-up, new-look Dolphins pace attack, struggling to 128 for four at stumps.

Openers Lefa Mosena (46) and Gerhardt Abrahams (34) seemed to be reading the conditions well as they added 61 for the first wicket, but Abrahams was caught behind off Graham Hume and Mosena was caught in the slips off Mathew Pillans.

Fast bowler Daryn Dupavillon then rushed through Diego Rosier (20) and Malusi Siboto (0) in successive balls to put the Dolphins firmly on top.

Off-spinner Patrick Botha is the one Knights player who can feel bullish about his efforts, the 24-year-old patiently whirling away for 28.5 overs and picking up a career-best seven for 89 to start the new year in great fashion.

Quinton Friend may be 32-years-old, but he is still quite a handful, the paceman taking three for 58 in 28 overs.

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