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Ken Borland

Titans limit their Black African batting options but beef up bowling 0

Posted on May 10, 2017 by Ken


The absence of a single fully-contracted Black African batsman in the Titans squad for next season could limit their options when it comes to fulfilling the quota of three in every starting line-up, but CEO Jacques Faul said they had decided to beef up their bowling.

Grant Mokoena, who averaged just 26 in eight Sunfoil Series games and scored 49 runs at a strike-rate of only 89 in his three T20 appearances, has joined the Knights, while Daniel Sincuba played one four-day game, scoring 32 and 0, and has been released.

Former SA U19 Junior World Cup captain Tony de Zorzi showed glimpses of promise in a few opportunities he was given towards the end of the season, and he has been given a rookie contract, and the inside lane in terms of Black African batsmen.

Mokoena and Sincuba’s contracts have gone to a pair of fast bowlers who excelled for Northerns in their triumphant season – Eldred Hawken and Alfred Mothoa, while former SA U19 batsman Andrea Agathangelou, who has played county cricket for Lancashire and Leicestershire, has been signed from South-Western Districts.

“It’s probably not ideal, but we still have a lot of batting depth and we have decided to run with Tony de Zorzi, simply because whoever we bring in needs to be on the same sort of level as a Henry Davids or Aiden Markram, and there’s probably nobody close to that.

“We’ve beefed up the bowling and we have three quality pacemen in Lungi Ngidi, Malusi Siboto and Junior Dala, plus Alfred Mothoa is a banker and we’re excited about left-arm spinner Gregory Mahlokwana, who got injured after his first game, but we think he will play more,” Faul told The Citizen on Friday.

Nevertheless, readers of the Titans squad list will be struck by the tremendous depth at their disposal – eight current nationally-contracted players, four former Proteas and three players with bright international futures in Heinrich Klaasen, Markram and Ngidi.

Players like fast bowler Dala and leg-spinner Shaun von Berg are also certainly on the national selectors’ radar having been chosen for SA A and the CSA spin camp in India respectively.

Titans Contracted Players 2017/18: Andrea Agathangelou, Junior Dala, Henry Davids, Heinrich Klaasen, Heino Kuhn, Eldred Hawken, Aiden Markram, Albie Morkel, Alfred Mothoa, Lungi Ngidi, Rowan Richards, Malusi Siboto, Grant Thomson, David Wiese, Shaun von Berg, Jonathan Vandiar. Rookies – Tony de Zorzi, Rivaldo Moonsamy. CSA-contracted national players – Farhaan Behardien, Quinton de Kock, AB de Villiers, Faf du Plessis, Dean Elgar, Morné Morkel, Chris Morris, Tabraiz Shamsi.


CSA to raise quotas 0

Posted on May 06, 2016 by Ken


Johannesburg-raised Grant Elliott, the star of New Zealand’s World Cup semi-final victory over South Africa on Tuesday, was a refugee from the quota system and there are fears of a fresh exodus of players after it was revealed Cricket South Africa (CSA) will raise the targets for players of colour and Black African cricketers for next season.

CSA’s plan to increase the number of players of colour required to feature in all franchise cricket to six from next season, including at least three Black Africans, and to make the quota seven players of colour, including four Black Africans, in the semi-professional teams has been slammed by the South African Cricketers’ Association (SACA) and the franchises, not least of all because they were not consulted before the announcement was made after they had done almost all of their contracting already for next season.

“We’re very unhappy, not with the decision itself because we represent all players and stay out of transformation decisions, but with the way it was done,” Tony Irish, the SACA chief executive, told The Citizen on Tuesday. “Our agreement with CSA requires them to consult with us and the franchises before doing things like that, and they have to do it before the franchise window for contracts starts on January 1.

“But they did this with two weeks left in the three-month window for transfers and 90% of the franchise contracts have been finalised based on the old numbers from last season. It means that players with contracts won’t be playing and the players that are playing won’t have contracts.”

The move, the second increase in the quota in successive seasons, will also have serious consequences for the pipeline of talent in South Africa because it effectively means that each union can only offer regular first-class cricket to 9 white players every season. Talented players on the fringes of their franchise sides like George Linde, Sybrand Engelbrecht, Daryn Smit, Calvin Savage, Duanne Olivier, Quinton Friend, Devon Conway, Sean Jamison, JP de Villiers, Shaun von Berg, Jon-Jon Smuts and David White could find themselves relegated to club cricket.

Players who have piqued the interest of the national selectors like Marchant de Lange, Vaughn van Jaarsveld, Corne Dry, Hardus Viljoen and Heino Kuhn could find themselves languishing in semi-professional cricket.

“This is exactly why consultation is so important, but CSA have completely disregarded us despite the agreements being clear. We are considering our options,” Irish said.

CSA spokesman Altaaf Kazi confirmed they had received a letter from SACA and “we are aware of their concerns and they are being addressed by the board”.

Elliott’s winning hand for New Zealand has once again put the spotlight on how much international-calibre talent South Africa loses, making a balanced, well thought-out response to the demands of transformation a necessity.

Heyneke Meyer has me thinking mischievous thoughts 0

Posted on September 07, 2015 by Ken


It may be mischievous to say there are a handful of White quota players in the Springbok World Cup squad, but there certainly are players who can count themselves most fortunate that Heyneke Meyer obviously has such a high opinion of them.

There are the walking wounded of Jean de Villiers, Fourie du Preez, Duane Vermeulen and Coenie Oosthuizen, and overseas-based players like Schalk Brits and Morne Steyn who have been chosen ahead of younger talent that has excelled in Super Rugby.

I fully back the selection of De Villiers – he has performed for the last four years both in terms of his own play and the captaincy, and his tenacious return from a serious knee injury and then a fractured jaw should be applauded. Having worked so hard to be fit for the World Cup, De Villiers will undoubtedly bring immense hunger to the tournament. Jesse Kriel and Damian de Allende are the in-form centres but are both inexperienced in high-pressure situations, so there’s no question De Villiers is there on merit.

Meyer is undoubtedly gambling on Du Preez and Vermeulen, who have not played a Test this year, but if they do come off they are the sort of players who can win you the World Cup, so I support their inclusion as well, even though there are major question marks surrounding them.

But there must be something else going on that the rugby media are not aware of when it comes to the selection of Oosthuizen. For all the talent he undoubtedly possesses, he has done little in a Springbok jersey and hasn’t played a Test since last November. He only completed half the SuperRugby season and at the end of June he had his third neck operation in four years.

Meyer hopefully knows something we don’t when it comes to Coenie, otherwise his selection is utterly insane. What’s more, it sends an incredibly negative message to Vincent Koch, Marcel van der Merwe and Steven Kitshoff, three up-and-coming props.

And the argument that Oosthuizen is in the squad because he can play on both sides of the scrum doesn’t hold water when you consider the problems he has had at tighthead and the fact that Trevor Nyakane is more than capable of switching between loosehead and tighthead as well.

The World Cup squad selection just highlighted more inconsistency from Meyer as he is willing to gamble on the 50/50 (at best) fitness of players like Oosthuizen, but not on Marcell Coetzee, the outstanding Springbok loose forward in the Rugby Championship this year.

The recall of players like Zane Kirchner and Morne Steyn also disappoints me because it signals the intention of Meyer to return to the same brand of rugby the Springboks played in 2012/13. The backline does need some attacking spark, which is why Jesse Kriel and Willie le Roux would be in my first-choice starting XV. I did not agree with the rave reviews Kirchner received after the Buenos Aires game – he was solid but he really offers nothing extra in attack.

Kriel, Pat Lambie, Lwazi Mvovo and JP Pietersen can all play fullback should something happen to Le Roux. Incidentally, I would also have chosen Lionel Mapoe ahead of Pietersen to bolster the midfield stocks, with the 29-year-old veteran battling to regain the form of old that made him an integral part of the 2007 and 2011 World Cup teams.

The selection of Kirchner has wasted the extra place Meyer was gifted by only choosing five props, instead of the six he thought he had to at the start of the international season. The demands of World Cup rugby surely compel one to choose more forwards and the coach could have had both Siya Kolisi and Coetzee in his squad, but instead the backs received an extra player who I really don’t believe is going to provide the brilliance that wins you the World Cup.

The selection of Steyn and Brits is another slap in the face of transformation because it ignores the outstanding Super Rugby form of Elton Jantjies and Scarra Ntubeni.

My World Cup squad – Willie le Roux, Lwazi Mvovo, Jesse Kriel, Damian de Allende, Jean de Villiers, Lionel Mapoe, Bryan Habana, Pat Lambie, Handre Pollard, Elton Jantjies, Fourie du Preez, Ruan Pienaar, Francois Hougaard, Duane Vermeulen, Marcell Coetzee, Willem Alberts, Schalk Burger, Francois Louw, Siya Kolisi, Victor Matfield, Lood de Jager, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Eben Etzebeth, Jannie du Plessis, Frans Malherbe, Marcel van der Merwe, Bismarck du Plessis, Adriaan Strauss, Scarra Ntubeni, Trevor Nyakane, Tendai Mtawarira.


Cricket steps towards proper integration, but what of rugby? 0

Posted on October 02, 2014 by Ken

Cricket took another major step towards properly integrating the game this weekend when the domestic season began with the new quota/target/requirement of at least two Black Africans per franchise … and the world did not end.

In fact, Temba Bavuma showed that he is one of the most promising batsmen in the country with a delightful innings at the Wanderers, handling the pace of Marchant de Lange with aplomb, Kagiso Rabada showed that he has a tremendous cricketing brain inside that athletic 19-year-old body, while Ethy Mbhalati and Tumi Masakela both bowled tidily, the latter for the Knights against the Warriors in Bloemfontein.

There was a predictable outcry when Cricket South Africa first announced this new “target” in mid-year, but 20 years of democracy has proven that some sectors of society are still recalcitrant when it comes to righting the wrongs of the past and trying to level the playing fields when it comes to opportunity, which is surely one of the basic premises of all sport.

Some people require a push in the right direction. But if the moral imperatives of fair play and equal opportunity aren’t incentive enough, then economic and sporting reality should be. Sports like cricket and rugby are still only tapping into a tiny proportion of the population, and therefore the talent in this country; by opening the doors of opportunity to more people, it stands to reason that our teams will become stronger.

While I am pleased that Black African cricketers will now have more opportunity at first-class level, therefore deepening the talent pool available to the Proteas, I was even more delighted with the news that Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer has handed Teboho “Oupa” Mohoje a start in today’s Test against the Wallabies.

At least now maybe the storms of accusation that have been circulating on electronic and social media will end.

It is perfectly understandable that some people, after all the years of suffering under Apartheid, still have a chip on their shoulders, but as a nation we should be trying to discuss these issues with less emotion.

There are so many armchair, semi-knowledgeable coaches out there and yet they feel they know better than a highly-qualified and decorated coach like Meyer when it comes to rugby reasons for selection? Worst of all, Meyer was accused of racism.

This is patently ridiculous when you consider that it was Meyer who recognised the raw material in Mohoje and brought him into the Springbok squad after he had started just five SuperRugby matches, all of them at home.

That’s the sort of affirmative action I fully support, but the peanut gallery who then wanted Mohoje to be hurried into the Rugby Championship starting XV are likely to harm his future prospects rather than help them.

Sure, Juan Smith leapfrogged Mohoje and had a bad game against Argentina but who can blame a coach, with his job on the line, for backing the pedigree of an experienced player who had performed brilliantly in the Heineken Cup? And places on the bench generally don’t necessarily go to the next best player, but to the player who can bring the most value to the side in terms of impact and utility value.

And those people saying Mohoje has been treated differently to someone like Arno Botha should note that the Bulls loose forward played 22 SuperRugby matches before making his debut against Italy and Scotland, the same team the Cheetahs flank began his international career against.

Perhaps the days are not far off when South African rugby franchises, like their cricketing counterparts, will have to play a couple of Black Africans. Only then will Meyer not have to manipulate the system and try and fast-track players. Selection is a gamble at the best of times and political sensitivities make it an absolute minefield.



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