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Ken Borland



Is everyone there on merit? One wonders … 0

Posted on November 17, 2016 by Ken

 

Cricket South Africa (CSA) has assured their stakeholders that selection for the national team will only be on merit and this week signed a new transformation agreement with Sascoc and the Department of Sports and Recreation in which they are apparently the only sporting code that has not agreed to quotas at the highest level.

CSA’s attitude is that the system must provide the national team with black players on merit, which is why they are aggressively pursuing quotas at domestic level.

It is also believed that CSA have met with the Proteas and have clarified with them that there was no interference in selection at the World Cup and that there won’t be targets in future.

But the squads announced for the tour of Bangladesh in July do make one wonder.

Reeza Hendricks and Aaron Phangiso have been picked for the Test squad, while Kagiso Rabada has leapfrogged Kyle Abbott in the fast-bowling pecking order.

I have the utmost respect as cricketers for them, but logic suggests the selectors were not looking at purely on-field performance in making these decisions.

Hendricks is undoubtedly a bright talent and I fully support him being involved in the limited-overs squads. But the figures show that Hendricks is not yet ready to be a Test opener. His first-class franchise batting average is just 34.55 with three centuries in 20 matches. Last season he averaged just 31.76, half what Highveld Lions opener Stephen Cook managed.

Cook has scored 10 centuries in the last two seasons, while Cobras opener Andrew Puttick has averaged 49.27 and 40.23 in the last two Sunfoil Series season. The fact that these two prolific batsman can’t make the side when an opening batsman is required and yet someone whose performances in the same competition are far inferior only adds fuel to the fire that is raging around selection for the national team.

The cynic in me believes that Phangiso’s selection for the Test squad is to make up for the appalling manner in which he was treated at the World Cup that saw him not play a single game.

Both Phangiso and Highveld Lions coach Geoff Toyana have gone on record as saying that the 31-year-old still needs a lot of work in the longer format and five wickets at an average of 67 in the Sunfoil Series shows that is the case.

Convenor of selectors Andrew Hudson said that they wanted a left-arm spinner for the squad and there is a ready-made, experienced, proven option in Robin Peterson.

As far as Rabada goes, I am certain that he will be a great fast bowler for South Africa in all formats, but what has Abbott done wrong?

Lady Luck always has her say when it comes to cricket, but Abbott has been one of the most unfortunate players in the country for a while now.

As a unit, the Proteas have been exceptionally strong in the Test arena, but the pain of the World Cup loss was all too obvious and whether CSA’s clearing-the-air session with the players was enough remains to be seen. They maintain that the only affirmative action when it comes to selection is if there is a 50/50 choice between two players, then the player of colour will get the benefit.

Was Hendricks being preferred to Cook really a 50/50 call? Phangiso over Peterson and Rabada ahead of Abbott?

A Bangladesh tour was never exactly looked forward to and this time the challenges will be even greater on the field. The Proteas will be asked tougher questions than ever before by Bangladesh on their home turf, while questions still swirl around their selection.

 

Stats & personal experience show new quotas are a mixed success 0

Posted on February 29, 2016 by Ken

 

Hopefully this year Cricket South Africa (CSA) will call in the consultants and the experts before making any decisions about transformation quotas in franchise cricket, but something that happened in the lift at the Wanderers suggests this season’s increased targets have been a mixed success.

It was after the T20 international against England and a group of youngish Black African fans, three guys and a woman, walked into the lift in animated, festive mood, having obviously had a good evening.

They were raving about the whole Wanderers stadium experience and one of them said “I’ve actually been to the Wanderers more times this season than I ever have before!”

Now, considering that there have only been three international matches in Johannesburg this summer, that tells you that the demographic most sought after by CSA is coming to franchise matches, which is surely a good thing.

I had a more scientific look at the situation via the averages and they show that there are several Black African bowlers of quality. The Knights are challenging for the Sunfoil Series title thanks to the efforts of Mbulelo Budaza, Tumi Masekela and Malusi Siboto, who have taken 39 wickets between them at an average of 15.25 at the halfway mark, providing superb support for Duanne Olivier (19 wkts @ 14.84).

Ethy Mbhalati is top of the Titans averages with 18 wickets at an average of 17, while, in the Momentum One-Day Cup, Siboto is the leading wicket-taker with 19, Junior Dala is third with 16, Tshepo Moreki has 15 scalps and Sisanda Magala 14. Eddie Leie and Andile Phehlukwayo have both taken 11 wickets, while Pumelela Matshikwe and Aaron Phangiso have been amongst the most economical bowlers in the competition, helping the Highveld Lions to the final.

Some of the same names featured prominently in the RamSlam T20 Challenge, with Magala finishing with the second-most wickets, Phangiso and Siboto having outstanding campaigns in terms of both wickets and economy, while Leie and Phehlukwayo were both among the leading wicket-takers. Lungi Ngidi showed promise in seven matches for the Titans.

But in terms of the bowlers, we already knew that was where the Black African talent is concentrated. Where are the batsmen looking to follow Temba Bavuma?

An average of 39 for Omphile Ramela is a bit disappointing for him considering he averaged 48 for the Cape Cobras last season, while there have been brief flashes of brilliance from Mangaliso Mosehle with his spectacular match-winning innings in the T20 final, Khaya Zondo in the One-Day Cup and Letlotlo Sesele, Thami Tsolekile and Somila Seyibokwe here and there.

To be fair though, the batting averages are dominated in general by the old guard – Vilas, Petersen, Cook, Kuhn, Ontong, Smit and Ingram.

As predicted in this column before the season started, coloured players are the ones losing out most in terms of opportunity and CSA are going to have to undergo a thorough review with the franchise coaches, players’ association and Corrie van Zyl’s cricket department to properly unpick the effects of a new system that was implemented on the whim of an individual.

There is currently a lot of negativity around South African domestic cricket, but to some extent the quality of local competition has always ebbed and flowed.

What is clear is that some of the sternest critics are sourcing their information from the sort of people who thought Geoff Toyana fielding for the Lions last week was due to quotas. What nonsense, especially since it was a White student who eventually replaced the coach as an emergency 12th man, forced into duty due to two injuries, one in the warm-up and one in the first half-hour.

These are the same sort of people who think protesters interrupting a rugby match is racist. How on earth does that make sense unless they believe rugby actually belongs to white people?

Fortunately cricket is further down the road away from that attitude. If the majority of the population love cricket, it can only be good for the game.

Selectors will seldom see Marchant de Lange in action … 0

Posted on May 18, 2015 by Ken

 

Marchant de Lange is one of the most promising fast bowlers in the country, but the new quotas that will be in force for domestic cricket from next season will ensure that the national selectors will seldom get a chance to see him in action, unless it’s in amateur or club cricket.

The new quotas demand that every franchise field six players of colour, including three Black Africans, in every starting XI, which is no doubt a worthy gesture towards ensuring cricket is representative of the country’s demographics, but, as with most attempts to fiddle with finely balanced systems, it will have unintended consequences.

One of these is that a 24-year-old strike bowler who has already taken 24 wickets in 10 matches across all three formats for South Africa is unlikely to play much franchise cricket next season.

De Lange plays for the Titans, who will in all likelihood fill their quota of Black Africans with two pace bowlers – Ethy Mbhalati and Junior Dala – and wicketkeeper/batsman Mangaliso Mosehle, who incidentally averaged 20 in the Sunfoil Series, 24 in the Momentum One-Day Cup and just six in the RamSlam T20 Challenge last season.

Cricket teams, much like food chains in nature, are a delicate balance and few teams will field more than four pace bowlers, with the Titans surely giving one of their other spots to Rowan Richards, the left-arm swing bowler and player of colour. De Lange is also competing with David Wiese and new signing Chris Morris, and the Titans are unlikely to pick him ahead of those two quality all-rounders.

Cricket South Africa already stand accused of trying to con the South African public that they really care about transformation after the World Cup shambles involving Vernon Philander and Kyle Abbott and Aaron Phangiso not playing a single game, and now they have rushed to implement a system that they didn’t even research.

I have it on good authority that Corrie van Zyl, the general manager of cricket, was caught totally unawares by the new quota proposal – it wasn’t even on the agenda – and I am certain that CSA did not even do the research I’ve done on what franchise teams will look like next season, because they then would have picked up that highly promising players of colour like Diego Rosier, Beuran Hendricks, Dane Paterson and Dane Piedt are also going to be negatively affected.

Hendricks and Paterson, who are both surely looking to play international cricket, are going to struggle to get into the Cape Cobras side for the same reason as De Lange – two pace bowlers’ slots will be taken by Mthokozisi Shezi and probably Tshepo Moreki.

Across all the franchises, it seems inevitable that teams will play two Black African pacemen, which is going to create an imbalance.

Some of the other talented cricketers who will not get regular franchise cricket are Sybrand Engelbrecht, Shaheen Khan, Keegan Petersen, Lizaad Williams, Daryn Smit, Calvin Savage, Daryn Dupavillon, Vaughn van Jaarsveld, Corne Dry, Duanne Olivier, Gerhardt Abrahams, JP de Villiers, Roelof van der Merwe, Heino Kuhn, Graeme van Buuren, Shaun von Berg, Qaasim Adams, Andrew Birch, Ryan Bailey and Colin Ackermann. That is a major loss of strength for the competitions that feed into the national team.

The Highveld Lions are the one franchise that is not going to be affected by the new policy because they are already ahead of the curve when it comes to transformation. I went to their annual awards dinner this week and what a fabulous night it was with all the different communities in South Africa strongly represented.

But we are not going to succeed in making all our teams look like that and enjoy the on-field success of the Lions when administrators decide to implement drastic policies without even subjecting them to prior research or consulting the leading cricket brains in the country.

Walter sees quality depth & no extra pressure for Titans 0

Posted on July 01, 2014 by Ken

While some critics are warning that Cricket South Africa’s new increased “targets” for players of colour – and specifically Black Africans – will curdle the milk of domestic cricket, Unlimited Titans coach Rob Walter says the new quotas won’t place him under extra pressure when it comes to selection in the season ahead.

Franchises will now be required to field at least five players of colour in all competitions, two of whom must be Black Africans, an increase of one for 2014/15.

The Titans have only contracted three Black Africans – pacemen Junior Dala and Ethy Mbhalati and wicketkeeper/batsman Mangaliso Mosehle – for next season, alongside six other players of colour – Qaasim Adams, Farhaan Behardien, Henry Davids, Eden Links, Rowan Richards and Tabraiz Shamsi.

“We have quality depth in all positions and we’re not sitting around thinking we’re going to be under pressure because of the new requirements. In fact we have to find a way of playing all these guys. A lot of our players of colour are actually pushing for places in the national side and they’re all there entirely on merit,” Walter said at the weekend during the launch of the new IXU brand of cricket equipment, for which he is an ambassador.

While there will obviously be more pressure on Mosehle, Mbhalati and Dala to perform, Walter said he thinks the added expectation will bring out the best in them.

“I have massive faith in Mangi. He’s had two stand-out 50-over campaigns and I’ve seen him make hundreds. In four-day cricket, he fell short last season, but I absolutely believe that he can score runs at that level.

“The pressure might actually be good for him, he’s occupying a hugely important position in four-day cricket. That number six/seven position has been key to many of the Proteas’ successes in recent years.

“Junior Dala has worked unbelievably hard in the off season after not having the best start to his Titans’ career, but we saw flashes of what he can do. He can bowl quickly and he’s clearly got something. Ethy was always going to be around anyway for another season, but having Junior in the squad has pushed him and he’s been working very hard,” Walter said.

With David Wiese, Marchant de Lange and Richards also being key bowlers, and JP de Villiers and Vincent Moore in reserve, Walter is confident the Titans have the attack to win trophies next season, but he is hoping his senior batsmen dish up many more runs than in 2013/14.

“I think Rowan is going to do great things, he has pace and he’s a left-hander, it was just sad that he was injured last season; Marchant is doing nicely and he delivered some real heat when he played at the end of last season; and David was unbelievable with the new ball and showed real skill. So all of a sudden the seam attack looks very good, plus JP has come a long way and Vince Moore bowled particularly well in the four games he played.

“But first and foremost what we need to improve is the performances of our senior players. We’ve added Dean Elgar, who will be key as another senior player, but the guys already there – Davids, Behardien, Albie Morkel, Kuhn – they’ve been performing year in, year out and I’ll be looking to them to really deliver,” Walter said.

Apart from those established batsmen, there is real talent waiting in the wings in Graeme van Buuren, Cobus Pienaar, Adams, Theunis de Bruyn and Ernest Kemm, and that meant there was cover available should there be injuries, national call-ups or loss of form.

“The great thing is that if we lose a player, it’s not the end of the world. The young guys have been performing, showing no fear and just revelling in the opportunity to play. Graeme was a standout batsman when it came to playing under pressure and that’s huge, a really great thing. Theunis showed in his first outing that he’s ready for franchise cricket and Ernest made a fifty in his second game. So depth is not something I’m worried about,” Walter said.

The Titans started training for the new season on May 1 and have been working hard on improving their skills.

“We fell short on our ability to deliver our skills so we started training earlier and have been doing that every day,” Walter said.

And the Titans will start playing competitive cricket as early as August, with the eKasi Challenge against the Highveld Lions, two three-day practice games and the Global Softech Sixes and Northerns Bash.

Titans contracted squad 2014/15: Qaasim Adams, Farhaan Behardien, Junior Dala, Henry Davids, Marchant de Lange, JP de Villiers, Heino Kuhn, Eden Links, Ethy Mbhalati, Albie Morkel, Mangaliso Mosehle, Cobus Pienaar, Rowan Richards, Tabraiz Shamsi, Graeme van Buuren (rookie contract), Roelof van der Merwe, Shaun von Berg, David Wiese, Jacques Rudolph (One-Day Cup only). CSA-contracted – Dean Elgar, AB de Villiers, Faf du Plessis, Morne Morkel.

 

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    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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