for quality writing

Ken Borland



Most daunting journey of all for well-travelled McLaren 0

Posted on November 01, 2017 by Ken

 

Ryan McLaren has travelled many miles in his cricket career but he is about to embark on his most daunting journey of all as the probable replacement for Jacques Kallis in South Africa’s Test side.

The 30-year-old has gone from being born into a famous Kimberley family through Grey College in Bloemfontein, stints as a Kolpak player in English county cricket for Kent and Middlesex, three IPL teams and on to play for South Africa.

Although the national selectors named a 15-man squad yesterday to take on Australia in the three-Test series next month, McLaren is the favourite to replace Kallis, coming in at number seven and providing the team with a fourth seamer.

National selection convenor Andrew Hudson spoke of “staying with the brand of cricket that has brought us such success” and that means a fourth seamer will be an integral part of South Africa’s game plan, which involves unrelenting pressure on the opposition.

But, as coach Russell Domingo pointed out, with no Kallis, having a fourth seamer means either dropping a batsman or not playing a spinner.

“We have to do away with the luxury of having seven specialist batsmen. Number seven will now probably be an all-rounder or a spinner.

“It’s very difficult to have seven batsmen, four seamers and a spinner. Something has to give, and I do like to have a spinner because it gives the team a lot more balance,” Domingo said yesterday.

It won’t of course be a Test debut for McLaren because he has appeared for South Africa in the ultimate version of the game before – against England at the Wanderers four years ago.

McLaren bowled tidily as part of a five-prong seam attack that ran rampant over England, dismissing them for just 180 and 169 as South Africa romped to victory by an innings and 74 runs to level the series. The left-handed batsman also scored 33 not out coming in at number eight.

Wayne Parnell also made his debut in that match and has also been included in the squad to play the Aussies. Although Domingo said he loved the 140km/h pace and left-arm variation that Parnell brings to the attack, McLaren’s greater consistency – he could do the holding role alongside Steyn, Morkel and Philander very well – and better ability with the bat should see him get the nod.

McLaren has the experience of already playing 40 ODIs and 10 T20s for South Africa and has become an integral part of the 50-over side in the last year. He’s a genuine all-rounder: In 103 first-class matches he has scored 3860 runs at an average of 30 and has taken 329 wickets at 25.47.

McLaren said he has no delusions of stepping into Kallis’s boots but is also confident that he can perform the role the national team requires of him.

“I’ve pretty much made peace with the fact that you can’t make comparisons between myself and Jacques. There’s only been one Jacques Kallis and there will only ever be one.

“So I’m just going to focus on the role I have to perform, which is batting seven and bowling second-change, which is pretty much what I’ve been doing most of my career.

“As an all-rounder, there’s always the physical demands of contributing in both disciplines, but it’s nothing new for me because I’ve been doing it for the Knights for many years – bowling 20 or 25 overs a day and batting.

“I will take some confidence from how I’ve performed well in ODI cricket in the last year, but Test cricket is a totally different game, it’s where every cricketer wants to be measured. And there’s no greater test than playing against Australia, so I’m excited for the challenge,” McLaren said.

The absence of Kallis will lead to another change in the batting order, with Domingo confirming that Faf du Plessis would be promoted to the number four spot, the place where greats such as Graeme Pollock, Sachin Tendulkar, Wally Hammond and Javed Miandad batted.

“It’s no state secret, Faf is the guy we have earmarked for number four. He made a big hundred at number four to save a Test recently and he bats there at franchise level. He’s a suitable replacement,” Domingo said.

Robin Peterson, the left-arm orthodox incumbent, is the only specialist spinner in the squad, but Hudson said the selection certainly did not mark the end of Imran Tahir’s Test career.

“Robbie P has put in some good performances lately and he did well in Perth at the back end of the last tour to Australia. He fits in with the style of cricket we want to play.

“But we know Imran Tahir can bowl with variety and an attacking leg-spinner on a turning pitch is still an option for us because we play a lot of cricket in the sub-continent. We certainly are not going past Imran,” Hudson said.

Domingo suggested that the pitches for the three Tests – in Centurion, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town – will favour the quick bowlers, setting up the most tantalising pace war between the two best fast bowling attacks in world cricket.

“We would like pitches that assist our bowlers. Our batsmen are well-versed in South African conditions, whereas in Australia the pitches are more in favour of the batsmen. In South Africa they favour the fast bowlers more and our batsmen are used to adapting to that,” the coach said.

Squad – Graeme Smith, Alviro Petersen, Hashim Amla, Faf du Plessis, AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, Dean Elgar, Ryan McLaren, Wayne Parnell, Thami Tsolekile, Robin Peterson, Vernon Philander, Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel, Rory Kleinveldt.

*Left-arm paceman Beuran Hendricks and off-spinner Simon Harmer will practice with the squad for the sake of preparation against Mitchell Johnson and Nathan Lyon. 

https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2014-01-30-ryan-mclaren-his-own-man-not-stepping-into-kallis-shoes/#.WfmzAFuCzIU

Superb Williams solo try wins scrappy game for Sharks 0

Posted on November 17, 2016 by Ken

 

A superb solo try by replacement centre Heimar Williams made certain of a 25-21 victory for the Sharks in a scrappy SuperRugby match against the Rebels at Kings Park in Durban last night.

Williams, who cut inside and then dashed over from 25 metres out for a brilliant try, gave the Sharks a 22-7 lead after 52 minutes.

But despite the Rebels playing with 14 men for the entire second half after prop Laurie Weeks was red-carded for repeatedly punching Jannie du Plessis, who was yellow-carded for starting the fracas with a slap to the back of the head, the visitors fought back manfully and threatened to steal the spoils.

Inspired by man of the match Scott Higginbotham, their eighthman and captain, the Rebels scored twice in the last quarter through Higginbotham and replacement wing Bryce Hegarty.

The Sharks, who dominated territory, were hesitant on attack and both sides struggled to gain momentum due to dreadful handling.

Left wing S’Bura Sithole was the Sharks’ best player and his 34th-minute try, muscling his way through several defenders, ensured that they had a 10-0 lead, but that was cut to 7-10 at the break by Higginbotham’s first try.

Four minutes into the second half, the Rebels were on attack but replacement scrumhalf Nic Stirzaker threw a no-look pass that was snaffled by fullback Lwazi Mvovo, who then sprinted 80 metres for a thrilling intercept try.

The Sharks led 15-7 but they created precious little else in terms of try-scoring chances, their attack being too lateral – when they managed to hang on to the ball – and the several passengers in their pack ensuring that front-foot ball was hard to come by.

They were grateful for Williams finally producing some direct running for the try that made the task just too hard for the Rebels.

Scorers

Sharks – Tries: S’Bura Sithole, Lwazi Mvovo, Heimar Williams. Conversions: Lionel Cronje (2). Penalties: Cronje (2).

Rebels – Tries: Scott Higginbotham (2), Bryce Hegarty. Conversions: Jack Debreczeni (3).

Jantjies able replacement for Lambie & Pollard – Gold 0

Posted on April 14, 2016 by Ken

 

Sharks coach Gary Gold believes that the Springboks have a ready-made replacement in Elton Jantjies for the injured flyhalf duo of Pat Lambie and Handre Pollard following his pivotal role in the Lions’ convincing 24-9 victory in their SuperRugby match in Durban at the weekend.

“Sometimes we mustn’t be afraid to say that we lost to a better team. The Lions defended very well, they kept us out despite wave after wave of attack and I thought Elton Jantjies was outstanding, he controlled the game very well.

“Elton is more than deserving of the Springbok flyhalf position. Pat Lambie and Handre Pollard are both out, which is not great for South African rugby, but there’s no way Elton would let you down. He’s cool, calm and composed and kicks his goals well. I think he’s outstanding,” Gold said.

With the Sharks being tryless, questions were once again asked about the attacking ambition of the team, but Gold said his side have played with intent.

“The game plan is okay, but we must just execute better. The guys came out and showed intent and I was proud of that. If we had taken that opportunity in the first five minutes, after a really good wave of attack, then who knows what might have happened?

“Sometimes we were attacking from the wrong areas and the penalty count against us was very high, which makes it very difficult. We looked quite good through the phases, especially off the lineout, but we were not able to launch off the scrum, where the Lions kept getting the ascendancy. The back three are getting enough ball, but whether it’s in the right areas is another story and we don’t do enough with it,” Gold said.

The director of rugby confirmed that flank Marcell Coetzee, who has been in brilliant form, has been ruled out of their tour to New Zealand due to a serious knee injury suffered against the Lions.

“We have certainly been written off before the tour, so it will be a great test of character. The guys will have to man up and take on the challenge, but it will be a fun challenge. We have got to right the wrongs of the last few weeks, but there have been many weeks of rights before that,” Gold said.

Zeilinga puts Sharks’ noses in front in photo-finish 0

Posted on November 03, 2014 by Ken

Replacement Fred Zeilinga’s seven penalties put the Cell C Sharks’ noses in front in a photo-finish to their Absa Currie Cup match against the Xerox Golden Lions at King’s Park last night, as the home side scraped through 26-23 to keep their chances alive of hosting a semi-final.

The Lions had no answer to the Sharks’ determination to keep ball in hand, their superiority at the breakdown led by Jacques Botes, who was ‘celebrating’ the last home game of his illustrious career, and the often perplexing decisions of referee Pro Legoete.

The game was often scrappy as both sides gave away plenty of possession through handling errors, and the lineouts also seldom went to plan for the team throwing in.

The Lions enjoyed a 13-11 half-time lead as wing Ruan Combrinck read a blindside move by the Sharks perfectly and raced away for a 60-metre intercept try, with Marnitz Boshoff, the number 15 on his back, converting and adding two penalties.

A bullocking run by centre Andre Esterhuizen had given the Sharks their only try, but he was yellow-carded shortly afterwards for elbowing a tackler.

But the Sharks chipped away in the second half with Zeilinga adding penalties in the 46th, 49th, 54th and 60th minutes. An electrifying try by the Lions, centre Stokkies Hanekom dotting down after superb offloads by Franco Mostert, Jacques van Rooyen, Kwagga Smith and Ross Cronje, gave them a tiny glimmer of hope, but a good looping move by the Sharks created space on the outside and another penalty for Zeilinga, who took over the kicks from flyhalf Lionel Cronje towards the end of the first half.

The Lions were also hurt badly by replacement flank Derick Minnie being sent off to the sin-bin in the 68th minute for killing the ball in the ruck, when it looked very much like a tackle situation.

Scorers

Sharks – Try: Andre Esterhuizen. Penalties: Fred Zeilinga (7).

Lions – Tries: Ruan Combrinck, Stokkies Hanekom. Conversions: Marnitz Boshoff (2). Penalties: Boshoff (3).

 

 



↑ Top