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Ken Borland



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

Why such negativity in the season of hope? 0

Posted on December 20, 2016 by Ken

 

This is the season of hope and our cricketers have certainly given cause for much optimism for the rest of the summer, and yet there are still people spreading negativity about the game in this country.

It started up again when Keaton Jennings, son of former Transvaal Mean Machine great Ray, made a century on debut for England against India last week. The South African-born expat is 24 years old and has been playing for Durham since 2012.

Following his brilliant 112 in the first innings in Mumbai, the nonsense talk started about Jennings being ignored by the South African system, without honour in his own land, if you like, with “quotas” receiving their normal share of the blame.

Just to set the record straight, young Jennings was the captain of the SA U19 team in 2011 and made his first-class debut for Gauteng later that same year. So Jennings was in the system, playing in the same side as Quinton de Kock at that stage, but to expect him just to waltz into the Highveld Lions team ahead of players like Alviro Petersen, Neil McKenzie, Temba Bavuma, Stephen Cook and Zander de Bruyn would have been naïve.

So Jennings was not denied fair opportunity, he merely made a personal decision, good luck to him, and it in no way reflects badly on Cricket South Africa.

The other bizarre negativity at the moment surrounds AB de Villiers’ selfless decision to give up the Test captaincy.

From being the blue-eyed boy of South African cricket, suddenly certain people are reading all sorts of sinister motives and reasons into De Villiers’ decision. It’s disgraceful that aspersions are now being cast on the honourable Faf du Plessis and his long-time friendship with De Villiers.

The person crying foul the most has been Fanie de Villiers, but then he has had an axe to grind with South African cricket for some time, and is persona non grata around the Proteas so he doesn’t really know what is going on inside that camp.

Sit down Fanie and follow the wise advice that says: “If you don’t have anything nice to say, rather don’t say anything!”

Sharks sink to new lows 0

Posted on August 03, 2016 by Ken

The Sharks will be contemplating the rest of their SuperRugby overseas tour with sheer terror after they were put to the sword, 48-15, by the Highlanders in their opening match in Dunedin on Friday.

While the Highlanders obviously deserve credit for their superb display – highlighted by their dazzling skill and vision on attack – the miserable defence of the Sharks, the number of basic mistakes they made and their own lacklustre attack made this one of their most dismal performances, almost as bad as the rout they suffered at the hands of the Crusaders at Kings Park a month ago.

The brilliance of Highlanders flyhalf Lima Sopoaga, running at the line and invariably choosing the right option, had the Sharks’ defence at sixes and sevens and the pace and power of Patrick Osborne saw the wing create numerous gaps.

The support play of the home side was also outstanding and their skill in offloading meant they strolled to seven tries.

The first visit of the Highlanders to the Sharks’ 22 brought a try as fullback Odwa Ndungane rushed out of the defensive line to give flank Gareth Evans an easy run-in after wings Osborne and Waisake Naholo had crashed through on mini-breaks. It was a portent of the defensive failures that were to dog the Sharks all night, while Ndungane was also caught out of position on numerous occasions by the clever kicking games of half-backs Sopoaga and Aaron Smith.

The lead was extended to 10-0 in the 21st minute when Sopoaga, impressive with the boot as well, kicked a penalty after Osborne and skilful eighthman Nasi Manu went over the gain-line before a super offload to hooker Liam Coltman drew a stupid ruck infringement from flank Etienne Oosthuizen, the late replacement for Renaldo Bothma.

The Sharks did well, though, to level the scores by the 32nd minute.

The kicking game of the Sharks was generally poor, but one good up-and-under by flyhalf Fred Zeilinga led to a penalty for offsides which he kicked, before the powerful ball-carrying of Tendai Mtawarira, Bismarck du Plessis, Willem Alberts and Stephan Lewies allowed The Beast to plough his way over from a ruck close to the line.

The response from the Highlanders was swift and brutal, however, as they scored two quick tries to go into the break with a healthy 24-10 lead.

Sopoaga really bloomed in those four minutes before half-time, his brilliant little chip-kick to Naholo, after Smith’s quick tap-penalty and break, setting up the winger’s try and then his run across the face of the defence creating space out wide for Osborne, who was found with a great, long pass.

But instead of regrouping at half-time, the Sharks came out and produced one of the worst 40 minutes in their history as they utterly failed to corral the rampant Highlanders attack.

The lack of urgency and general malaise was epitomised by replacement scrumhalf Conrad Hoffman being in lala land as Marco Wentzel’s lineout steal was tapped past him and his tardiness in dotting down in the in-goal area saw lock Mark Reddish sneak in for the bonus point try.

Two minutes later, Smith made it 36-10 as he ranged up in support of centre Richard Buckman’s half-break, but the Sharks were on attack when they conceded the sixth try.

Protecting the ball and the basic skills of passing and catching are variables that are in a team’s own control and the Sharks were dreadful in those departments, losing possession inside the Highlanders’ 22 in the 67th minute and, with a variety of players getting through the half-gap and offloading, the home side scored a great team try, rounded off by replacement prop Brendon Edmonds.

The Sharks managed to show enough interest in the contest for hooker Du Plessis to score off a lineout drive in the 71st minute, but the Highlanders gained sweet revenge when their own pack drove their way to a 79th-minute try, replacement flank Elliot Dixon dotting down.

This must rate as one of the weakest Sharks teams to ever play Super Rugby, with too many players out of their depth at this level.

Scorers

Highlanders: Tries – Gareth Evans, Waisake Naholo, Patrick Osborne, Mark Reddish, Aaron Smith, Brendon Edmonds, Elliot Dixon. Conversions – Lima Sopoaga (5). Penalty – Sopoaga.

Sharks: Tries – Tendai Mtawarira, Bismarck du Plessis. Conversion – Fred Zeilinga. Penalty –Zeilinga.

http://citizen.co.za/373695/sharks-sink-to-new-lows/

Relief and a tear in the eye 0

Posted on September 29, 2015 by Ken

 

South Africa’s Rugby World Cup victory over Samoa brought relief but soon there was a tear in the eye as the news filtered through that they had lost their captain, Jean de Villiers, one of the great Springboks, for the rest of the tournament. The man with 109 Test caps, 37 of them as skipper, announced his retirement the next day.

De Villiers had, of course, been the centre (pardon the pun) of intense speculation over whether he deserved his place in the team after a run of injuries and a distinct lack of sharpness in the awful loss to Japan. The 34-year-old was shifted to outside centre for the match against Samoa, with Damian de Allende making a massive impact with his hard, direct running over the gain-line and into space in the number 12 jersey.

While De Allende was the man who made the most difference to the Springbok backline, it was heartening that De Villiers was at least able to go out on a high, leading the Springboks to an impressive win and playing well himself.

The Springboks also gained a considerable amount by having Willie le Roux at fullback – he was able to be a second “general” at first-receiver, taking some of the load off young Handre Pollard, while his ability to read space made his intrusions into the backline in wider positions a consistent threat.

Fourie du Preez also provided a top-class service from scrumhalf – one can scarcely recall a single pass going astray – and the veteran 2007 World Cup winner is not only a brilliant reader of the game but also a fantastic enabler in terms of allowing the team to change their tempo.

But where the turnaround for the Springboks came was up front. I said before the match that grunt and physicality up front would be needed against the big, mean and physical Samoans, who carry the ball with an intent not matched by many, and the Springboks really needed all hands on deck at the gain-line, rather than forwards standing out in the backline.

My wife is no connoisseur of the dark arts of forward play and the tight exchanges, but even she noticed how the Springbok pack “really seemed to be playing” against Samoa.

It was most heartening that the first Springbok to step up and lead the way was Victor Matfield, who was a standout figure in the opening exchanges, leading from the front with the sort of talismanic performance coach Heyneke Meyer was no doubt hoping for.

The Springboks showed that they can use the ball on attack as well as anybody, providing their forwards have laid the platform first; they need to earn the right to throw the ball around and there is no shame (and an awful lot of good sense) in playing to your own strengths instead of trying to copy the All Blacks.

The good news for South Africa is that the damage of the Japan loss has almost been undone with the Springboks sitting on seven log-points, thanks to bonus points, only one shy of where they would have wanted to have been heading into this weekend’s game against Scotland.

The campaign is back on an even keel and the relief and joy in the Springbok camp after the Samoa game was obvious. But the level of performance now needs to be raised another notch against Scotland; the consistency of this Springbok team has been a concern throughout the four years of Meyer’s tenure and hopefully, with the pressure now having eased, they don’t slump back into bad habits.

 

 



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