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Ken Borland

Richards discovers control, looking for strong limited-overs showings 0

Posted on November 22, 2016 by Ken


Left-arm paceman Rowan Richards discovered the control he was missing in the second half of last season, leading to a strong showing in the Sunfoil Series which he now plans to take into the limited-overs arena for the Titans.

Richards was the leading wicket-taker for the Titans in four-day cricket with 36, but he only played half of the games in their triumphant Momentum One-Day Cup campaign, taking six wickets and conceding a shade over a run-a-ball. His one appearance in the RamSlam T20 was a disaster, conceding 55 runs in his four overs, against the Cape Cobras during the triple-header at the Wanderers that began the competition.

“At the beginning of the season, it was a struggle, but it clicked heading into the four-day games. It was just a matter of improving my action with Mandla Mashimbyi and Rob Walter [Titans coaches], to get more consistency and be able to control the swing. My goal for next season is to carry that through to the limited-overs formats,” Richards told The Citizen.

Four-day cricket certainly tests a person’s patience and range of skills and the 30-year-old showed that he is one of those bowlers who can plug away while nothing much is happening, but will suddenly get on to a streak and be unplayable.

“l enjoyed the four-day campaign. You get slow periods, it’s just dead, but you have to believe something is going to happen, even when you’re not getting wickets. If I get one, then I believe I can get three or four and that then gives you a sniff.

“Last season I was swinging the ball both ways and I was dangerous with both the new and old ball, getting a bit of reverse. Anyone can go up to a higher level, I just need to focus on my processes, build on what I do well and be consistent,” Richards said.

Those who witnessed his hat-trick on the final afternoon to beat the Warriors in Benoni or his five for 38 against the Knights in Bloemfontein will know that Richards is a left-armer the national selectors should certainly be keeping their eyes on.


Willowmoore Park becoming field of dreams for Titans players 0

Posted on November 06, 2014 by Ken

Whatever people say about going to Benoni, Willowmoore Park is rapidly becoming a field of dreams for the Unlimited Titans players with Roelof van der Merwe and Rowan Richards adding to the list of phenomenal individual performances there in the Sunfoil Series victory over the Chevrolet Warriors over the weekend.

Van der Merwe turned his maiden first-class century into a double, scoring 205 not out as the Titans amassed 539 for six in their first innings. Left-arm paceman Richards then took five for 31 as the Titans dismissed the Warriors for the second time with just a dozen overs remaining in the match. His final spell was a phenomenal 5.4-3-2-5 and included a hat-trick to end the match.

It is only the fourth time that a double century and a hat-trick have been scored in the same first-class match in South Africa and the second time it has happened at Willowmoore Park. The other occasion was the famous match in 1948/49 when Denis Compton blazed a triple century for the English tourists in 181 minutes against North-Eastern Transvaal, with seamer Cliff Gladwin then taking a hat-trick.

Last season, Shaun von Berg blasted the fastest century – off 73 balls – in franchise four-day history for the Titans against the Cape Cobras in Benoni.

Van der Merwe has always been one of the hardest workers in the Titans team and the dramatic improvement in his batting – he was their leading run-scorer in last season’s Sunfoil Series and averaged 55.57 – has been the reward.

“It’s all about the way you train in the nets and it’s just mental really. My target is to face a hundred balls, it’s a simple thing, but often scoring a fifty isn’t enough to get you there,” Van der Merwe said of his improvement.

“The way the Titans’ set-up is now, Shaun von Berg is the number one spinner for four-day cricket and the only way I can be sure of playing is by being a batsman. I’ve become almost a part-time bowler if you like, but that’s how I stay in the side, through scoring runs and my bowling is an extra,” the left-arm spinner said.

The Titans batsmen have struggled for consistency in recent times and coach Rob Walter has often stressed the importance of scoring centuries. It was typical Bulldog Roelof for him to go and make that first hundred of the season a double!

“We have struggled over the past few seasons to make big scores, so it was a good start in Benoni. I was very stressed going to a hundred for the first time, I felt sure something was going to go wrong again in the 90s, but I was able to play with freedom after that,” Van der Merwe, whose previous highest score was 93 against the Highveld Lions in 2010, said.

The Titans have been waiting for Richards to find his best form after a long-term injury lay-off, and the 30-year-old hit his straps in spectacular fashion as he wrecked the Warriors’ brave effort to save the game.

“It’s my first hat-trick and it makes it really special that it won the game and gave me a five-for,” Richards said after his career-best figures in the Sunfoil Series.

“I knew it would be my last spell of the day, so I just pushed it and made sure I hit good areas. There had been a lot of effort before me by the other seamers, JP de Villiers and Ethy Mbhalati, that broke the long partnership between Colin Ingram and Ryan Bailey, and we just said that another wicket would bring more breakthroughs. We never gave up and I found my rhythm at the right time.”



Titans’ progress checked until Richards razes Warriors 0

Posted on October 05, 2014 by Ken

Colin Ingram and Ryan Bailey were able to check the Unlimited Titans’ progress for three-and-a-half hours, but ultimately the Chevrolet Warriors were swept away by a Rowan Richards hat-trick as the home side won their Sunfoil Series match by 170 runs at Willowmoore Park in Benoni on Sunday.

The Warriors had begun the final day on 51 for two chasing an unlikely 414 for victory and survival was on their mind, especially after Jon-Jon Smuts was caught in the gully off JP de Villiers in the second over of the day.

Colin Ackermann batted for two hours in scoring 47 before being dismissed by medium-pacer Farhaan Behardien, leaving the Warriors on a shaky 111 for four with 83 overs still left on the final day.

But Ingram and Bailey dug in so well they might have been called mole-men. They added 113 in 56 overs for the fifth wicket; the left-handed Ingram compact and secure, but able to play some pleasing strokes when the opportunity presented itself, while burly Bailey seldom strayed from the crease as he prodded and deflected, an occasional well-timed punch down the ground being as far as he was willing to go in terms of strokeplay.

They survived together for 14 overs until lunch, taken on 151 for four, and then ploughed on until tea, which the Warriors reached on a far healthier 215 for four.

The Titans were heavily reliant on the second new ball when the final session began with Ingram on 87 and Bailey on 38, and it might not have been resignation on the home team’s faces but it was certainly concern when the experienced duo survived for another six overs after tea.

It was Ethy Mbhalati who made the crucial breakthrough, claiming a return catch from Bailey, whose stroke was a prod that would have been more effective if one was trying to scrape guano off the pitch rather than intercept a cricket ball.

It had nevertheless been an immense effort from Bailey, who faced 171 balls for his 40 runs and showed once again how valuable his experience is in this Warriors batting line-up.

Ingram would fall four overs later as he edged Richards low to Farhaan Behardien in the gully and the rest would go quickly as the left-arm paceman produced a top-class spell of swing bowling – five for two in 5.4 overs with three maidens – a phenomenal burst in which he moved the ball both ways.

Ingram was unfortunate not to achieve his second century of the match, falling for 93 off 226 balls in a little over five hours at the crease, a wonderful effort.

Simon Harmer and Athenkosi Dyili hung around for six overs before Richards produced a snorter which spat up from back of a length and Harmer (7) could only glove the ball to wicketkeeper Mangaliso Mosehle.

There were still a dozen overs left for the Titans to claim the last three wickets when Richards began the 103rd over, bowling from the Harpur Street End. But, having clearly rediscovered his rhythm, the 30-year-old proceeded to end the match in the most spectacular way possible.

The second ball of the over saw the left-handed Dyili (10) prodding at a delivery that swung away from him, edging a catch into the midriff of double-centurion Roelof van der Merwe at third slip.

Sisanda Magala was next up and he was bowled by a beauty that nipped away from the right-hander, squaring the batsman up and knocking over the off-bail.

Basheer Walters was the hat-trick victim, able only to prod at another away-swinger, sending an edge into the safe hands of Van der Merwe at third slip.

“It’s my first hat-trick and it makes it really special that it won the game and gave me a five-for,” hero Richards said after his career-best figures of five for 31 in the Sunfoil Series.

“I knew it would be my last spell of the day, so I just pushed it and made sure I hit good areas. There had been a lot of effort before me by the other seamers, JP and Ethy, that broke the long partnership, and we just said that another wicket would bring more breakthroughs. We never gave up and I found my rhythm at the right time.”

Captain Henry Davids was delighted with the way his team had bounced back from a poor performance and a 190-run hammering at the hands of the Highveld Lions last weekend.

“During our pre-season camp in Knysna, we spoke about winning games after tea on the last day and that’s what makes this the best format, it tests everything in your game. We hung in there, we stayed patient and we knew the new ball would make it tough for the batsmen.

“Things happen quickly on this pitch, wickets fall in clusters and the guys bowled brilliantly, especially that spell from Rowan. Plus there was that unbelievable double-hundred from Roelof that really set the team up in the first innings,” Davids said.


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