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Ken Borland



The thrills and drama of the Sunfoil Series 0

Posted on February 24, 2017 by Ken

 

The Sunfoil Series – the four-day domestic franchise competition – came down to the most thrilling of conclusions last weekend with the Knights claiming the title by just 1.78 points, the equivalent of 89 runs over a tournament that lasted 10 weeks, once again proving that, at least in the minds of the players and the aficionados of the sport, it is the premier trophy in the local game.

Nicky Boje, the Knights coach, confirmed that the four-day competition was the main target in their minds this season, and the other franchise coaches made similar comments through the campaign.

The thing about four-day cricket is that it provides the most all-encompassing test of a player’s skills and of a team’s quality – it’s essentially 40 days of cricket, 96 overs a day, so an examination that can last 3840 overs.

And it still came down to the narrowest of margins, so small in fact that Knights captain Theunis de Bruyn gave a large part of the credit for his team’s triumph to a partnership of just 10 runs between the last pair in their penultimate game against the Cape Cobras.

Akhona Kula and Tshepo Ntuli took the Knights’ first innings in Paarl from 143 for nine to 153 to get them one batting point – 150 is set as the milestone for the first batting bonus point, make 149 and you get zero. Even though the Knights went on to lose the match by 151 runs, that single point made their life a lot easier in the final game against the Highveld Lions because it meant they were targeting 430 in 100 overs rather than around 480.

“It allowed us to believe a little bit more,” De Bruyn said, and we all know belief plays a massive role in any achievement.

I just wish Cricket South Africa had a bit more belief in their four-day competition. It would be unrealistic to expect huge crowds to attend, but they could certainly do more to generate greater interest in the tournament that makes our Test cricketers. They have scheduled media sessions with the franchises before T20 and Momentum One-Day Cup games, why not before Sunfoil Series matches?  Their decision to no longer pay for a scorer to sit in the press box during four-day games suggests their attitude is to cut investment in the competition rather than promote it.

Scorers are an essential help to the media in terms of getting all their stats and figures correct, and it is heartening that CSA’s official statistician, Andrew Samson, is very much a long-format man.

The Oracle, as our media call him – I’m not sure what the BBC Test Match Special team call him but he is also their official statistician – has just brought out a book, The Moon is Toast, which is a celebration of all the quirky statistics the wonderful game of cricket throws up, written in the format of a year-long diary.

Copies of the book are available from http://tinyurl.com/hgbulfp and the wry humour of Samson makes what could become a boring read into an entertaining delight.

Long-form cricket obviously lends itself to more statistical gems than the wham-bam! of limited-overs cricket and the greater scope for all sorts of possibilities to occur was shown by the dramatic conclusion of our own four-day competition.

The longer the game, the greater the chance of an amazing comeback, just as the New South Wales team did in their recent Sheffield Shield game against Queensland at the Sydney Cricket Ground. They were two for two in their first innings before going on to make 603 for six declared which, Samson tells me, is only the fourth time in all first-class cricket that a team has lost their first two wickets for two or less runs but still gone on to score more than 600.

The South African example is Griqualand West recovering from one for two and then three for three to make 602 all out against Rhodesia in Kimberley in 1930, thanks to a double-century by the exotically-named Xenophon Balaskas, the Test all-rounder.

Amla can really appreciate the value of a single run, ask Stiaan 0

Posted on February 27, 2015 by Ken

By the end of his career, there will probably be anthologies written about all the elegant runs Hashim Amla has scored, but from 22 yards away he could really appreciate the value of just a single run.

It was the single that began Stiaan van Zyl’s Test career and the left-hander returned to the changeroom exactly a hundred runs later having joined the select band of batsmen who have scored a century on debut.

The single came as he flicked left-arm spinner Sulieman Benn through short-leg and Amla met Van Zyl in the middle of the pitch and said “I know it’s only just one run, but very well done!”

Van Zyl smiled in relief and went about knocking up an impressive 129-ball century in the first Test against the West Indies at Centurion on Thursday.

It was not without its troubles, however, particularly at the start when he almost edged his first ball to leg-gully off Benn and was dropped in the same position off the giant left-arm spinner on two.

“I was very nervous, before the first ball my gloves were wet. Benn is a bit taller than your normal spinner [Amla pointed out that he releases the ball from about three metres high!] and there was a bit of bounce and turn. It was a rough start but it became a bit easier.

“It’s obviously a big stage, but I told myself that it’s just the same old cricket ball coming at you. I just wanted to get past 10, to feel my way in, and once I got 50 I thought a hundred might be possible. Fortunately they gave me enough bad balls for me to get there,” Van Zyl said.

The left-hander added that the experience gained over the course of his 96 first-class games also helped, as did the foundation laid by playing for the all-conquering Cape Cobras side.

Although he was given the ideal platform by Amla and De Villiers’ record fourth-wicket stand of 308, it did not make his task any easier that he had to wait for over five hours with his pads on.

“We lost three quick wickets and my pads were on, and then every ball could be the one that brings you in. So it was quite mentally draining and I had to walk around and try and focus on other stuff. It’s a different ball game coming in at 365 for four compared to 50 for three, so the platform took the pressure off and I was able to just play freely,” Van Zyl said.

The 27-year-old’s brisk innings was also important as it appertains to the match situation, allowing South Africa to declare on 552 for five half-an-hour before the scheduled tea break. That should have given the hosts 38 overs in which to knock over the West Indian top-order, but a typical summer thunderstorm washed out that possibility, with no more play possible on the second day.

“We were looking to score runs, with rain around, and I wanted to declare earlier rather than later, plus there was always going to be bad light. We wanted to score quickly to give us as much time as possible to bowl at them. Now we have three days to get 20 wickets and hopefully the pitch sweating under the covers a bit might work in our favour,” captain Amla said.

Although the pitch has flattened out a bit, South Africa’s total is surely insuperable for a West Indies batting line-up that has averaged just 262 runs per innings in South Africa.

“The team is in position, we were in trouble but AB and I had a crucial partnership when the pitch still had a bit in it. I’m really happy to get some runs [208!] and the pitch still has a bit in it up front if you bowl in the right area. There are a few divots because it was quite soft on the first day and we have a good score on the board for what I consider the best attack in the world to bowl at,” Amla said.

 http://citizen.co.za/296037/just-wanted-get-past-10-stiaan-van-zyl/

Barnes preparing SA A for mental assassination 0

Posted on July 10, 2014 by Ken

While the Proteas are in Sri Lanka, South Africa’s next tier of internationals – the SA A side – will be heading off to Australia soon and coach Vincent Barnes says one of his most important tasks will be to mentally prepare the up-and-coming players for a country in which character assassination seems as much of a goal as taking wickets or scoring runs.

The SA A squad play their first match in a triangular series with the Australian and Indian A sides on July 20 and are busy preparing for a tough tour at the CSA Centre of Excellence in Pretoria. Barnes will be able to take fully-fledged internationals such as captain Justin Ontong, Marchant de Lange, Beuran Hendricks, Rory Kleinveldt, Heino Kuhn, Farhaan Behardien, Aaron Phangiso and Vaughn van Jaarsveld in his party, but there are numerous younger players, several of whom have never been to Australia before.

“The tour is designed to give our fringe players top-quality opposition and it’s a fantastic opportunity to play in Australia even though it’s winter. There are four recent Proteas [Hendricks, Phangiso, Kleinveldt & Behardien], but it’s a nice blend with a lot of senior players and quite a few young debutants.

“I’m doing a lot of mental work with them because I want us to go across there with presence, our body language is important. The biggest challenge in Australia is mentally and quite a few of the guys are on their first tour there. They’re going to have to deal with those mental pressures and learn how to overcome them,” Barnes told The Pretoria News on Wednesday.

Warriors opening batsman David White and Highveld Lions pace bowler Kagiso Rabada are two of the rookies in the squad, but they are both excited by the learning opportunities they will have in Australia.

“It’s a great honour to be chosen for the A side, I feel very privileged and I’m very excited. I want to learn as much as I can so I can build on my game for the Warriors, after I put in some nice performances for them in four-day cricket last season. Obviously the goal is to play Test cricket for the Proteas, but I don’t want to get ahead of myself.

“I have huge respect for the guys I’m playing with, there are some great cricketers and I’m going to learn as much as possible from them. Especially Justin Ontong, because he’s been around the block and has a lot of information to share,” White said.

Rabada was shining for the SA U19 Junior World Cup-winning side at the start of the year and his selection in both the four-day and limited-overs squads completes a whirlwind six months for the St Stithians product.

“Everything has happened so quickly, I went straight into the franchise team from the U19s and now I’m playing for SA A. I hope to learn from it and become a better cricketer. If I just play my best then the other things will take care of themselves, but my main goal is to play for the Proteas and long-term to be one of the best fast bowlers in the world,” Rabada said.

Five members of last season’s SA A squad – Kyle Abbott, Stiaan van Zyl, Dean Elgar, Hendricks and Phangiso will be involved in the Proteas’ tour of Sri Lanka and Barnes is excited by the possibilities that lie ahead for this year’s intake.

“Having so many young players has been refreshing and they’ve brought a lot of freshness and energy to the squad,” Barnes said.

And let’s not forget that next year’s World Cup will be held in Australia and history suggests a player or two from this A squad could well be involved with the full national team by then. While the wintry conditions in the sub-tropical far north will be different to those experienced at the height of the 2014/15 summer, it will do them the world of good to acclimatise to the abrasive Australian way of playing the game and all the other off-field quirks over there.

SA A squads

Four-day squad: Justin Ontong, Temba Bavuma, Marchant de Lange, Simon Harmer, Beuran Hendricks, Reeza Hendricks, Rory Kleinveldt, Heino Kuhn, Eddie Leie, Mangaliso Mosehle, Kagiso Rabada, Rilee Rossouw, Hardus Viljoen, David White, Khaya Zondo.

Limited-overs squad: Justin Ontong, Farhaan Behardien, Cody Chetty, Marchant de Lange, Simon Harmer, Beuran Hendricks, Reeza Hendricks, Rory Kleinveldt, Heino Kuhn, Mangaliso Mosehle, Aaron Phangiso, Kagiso Rabada, Rilee Rossouw, Mthokozisi Shezi, Vaughn van Jaarsveld.

Itinerary: July 20 v Australia National Performance Squad (Northline); July 22 v India A (Gardens Oval); July 24 v Australia A (Northline); July 26 v India A (Gardens Oval); July 29 v Australia A (Marrara); July 31 v Australia National Performance Squad (Gardens Oval); August 2 1v2, 3v4 (Northern Territory); August 7-10 v Australia A (Tony Ireland Stadium); August 14-17 v Australia A (Tony Ireland Stadium).

 

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  • Thought of the Day

    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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