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Ken Borland



Sheer delight for SA rugby 0

Posted on July 25, 2017 by Ken

 

Following the awful disappointments of 2016, what a sheer delight the last three weeks of Springbok rugby have been, culminating in the series whitewash over France in front of more than 55 000 people at Ellis Park, as well as a wonderful game the night before at Orlando Stadium between the SA A and French Barbarians sides.

Apart from the winning, up-tempo rugby played by both the Springboks and their second-stringers, the other similarity between the two teams is that both clearly enjoy a wonderful team culture.

It cannot be understated how important a role a good team environment will play in the success of a side and we saw last year how the Proteas cricket team drastically improved their results after a “culture camp”.

At the top level, teams are very similar in terms of physicality, conditioning and skill, so the crucial extra 1% that gives sides the edge is often found on the mental side of sport – happy players committed to a cause or a “brotherhood”, to use the in-vogue expression, will give more out on the field.

Sure, Brendan Venter and Franco Smith have come along and brought considerable technical expertise to the Springboks, but I have never, in 25 years of covering South African rugby, seen a squad speak more about just how happy they were to be together and how much they loved the environment than the current group under Allister Coetzee and his fellow coaches. The captaincy of Warren Whiteley must also be mentioned because there’s no doubt he has played a big role in the team culture as well.

It is a similar culture, borne from adversity, that is seen in Whiteley’s Lions team and it is also evident in the SA A side under Johan Ackermann. It was clearly displayed at the end of the game against the French Barbarians in Orlando when scrumhalf Jano Vermaak was spontaneously, just for the sheer joy of it, lifted on to the shoulders of his team-mates after kicking the last conversion, and when the whole squad sang stirring songs together, bobbing in a tight embrace, after the trophy presentation.

The fact that Ackermann has managed to create that culture in the SA A side in just a few weeks is testament to what a fine coach he is and hopefully he will be back in South Africa soon after increasing his experience and knowledge with Gloucester in the United Kingdom.

Ackermann, a former Springbok lock, first made his name as a coach through his technical and tactical acumen in the set-pieces, but he also has the ability to inspire a team, a crucial man-management skill in any coach.

Singing along with the SA A team were a bunch of supporters in the far grandstand and I believe playing top rugby in Soweto has a great future. The SA A game was played at 8pm on a Friday night the day before a Test at Ellis Park, so the crowd was always going to be small.

But I know it is in SA Rugby’s future plan to play more games in Soweto, and to stage them at 3pm in the afternoon and not during a Test week in the same city. There’s no doubt we will then see the crowds pouring in, because there is a great love for the game in Soweto, but access remains a problem.

Orlando Stadium is also a magnificent venue, modern, spacious and with one of the best views of the field, from any vantage point, you will see.  The fact that top rugby did not return earlier to Orlando after the memorable 2010 Super Rugby final that inspired such goodwill is a great pity.

https://www.pressreader.com/south-africa/the-citizen-kzn/20170701/282321090023086

Adherence to age-old virtues brings reward for Zondo 0

Posted on June 05, 2017 by Ken

 

An adherence to the age-old cricketing virtue of letting your runs speak for you has seen Khaya Zondo recover from a slump in form in 2015/16 to such good effect that he leaves on Tuesday for England as the captain of the SA A limited-overs team.

It is a richly deserved honour for the 27-year-old as he not only averaged 49.75 in the Momentum One-Day Cup last season and 67.27 in the Sunfoil Series, but also led the Dolphins with aplomb when the captaincy was thrust upon him in mid-season.

It was a far cry from the previous season, when he returned from a tour of India with the Proteas, where he was upset that he did not play a match, and scored just 61 runs in his first 14 innings of the summer. He then scored a 65 against the Titans, but then made just one run in his next three innings.

“I was in the desert and no-one wants to come into the desert with you, only God. But I was told by one of my mentors [whom Zondo wanted to remain anonymous], who gives me lots of spiritual guidance, that the world owes me nothing, rightly or wrongly. What happened can’t be changed and it was up to me to make sure that it helped me to grow as a cricketer.

“So that gave me a lot of comfort. What happened in India was unfortunate, but it was part of a bigger plan, a building block. It gave me a lot of confidence to know that I was strong enough to get out of that bad slump. Lance Klusener [former Dolphins coach] showed me a lot of love and told me that if I’m burning in the fire, then I must make sure that I come out the other side as a roast chicken, I must be something a lot better, make sure I just get through it.

“I think I’ve learnt to be more resilient, to get through what I went through taught me that things can be taken from you, rightly or wrongly, that’s life. Maybe I unintentionally took things for granted a bit, I just relaxed a bit. Now I know never to relax,” Zondo said on Monday.

A greater focus in training and on every ball he faces has led to much better consistency for the Westville product, and he goes to England as one of the most in-form batsmen in the country.

“I just want to be better each day, whether that’s getting underarm throws or full-out nets, I want to leave every training session and every match a slightly better batsman; the greats are always evolving. As a captain, I also like leading from the front, I’m more focused, and last season I didn’t do too much differently, just making sure I watched every ball, made sure I was awake and ready for every ball. My focus was much better, and I just changed my head position a bit,” Zondo said.

https://www.pressreader.com/south-africa/the-citizen-gauteng/20170525/282252370473828

Dala understands the physics of his action better now 0

Posted on May 15, 2017 by Ken

 

Titans fast bowler Junior Dala has ascribed his selection for the South Africa A side’s tour of England later this month to an improved understanding of the physics of his bowling action, which has led to greater control and consistency.

Dala was one of the best bowlers in the country in limited-overs cricket last season, being the joint-highest wicket-taker in the Momentum One-Day Cup with 16 scalps at an average of only 18.68 and an excellent economy rate of just 5.29. He was also outstanding in the CSA T20 Challenge with 11 wickets at 26.63 and he was one of the key performers as the Titans claimed both white-ball titles, where there is huge pressure on bowlers to be more skilful.

“In the last two years I have made a big step up. When I first went to the Titans, I did not really know my action, but Rob Walter and Mandla Mashimbyi really coached me on that, whereas other coaches before that were just happy that I could bowl fast. But I was being found out in franchise cricket, I always felt under pressure because I did not really know what I was doing from ball-to-ball. I would try and bowl a yorker and miss by eight metres!

“But I’ve realised that I can’t just get away with being quick, at times things went horribly wrong in four-day cricket and that has taught me the importance of consistency. I’m a lot more consistent now, Albie Morkel has shown a lot of trust in me and even used me in the powerplay with the new ball. I trust myself 90-95% of the time to hit my mark now,” the unorthodox Dala told The Citizen on Wednesday.

It is a measure of how quick a learner the 27-year-old Dala is that he changed from being mostly an inswing bowler to an away-swinger this last season, simply because he felt batsmen were beginning to read him too easily.

“I sacrificed a little pace but I’m still bowling 140 with more control, and I predominantly shaped the ball away because nobody thought I could do that. Now I’m working on doing all that at 145km/h.

“You have to accept that you’re going to be hit for fours and embrace that, but I have the freedom to express myself at the Titans and then it becomes a lot easier to execute, without that fear of failure.

“I haven’t played in England before so I’m excited for that and I hope it’s a good tour with lots of wickets. Guys are getting reward for their performances in the last six months, whereas before they had to wait two years sometimes. Mark Boucher told me things can happen very quickly at that level and I must just make the most of the opportunity,” Dala, who was born in Lusaka in 1989 as his parents were in exile, said.

 

 

De Bruyn now selected as middle-order batsman – Zondi 0

Posted on May 04, 2017 by Ken

 

Theunis de Bruyn was only selected as a Test opening batsman as a once-off and will be batting in the middle-order for the SA A side, convenor of selectors Linda Zondi confirmed on Wednesday.

De Bruyn made his Test debut in South Africa’s last outing, the third Test against New Zealand in Hamilton, selected out of position as an opener and was dismissed for a three-ball duck in the first innings and run out comically for 12 in the second innings.

The 24-year-old was chosen ahead of specialist opener Stephen Cook, who had scored three centuries in his first nine Tests but only made 17 runs in four innings in New Zealand, painting the selectors into a corner when it comes to the next Test, against England at Lord’s from July 6, because no player should be dropped after just one game.

“As selectors we want to look after every single player and it is unfair to leave someone out after one game. But the decision to play Theunis was because we only had one back-up batsman in New Zealand and we gave him an opportunity. Opening the batting is not the long-term plan for him, not even for SA A.

“The decision to open with Theunis in Hamilton was just because he was the back-up batsman. He will now play in the middle-order. Aiden Markram is someone we would like to see open for SA A, as well as someone like Heino Kuhn. Aiden has done very well and if you’re playing for SA A then you’re good enough to play for the Proteas.

“It will be like a trial, but because of how well he’s done, I’m sure he’s very confident and we have named him captain because we know from his SA U19 days that he does have leadership qualities. We don’t shy away from making calls like that,” Zondi said.

The SA A four-day squad includes Dale Steyn, the great fast bowler who is building his way back to full fitness after serious shoulder surgery.

“Dale is very much on track with his recovery and the plan is for him to bowl flat out in one month’s time and hopefully he can make himself eligible for two of the three SA A four-day games in the UK,” Proteas doctor and team manager Mohammed Moosajee said.

The four-day games will also be vital for Markram and De Bruyn as they look to build on their stellar summers and force their way into the Test team for the series against England, while Temba Bavuma will also want to accumulate confidence-building runs ahead of the Tests.

Squads

SA A 50-over squad: Aiden Markram, Jon-Jon Smuts, Theunis de Bruyn, Temba Bavuma, Khaya Zondo (captain), Dwaine Pretorius, Mangaliso Mosehle, Sisanda Magala, Tabraiz Shamsi, Junior Dala, Lungi Ngidi, Dane Paterson, Reeza Hendricks, Heino Kuhn, Duanne Olivier.

SA A four-day squad: Heino Kuhn, Aiden Markram (captain), Theunis de Bruyn, Temba Bavuma, Khaya Zondo, Heinrich Klaasen, Jason Smith, Dwaine Pretorius, Dane Piedt, Duanne Olivier, Lungi Ngidi, Dane Paterson, Beuran Hendricks, Rudi Second, Junior Dala, Dale Steyn.

SA A itinerary

Sat 27 May                    1-day v County                                       Headingley, Leeds

Mon 29 May                1-day v County                                       The 3aaa County Ground, Derby

Thu 1 June                    1st A ODI v England Lions                      Trent Bridge, Nottingham

Sat 3 June                     2nd A ODI v England Lions                     Northampton

Mon 5 June                  3rd A ODI v England Lions (D/N)          Northampton

8-11 June                      4-day v Hampshire                                 Ageas Bowl, Southampton

14-17 June                   4-day v Sussex                                        Arundel (v Duke of Norfolk XI if Sussex in RL play-offs)

21-24 June                   ‘A’ Test v Lions                                        The Spitfire Ground, St Lawrence, Canterbury

 



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