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Ken Borland



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

 

Kuhn has hope and inspiration from Cook’s selection 0

Posted on April 04, 2016 by Ken

 

The fact that the national selectors were willing to choose a 33-year-old new cap for Test cricket in Stephen Cook this summer has provided hope and no little inspiration to Heino Kuhn, who is the leading run-scorer in the Sunfoil Series this season.

The 31-year-old Titans batsman also averaged 60 in the Momentum One-Day Cup and a golden summer has pushed Kuhn right back into the picture for national honours after playing five T20 internationals for South Africa as a wicketkeeper/batsman between 2009 and 2011.

Kuhn is now strictly an opening batsman (and a quality fielder too) and regularly goes big, with six centuries in the last two seasons. His tally of 18 first-class hundreds includes three doubles and a 191 for South Africa A against Bangladesh A.

“It was nice to see Stephen Cook get an opportunity with the Proteas, I was happy for him because for years he’s been flippen good for the Lions. It was great that he took his chance and it’s great to see that South African cricket is now like Australian cricket where, if you’re a good enough batsman, you’re never too old.

“As long as my body holds, I’ll always believe that I can play for South Africa again and my fiancé Trudie probably believes even more than me! But I’m playing the best cricket of my career and luckily enough I have another two years on my contract with the Titans, so I hope I can continue this run because it’s the best I’ve ever batted,” Kuhn says.

The Titans stalwart – he has been granted a benefit season by the franchise – says his purple patch is not down to anything new in his technique but rather a better focus on the basics of top-order batting.

“I just try to bat time and play straight. I know I have the square shots, but if I just try and play straight and face a lot of balls then I know I’ll get runs. I know that if I face 200 balls then I’ll be close to a hundred. It’s about sticking to the basics and Rob Walter [Titans coach] is big on us just worrying about our own things and not the opposition,” Kuhn says.

It’s amazing to think of all the different jobs Kuhn has fulfilled on a cricket field since his days at Affies in the early 2000s, playing alongside AB de Villiers and Faf du Plessis. He was actually a middle-order batsman who dabbled in leg-spin.

“I batted four at Coke Week for Northerns, behind AB and Faf, and I batted twice, scoring 40 not out and four not out, the winning runs. And at club level, Roelof van der Merwe kept wicket and I bowled leg-spin, and then one day I said we should swop. I made a stumping off Roela and our ways were set!

“I was very fortunate to keep to guys like Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel, Alfonso Thomas, Paul Harris and Imran Tahir in my early days at the Titans. But if opening the batting is the only way I can play in a team, I’ll definitely take it. Not many people enjoy opening, but I put up my hand, I like the challenge. It’s like I prefer a green pitch because then you have to work for your runs and you know you deserve them. It’s lovely to get runs in those tough conditions,” Kuhn says.

The likeable man from Piet Retief certainly deserves a successful benefit and another look-in at international cricket, and there have been few more loyal servants of the Titans.

“At the beginning of my career I was fortunate to have traditional team-mates like Martin van Jaarsveld and Pierre de Bruyn, so that was the way I grew up. My family are all here in Pretoria and the Titans are the best franchise in the land. I can’t see myself playing in another country and, if I don’t play any more cricket for South Africa, then I won’t play international cricket for anybody else,” Kuhn says.

Proteas selectors have some tough decisions to make 0

Posted on August 31, 2015 by Ken

 

South Africa have only really done what was expected of them in beating an under-strength New Zealand team in their one-day series and their selectors still have some tough decisions to make for their tour of India in October.

Sure, South Africa were missing players as well, but only a trio – JP Duminy, Morne Morkel and Faf du Plessis – compared to the half-dozen stars the Black Caps were without, including tone-setting batsman Brendon McCullum, middle-order kingpin Ross Taylor and strike bowlers Trent Boult and Tim Southee.

So, playing at home, one would have expected the Proteas to win the series, which they did with an impressive performance in Durban.

But with Duminy, Morkel and Du Plessis all set to return for the five ODIs in India, the selectors have to decide how to fit them back into the squad.

Their most pressing issue is that they still have not solved the all-rounder problem.

David Wiese was unable to have any impact with the bat, scoring just 34 runs in three innings at a strike-rate of 72, and he also met his match in the New Zealand batsmen, conceding over seven runs an over, although he did make an improved contribution with the ball in the win in Durban, taking three wickets.

He bowled 20 overs in those three games and whether he met the expectations of the selectors remains to be seen … their deliberations for the India tour squad will surely also involve Duminy taking Wiese’s place or maybe even giving Ryan McLaren or Chris Morris another go.

One player who most certainly proved himself in the series against New Zealand was Farhaan Behardien.

The 31-year-old has been one of the best finishers in domestic cricket for the last few years and showed that ability with his calm knocks of 70 off 87 balls in Potchefstroom and 40 off 28 deliveries in Durban.

Behardien is seemingly one of those sportsmen that has to work doubly hard to win over the demanding South African public; I’m reminded of Springbok fullback Zane Kirchner in that respect.

The strength of Behardien is his ability to play a dual role – he can play the role of supporting batsman, rotating the strike, for a top-order player who is set, and he can clear the boundary himself in the closing stages. Throw in a couple of overs of medium-pace and his fielding skills and it is clear Behardien is a useful limited-overs package.

Obviously the returns of Duminy and Du Plessis will put his place in the starting XI in danger, but Behardien is the type of player the Proteas should be very happy to have in their squad.

The other big selection decision is whether to persevere with Morne van Wyk after his half-century in Durban. Although the conditions were testing, Van Wyk’s 58 was on the slow side, coming off 100 deliveries and the way he struggled against the slower bowlers, when the ball was not coming on to the bat, suggests the Indian tour could also be a tough one for him.

There seems little point in delaying the return of Quinton de Kock, who went away and did everything the selectors would have asked of him by scoring three centuries for SA A in those same Indian conditions.

While he is certain to be in the squad, the place of David Miller in the starting team could also be on the table after the left-hander continued his run without a half-century to 11 innings, going back to the unbeaten century he scored against Zimbabwe in the opening game of the World Cup. In his defence though, there have been two 49s, a 46 not out and a 44 in that run.

 

Boucher still has all the respect 0

Posted on January 25, 2012 by Ken

by Ken Borland 25 January 2012, 18:05

 

Mark Boucher is still such a highly-respected member of the South African test team that the selectors have not yet begun a succession plan for him, judging by the squad to tour New Zealand that was announced on Wednesday.

JP Duminy replacing Ashwell Prince is the only change to the test squad that featured against Sri Lanka and it is now almost inevitable that Boucher will go to England in July as the first-choice wicketkeeper.

Convenor of selectors Andrew Hudson told SuperCricket on Wednesday that the option of a back-up to the world record-holder had not been discussed.

“We didn’t want to look too far ahead and I don’t want to speculate on the England tour. At the moment, this is our best squad and if we try and look to the England tour then we’ll be looking too far ahead. We considered this tour in isolation and we’ll pick for the future as and when we need to,” Hudson said.

“That’s why there is no reserve wicketkeeper for the test side, but having AB de Villiers in the wings does help.”

 

Critics of Boucher – whose batting has come under the most scrutiny – should remember that the feisty veteran made an important 65 in the first test against Sri Lanka on a treacherous Centurion pitch. But those same critics will point to how his batting average has dropped from 54.28 in 2009/10 to 15.83 in the five tests played this season. And those rare misses behind the stumps have now increased to occasional.

There had been a school of thought that the selectors should have named a second wicketkeeper for the New Zealand tour and, depending on how Boucher performs in the three tests, at least the back-up would not be a total rookie for the daunting England trip.

Saying goodbye to someone who has performed so exceptionally and been such a vital part of the team for so long is always terrible, but South Africa will need runs – as well as safe catching – from their wicketkeeper in England, where it is not unusual for a team to be four down by lunch in the often overcast, seam-friendly conditions.

While the test squad is as expected, it is in the limited-overs squads that the selectors have made the most interesting changes.

Justin Ontong – who proved a great finisher for the Cobras en route to their One-Day Cup title with his clever hitting rather than big hitting – has been recalled for both the ODIs and the three T20 internationals.

It has been nearly three years since Ontong last played for South Africa, but his recall feels right given that he has just turned 32 and has been one of the most dominant batsmen in domestic cricket.

“Justin has matured as a player, he spent some time back in domestic cricket, but he’s had a great run, which is very heartening,” Hudson said. “Sometimes a player can maybe be exposed early on, but they can come back later when they understand their game better and are more mature.”

Ontong is likely to slot inside the middle-order, competing with the likes of Faf du Plessis and Albie Morkel for a place in the ODI team.

While Jacques Rudolph and Duminy currently have the inside track for the number six spot in the test team, Hudson hinted that Ontong was not too far off that squad either.

“The number six position has not yet been secured, it’s still open and we look forward to someone grabbing that spot and making it their own,” the former opening batsman said.

There are also clearly moves afoot to refresh the T20 side, with Ontong, Richard Levi and Marchant de Lange all receiving call-ups.

There is a changing of the guard at the top of the order, with Graeme Smith omitted and Cobras star Levi slated to open the batting in his place.

Jacques Kallis has also been rested from the shortest version of the game, but Hudson said there could still be room for both him and Smith in the squad for the ICC World T20 in Sri Lanka in September.

“I’m not closing the door on people, if someone’s good enough, they will play. We’ll still be choosing squads to go to Zimbabwe and England so there are still opportunities to mix-and-match.

“We’ll be going for consistency closer to September but we have quite exciting possibilities in terms of openers with Hashim, Richard, Jacques and Graeme,” Hudson said.

As Smith showed in the last two ODIs against Sri Lanka, it would be stupid to write him off as his experience and big-game temperament could be crucial in the World T20.

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