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Ken Borland



Is everyone there on merit? One wonders … 0

Posted on November 17, 2016 by Ken

 

Cricket South Africa (CSA) has assured their stakeholders that selection for the national team will only be on merit and this week signed a new transformation agreement with Sascoc and the Department of Sports and Recreation in which they are apparently the only sporting code that has not agreed to quotas at the highest level.

CSA’s attitude is that the system must provide the national team with black players on merit, which is why they are aggressively pursuing quotas at domestic level.

It is also believed that CSA have met with the Proteas and have clarified with them that there was no interference in selection at the World Cup and that there won’t be targets in future.

But the squads announced for the tour of Bangladesh in July do make one wonder.

Reeza Hendricks and Aaron Phangiso have been picked for the Test squad, while Kagiso Rabada has leapfrogged Kyle Abbott in the fast-bowling pecking order.

I have the utmost respect as cricketers for them, but logic suggests the selectors were not looking at purely on-field performance in making these decisions.

Hendricks is undoubtedly a bright talent and I fully support him being involved in the limited-overs squads. But the figures show that Hendricks is not yet ready to be a Test opener. His first-class franchise batting average is just 34.55 with three centuries in 20 matches. Last season he averaged just 31.76, half what Highveld Lions opener Stephen Cook managed.

Cook has scored 10 centuries in the last two seasons, while Cobras opener Andrew Puttick has averaged 49.27 and 40.23 in the last two Sunfoil Series season. The fact that these two prolific batsman can’t make the side when an opening batsman is required and yet someone whose performances in the same competition are far inferior only adds fuel to the fire that is raging around selection for the national team.

The cynic in me believes that Phangiso’s selection for the Test squad is to make up for the appalling manner in which he was treated at the World Cup that saw him not play a single game.

Both Phangiso and Highveld Lions coach Geoff Toyana have gone on record as saying that the 31-year-old still needs a lot of work in the longer format and five wickets at an average of 67 in the Sunfoil Series shows that is the case.

Convenor of selectors Andrew Hudson said that they wanted a left-arm spinner for the squad and there is a ready-made, experienced, proven option in Robin Peterson.

As far as Rabada goes, I am certain that he will be a great fast bowler for South Africa in all formats, but what has Abbott done wrong?

Lady Luck always has her say when it comes to cricket, but Abbott has been one of the most unfortunate players in the country for a while now.

As a unit, the Proteas have been exceptionally strong in the Test arena, but the pain of the World Cup loss was all too obvious and whether CSA’s clearing-the-air session with the players was enough remains to be seen. They maintain that the only affirmative action when it comes to selection is if there is a 50/50 choice between two players, then the player of colour will get the benefit.

Was Hendricks being preferred to Cook really a 50/50 call? Phangiso over Peterson and Rabada ahead of Abbott?

A Bangladesh tour was never exactly looked forward to and this time the challenges will be even greater on the field. The Proteas will be asked tougher questions than ever before by Bangladesh on their home turf, while questions still swirl around their selection.

 

Markram rumours wide of the mark, but 4 other Titans will leave 0

Posted on March 14, 2016 by Ken

 

The rumours that junior world cup winning captain Aiden Markram could be lost to South African cricket are wide of the mark with the 21-year-old confirming on Tuesday that he has signed a contract with the Titans, who will, however, be losing four of their talented youngsters ahead of next season.

Markram will be spending the off-season playing for Walkden in the Bolton League, but the promising top-order batsman will be back in time for what is already shaping up as a massive summer for him. Especially since Theunis de Bruyn and Graeme van Buuren, two of his team-mates in the all-conquering Tuks side, are moving on to fresh pastures. Corbin Bosch, the opening bowler for Markram’s triumphant SA U19 team, has already relocated to Australia, having failed to break into the Titans team this season.

The Titans have also lost out on the services of wicketkeeper/batsman Mangaliso Mosehle, who is moving to the Highveld Lions next season.

Van Buuren has earned a two-year contract with Gloucestershire and, because his wife Hannah, the former Tuks conditioning coach, was born in London and has a British passport, he will try to qualify for England.

De Bruyn, one of the brightest batting talents in the country, will be moving to the Knights for the 2016/17 season, opening the way for Markram to play more regular franchise cricket, having made just two Momentum One-Day Cup appearances this season.

“I’m looking forward to spending the off-season in different conditions and growing my game, but I’m happy with where I am in my career. Any opportunity I get for the Titans I’m just going to try and take, but at the moment I’m really focusing on my preparation. At school, there might be four or five good players in the opposition, but in senior cricket there’s a lot more good players, so it takes time to work out how to play at that level. But the more cricket you play, the faster you learn,” Markram told The Citizen on Tuesday.

Van Buuren has been a highly-valued performer for the Titans, averaging 45 in the Momentum One-Day Cup and 30 in the RamSlam T20 Challenge, as well as bowling economical left-arm spin, but with doors opening up for him in county cricket, it was only natural that he would seize the opportunity.

“I’m not going with any regrets, I’m not at all complaining about anything, I owe the Titans for everything I’ve achieved, having played for them since Northerns U7s 18 years ago. So I’m very thankful to them, but this is a great opportunity in terms of my career as a professional cricketer and not a lot of players have this chance.

“I’m excited for something new, an unbelievable opportunity and a new chapter. Obviously I want to play international cricket, that’s the main reason for playing because you always want to push yourself to be the best. I’ll qualify for England when I’m 29 and until then I’ll just let things take their course,” Van Buuren told The Citizen.

Deysel wraps up in Japan, straight to Sharks 0

Posted on August 14, 2015 by Ken

Jean Deysel’s wife Cindy must feel like a bit of a rugby widow because no sooner has the powerhouse loose forward wrapped up a season with Japanese club Toyota Verblitz than he signed a fresh contract to join the Cell C Sharks for SuperRugby.

Deysel of course made his name for the Sharks with his strong ball-carrying abilities and sheer physicality, earning four Springbok caps between 2009 and 2011, but the Natalians’ new coach, Gary Gold, secured his signature afresh once his availability became known.

“I’m very happy to be back; when Gary spoke to me about three weeks ago it was an easy decision to make. It’s always good coming back to Durban, to see the players again and it’s a great union to play for. So it was an easy decision once Gary offered me the opportunity,” Deysel said this week at King’s Park.

“When I initially signed the contract with Toyota Verblitz, I didn’t think I’d be coming back, it was a late decision for me. It wasn’t on the cards not that long ago, so it feels great to be here now.”

While Deysel’s participation in last weekend’s SuperRugby opener against the Cheetahs was limited to a second-half appearance off the bench, his body certainly felt the difference between the less-physical Japanese leagues and the toughest competition in world rugby.

“I played just 30 minutes on Saturday, and I battled to get out of the car on Sunday, whereas when I played in Japan, Sundays were good. SuperRugby is a lot more physical, you do miss that and the heavy competitiveness of it. And it actually feels good to get up on a Sunday and really feel like it was a tough game the day before,” one of the Sharks’ ultimate hard men said.

Deysel said Gold’s new ball-in-hand approach for the Sharks suits his style of play as he just loves carrying the “pill” as often as he can.

“Gary has been great; the way he speaks and thinks about the game is phenomenal. He puts so much preparation into the game you almost feel like you have to do your part just to catch up. He has been very influential not just for me, but for the whole team.”

“The way Gary structures the game, it’s about sharing the ball-carrying load, but for me, being involved on Saturday, it was just good to be back and I just wanted to have the ball in my hands. But you still have to stay in the structures that have been set out, but it’s about sharing the work-load,” Deysel said.

Even though Deysel is no rookie, having earned 67 SuperRugby caps previously for the Sharks as well as playing 92 Currie Cup matches for the Lions and the Natalians, his return to action in the southern hemisphere was quite a moment for the 29-year-old.

“I can’t remember when I’ve been that nervous before a game. Maybe eight years ago when I played my first match, but I think I was even more nervous this time around. I must take my hat off to the guys and the coaching staff, they made it so much easier to fit in and get into the game-plan. Everyone had a massive impact during the week, so it was much easier for me to fit back in because everyone helped so much,” Deysel said.

And after their upset loss to the Cheetahs, there is no way the Sharks are going to underestimate the Lions this weekend.

“The Lions have a very good loose-trio and they’ve been playing together for a while now. They link together well and do the job that the coaches want them to do. So we will need to match them, not just physically but skills-wise as well. We’ll prepare well and hopefully get one over them this Saturday,” Deysel said.

And what did the man who grew up in the Free State gold mining town of Virginia miss the most while he was in Japan?

“There were no braais! I missed that the most to be honest. Being in Japan was a great experience and a real learning curve. Toyota is a great club and they are so eager to learn and develop their rugby, not just in general but as a culture. For me to go there and see that was awesome, but this is home and it’s where all my friends and family are. There were a lot of things I missed and it’s really good to be back,” Deysel said.

http://citizen.co.za/329218/im-happy-back-gary-gold/

Viljoen will still be playing for the Lions 0

Posted on May 18, 2015 by Ken

Hardus Viljoen, the leading wicket-taker over the last three seasons of Sunfoil Series cricket, will not be lost to the South African game and has signed a fresh two-year contract with the Highveld Lions, the fast bowler confirmed on Thursday.

Viljoen has not yet been capped by the Proteas, despite taking 103 wickets in the last three seasons at a superb average of 23.95, and was considering overtures from the Central Districts franchise in New Zealand, the idea being to qualify for the Black Caps after four years and thereby open the door to a lucrative English county contract because he would then be an international player.

“I’m not going to New Zealand, I’ve decided to stay and work within the system here. My time with the Lions franchise has been very rewarding and I still need to do a lot more to get to where I want to be. Everything happens at the right time for the right reasons and God’s timing is perfect. I believe my future is here in South Africa and I’m very excited that I’m going to be with the Lions for another couple of years,” Viljoen told The Citizen on Thursday.

At 26, Viljoen is still relatively young and, as the likes of Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel cut back on their international commitments, he can surely expect a call-up to the national team in the next couple of years, having already played nine games, in both four-day and 50-over cricket, for representative A sides.

In the meantime, with Chris Morris having moved from the Lions to the Titans, Viljoen will be the leader of the Sunfoil Series champions’ attack.

“We are absolutely delighted that Hardus has signed a two-year contract [the maximum allowed] because not having Chris is a big loss. Hardus is experienced, so it’s a comforting feeling having him and Kagiso Rabada is coming through strongly as well,” Lions CEO Greg Fredericks said.

The Lions have given new contracts to pace bowlers Sean Jamison and Nono Pongolo, who burst on to the scene last season with 43 wickets at 16.30 for the Gauteng team.

 



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