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Ken Borland



SACA MVP top-ranking will keep Van der Merwe warm through winter 0

Posted on May 18, 2015 by Ken

The winter break is often a good time to consider the talent that is coming through at franchise level, who the players to follow are as they bid for national recognition, and the South African Cricketers’ Association’s MVP Rankings are perhaps the most accurate measure of just who the most valuable stars are just one step below the Proteas.

The franchises play in three very different formats these days, of course, so comparing players can sometimes be a confusing, almost impossible task.

But this is where the Saca MVP rankings are so good: They take into account the four-day Sunfoil Series, the 50-over Momentum One-Day Cup and the RamSlam T20 Challenge. And the points are awarded based on a complex calculation that takes into account far more than just the number of runs scored or wickets taken.

The Saca MVP rankings are weighted so that those performances that really matter in terms of influencing the result of a game earn more points.

“What sets our rankings aside from other rankings or stats is that the MVP rankings take both the stats and the match context into account. For instance, a batsman scoring 100 not out in a total of 634 for three declared is going to earn way fewer points than one who scores 100 out of 150.

“Similarly, a bowler who gets the top-order out will earn more points than someone who gets nine, 10 and jack out.

“There are also different weightings depending on the format. For instance, economy rate and strike rate are more important in T20 cricket. Plus there are more points on offer if your team wins and for the captain of winning teams.

“It’s all about who performs in clutch situations, who pulls the team through and is also a consistent performer,” JP van Wyk, Saca’s player services manager, told the Daily Maverick.

And the 2012/13 rankings tell us that Titans all-rounder Roelof van der Merwe, famed for his tenacity in just those sort of pressure situations, was the most valuable player of last season.

The mere statistics inform us that Van der Merwe scored 515 runs in the Sunfoil Series, the most for the beleaguered Titans, with five half-centuries and he took 12 wickets. The left-arm spinner has always been a top-class performer in the limited-overs formats and 58% percent of his 473.47 points came from the 50 and 20-over competitions.

Van der Merwe was the leading spinner in the One-Day Cup, taking 22 wickets at an average of 19.95 and economy rate of just 4.69, taking five wickets in an innings twice. In the T20 Challenge, he took nine wickets at a good economy rate of 7.09 and his 208 runs were the second-most for the Titans, at a handy average of 23.11 and a strike rate of 107.

The 28-year-old is hardly a promising youngster though, but rather a renowned competitor who revels in the nickname “Bulldog”.

Instead of trying to break into international cricket, Van der Merwe is trying to get back there. The Waterkloof product has played in 13 ODIs and 13 T20 internationals, but has not represented South Africa since June 2010 in the West Indies. He was outstanding in his last game, taking one for 27 in 10 overs and then scoring 10 not out off seven balls to clinch a thrilling one-wicket victory in Port-of-Spain, but was then strangely dropped.

“I don’t think anything went wrong, it was more a case of different combinations being used and different times. Over time we’ll see if those combinations work out… ” Van der Merwe says phlegmatically from Delhi, where he is playing for the Daredevils in the IPL. “You never know in terms of a comeback in international cricket, but I’m not too worried about it. If I perform well, then it has to happen.”

Van der Merwe has been included in South Africa’s preliminary 30-man squad for the Champions Trophy in England in June and it must be a good omen that some of the strongest early challengers for the MVP crown – Kyle Abbott, Rory Kleinveldt, Dean Elgar and Quinton de Kock – all found themselves in the national team before the end of the summer.

Leg-spinner Imran Tahir and fellow orthodox left-armers Robin Peterson and Aaron Phangiso are the other spinners in the squad, but it counts in Van der Merwe’s favour that he is cosy bowling both up front with the new ball and at the death.

“At the death you’re on a hiding to nothing, but it’s all about your attitude. I want to do that job and that helps a lot. I don’t see myself as the most talented cricketer, so I’ve got to have aggression, that Bulldog spirit if you like,” Van der Merwe says.

That same determination has also seen Van der Merwe break out of his pigeonhole as a limited-overs specialist. Having scarcely been used by the Titans in four-day cricket, sitting behind the likes of Paul Harris, Imran Tahir and Shaun von Berg in the queue, he could have fobbed off the longer version of the game, especially since his financial future is secure with his involvement in the IPL.

But the Johannesburg-born fighter played every Sunfoil Series game this season for the Titans (wicketkeeper/batsman Heino Kuhn was the only other player to do so).

“My game has developed the last few years and I’m playing four-day cricket again after a lot of hard work. In the past, the Titans had great longer-form bowlers and I didn’t get much opportunity. But I was told I have to work on my batting if I want to take my career further and being able to bat as well definitely helps.

“Bowling in the longer form also helps my limited-overs bowling. In four-day cricket, there’s a lot more skill involved, you need more pace and variations and that’s what I’m also working on in India,” Van der Merwe says.

Van der Merwe held off a strong challenge from Warriors paceman Andrew Birch (450.89pts) for the MVP title, while De Kock, Hardus Viljoen and Abbott also scored more than 400 points.

The country’s leading players struggle to crack the top 100 because they are off on international duty so often.

The MVP award also comes with the sizeable cash prize of R110,000 for Van der Merwe, with Birch and De Kock winning the runners-up cheques of R66 000 and R50 000 respectively.

The top players in each competition were also the recipients of cash incentives, with Abbott, Johann Louw and Birch being the top three in the Sunfoil Series; Van der Merwe, Richard Levi and Birch dominating the One-Day Cup; and De Kock, Albie Morkel and Sohail Tanvir the pacesetters in the T20 Challenge.

http://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2013-04-25-coming-up-through-the-rankings-roelof-vd-merwe/#.VVsjOPmqqko

Els to commit himself to SA Open 0

Posted on February 18, 2015 by Ken

This year’s South African Open may feature a restricted number of leading European stars, but the Sunshine Tour is due to announce today that Ernie Els has committed himself to the country’s national golf tournament for the next few years.

Els is currently cooped up in Herold’s Bay recovering from an ankle injury, but it is believed the four-time major winner has signed a contract with the Sunshine Tour to be the official ambassador for the South African Open, which will also tie him into playing in the tournament over the next few years.

While the 45-year-old Els may be in the autumn of his career, his presence at the SA Open will be a massive boost for the tournament, especially since the other leading campaigners on the European Tour are unlikely to attend.

The SA Open will be held at Glendower Golf Club in Edenvale from January 8-11, a weekend that falls before the European Tour has its lucrative Desert Swing in Abu Dhabi, Doha and Dubai. Many of the top European golfers are expected to merely extend their holidays by a week, rather than travel all the way to South Africa and then back to the Middle East.

All the top South African golfers should be teeing it up at Glendower, however, with the likes of Charl Schwartzel, Louis Oosthuizen and Branden Grace certainly not minor appurtenances of the tournament. None of that trio has won the SA Open before and all have said how desperate they are to get it on their CVs.

While a victory at Glendower would be a fairytale triumph for any of them, Els will also be hungry for success having not won the title since 2010. If the former world number one does win, it would be his sixth SA Open crown, putting him fourth on the all-time list behind Sid Brews (8), Bobby Locke (9) and Gary Player (13).

Els has already indicated how eager he is to tee it up at Glendower by withdrawing from last weekend’s Thailand Open due to his ankle problem.

“Really sorry @asiantourgolf for withdrawing. Injured my ankle. Can’t take any chances. Want to be ready for @Sunshine_Tour SA Open in Jan,” Els tweeted.

 

 

Lesser-known Wessels & Claassen star for Tuks 0

Posted on August 03, 2014 by Ken

Johan Wessels and Ruben Claassen, two of the lesser-known stars of the Assupol Tuks team, enjoyed an extraordinary last day at the Red Bull Campus Cricket World Finals as they led the University of Pretoria to the title in the eight-nation, T20 students’ world cup at the Oval in London at the weekend.

Unbeaten through the group stage, Tuks then won a thrilling semi-final against defending champions Rizvi Mumbai College by five wickets with five balls to spare, before beating Jamaica Inter-Collegiate Sports Association by 40 runs in the final.

Wessels was named man of the match in the semi-final and final, scoring half-centuries in both games, and coach Pierre de Bruyn said it was players like him and Claassen, who had combined figures of three for 20 in eight overs on the final day, who had pleased him most.

“It’s the guys without the reputations who really stood up on the final day. Joe Wessels is proving to be a very good player, he played two magnificent innings in the knockout games and I’m ecstatic for him. I’ve used him as a bit of a wildcard and he’s really impressed me as a cricketer.

“Ruben out-bowled everybody in the tournament, including the spinners from the sub-continent. He and Corbin Bosch were the top two wicket-takers and Ruben has improved so much I believe he should be in the Northerns team this summer.

“He’s unique, he’s tall, he gets bounce and he’s not scared to experiment. David Mogotlane has also improved a lot, in all his skills. He’s worked out his game – he’s not a big turner of the ball, but he’s a clever bowler,” De Bruyn said.

In the final, pacemen Vincent Moore and Bosch shared seven wickets as the Jamaicans were restricted to 148 for nine in their 20 overs.

Much of the hard work, however, was done by outstanding off-spinner Claassen, who took one for 10 in four overs, claiming the key scalp of Cassius Burton for 55.

The Tuks total of 188 for six was built around a ferocious 61 off 40 balls from Wessels.

De Bruyn has spent the last few months telling everyone how good a cricketer Wessels, who has no first-class experience nor national U19 caps, is and the 22-year-old was magnificent on finals day, when it really counted.

Aiden Markram had given the Tuks innings a good start, after they had won the toss, with his 33 off 26 balls, but Wessels kept the scoreboard ticking and then had the run-rate boiling over as the University of Pretoria students went into the break with a formidable total on the board.

Sean Dickson scored 39 off 31 balls to finish the job, while Tian Koekemoer (18* off 7) and Bosch (11* off 4) provided important cameos right at the death.

“We’ve had three years of dominance in South Africa and now we wanted to represent our country and measure ourselves on the world stage. I’m over the moon to be able to say we are the best university cricket team in the world, but we worked for it,” De Bruyn said on Sunday.

“We planned for everything and we proved ourselves to everyone. I’m proud of the success and the culture of this team, and nobody can take that away from this side.”

The semi-final was a far tenser affair for De Bruyn and his team.

Rizvi Mumbai had won the toss and elected to bat first, and had cruised to 50 for one after six overs and 83 for two in the 12th over before Tuks regained control through spinners Claassen and David Mogotlane.

Claassen produced another brilliant spell of 4-1-10-2, with Mogotlane applying pressure at the other end as his four overs went for just 20 runs, and the Rizvi lower-order then collapsed to the canny death bowling of Bosch (2-26) and Moore to finish on 122 for nine.

Rizvi seamer John Ebrahim then had Tuks behind the eight-ball as he removed openers Markram and Gerry Pike in his first two overs, before Theunis de Bruyn (31) and Wessels steadied the innings with a third-wicket stand of 54 in 7.2 overs.

But the dismissal of captain De Bruyn, who was named as the Player of the Tournament, and both Koekemoer and Dickson in quick succession meant Tuks were under pressure at 90 for five after 15 overs.

But vice-captain Heinrich Klaasen (18* off 12) and the reliable Wessels (56* off 52) mounted a rearguard action that took Tuks home in the final over.

The efforts of Theunis de Bruyn and Markram in the group games were enough for them to finish as the two leading run-scorers in the tournament, while Wessels charged into third position on the final day.

But all these Tuks cricketers will be heading into the new summer confident of once again really making their mark.

 

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    James 1:5 - "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him."

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