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Ken Borland

AB returns to former glories 0

Posted on March 22, 2017 by Ken


AB de Villiers batted with all his former panache and authority upon his return to the domestic scene as he steered the Titans to a commanding seven-wicket win with 21.5 overs to spare over the Warriors in their Momentum One-Day Cup match at Willowmoore Park in Benoni on Tuesday.

The bonus point win returns the Titans to the top of the standings, leading the Dolphins by four points ahead of the final round of fixtures.

While the Titans will host the fading Cape Cobras at Centurion on Thursday, the KwaZulu-Natalians face the daunting task of beating the Knights with a bonus point in Durban in order to claim first place and a home final. And obviously the Cobras must beat the Titans.

While de Villiers utterly dominated the Warriors attack as he stroked a sublime 75 not out off 62 balls, the Titans were only chasing 148 thanks to the brilliant work of their attack, with another returning international, Chris Morris, leading the way with three for 30 in eight overs.

Morris set the tone as his second ball of the match curved like a bow and bowled Gihahn Cloete for a first-ball duck.

With Morris conceding just nine runs in his first four overs, Lungi Ngidi then put the Warriors further back with a double-strike in the sixth over.

Colin Ingram (4) latched on to a poor, short ball down leg, but swung it in the air to fine leg, where Junior Dala made good ground around the boundary and took a super catch.

Ngidi then produced a beauty four balls later to have Colin Ackermann caught behind for a duck, getting bounce and away movement from an excellent length.

Having won the toss and elected to bat, the Warriors were 18 for three inside the first half-hour, but Jon-Jon Smuts and Yaseen Vallie then added 66 for the fourth wicket. It wasn’t hang-on-to-your-hats breathtakingly quick, coming off 87 deliveries, but it did stop the bleeding.

Smuts, coming off successive centuries, scored 39 before getting a little tickle on a Malusi Siboto delivery that was sliding down leg and being well caught by wicketkeeper Heino Kuhn, and off-spinner Aiden Markram then won a short battle with Lesiba Ngoepe, having him smartly stumped by Kuhn for two.

Morris then returned to deliver another top-class spell of fast swing bowling, Vallie, who had scrapped his way to a dogged 44 off 61 balls, being caught behind and then Kelly Smuts being bowled for a duck as he shouldered arms to a superb delivery to the left-hander from over the wicket, pitching off and then swinging enough to hit the off stump.

The Warriors were a parlous 117 for seven, but Jerry Nqolo added 26 to the total and there was 16 from Andrew Birch before the visitors ran out of luck on 147 all out, Dala claiming two wickets with short balls and Ngidi picking up a third as he finished with fine figures of three for 32 in eight overs.

Wrist-spinner Tabraiz Shamsi was able to build on the pressure created by the pacemen as he squeezed the Warriors batsmen further by bowling his 10 overs for just 28 runs.

The star attraction De Villiers came to the crease with the Warriors still in the game, having just reduced the Titans to 47 for two, Birch striking early by having Jonathan Vandiar caught in the slips for one, and Aya Gqamane then dismissing Kuhn for a busy 23.

De Villiers was dazzling from the outset, hitting his second and third deliveries for sumptuous boundaries and, even though Aiden Markram being bowled by a grubber from Birch for 23 in the next over provided some food for thought, the global superstar just cruised through the rest of the innings.

There were seven fours and a six in his 40-ball fifty, as De Villiers covered the entire map of the Willowmoore Park outfield with strokes of extraordinary placement and timing; Farhaan Behardien but a support act as he made 24 not out in their unbeaten stand of 87 off 94 balls.

De Villiers finished with 75 not out off 62 deliveries, with 10 fours and a six, proving once again that he has more talent in his big toe than most batsmen on their best day.

Van Wyk enters & steers Dolphins through tricky times to handy lead 0

Posted on December 17, 2015 by Ken


Captain Morne van Wyk made his entrance at a tricky time for the Dolphins and steered them to a handy first-innings lead on the second day of their Sunfoil Series match against the Unlimited Titans at SuperSport Park in Centurion on Friday.

Van Wyk came to the crease midway through the second session with the Dolphins on 149 for four replying to the Titans’ first innings of 267. The veteran wicketkeeper/batsman batted through to the close of a day shortened by a thunderstorm, reaching 76 not out and taking the visitors to 314 for six, a lead of 47.

Van Wyk and his younger brother Divan were the two Dolphins batsmen who really played like adults, getting in and making it count, and their partnership of 70 for the fifth wicket was key.

Opener Divan van Wyk, blossoming this season after only sporadic previous Sunfoil Series appearances, batted for just over five hours in scoring 87, while Morne has been at the crease for three-and-a-quarter hours.

Having leaked 51 runs in nine overs at the end of the first day, the Titans bowlers came roaring back on the second morning through Ethy Mbhalati.

Imraan Khan had looked in superb touch as he raced to 32 not out overnight, but to the visitors’ frustration he then chased a delivery outside off stump from Mbhalati and was caught behind in the second over of the day for 36.

Mbhalati then bowled Khaya Zondo for one and a fired-up Marchant de Lange cleaned up Cody Chetty for 16.

The lanky Mbhalati added a third wicket after lunch when he had Daryn Smit caught behind for 16, while left-arm spinner Roelof van der Merwe bowled both Divan van Wyk and Andile Phehlukwayo (10). But the Titans could not dissimulate their frustrations at the end of the day as Morne van Wyk and Calvin Savage (36*) then added an unbeaten 81 for the seventh wicket against the second new ball.

*An excellent batting display by the bizhub Highveld Lions has put them in control of their match against the Chevrolet Knights in Bloemfontein, with the visitors scoring 320 for four to already lead by 72 runs.

Neil McKenzie was on 72 not out, playing a wonderful innings and having stroked 12 gorgeous fours, while Dominic Hendricks belied his tender years with 71, Rassie van der Dussen raced to 70 and Temba Bavuma just added to the Knights’ frustration with 57.

*At Newlands, Richard Levi and Justin Ontong roared to half-centuries as the Nashua Cape Cobras took control of their match against the Chevrolet Warriors, reaching 316 for three at stumps, in reply to the visitors’ 288 all out.

While Levi belted 79 with 14 fours and Ontong had raced to 75 not out off 98 balls at stumps, Omphile Ramela was the baking powder that allowed the Cobras to produce such a good cake, batting for four-and-a-half hours and reaching 81 not out at stumps.

The Warriors had started the second day on 274 for eight, but Rory Kleinveldt reduced them to 288 all out by blowing away the last two wickets and finishing with four for 59, the same figures as Dane Paterson.


Steyn shows he’s still the man to keep Bulls on top 0

Posted on October 16, 2015 by Ken


“I am still the man” was the overriding message from flyhalf Morné Steyn as he steered the Bulls to a tense 18-16 Vodacom SuperRugby victory over the Sharks in Durban and maintained their position atop the South African Conference and in second overall.

It was not just the fact that Steyn was once again on-target with the boot, his six penalties accounting for all the Bulls’ points, but even more so the way he marshalled his side, won them the territory battle and kept their structure and game plan rock-solid under intense, Test-like pressure. And he did all that even though his team were massively on the back foot at scrum-time.

There is now surely little doubt Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer will call on Steyn to wear the number 10 jersey for the national side in their quadrangular Tests involving Italy, Scotland and Samoa next month.

Pat Lambie, who also kicked superbly at goal on Saturday but was not as assured in general play, will probably be on the Springboks’ bench as Steyn won the battle of the flyhalves at King’s Park.

The passionate Sharks produced a display of much thunder and fury, but little actual impact as the Bulls sat back and defended stoutly, waiting for the inevitable handling error and then kicking the Sharks back into their own territory, from where lapses in discipline could be turned into points by Steyn. Often, the Bulls used the rolling maul to push the Sharks back and force the infringement.

While the Sharks thoroughly dominated the scrums, they struggled in the lineouts and one sensed the Bulls knew their hosts would err in that set-piece when they kicked-off in the 75th minute, trailing 15-16 after Charl McLeod’s try had snatched the lead for the KwaZulu-Natalians. Steyn kicked deep, the chasers did their job and the Sharks conceded a lineout just inside their own 22.

Unfortunately for the hosts, Tendai Mtawarira grabbed the leaping Flip van der Merwe a fraction early, while he was still in the air, conceding a penalty which Man-of-the-Match Steyn was never going to miss whatever the acute angle.

Despite it being a beautiful winter’s day in Durban, the evening was cruel for rugby because of heavy dew and that led to masses of handling errors, particularly by the Sharks when they were in the Bulls’ red zone.

But rather than focus on the Sharks’ lack of skills, one should also credit the Bulls’ heavyweight forwards, who dominated the collisions to such an extent that the Sharks were unable to rely on the likes of Willem Alberts, Jean Deysel, Pieter-Steph du Toit and Mtawarira for their usual go-forward ball.

The Bulls’ joy was tempered somewhat by the news wing Bjorn Basson has been cited, having already received a yellow card during the game, for an innocuous tip tackle on Lambie as he tried to run from his own 22, while Van der Merwe was given an off-field yellow for legally rucking Keegan Daniel away from the wrong side of a ruck, in clear view of experienced referee Jonathan Kaplan, who correctly took no action.

So many words have been written in recent weeks on the poor quality of refereeing, anonymous assistant referees and ludicrous TMO decisions that are having such a detrimental effect on this year’s competition. It seems out-of-touch citing commissioners now want to have more of an impact on the game as well, heaping more frustration on coaches, players and fans.

The Cheetahs, meanwhile, are cooking up a thrilling conclusion to the conference race – next weekend’s match in Bloemfontein between them and the Bulls will be a vital humdinger – and they kept the pressure on the three-time champions by beating the Southern Kings 34-22 in Port Elizabeth.

The Kings certainly weren’t soft pushovers, and they led 12-6 heading into the half-time break. But they weren’t able to do much more than defend and rely on Demetri Catrakilis’s boot and the home side’s tryline was finally breached by the Cheetahs on the hooter.

Willie le Roux, who was in sublime form, showed great acceleration to burst through the defensive line on the blindside and Johann Sadie was on his outside to take the perfectly-timed pass and dash over for the opening try.

The third quarter was an exhibition of clinical rugby by the Cheetahs as they scored three more tries and, trailing 15-34, the match was over for the Kings on the hour mark.

Left wing Le Roux was once again at the centre of the action, his quick hands setting up Sadie for his second try and then the former Stormers and Bulls centre repaid the favour with a mazy run that Le Roux finished off for the bonus-point try.

Scrumhalf Piet van Zyl also showed a keen eye for the gap as he grabbed his third try in two games.

The Stormers, meanwhile, shrugged off suggestions from their demanding fans that the whole management and playing staff should be disbanded as they secured a 20-15 victory over the Reds at Newlands that was full of immense character and also helped the Cheetahs considerably.

Stormers coach Allister Coetzee had been forced to dip into the ranks of Western Province’s Vodacom Cup side, and even as far as the UCT team, by a raft of injuries. But he was fortunate that experienced hooker Tiaan Liebenberg returned from injury at the same time and the likeable veteran pulled the pack together in superb fashion.

Eben Etzebeth was immense as he and Gerbrandt Grobler dominated the lineouts and the defence was back to its best with the loose forwards, Siya Kolisi and Nizaam Carr in particular, and inside centre Damian de Allende the leading lights.

The Stormers also scored the only try of the game and the much-derided Elton Jantjies was at the centre of it.

Jantjies, who finally got to play the full 80 minutes, changed the approach of the Stormers’ attack early in the second half as his perfectly-positioned cross-kick was fielded by left wing Bryan Habana, who immediately popped the ball inside to fullback Joe Pietersen. Perfect interplay between Pietersen, cutting inside, and Jean de Villiers, racing up outside him, then saw the Stormers captain score a thrilling try that was ultimately the difference between the two teams.

The boot of Pietersen, with five penalties, was also an obvious factor in the Stormers’ win, but it was the determination and composure of the makeshift team that stood out most of all as the title challenge of the Reds continued to falter on African soil. The 2011 champions have now slipped from third to fifth behind the Cheetahs after losing both their tour games.

In the words of De Villiers himself: “To beat a team like the Reds when you have 16 players out says something, and what it says is that we have the right coaches and they are choosing the right players. This was one of the most emotional wins of my career.”

Lions not able to get past Kuhn’s broad bat 0

Posted on March 31, 2015 by Ken

The bizhub Highveld Lions were not able to get past the broad bat of Heino Kuhn as the Unlimited Titans opener batted all day and steered the home side to 374 for four in their Sunfoil Series match at Willowmoore Park in Benoni on Saturday.

The Titans began the third day on 27 without loss, trailing the Lions by 458 runs, but they were not daunted by the task at hand, Kuhn leading the way with a magnificent 182 not out.

With the Titans still 111 behind the Lions’ first-innings score though, there is not much chance of a result as the top-of-the-log match goes into the final day on Sunday. Both teams were mostly just counting bonus points on Saturday, with the Titans edging that battle 6.82 to 6.44.

The morning session belonged to the Lions, with the accurate visiting bowlers managing to claim the wickets of Jacques Rudolph (39) and Henry Davids (1) as the Titans went into the lunch break on 118 for two.

After seeing off the tight, probing efforts of seamers Pumelela Matshikwe, Sean Jamison, Vusi Mazibuko and Dwaine Pretorius, the introduction of spin proved the undoing of Rudolph. The left-hander tried to sweep Dale Deeb in his second over of the day, missed and was trapped lbw.

The wicket of Davids followed in the next over as the Titans captain missed a drive at Matshikwe, who nipped the ball back into the right-hander to win an lbw verdict.

Kuhn and Cobus Pienaar then steadied the innings, however, with Kuhn going to his half-century, off 132 deliveries, the ball before lunch.

The pair continued to hold the initiative until shortly before tea, when Pienaar tried to drive a delivery from Mazibuko that just veered across the left-hander, edging a low catch, which Thami Tsolekile, one of the safest wicketkeepers in the game, comfortably held.

Pienaar, playing his first game in this season’s Sunfoil Series, looked in fine form and in little trouble as he scored 66 in 160 minutes, batting in the key number four position.

Kuhn, meanwhile, had gone to his second century of the campaign in the previous over, having been at the crease for just under five hours and faced 229 balls, stroking nine fours and hooking Jamison for six.

Roelof van der Merwe came in to replace Pienaar at 227 for three and he and Kuhn were in firm control in the final session, adding 146 in 156 minutes, safely negotiating the second new ball.

Van der Merwe, the leading run-scorer in this season’s Sunfoil Series, fell in the penultimate over before the close, trying to sweep the left-arm spin of Deeb, bowling over the wicket into the rough. The ball came off the glove and was taken by Tsolekile, Van der Merwe falling for 66.

Kuhn, with the immaculate technique, shot selection and concentration of the archetypal successful opening batsman, made it through to the end of the day, having been at the crease for just under eight hours, facing 357 deliveries, from which he collected 17 fours and a six.

The Lions bowlers toiled manfully on the flat pitch, Deeb finishing the day with two for 75 in 24 overs, with the other wickets going to Mazibuko and Matshikwe. The spell of eight overs Mazibuko bowled before tea with an old, soft ball was particularly impressive, the wicket of Pienaar being his only reward, however.

*If a crowd does deign to show up at St George’s Park in Port Elizabeth on Sunday, they are in for a thrilling final day as the Chevrolet Warriors finished the third day on 254 for six, leading the Nashua Cape Cobras by 258 runs with four wickets remaining.

The Cobras had dominated proceedings on Saturday until the final hour, when Andrew Birch lashed a 42-ball half-century to boost a flagging Warriors innings.

The defending champions had reduced the Warriors to 176 for six – a lead of 180 – when Birch joined the captain, Colin Ingram, at the crease.

Birch counter-attacked superbly, hammering 10 fours and a six in his 50 not out, while Ingram reached stumps on 44 not out to set up the prospect of a testing run-chase for the Cobras on the final day.

The Cobras had started the third day on 137 for seven, but the efforts of Aviwe Mgijima (26) and the last pair of Lizaad Williams (19*) and Dane Paterson (17) lifted them to 199 all out, just four runs behind the Warriors’ first innings of 203.

Birch and Basheer Walters each took three wickets.

Former South Africa all-rounder Justin Kemp struck twice in the Warriors second innings, but Michael Price scored 62 to steady the innings.

Once he fell to Mgijima though, the Cobras would have been expecting to mop up the rest of the innings quickly, before Birch weighed in with a momentum-shifting innings.

*The Sunfoil Dolphins were firmly on top in their Sunfoil Series match against the Chevrolet Knights in Kimberley, with the home side staggering to stumps on the third day on 11 for three.

The Dolphins set the Knights a target of 369 for victory after their top-order set up a declaration on 171 for three after 35 overs, Divan van Wyk scoring 65, Imraan Khan 36 and Daniel Sincuba 43 not out.

Daryn Dupavillon then once again impressed with the ball, taking two for 10 in four overs to have the Knights reeling at the close.

Dupavillon had taken three wickets as the Knights first innings ended on 255 all out, a deficit of 197, with fellow seamers Mathew Pillans (15-4-51-3) and Graham Hume (17-1-55-2) working well in harmony with him. Spinner Keshav Maharaj also performed a valuable role with two for 51 in 28 overs.

The Knights had resumed on 128 for four, but only Pite van Biljon (35), Michael Erlank (55 not out) and Werner Coetsee (29) were able to handle the Dolphins attack, and the home side sang a similarly sad tune in their brief second innings.



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