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Ken Borland



Theunis de Bruyn’s selection for the Proteas is no surprise 0

Posted on December 19, 2016 by Ken

 

There will be a new cap in the Standard Bank Proteas squad for their three-Test series against Sri Lanka starting on Boxing Day, but the selection of Theunis de Bruyn is hardly a surprise given the 24-year-old’s amazing first three years of his franchise career.

Having scored over 500 runs for the Titans in his first two seasons of Sunfoil Series cricket, De Bruyn has continued to make progress after a move to the Knights, having already made 423 runs at an average of 60.42 in eight innings this season. He has also enjoyed a couple of prolific limited-overs campaigns, in both 50 and 20-over cricket, to suggest he is a batsman for all formats.

De Bruyn’s first-class haul of over 2500 runs at an average of 48.73 includes six centuries and an unbeaten double-hundred for SA A against the England Lions. The tall, elegant right-hander has in fact scored two centuries and two half-centuries in seven innings for SA A, another reason why his promotion to the Proteas squad was considered almost certain.

“Theunis is a good talent and has done well for both his franchise and SA A and is next in the pecking order. It’s good to get him into the set-up because we definitely see him as a future star for the Proteas, playing in all the formats,” convenor of selectors Linda Zondi said.

While the promotion of a new, young batting star to the national squad is always exciting, there will also be a tang of regret for Rilee Rossouw, who toured Australia but has now suffered yet another inopportune injury, another foot problem ruling him out of contention.

“Obviously we aren’t pleased with Rilee’s injury because he was the next batsman in line, and Stiaan van Zyl would probably also have been in line had he not signed a Kolpak deal. It’s obviously very disappointing for Rilee, I spoke to him in Australia and he really wants to do well for South Africa and was very happy with the way we backed him in the ODIs. He’s obviously an exceptional player and he will still do well in the future for South Africa and contribute immensely going forward because it’s still a long season ahead and he’s definitely still in our plans,” Zondi said.

Rossouw did not play in any of the Tests in Australia and was very much the reserve batsman on tour, and that is probably going to be De Bruyn’s role during the three Tests against Sri Lanka in Port Elizabeth, Cape Town and Johannesburg. But with AB de Villiers already ruled out and captain Faf du Plessis potentially facing a ban from his ball-tampering appeal on Monday, the Knights captain will be preparing as hard as anyone in the camp.

And that’s the positive – whether he plays or not, De Bruyn will learn plenty about the skills and mindset required at full international level.

“Even if Theunis doesn’t make the starting XI, he’s going to gain more experience and fitting into those surroundings and the culture of the team will only enhance his belief that he will be able to fit in at international level,” Zondi said.

The squad for the Sri Lanka series also features a recall for left-arm fast bowler and useful batsman Wayne Parnell, who has been in top-class form for the Cape Cobras this season. He is averaging over 30 with the bat in T20 cricket and less than 20 with the ball, at a brilliant economy rate of 6.7.

A replacement for the injured Morne Morkel and Dale Steyn, he could play a part in the Wanderers Test if the Proteas decide to go with four pacemen and let JP Duminy take the spinner’s job.

“Wayne strengthens the depth and therefore makes it a better squad. He’s an exciting cricketer with the left-arm variation he brings and he adds to our depth in batting. We’ve been hoping he would stay injury-free and dominate at franchise level, and we’ve seen that with his batting and bowling,” Zondi said.

Being on home soil, just a 13-man squad has been chosen and the starting XI pretty much selects itself after the dazzling success in Australia.

Stephen Cook, son of the legendary Jimmy, and Dean Elgar will continue as the opening batsmen taking the shine off the ball, with Hashim Amla, Duminy, Du Plessis or De Bruyn, Temba Bavuma and wiucketkeeper/batsman Quinton de Kock to follow. The bowlers will be Vernon Philander, Kagiso Rabada, Keshav Maharaj or Parnell, and Kyle Abbott.

The likes of fast bowler Hardus Viljoen and Van Zyl would have stood a decent chance of making the squad, were it not for their decision to sign Kolpak contracts for English county cricket. Although disappointed that two fine cricketers are no longer eligible for selection, Zondi said he is content there is still more than enough talent in South Africa for the Proteas to build on their recent success.

“We can’t compete with the pound and it hurts to lose quality players, but we do have depth. So I’m comfortable but not happy. Upon signing a Kolpak deal, these players make themselves unavailable, otherwise someone like Stiaan van Zyl probably would have been next in line in the batting queue,” Zondi said.

Sadly, there are going to be more high-profile South African cricketers signing Kolpak deals in the near future.

It has now been confirmed that Du Plessis will once again guide the Proteas as captain and he said he is grateful for his long-time friend De Villiers’ decision to step aside in the interests of the team.

“It just shows you the person that AB is, that he always puts the team first, and it also shows how strong the culture of the side is.

“Test cricket is for me the most enjoyable time to be a captain because you have to work on plans for a long period of time. You have to strategise on how you’re going to make sure you’re going to get guys out and continue to challenge guys over a long time.

“To finally have it now‚ as something that is set in stone‚ is a huge honour and I’ll be taking it very seriously. I’ll try and make sure that the stuff that we’ve been working on for the past six months to a year‚ that we don’t let those standards drop. If I keep pushing the guys to make sure we hit those standards, we’ll be a consistent team,” Du Plessis said.

If the Standard Bank Proteas show the same team unity and focus on executing their basics to perfection, then their fans at home can look forward to more stellar performances against the Sri Lankans.

Sharks make 5 changes for a site of little success in recent years … 0

Posted on March 17, 2016 by Ken

 

Loftus Versfeld is a site where the Sharks have not seen much success in the last few years, so it may cause some surprise that coach Gary Gold has made five changes to the starting line-up that secured an impressive victory over the Stormers in Cape Town for Friday night’s SuperRugby derby against the Bulls.

But it is a short week for the Sharks – the Bulls are coming off a bye – and there are so many sore bodies after the titanic effort against the Stormers that a few fresher legs will be good for the visitors and, because they are all players promoted from the bench, there is not that much disruption.

One change has been injury-enforced with powerhouse flank Jean-Luc du Preez struggling with a foot injury and he is replaced by former Cheetahs star Philip van der Walt.

Lwazi Mvovo returns on the left wing, with JP Pietersen shifting to the right and Odwa Ndungane moving down to the bench; Michael Claassens swops with Cobus Reinach at scrumhalf; and two of the replacement front-rowers, tighthead Lourens Adriaanse and hooker Kyle Cooper, will get their first starts of the campaign as Coenie Oosthuizen and Franco Marais shift to the bench.

“When we do our planning, there are loads of factors we take into consideration and you can’t plan for injuries, which force you to rotate. It’s not that we’re resting players now, but we want to stop the rot for three or four guys and then there’ll be other guys rotated in three or four weeks time, so that by Week 12, when the tournament has become really rigorous, the players aren’t overloaded,” Gold explained on Wednesday.

“Every guy coming into the starting line-up has come off the bench every week so there’s no disruption. The same team that finished against the Stormers and the Jaguares is starting this week, we want to keep disruption to a minimum. There’s no question that 15 guys can’t win week in and week out, for any franchise. It has to be a group of 20 to 25 and you pray for a group of 30.”

Despite both teams having committed themselves to a new era in terms of the way they play, it will still be a huge physical battle in Pretoria and, even though they have chosen two second-choice front-rowers, the Sharks know they will be hit hard up front first. They will have to absorb those blows and it will also be useful having the accomplished boot of Claassens at a place like Loftus Versfeld where the ball travels for miles thanks to altitude, and territory is crucial.

“The Bulls are quite fresh and they will bring massive physicality. It’s always a set-piece battle at Loftus and the Bulls are very strong there with Adriaan Strauss leading from the front. Our record’s not all that great there and we want to make amends for the past, we’ve had a very disappointing run against them,” captain Tendai Mtawarira said of a streak of four successive defeats in Pretoria and three in a row to the Bulls home and away.

Sharks team: Willie le Roux, JP Pietersen, Paul Jordaan, Andre Esterhuizen, Lwazi Mvovo, Joe Pietersen, Michael Claassens, Daniel du Preez, Philip van der Walt, Marcell Coetzee, Stephan Lewies, Etienne Oosthuizen, Lourens Adriaanse, Kyle Cooper, Tendai Mtawarira (C). Bench – Franco Marais, Juan Schoeman, Coenie Oosthuizen, Hyron Andrews, Keegan Daniel, Cobus Reinach, Garth April, Odwa Ndungane.

Paige not surprised by his World Cup selection 0

Posted on September 02, 2015 by Ken

 

“The coach told me from the beginning that I was in his plans and I knew where I stood, so it wasn’t a total surprise,” debutant scrumhalf Rudy Paige said of his inclusion in the Springboks’ World Cup squad despite not featuring at all in the Rugby Championship.

Paige was chosen as one of three scrumhalves along with veterans Fourie du Preez and Ruan Pienaar, and seemingly leapfrogged Cobus Reinach, who was Pienaar’s understudy throughout the Rugby Championship.

But in a dismal tournament for the Springboks, Reinach’s decision-making was often exposed, most notably against the All Blacks when he took a free kick from the wrong place and had his try disallowed, lost possession by going on a solo attack, and also spread the ball wide when the gap had opened up for him to go through.

“The Bulls had an indifferent season, but I felt my energy and consistency were still good and I wanted to take that to the Springbok squad. Obviously I had to lift it at the Springboks and I was very happy just to observe Fourie du Preez at training, how he goes about things. He’s probably still the best scrumhalf in the world and I was learning every day,” Paige said.

The 26-year-old enjoyed an outstanding Super Rugby campaign and is an efficient, quick passer of the ball as well as having an immaculate kicking game.

“Cobus Reinach was injured for a lot of Super Rugby and I tried to give him game time but he never quite recaptured his form. Rudy provides really good service and he’s more or less like Fourie du Preez as a player. He has an unbelievable kicking game in the wet and great service, and unfortunately he got injured on the end-of-year tour,” coach Heyneke Meyer said when explaining his selection.

As for allowing a situation where Paige will go to the World Cup without having played any Test rugby, Meyer defended his management of the new cap.

“I wanted to play him in Buenos Aires, but the guys who let the country down in Durban had to go and fix it. Even the Australian squad has guys who haven’t played at all and I don’t think playing one Test will make that much difference,” Meyer said.

“That end-of-year tour opened my eyes to what I’m capable of and it made me hungry to be part of the Springbok team, I saw what the blazer means to them. I want to be part of that for most of my career and I need to improve my defence and adapt to international rugby as quickly as possible. My quick service and my kicking game are the things I back myself on,” Paige, the son of a delighted Congregational Church priest in Oudtshoorn, said.

 

Pierre de Bruyn: A disciplinarian who rates flexibility 0

Posted on November 21, 2014 by Ken

No one would ever doubt Pierre de Bruyn when he says “discipline is a non-negotiable in this environment”, but what might surprise people is that the Assupol Tuks head coach rates flexibility as the most important ingredient in the tremendous success he has enjoyed since coming to the University of Pretoria in 2010.

“There are plenty of theories thrown out about coaching, but my philosophy, what I really believe is the number one factor to being successful as a coach, is that you have to have flexibility. Discipline is non-negotiable in this environment, but every day you’re dealing with different personalities, attitudes, levels of skill and even different goals. So you really have to understand people,” De Bruyn told The Medalist.

“You need to get on the same boat as the individual, you need to work with them and help them get to the next level, like Theunis de Bruyn and Aiden Markram have embarked on their journey. But the player needs to trust you if you’re going to go on that journey with them, which is why you must understand the individual player.”

De Bruyn hides a steely interior behind this talk of flexibility, trust and understanding. During his 15-year career as a player for Easterns, Northerns, the Titans and the Dolphins, De Bruyn was acknowledged as one of the toughest competitors on the circuit, someone who made the absolute most of his talents.

“I wasn’t talented at all. But I managed to string together 15 years as a professional cricketer through complete hard work. I always tried to be one step ahead of the guy next to me through focus, discipline and enormous work ethic. I really wanted the tough situation,” he said.

“Talent is not enough and I always work on the mental aspect with my players. A good, solid mentality is key to succeeding in cricket and if you don’t have good discipline – at training, on the field and at home – how can you expect to play winning cricket? I want my players to understand that without discipline, they’ll be inconsistent and unreliable players.”

There is little doubt that players like Theunis de Bruyn, who has already made a strong start to the domestic franchise season, Graeme van Buuren, Markram, Corbin Bosch and Heinrich Klaasen will enjoy successful careers thanks to the foundation that has been laid at Tuks.

“Pierre has brought 15 years of experience in first-class cricket and he’s introduced a culture where young people can really learn their game and how to be successful at higher levels. It’s a very professional environment here and that’s why our players are able to excel when they go up to first-class level,” Theunis de Bruyn says.

While stressing the importance of the individual, coach De Bruyn will never allow that to become more important than the team ethos.

“One philosophy that is clear in our team, and every team member is in the same position, is that while we will work out how to meet a player’s personal needs, that can never overtake the team goals. We’ve created a culture of success here, we’ve built something special over the last five years,” he said.

And tradition will continue to play an important role in a club that has produced such stars as Mike Macaulay, Syd Burke, Alan Jordaan, Hein Raath, Tertius Bosch, Anton Ferreira, Martin van Jaarsveld, Jacques Rudolph, New Zealand Test cricketers Neil Wagner and Kruger van Wyk, AB de Villiers, Marchant de Lange, Morne and Albie Morkel, Paul Harris, Faf du Plessis, CJ de Villiers and Zimbabwe’s Kyle Jarvis.

“Guys have come through this system that have such character and tremendous attitudes and I really believe in that sort of tradition. We’re very fortunate to have this environment at Tuks, there are excellent services and support and we have the structures, I believe, to take on the best in the world,” De Bruyn said.

And the results bear that out.

2014 will be remembered as another phenomenal year for the Tuks cricket team. They are the world champions in the only global university cricket competition – the Red Bull Campus Cricket Finals, they completed a hat-trick of titles in the Momentum National Club Championships (unbeaten through 18 games) and they have won the Northerns Premier League for the last five years.

De Bruyn, though, will be focused on ensuring his team improve even more.

“It’s a fast-moving environment and it’s tough. The players are training and competing with first-class cricketers day in and day out and the club is basically like a full-time high-performance programme for the Titans.

“If I’m one percent unprepared as a coach then it can cost a young player his dreams. I have to be very sharp as the coach and stay one step ahead otherwise it will cost the player,” De Bruyn said.

A coach with such high standards for himself will undoubtedly be inspirational for his charges and the success of the Tuks team bears this out.

 

 



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