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Ken Borland

‘In general, AB will open in T20s’ – Faf 0

Posted on February 26, 2016 by Ken



South Africa’s T20 captain, Faf du Plessis, says that in general he wants AB de Villiers to open the batting in the shortest format of the game and particularly in the ICC World T20 starting in India next month.

While De Villiers displayed his complete mastery of the role with his superb innings against England at the Wanderers at the weekend, Hashim Amla showed in the same game that he is also a great opening option and Quinton de Kock also fits the job description of being able to hit boundaries up front while playing normal cricket.

“I’ve always wanted AB to open because he has the potential to blast a team away, especially in India, so there’s just one spot left and Hashim and Quinton have both been excellent as well. It’s a tricky one, but it’s not a headache because it’s great to have options. The plan wasn’t to have all three playing, but by all means we’ll look at it.

“The whole world was screaming and shouting for AB to open the batting and then, if we have a shaky chase like at Newlands, then everyone starts questioning whether he might not be better in the middle-order. But AB is still a great finisher and we’ll go for the strongest team in the conditions. In England or South Africa it may be different to India … ” Du Plessis said.

The captain said he was confident that the squad for the ICC World T20 had all the practitioners of the different skills required for success in a tournament where South Africa’s best finishes have been semi-final appearances in 2014 and 2009.

“The great thing about the squad is that for the first time I believe any XI we field will be as strong as any other. We have a lot of options and the quality of the squad is such that I honestly don’t feel there are any holes. It’s well-balanced and it’s been consistent, which is what I always look for. The T20 results have been excellent over the last two years and it’s great to be winning. But we still have to improve against Australia and take that momentum into the world cup,” Du Plessis said after their eighth win in nine matches.



The matchfixing spotlight falls on disgruntled Bodi 0

Posted on January 17, 2016 by Ken



Amidst all the anger and despondency at the news that Gulam Bodi has been charged with contriving to corrupt domestic T20 matches, we should not lose sight of the fact that Cricket South Africa and their anti-corruption officials have pounced on the former international so decisively.

In the wake of former New Zealand all-rounder Chris Cairns’ astonishing acquittal, cricket administrators have realised that they have to tread methodically and precisely because the standards of evidence required to secure a criminal conviction are higher than they imagined.

CSA announced on November 6, just five days into the RamSlam T20 Challenge, that they had started an investigation into an international syndicate seeking to corrupt domestic games and then, on December 15, they revealed an “intermediary” had been charged.

That was after the conclusion of the T20 competition and much attention has fallen on the Cape Cobras’ bizarre loss to the Dolphins in the semi-final playoff in Durban. The visitors were on 154 for three in the 16th over, chasing 179, and somehow managed to lose by five runs.

It is known that there was considerable concern amongst the Cobras management in the wake of the defeat, but given the fact that all domestic players were by then aware that CSA was on to something, the finger of suspicion maybe should not rest on a team that perhaps merely suffered one of those inexplicable implosions that make cricket such a fascinating game.

The RamSlam T20 Challenge was apparently not the only competition to have been improperly interfered with: The season-opening Africa T20 Cup was allegedly where the nonsense started. It was a televised event, without much at stake, featuring some of the younger, and therefore more naïve, players on the domestic circuit – the perfect breeding ground for matchfixers.

And now Bodi has been named as the South African at the centre of it all.

The former KwaZulu-Natal, Titans, Highveld Lions and Delhi Daredevils cricketer, whose international appearances were restricted to three limited-overs games in 2007, was the type of player that calamity just seemed to follow around – his career was dotted with comical run outs, extraordinary ways of getting out and even off the field he would do things like rolling his cart on team golf days.

Now one wonders whether the bizarre luck was just that or something else, something more deliberate?

And that is the biggest damage done by the disease of matchfixing – the doubts over whether all the weird and wonderful things you have seen on the cricket field are real or contrived?

A batsman who swings so freely from the crease like Bodi did is likely to get out in “soft” fashion from time to time, but the player born in Hathuran, India, always struck me as being a little disgruntled.

He was forever talking up his own performances and complaining about not getting fair opportunities. This from one of the players who was chosen ahead of Kevin Pietersen in KZN – in the days when they were both considered spin-bowling prospects – thanks to efforts to give players of colour more opportunity.

But the three international caps were well-deserved because Bodi was once one of the most free-scoring, dangerous top-order batsmen in domestic cricket.

However, the danger will always exist that players who feel hard done by, who believe they are not getting their due, could turn to the “dark side”. Judging by the rumours of white players going on strike, there is currently a large group of dissatisfied franchise cricketers and that should be a grave concern for CSA.


Morkel having a great time with ‘dream’ Titans 0

Posted on December 11, 2015 by Ken


Albie Morkel says he has thoroughly enjoyed his time as captain of the Titans, calling them a dream T20 outfit as they prepare for the RamSlam T20 Challenge final against the Dolphins at Centurion on Saturday.

Morkel, who has played more T20 matches (284) than anyone except for West Indian Kieron Pollard (299), was a slightly surprising choice as limited-overs captain of the Titans given that his last leadership experience was at school, but he has done an outstanding job in leading his team to eight successive wins and top of the log by a mile.

“It’s my first season as captain and I’ve learnt lots and I’m still learning. The biggest thing is to trust my gut feeling, which comes with experience – and I’ve played a lot of T20cricket. When I started I was very hesitant to make funky calls – like using a spinner for the first or third over – but now I really trust my gut feeling. All the former captains I spoke to say you must trust that.

“Also, if you look at the team we’ve got, it’s a really good T20 side: We’ve got eight good bowlers, explosive batsmen and a tremendous opening partnership. What you need is good starts because that allows the bigger hitters the platform to perform,” Morkel said.

The all-rounder pointed to the number of bowlers the Titans have as being a key strength.

“I’ve seen some teams pick just five bowlers, but in my opinion you can’t do that because there’s always one or two bowlers that the opposition gets after. We have eight bowlers, which may even be one too many, including three very different spinners – a wrist-spinner, an offie and a slow left-armer. And none of them are part-timers, they’re all serious bowlers when the conditions suit them. So I’m able to just juggle the bowlers and play what I see in front of me. I mustn’t get emotional about someone not getting an over,” Morkel said.

After their epic victory in the last final the Titans played in – the Momentum One-Day Cup showdown against the Cape Cobras in February – Morkel (the man of the match in Cape Town after his sensational unbeaten century) says the preparation this week is just focused on getting mentally ready.

“In previous years the Titans have maybe stood back a bit in difficult times, but this side has all bases covered. We’ve defended some really low scores, we’ve set high totals and we’ve bowled the opposition out for low scores. I don’t foresee any problems with freezing on the day, our training this week is just about getting in the right frame of mind, re-energising and getting in the right space.

“Finals don’t come around that often, in 12 years with the Titans I’ve only played in two or three, so it’s a great occasion. There’s nothing better than sitting in the changeroom after a very successful campaign … with the trophy of course,” Morkel said.


Morris ties down Cobras with world record spell 0

Posted on December 17, 2014 by Ken

Chris Morris produced the most economical four-over spell in T20 history as the impressive bizhub Highveld Lions attack was able to tie down the Nashua Cape Cobras batsmen as they defended a total of just 141 and won their RamSlam T20 Challenge match at the Wanderers on Friday night by 47 runs, earning an unlikely bonus point in the process.

The Cobras bowlers had also given an excellent all-round display as they restricted the Lions, who were sent in to bat, to 141 for seven in their 20 overs, but on a good pitch that nevertheless had some life in it for the bowlers, the visiting batsmen were all at sea as they ended on a meagre 94 for nine.

Morris had them on the back foot from the outset as his first two overs from the Golf Course End were maidens and included the key wicket of Richard Levi, who was on the charge having hit Lonwabo Tsotsobe for a six and two fours in the previous over. The 27-year-old then returned to bowl the 18th and 20th overs, collecting another maiden and conceding just two runs to finish with magnificent figures of 4-3-2-2.

It is the world record for the least runs conceded in a four-over spell, beating Pakistani Zulfiqar Babar’s 4-2-3-2 for Tigers v Quetta Bears in 2012, and equalled the record for most maidens (3) held by Manpreet Gony (Punjab), Samiullah Khan (Sui Gas) and Duvvarapu Shivkumar (Andhra).

Levi (20) top-edged a swipe to the leg-side straight up and Morris took the responsibility on himself to take the steepling catch and the Lions were on top in the field from then on.

Inspired by Morris, the Lions bowlers performed with an aggressive air throughout and the Cobras only had 42 on the board after seven overs when they lost their other opener, Andrew Puttick (4), when Eddie Leie plucked a drive out of the sky, on the second attempt, off Hardus Viljoen, having raced from deep mid-on to cow-corner.

The next over brought two more wickets as Dwaine Pretorius had Dane Vilas caught behind for a single. If Vilas had actually nicked the wide, full away-swinger or hit the ground, or even if the umpires were entitled to call for a review, were controversial matters, but there was little doubt four balls later when Justin Ontong (2) was strangled down the leg side, Thami Tsolekile taking a fine, low catch.

The Cobras were 47 for four after nine overs, needing 95 runs off 66 balls and if they were going to achieve that, then Kieron Pollard had to do the bulk of the scoring.

Omphile Ramela (30) and Pollard added 29 for the fifth wicket, but they took 5.2 overs to do it and the Lions had an even firmer grip on the game when they removed the pair in successive overs.

Alviro Petersen dashed in with purpose from long-on to catch Ramela off Tsotsobe and Pollard was found wanting against the unorthodox spin of Leie, struggling to 13 off 16 balls before being castled as he tried to loft the bowler back over his head.

That left the Cobras on 82 for six, wanting miracles from the tail with 60 runs required off 27 balls.

Morris returned to write his name into the record books, picking up his second wicket when George Linde (6) stepped across his stumps and was bowled.

While the glory went to Morris, enormous credit also needs to go to the other bowlers: Tsotsobe (4-0-28-1, including 17 off his second over), Pretorius (4-0-24-2), Viljoen (an outstanding 4-1-12-2) and Leie (4-0-22-1).

The Lions managed to get off to a solid start, despite the absence of Chris Gayle, laid low by a sore back, thanks to his replacement, Rassie van der Dussen.

He and Petersen took the Lions to 43 in the seventh over before left-arm wrist-spinner Linde produced a beauty to have Petersen stumped for 18.

The ball was only sporadically coming out of the middle of Van der Dussen’s bat – and he survived the simplest of chances to Mthokozisi Shezi at third man off Dane Paterson on four. But the determination of the opener and the experience of Neil McKenzie (also badly dropped by Shezi off Linde on 3) saw the Lions reach 95 for two in the 14th over and able to gather some quick runs at the death.

McKenzie (22) and Temba Bavuma (14) both fell to the wiles of Pollard and Shezi, impressive with the ball, bowled Van der Dussen for 52 off 40 balls, with three fours and two sixes. It was the best innings of the night, the late inclusion sticking to his guns.

The end of the Lions innings was marked by the brilliant fielding of Sybrand Engelbrecht, who took three excellent catches in four balls to dismiss Jean Symes (11) off Shezi, and then Morris (0) and Pretorius (9) in the final over bowled by Ferisco Adams.

The Cobras bowlers all conceded less than 27 runs, with Shezi (4-1-23-2), Pollard (4-0-26-2) and Linde (4-1-23-2) particularly impressive and the consensus was that the Lions had a below-par total.

Just as well they have such a brilliant bowling attack with Morris making history.

*New Protea Reeza Hendricks made a brilliant 76 not out off 48 balls to take the Knights to an eight-wicket win with 22 balls remaining against the Titans in Bloemfontein.

The Titans made a paltry 135 for six in their 20 overs, collapsing from 94 for one after 13 overs as three batsmen were run out. Fast bowler Quinton Friend (4-1-15-1) and seamer Shadley van Schalkwyk (4-0-26-2) made life particularly difficult for the batsmen.

*A top-class innings of 64 not out off 54 balls by Colin Ingram carried the Warriors to a seven-wicket victory off the last ball against the Dolphins in Port Elizabeth.

The Warriors, with off-spinner Simon Harmer (4-0-22-2) to the fore, produced an excellent bowling display to limit the Dolphins to 142 for six.

A partnership of 97 in 13.2 overs between Jon-Jon Smuts (54) and Ingram then broke the back of the run-chase to give the Warriors a morale-boosting win.

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