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Ken Borland



Century-maker Faf equips himself with patience 0

Posted on September 05, 2016 by Ken

 

South Africa captain Faf du Plessis has shown in limited-overs cricket that he has all the strokes, but he said after his determined unbeaten century against New Zealand on Sunday that he has decided that the most important tool to equip himself with in Test cricket is patience.

Du Plessis batted for 377 minutes and faced 234 balls as he finished with 112 not out on the second day of the second Test at SuperSport Park in Centurion on Sunday and, while some may have considered it slow and heavy going at times, he was pleased with the pacing of his innings.

“I feel like I’ve been hitting the ball quite nicely, so I just wanted to make sure I knuckled down and made it count. My game plan now is to be very patient and wait for the bowlers to come into the right areas. When I’m at my best in Test cricket is when I mentally tire out the opposition and then, when the opportunity to score quick runs comes, I take it. I believe in what I do and my game plan,” Du Plessis said after the close of play which came with South Africa in firm control, New Zealand teetering on 38 for three in reply to their 481 for eight declared.

Although South Africa’s top five batsmen all passed 50 for just the second time in their Test history – the previous occasion being the 2010 Test against India at the same venue – Du Plessis said conditions had not been easy for batting.

“Since Day One it’s been a pitch where a lot happens and we needed one guy to anchor the innings and keep them out for as long as possible. We thought that 400 would be a really good score on that pitch, which still has a lot going for it. The batsmen up front did very well to be so patient and 481 was a very good result for us.

“The grass stands up a bit more in the morning and late afternoon and in the last hour you can see the indentations in the pitch because of the light, but when the sun is shining brightly the pitch looks fine. That sort of thing plays on your mind and the ball also grips more when there is more moisture in the air,” Du Plessis said.

The skipper added, however, that it is not going to be easy to run through the New Zealand batting line-up on Monday.

“The pitch has speeded up a bit from the first day and we anticipate that it will be up-and-down on day five, but days two and three are the best days for batting. So we expect to work hard, we’ll have to be really patient. It’s going to be a grafting day with the ball to set up the game, we need to be relentless on that off stump, back-of-a-length, and then it will be a challenge for the New Zealand batsmen,” Du Plessis said.

Du Plessis’ century could not have come at a better time, ending a run of 11 Tests without a hundred, while it was also heartening to see JP Duminy get some runs, the left-hander stroking 88 as he and the captain took their overnight fourth-wicket partnership to 71 on Sunday morning.

“JP is hugely talented and we just wanted to give him confidence and back him by batting him at four and it came off very well. You can see he’s in good touch and he’s being more positive, that’s what he’s changed, which has led to a better mindset. Hopefully it’s the beginning of a new era for him.

“For myself, I’m just happy to prove to my critics that I still belong. Whether I’m captain or not, I need to score runs,” Du Plessis said.

While Du Plessis was enjoying his century and a thoroughly successful day for the Proteas, his old backyard opponent and childhood friend Neil Wagner took the plaudits for New Zealand, taking five for 86 in 39 overs of impressive toil.

“Neil bowled very well, he’s aggressive, he likes to bowl short and attack the batsman. He’s a grafter, he runs in most of the day and tries his best,” Du Plessis acknowledged.

Tim Southee, the leader of the Black Caps attack, also praised the Pretoria-born and educated left-arm seamer.

“Neil has been outstanding for a long period of time and he reaped the rewards for his efforts. He generally bowls the tough overs, nine out of ten times he’s on when the pitch has flattened out and the ball is older, but he finds a way. He never gives up and keeps running in,” Southee said.

http://www.citizen.co.za/1267500/century-maker-faf-equips-himself-with-patience/

Hardus wants more Test cricket, gets help from special woman in his life 0

Posted on July 08, 2016 by Ken

 

Hardus Viljoen has had a taste of Test cricket and wants more, so, with the help of the special woman in his life, he has put in the hard yards in the off-season to become an even leaner and meaner fast bowler.

The off-season is pretty much over for the Highveld Lions star as he leaves on Tuesday with the SA A side for two four-day matches in Zimbabwe and then a triangular series in Australia with India A as the other opponents.

And the 27-year-old looked in tremendous shape on Monday as the team had a middle practice session at the University of Pretoria’s Groenkloof field and is clearly not resting on the laurels of last season, when he took 47 wickets, the most in the Sunfoil Series, in nine matches at an average of just 23 and made his Test debut in January at the Wanderers and removed England captain Alastair Cook with his first ball.

The rest of his first game for South Africa did not go as well, though, as he finished with one for 79 in 15 expensive overs and then bowled four wicketless overs in the second innings as England chased down just 74 for a commanding victory.

“Last season has come and gone, no-one’s going to talk about how you bowled last year, there’s no reward on that. So I did a lot of training in the off-season and I’ve lost 10kg because I worked a lot on my fitness and my diet. My lady [girlfriend Rhemi Rynners, sister of Faf du Plessis] is into healthy eating and she helped me a lot with that, it’s become a way of life.

“I took a bit of flak for my fitness levels and it’s a personal thing – by doing this I can have a longer career and there’s less weight on my feet and legs. So I’ve worked hard on getting fitter and stronger, and it’s all about training smarter; I don’t want to just put on muscle like a rugby player,” a clearly focused Viljoen said on Monday.

“It was a good season last year, but it was also disappointing in a way because I didn’t perform as well as I wanted to in my debut. I wanted to really make an impact, so I’m working very hard on my consistency, that’s a massive thing for me. But that won’t happen in one week, it’s an ongoing process.”

Although Viljoen is desperate to earn a place back in the national team, he is being patient in that regard as well, not telling himself that he has to take a whole bunch of wickets in Zimbabwe and Australia.

“I don’t want to put unnecessary pressure on myself. These tours are good preparation for the summer and to see what my hard work has brought in terms of the things I’ve worked on in the off-season. It might be SA A, but I am still representing my country and I don’t want to take anything for granted. Our performances will obviously be looked at, but for me it’s still about how my game has progressed,” Viljoen said.

Viljoen initially sprung to prominence in limited-overs cricket, but he has taken more than 30 first-class wickets in each of the last seven seasons, with his highest average being 30.39 in 2013/14. The Waterkloof High School product whose actual name is just the initials GC, also has his sights set on a place in the Proteas limited-overs teams.

“In Test cricket, you need patience and consistency, but in T20s, for instance, I would love to just come out and bowl at 155km/h. One of my main goals last season was to bowl at 150km/h and I got to 152.4, so to bowl at 155 is another personal goal of mine.

“But you also need to execute your skills in limited-overs cricket and there’s a massive gap for a death bowler in the Proteas set-up, so I’m working on getting more skills in my arsenal. It’s not going to take one season though, you need about 10 000 hours to master those skills!

“So I have a few things to work on … ” Viljoen said.

It is clear, however, that Viljoen is not happy with his career standing in the same spot. The hunger inside him suggests he will be one to watch in Zimbabwe and Australia.

http://citizen.co.za/1190043/viljoen-desperate-to-earn-a-place-in-the-national-team/

Rabada is the man – AB 0

Posted on January 20, 2016 by Ken

 

 

Man of the match Kagiso Rabada believes he still hasn’t “arrived” in Test cricket despite becoming the youngest fast bowler to take 13 wickets in a game as he bowled South Africa to a massive 280-run victory over England in the fourth Test at SuperSport Park in Centurion on Tuesday.

Rabada finished with six for 32 as England were routed for just 101 in their second innings, losing their last seven wickets in just 68 manic minutes on the final morning, giving the 20-year-old match figures of 13 for 144.

In the history of Test cricket, only one bowler, Indian spinner Narendra Hirwani, has had a better return at a younger age, taking 16 for 136 for India against the West Indies in Chennai when he was just 19 years and 85 days old.

Rabada’s figures are also the best ever for South Africa against England, and the second-best against all opposition, bettered only by Makhaya Ntini’s 13 for 132 against the West Indies at Port-of-Spain in 2004/5.

“The ball was coming out very nicely and I had good rhythm as the match went on, it felt better today. I just tried to do the basics right, I’m a youngster and I’m still learning. I still haven’t arrived yet but I’m just going to enjoy the moment because in my first bowl of the series I only took three wickets and got smashed everywhere. It’s great to take 13 wickets, something you don’t do every day,” Rabada said.

As far as captain AB de Villiers is concerned though, Rabada is the man.

“Every time I asked him to perform he did. He’s shown the maturity of someone who’s played more than a hundred Tests, while he’s got the pace of someone who’s just played one or two!

“KG has impressed us all, we need to look after him very well and make sure that he’s always fresh when he walks on to the field. A guy like him is always hugely exciting,” De Villiers said.

South Africa’s comprehensive victory, although not enough to prevent England from winning their first series on these shores since 2004/5 – which were also times of transition in the Proteas Test team – does bring to an end a run of nine Tests without victory and De Villiers was obviously mightily relieved to enjoy the turnaround in fortunes.

“Teams go through phases and I never felt it was panic stations. In this game we managed to apply pressure for longer and did the basics better, and because of that we got it right in terms of the result, it’s not that complicated. If you do the small things right, more often than not you’ll win.

“It feels a bit like a new beginning, although it’s dangerous to say that. We’re doing the same things we’ve done for the last few years and we haven’t changed our thought processes. Our attitude was always good, but this is definitely a step in the right direction. There are a lot of reasons to feel that,” De Villiers said.

The arrivals of Rabada, the most exciting bowler to emerge in South Africa since Dale Steyn, as well as the difference made by Stephen Cook as a solid specialist opener and Temba Bavuma in the middle-order, have clearly, however, provided a boost to a struggling Proteas outfit.

“A couple of changes were necessary, they brought a fresh vibe and confidence from having done well in domestic cricket. Stephen Cook also brought a lot of experience into the squad because he’s played a lot of first-class games and scored a lot of runs.

“Temba has been a real bright spark. There were signs in Bangladesh and India that he looked at home, like he belonged. So I knew it was just a matter of time before he scored big runs and he’s had a fantastic series. Him and KG coming through has been fantastic. We all know the history of our country and the racial issues, and having them step up and perform together has been one of the highlights of my career,” De Villiers said.

 

 

Lorgat optimistic that Windies tour will not be disrupted 0

Posted on November 25, 2014 by Ken

Cricket South Africa counted the cost last year of their summer of Test cricket being disrupted, but CEO Haroon Lorgat is optimistic that the current troubles between the West Indies and their administrators will not lead to another international tour to these shores being severely curtailed or cancelled.

The West Indies team are currently on strike and at loggerheads with both their own players’ association (Wipa) and the board (WICB), having pulled out of their tour to India after just four ODIs. If the impasse is not resolved before December, then they may have to send a second-string outfit to South Africa or the tour might be cancelled.

But Lorgat is confident that the issues will be resolved and the best West Indian team will tour, particularly if they accept the offer of assistance from the Federation of International Cricketers Association (Fica), headed by South African Tony Irish.

“I’ve spoken to the West Indies board in the last 24 hours and they are reasonably confident that they will be able to keep their promise and tour here. I’m optimistic that they’ll be able to work through their issues.

“In two weeks’ time the RamSlam T20 Challenge starts here and I was told that the NOCs [No-Objection Certificates] would be granted to the West Indian players involved. There are some big players coming here, including captain Dwayne Bravo, and I’ll be able to talk to them then.

“Plus Tony Irish has offered his assistance, so there are many angles we can work from. The West Indian players are always keen to come to South Africa, so although it’s early days and there’s still lots of emotion, I’m quite confident that we’ll get things worked out,” Lorgat told The Citizen yesterday.

An important ace in CSA’s hands is that the tour to South Africa is the West Indies’ last before the World Cup and Lorgat said there is an eagerness amongst the Caribbean players to perform in that showpiece event.

“The players don’t want to miss out on the World Cup so I’m sure sanity will prevail. It could have been worse: it’s an explosive situation that has been simmering for a while and it could have happened while they were in South Africa!” Lorgat pointed out.

The current strike is the fourth to have affected West Indies cricket over the last decade or so and is centred on Wipa president Wavell Hinds signing a new collective bargaining agreement that results in a significant paycut for the players, as high as 70% for some.

The WICB are now holding the players to that signed contract. Wipa happens to have acted similarly a few years ago when the then-WICB chief executive mistakenly signed a deal giving the players $35 000 more per match-day.

Irish, who rose to the post of executive chairperson of Fica in June, told The Citizen that he had to offer his assistance because “the implications of this issue go far beyond West Indies cricket”.

 

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