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Ken Borland



Positive Klaasen makes a move into Test squad 0

Posted on March 04, 2017 by Ken

 

Titans wicketkeeper/batsman Heinrich Klaasen was celebrating a first call-up to the South Africa squad for their Test series against New Zealand on Friday, convenor of selectors Linda Zondi saying a “positive presence at the crease” had played a large part in his selection.

Klaasen has looked a top-class talent since his days with the dominant Tuks Varsity team and he now follows his skipper from his student days, Theunis de Bruyn, into the Test squad as one of the back-up players, having scored 635 runs in four-day cricket this season, at an average of 48.84.

Zondi confirmed that it was a close-run thing between Klaasen and Rudi Second of the Knights, who scored 684 runs at 52.61, with the 25-year-old Klaasen being considered a closer match in terms of approach to Quinton de Kock, the player he is understudying.

“It was a very close call and it could have gone either way. Rudi is a very experienced player and is definitely not out of our plans, but we just felt that Heinrich has a positive presence at the crease, he’s tidy behind the stumps and there’s something about him.

“He’s a good striker of the ball, a fearless cricketer. We’ve watched him a lot and we feel he can play the same role as Quinton de Kock,” Zondi told Saturday Citizen on Friday.

While the presence of players such as De Kock, Kagiso Rabada, Duanne Olivier, De Bruyn and Klaasen makes it a young squad, the selectors have also recalled veteran Morne Morkel, the 32-year-old who has not played a Test in more than a year.

Morkel is only two 50-over games into his comeback from serious back issues, but Zondi said they wanted some experience around to guide a young attack. Vernon Philander has played 40 Tests, but Keshav Maharaj (4), Wayne Parnell (5), Rabada (14), Olivier (1) and Chris Morris (2) have played just 26 Tests between them.

“We’ve been guided by our medical team with Morne and he’s 100% fit. We want him to play more games, but his extra experience is required, because we don’t want to be caught out if anything happens. We’re quite comfortable in terms of all-rounders, so Morne must just go there and compete, providing us with extra variety,” Zondi said.

Squad: Stephen Cook, Dean Elgar, Hashim Amla, Faf du Plessis (Capt), JP Duminy, Temba Bavuma, Quinton de Kock, Vernon Philander, Keshav Maharaj, Wayne Parnell, Kagiso Rabada, Duanne Olivier, Morne Morkel, Chris Morris, Theunis de Bruyn, Heinrich Klaasen.

Fleming now mentoring Morris 0

Posted on May 23, 2013 by Ken

New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming pulled some wicked stunts on a 25-year-old Graeme Smith when they clashed in a Test series, but then became something of a mentor for the Proteas skipper and the cerebral Kiwi is once again helping the growth of another potential South African star of the same age in Chris Morris.

Spinner Aaron Phangiso may have won the man of the match award for his brilliant two for 17 in four overs when the Highveld Lions beat Fleming’s Chennai Super Kings in the Champions League at Newlands last October, but it was Morris who turned the coach’s head.

Morris took one for 24 in four overs, halting a blazing start to the game by CSK, and also helped seal victory for the Lions with an important 12 not off seven balls at the death, including a massive six.

“I bowled well against Stephen’s team in Cape Town and I also hit a six when I was batting. I then happened to bump into him in a restaurant and spoke to him. He pulled me aside and said he was very impressed with my bowling and said I should keep in touch. It’s funny how things go in cricket … ” Morris told Sapa at the Wanderers on Tuesday.

Three-and-a-half months later, the Super Kings paid a head-spinning $625 000 [R5.5 million] to sign the all-rounder for this year’s Indian Premier League and a dazed Morris can still hardly believe how things have turned out.

“I’m still a bit speechless after going for a price like that and it’s mind-blowing because I modelled my captaincy at school on Stephen Fleming, he was my hero, the ultimate captain with a great cricket brain. And I’ll also be playing alongside people like Mike Hussey, a schoolboy hero of mine too, and Ben Hilfenhaus, who I really enjoy watching bowl,” Morris said.

India is probably not top of the list of places pacemen want to bowl in and the Super Kings are based in Chennai, a particularly spin-friendly venue, so Morris knows the IPL will be hard work.

“I hope I catch a game but it’s going to be a very different environment and pitches, plus there’s the heat. Conditions will be tough but it’s going to be a massive learning experience and a big test of my skills.”

But for now, Morris has to focus on the final cycle of four-day domestic series fixtures, with the Lions needing to beat the Warriors in Port Elizabeth to overcome a 9.66-point deficit behind the Cape Cobras in order to win the title.

Morris has been in top-class form with the ball, taking a superb 26 wickets in five matches at an average of just 16.73 and Lions captain Stephen Cook praised his bowlers for doing “a terrific job”.

“Someone has always stepped up, most of them have 20-odd wickets at a low average. When we played the Warriors in PE in a one-day game, the pitch seamed around a bit, but we have Imran Tahir too if the wicket is low and slow,” Cook said.

The weather has bought some breathing space for the Cobras at the top of the log as the Lions have had two matches washed out in the last three weeks, but coach Geoff Toyana, who has enjoyed considerable success since taking over from Dave Nosworthy at the start of the summer, remains positive his team can still win the trophy.

“The boys are in good spirits, although they are disappointed about the last three weeks, and if we play well enough we might be champions. I trust in the guys that they can do their skills and if we play to our full potential then we can come through,” Toyana said.

The Lions will be at full strength with current internationals Alviro Petersen and Quinton de Kock returning to the line-up and considerably boosting the batting.

Weight of history against NZ – Rutherford 0

Posted on January 03, 2013 by Ken

The weight of history will be against New Zealand as they take on South Africa in a short two-Test series in the new year, the Black Caps having won just three of their 21 previous Tests in this country.

Ken Rutherford was the last New Zealand captain to win in South Africa – the 137-run victory at the Wanderers in November 1994 – and he acknowledged that the visitors will be facing an uphill struggle.

“On paper, New Zealand are clearly up against it, it’s a bit like Scotland playing the All Blacks. It will be a huge challenge against the world’s number one team. South Africa have half-a-dozen world-class players in Steyn, Morkel, Smith, De Villiers, Kallis and Amla, while the current New Zealand team maybe just lacks a bit of star quality,” Rutherford said.

But despite their failure to win very often against South Africa, New Zealand have always proven tough opposition and a major reason for that is the quality of leadership they have had through the years. Rutherford was an astute captain from 1992 to 1995 and was followed by the cerebral Stephen Fleming and another great thinker in Dan Vettori. They might not have had the same depth of talent as most other international teams, but the Kiwis played smart cricket and made the most of the skills at their disposal.

“New Zealand only played their first Test in 1930 so the history of New Zealand cricket is really less than a hundred years old and in that time they’ve only had half-a-dozen truly great players – Glenn Turner, Richard Hadlee, Martin Crowe, Bert Sutcliffe, John Reid and Dan Vettori – and to a lesser extent, Stephen Fleming and Shane Bond. Having even just one real star makes a difference to a team and New Zealand teams without those have had to find other ways of competing,” Rutherford said.

The 47-year-old is now based in Johannesburg and is involved in the horse racing and sports betting industry and the Wanderers victory he presided over 18 years ago is a prime example of good captaincy making the difference, even though Rutherford modestly suggests New Zealand triumphed because they won the toss.

“I remember that match well and the key was winning the toss, to be honest. We had every intention of bowling first because it was a grey, overcast Joburg morning. But the pitch was dry and had cracks on it on day one, and as Hansie Cronje tossed, out of the corner of my eye I saw the sun peeping through the clouds and decided ‘bugger this, we’re going to bat’.

“When I got back to the changeroom, wicketkeeper Adam Parore had the pads on and the bowlers were getting ready. I had to tell the openers, Bryan Young and Darrin Murray, to hurry up and put the pads on because we were batting! There was an audible silence in the changeroom … “ Rutherford recalled.

Ross Taylor is the current owner of the New Zealand captaincy and he will need to show similar quick-thinking on his feet if the visitors are to beat South Africa at home.

The 28-year-old Taylor is averaging over 40 since taking over the captaincy in November 2011, but he will need more runs from the rest of his batsmen.

“New Zealand’s first-innings average recently has only been about 320 and, these days, if you’re not scoring 400 in your first innings, you’re just about out the game. New Zealand haven’t batted well enough recently, especially in the first innings, and they need more runs, that’s the key. Their fortunes over here will revolve around how they bat,” Rutherford said.

The former Transvaal and Gauteng captain singles out Martin Guptill and Kane Williamson as two young batsmen he expects more from.

“I see a lot of talent and ability in Guptill and Williamson, they are the future of New Zealand batting, but they need to perform at the highest level.

“Williamson has only averaged 27 in his last 10 Tests, while Guptill and James Franklin look like a million dollars in first-class cricket but haven’t quite been up to it in Tests. They need to make the step up from being very good first-class players, but obviously it’s a mental or confidence issue.”

Rutherford also believes the likes of Williamson and Guptill should not be playing in T20 cricket, because of the damage it does to their techniques.

“It’s a travesty that they’re playing in the T20 side, but maybe they can’t afford not to. In that case, it’s all about NZ Cricket managing their resources better.”

Rutherford, who once scored 317 in a day for the New Zealand tourists against the Brian Close XI at Scarborough in 1986, believes the Black Caps have much to look forward to when it comes to their bowling attack.

“Tim Southee is exciting, while I like the look of Trent Boult, the left-armer who swings the ball and has a bit of pace. He’s only going to get better. Doug Bracewell is also a useful bowler and then there’s Vettori, so that’s four decent bowlers,” Rutherford said.

With South Africa electing to play the two Tests in Cape Town and Port Elizabeth, New Zealand will also be spared the pace-friendly conditions on the Highveld. On their previous tour to South Africa, they were beaten by 358 runs in Johannesburg and by an innings and 59 runs at Centurion.

“It’s quite a positive for New Zealand to be playing in Cape Town and Port Elizabeth. At both venues, they’d like to win the toss and bat and I’d like to think our batsman will come into our own in those conditions. Winning the toss there will give us an advantage and I hope our batsmen battle through,” Rutherford said.

The slower pitches at Newlands and St George’s Park mean left-arm spinner Vettori will be a key figure for the Black Caps.

“Dan is a good example of a player you can build a team around. Perhaps the one criticism of him is that he doesn’t bowl sides out on the fourth or fifth day to turn a Test or win the game. In 15 years of Test cricket, how often has he done it? But that’s a bit unfair because teams understand that he’s the key and treat him with great caution.

“There’s no downplaying Dan’s value to the team and clearly New Zealand will want him fit and bowling well for the series here,” Rutherford said.

According to Rutherford, the hosts’ greatest strength is the ability of their star players to change the course of a Test in the space of a session.

“South Africa have individuals who can take the game away from you. But New Zealand haven’t played good Test cricket for a while because they haven’t yet recognised that in one hour, someone can take the whole match away from you, they’re less able to spot those opportunities.

“But compared to South Africa, New Zealand don’t play a lot of Test cricket, maybe five or six games a year compared to a dozen. It takes a while to understand the game at that level, the ebbs and flows and being able to grasp the crucial moments.”

 

England Test series preview Q&A 0

Posted on July 17, 2012 by Ken

sms asked:
Do you think imran tahir will succeed in english conditions.
Ken answered:
Imran has played a lot of county cricket & has enjoyed plenty of success there before, so yes! It would help him more though if there could be plenty of sunshine to dry out the pitches a bit!
Robin Meth asked:
Will Steyn and Morkel have an advantage in the bowling department as I would imagine a lot of attention would have gone to The Vern?
Ken answered:
I think the beauty of our pace attack is that it can succeed whatever the conditions: If there’s bounce, Morkel & Kallis can capitalise on that; if there’s swing, Steyn & Kallis will thrive; if there’s seam movement, then Philander will be our key bowler. If anything, England might still be underestimating Philander a bit … but there’s no doubt the two bowling attacks have been the focal point.
Johann Bezuidenhout asked:
Morning Ken. There has been no indication as to a second spinner in this series for the Proteas. With our pace attack looking rusty, and the Poms sure to prepare a pitch that will assist Swann from, shouldn”t we have a second spinner there to support Tahir and make the English think a little bit?
Ken answered:
Hi Johann. Teams very seldom need a second frontline spinner in England, although it seems South Africa will play Duminy as a sort of all-rounder at 7. I doubt England will prepare spinners’ pitches because their strength is in their pace bowling attack and their batsmen’s recent record against spin is not good! I personally don’t think we need a second spinner, especially since it’s been a pretty wet summer over there.
Johann Bezuidenhout asked:
Morning Ken. Seeing the pace attack struggle makes me think that the Poms will want to take them out of the game and prepare a slower pitch that will suit Swann. Shouldn”t we also consider sending over a second spinner for Tahir? Who would you reccommend?
Ken answered:
Hi again Johann, to add to my answer above, we already have another spinner over there in Robin Peterson, plus there’s Duminy, so no need for any reinforcements.
Barend de Beer asked:
Do you think it will be wise of SA to drop Tahir (if they will,haven”t seen the squad yet) for a extra batsman and part time spinner in JP
Ken answered:
No – only if it’s a greentop
Thami Gorolo asked:
I read an article where flintoff said England will win the series ”easily” and today saw Boycs underestimating taheer saying he can face him at 70yrs old. Many english journos are giving us no chance in this series, I think this alone is enough to ignite the fire inside the boy”s camp. So I would like to know what edge do the Poms have over us that makes their press so arrogant?
Ken answered:
For the English press, their teams are either the best in the world or absolute rubbish, there’s no in-between! England have been doing very well, so they naturally over-rate them at the moment!
John John asked:
Are this English side really as good as the English media make them to be, comparing them with the Ausies in there prime.Also do you think we will be sharp from the get go as we didnt have any competetive build up?

Lastly will the absence of Boucher have an negative effect on the players ?

Ken answered:
I definitely feel this England team is being over-rated a bit. They are a very good side, but to compare them to Australia in their prime is ridiculous! England struggle to win away from home.
The South Africans are adamant that they have had all the preparation they need, so we shall see … they believe preparation is more mental than anything else. History suggests otherwise, but maybe Gary Kirsten & Paddy Upton are going to rewrite conventional thinking … 
The absence of Boucher is obviously a blow, and will have affected the players emotionally. It’s up to them whether they use that emotion positively or negatively.
Sean CIllier asked:
Hi Ken, my question is around the addition of Albie Morkel in to the squad. From various articles I have read I believe the thinking could be to have AB keep, Duminy at 7 then perhaps have Albie Morkel at 8 and not play Tahir. The thinking behind this is that Albie has a good understanding of UK conditions and will further strengthen our batting line up. Duminy will then be used as a spin option. What are you thoughts on this? What do you believe is the best route to go for the first test?
Ken answered:
Hi Sean.
Firstly, I am against AB keeping wicket. I believe you need a specialist in English conditions and Thami Tsolekile should play. A team with seven specialist batsmen looks unbalanced to me and there is the danger that the top-order go into the Test with the attitude that “someone else can get the runs”. Plus AB is such a key batsman, I want him to focus on that, scoring big hundreds that win Tests!
However, if the pitch is an absolute greentop and a spinner is unlikely to have much work, then I can live with AB keeping & Duminy and Albie Morkel playing.
Loyiso asked:
The english media and pundits are praising this english team and really overating them, do you think they a better side than South Africa?
Ken answered:
I do believe England are a very good team, but I honestly don’t believe they’re better than us! Of their team, only Cook, Pietersen, Swann, Prior and Anderson would make our team I reckon.
Realeboha asked:
Do you see Tahir play any part in this series now that Duminy is on-form as an all-rounder?
Ken answered:
Duminy may be on-form as a batsman, but he’s certainly not on-form in terms of being a test all-rounder – he’s hardly bowled! I do think Tahir has an important part to play as England have traditionally struggled against wrist-spin … he just needs the sun to shine and dry out the pitches a bit!
Khwezi Mgquba asked:
Naturally England would know the conditions well and they also have some good match practice under the belt, but I do feel that we have the slight edge especially in the batting because of the 7 specialist batsmen.My concern is that historically we have struggled to break the opening partnership of the two left handers and that will be vital.Also M Morkel, against his natural length, will have to ensure he bowls a fuller length and not relent on the pressure that we expect Steyn and Philander to exert.We achieve that and we will have a great chance to win yet another series in England.
Ken answered:
Good points Khwezi, but having seven specialist batsmen can backfire because there’s a tendency to leave the job of scoring runs to the next man in! Remember when we batted all the way down to number 10? That was also the 90-5 era exactly because of that attitude! Bowling to the left-handers up front will be crucial, but Steyn has improved a lot in that department, Kallis is also good at it and I think Philander will threaten them outside their off-stumps. The last time we toured England, Morne Morkel had a tremendous series, so hopefully he can recall that form!
Dan Ferguson asked:
Morning Ken. Enland have played tests against the west indies and have played against the ozzies. We have had 2 short warm up games in which we did not shine. Are we not under prepared? If this was a boxing match and we were coming up against the champ we would get walloped.
If I was telling my country I was serious about being number 1 then why have we not prepared in this way?

Thanks

Daniel

Ken answered:
Hi Dan. The South African team are adamant that they are 100% prepared, saying most of their preparation is mental anyway … We shall see … This goes against conventional thinking, but Gary Kirsten was happy with the schedule. There is a chance that England may struggle having to make the switch back from ODI cricket to tests, plus they may be getting a bit mentally stale … Let’s hope so anyway!
Jody Druce asked:
Who do you think really are favourites for this tour? I have another question. The South African side seams to be very optimistic, do you think thats a good thing?

Thanks Ken
Jody

Ken answered:
Hi Jody, I don’t think either team can really be considered outright favourites, but I will be very disappointed if we don’t win the series. There’s no harm in the confidence because we do have a really great team that has won all over the world and they’ll be hungry to win in England again and claim that number one ranking.
Derek Druce asked:
I have a few q”s for you.
1. Would you agree with me if I said that i don”t think SA should be talking so much about how they are going to be number 1 before they have even started playing and they are playing the world number 1?

2. Do you think Morne is going to be at his best?

3. Do you think that SA”s batting line up will meet the chalenge?

4. Since both England and SA have bowlers in the top 10, who do you think will be better as far as bowling goes?

Thanks

Ken answered:
I don’t think the team have said they will be number one, but they have clearly identified that as their goal … and why not? It’s a great motivation.
You never really know with Morne, do you? But I’m heartened by his recent form, he was absolutely brilliant in the IPL and was consistent right through our summer. Plus he bowled extremely well the last time the team was in England.
I’m very happy with our top six, they all have plenty of experience in English conditions and they’re the best people for the job. But we need big hundreds – one of the reasons I don’t want De Villiers to keep wicket.
I also think our bowling attack is better than their’s – we have a bit more pace plus a wrist-spinner.
ian asked:
Hi Ken
do you think Steyns pace and Morkels bounce will be a big factor on the English wickets or is more line and lenth and swing thats going to get the wickets via Philander and maybe Kallis and how do you think Tahir will shape on the English wickets
Ken answered:
Hi Ian
The weather conditions play a major role in England, but the beauty of our attack is that they have all the bases covered! Line & length will generally get the job done, but it’s great to have that extra pace and bounce, plus Philander can get assistance from the pitch when most other bowlers can’t. If there’s turn and bounce, Tahir can then be a handful, as he’s proven before in county cricket.
Craig asked:
Hi Ken

Do you reckon the selectors will give Tsolokile a start in the second Test and will they change the batting line-up with AB now behind stumps in first Test? Thanks

Ken answered:
Hi Craig
Well that’s one of the problems I have with AB keeping in the first Test. Whatever the result, the same team should be given another chance in the second Test .,. and by then the series could be over! What’s the point of Tsolekile only being considered for the second Test?
Jason Every asked:
Hey Ken,
Do you think Tsolekile has the ability to perform consistently with the bat at test level? Without Mark Boucher is our tail not looking a bit too long?
Ken answered:
Hi Jason
Tsolekile has averaged over 40 in the last few domestic seasons, which suggests he can be as effective a batsman as Boucher was. The responsibility still rests with the top six to score the runs! If you’re really worried about the tail and a frontline spinner is not going to get much work, then maybe play Peterson ahead of Tahir. I strongly believe in specialists at Test level!
Johann asked:
Hello Ken

Don”t you think it is sad that this is only a 3 test series?

The series against Aus last year was only 2 tests… Whose decides on the length of a series?

Ken answered:
Hi Johann
It’s an absolute disgrace that there are only 3 Tests – what happens if one is ruined by the weather? The 2 Tests against Australia was an abomination!
The tour schedules are decided by the two countries’ boards … it’s time the public really put pressure on the administrators by showing how much they want Test cricket.
lukhanyo asked:
Hey ken do u think we should get worried by the form of our opening batsmen in the practice games coz they haven”t been getting much tumke on the crease
Ken answered:
Our opening pair will certainly be one of the prime targets for England, but don’t forget Smith’s previous record there!
Plus Petersen has scored heaps of runs in county cricket.
Rudi Meyer asked:
Alec Stewart said in the last few days that the SA team”s success always depends on asserting dominance right from the start and putting the other team on the back foot. Apparently without that SA teams struggle. Do you agree with that assessment?
Ken answered:
I think that applies to any team actually. But we have both won and lost series after winning the first Test.
David asked:
Do you think its reasonable to expect philander to stay on his incredible run last seen against NZL earlier in the year or are we placing to much pressure on him.
Ken answered:
Philander should enjoy English conditions!
Tshepo Timothy asked:
Hi Ken, regarding our lack of preparation leading up to the 1st test match, do you think it will have a huge impact on our performance? Who do you think will be our impact player/players on this match? Thanx
Ken answered:
Hi Tshepo, well the team management and players are adamant that they are 100% prepared and most of their preparation is mental. This goes against conventional thinking, but I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe Kirsten & Upton are going to rewrite the cricket manual!
I’m backing Jacques Kallis and Dale Steyn to have major impacts because they’ve been disappointing on previous tours of England and they’ll be desperate to make their mark. Wisden Cricketer of the Year honours await!
Ryan Fynn asked:
Where do you think AB DeVilliers should bat now that he looks to be taking over the gloves from Boucher?
Ken answered:
Well I don’t think AB de Villiers should be keeping wicket. He should be batting number five, concentrating on his key role which is scoring big hundreds that win us Test matches!
Bruce Mclennan asked:
Morning / Afternoon Ken

What are your personal thoughts on the lack of prep for the South African Team. Its a huge worry for me , i can see us all to easily losing the first test and having an uphill struggle from there in the rest of the series. It also worries me that I seem to be one of a minority that dont think we have had enough prep time. Living in London I have watched England play all there recent test series and they are on top of there game and the will be ready , will we ? I just dont see how a trip to Switzzerland can be even remotely the same as actual playing time.

Ken answered:
Hi Bruce
You’re definitely not the only one who’s concerned! But the team & management say most of their preparation is mental, and Switzerland helped them “switch on” for the challenges ahead (apart from Marchant de Lange of course, whose tour was ruined by that trip!)
Actual playing time is always good, but the games against the counties tend to lack intensity … 
There’s a chance that England, having played so much already this summer, might be starting to get a bit mentally stale … 
But conventional thinking and history are on your side …
malcolm sandt asked:
i will presume that AB will be keeping wicket for the first test.My question were will he bat and will it effect his batting as he is one of our star batsman and we need good scores from him and i take it jp duminy will come in.will AB keep in the long run or will thami tsolikile keep in second or third test and then would jp duminy fall out.how about playing an extra bowler in the first test.thank you for your time
Ken answered:
It looks like AB will be keeping wicket in the first Test and my fear is that it will affect his batting! He may have been able to do both jobs superbly in ODIs, but this is high-pressure Test cricket between the two best sides in the world. What happens if he has to keep wicket for 100 overs and then come in with us 30-3? Which can easily happen in England … AB is one of our key performers with the bat and we need big hundreds from him.
It seems Duminy will come in, giving us seven specialist batsmen, which is unbalanced in my view (see reasons above).
And what is the point of AB just keeping for the first Test? Why is Tsolekile there and why does he have a contract if he’s not going to be the long-term test wicketkeeper?
I would prefer six specialist batsmen, Tsolekile, four bowlers Kallis … if that can’t do the job, nothing will!
Walter ka Pangela asked:
Ken, what would be your starting line up for the Proteas? With regard to the issue of threat, I think the first test would be a draw for me, considering the quality of both batsman and bowlers in both sides.
Ken answered:
Hi Walter
My team, depending on conditions, would be Smith, Petersen, Amla, Kallis, De Villiers, Rudolph, Tsolekile, Steyn, Philander, M. Morkel, Tahir. If it’s a greentop, then I would consider leaving out Tahir and playing one of Albie Morkel, Robin Peterson or JP Duminy … 
A draw is not a bad call for the first Test … there’s rain around and South Africa will probably make a slow start to the series ….
Tumelo asked:
Hi Ken,

1)Do you think that AB will take the keeping duties permanently if he does well with both bat&gloves in this test?
2)If this combo plays well together and both Duminy and Roudolph score runs,who would make way for Thami?
3)Do you think calling up Morkel for a bowler was a good idea seeing he has never performed well with the ball for the proteas
4)If we were to keep this combo,who would be the next best batsman in line?

Ken answered:
Hi Tumelo
I really hope AB is not being lined up to be the permanent wicketkeeper. He’s far too good a batsman for that … He will replace Kallis as our key batsman and we want him to be focused on scoring big hundreds that win Test matches! Plus he has a dodgy back … I can’t picture him keeping for 100 overs in the sub-continent and it not affecting his batting! Choosing him as wicketkeeper for the first test is short-term thinking of the worst kind and what does it say to Tsolekile?!
Your 2nd question goes to the heart of the matter. If Tsolekile doesn’t play in the first Test, I don’t think he’ll play in the series! So why does he have a contract and why is he over there?!
The selection of Albie Morkel shows that there is quite a gap in terms of our pace bowling depth below the national team. In his defence, he has experience of English conditions, can swing the ball and obviously can bat well down the order.
When you say keep this combo, I presume you mean with Duminy in at seven? Next batsman in line is hard to say, but I would put my money on Faf du Plessis.
werner du preez asked:
Can you please rate and compare the top 5 batsmen and top 3 bowlers on either side? And then make a call on who is superior in which area? SA might struggle in teh 1st test, but after that it will be game on.
Ken answered:
Hmmm … Strauss, Cook, Trott, Pietersen, Bell v Smith, Petersen, Amla, Kallis & De Villiers … Smith beats Strauss, Cook beats Petersen, Amla beats Trott, Kallis beats Pietersen, De Villiers beats Bell … so 4-1 to SA!
Steyn, Morkel, Philander shade Anderson, Broad, Bresnan/Finn in my opinion, 2-1 but Swann would beat Tahir.
Not very scientific, but there you go!
Michelle asked:
Hi Ken, People – mostly Australian – have introduced concepts like bowling units, attack leaders, batting groups, athletes (seriously, i think back to alan kourie and graham gooch… bla dee bla). I do look forward to English commentators not focusing on these phrases! This series could be decided by the better team, but I”m more concerned about rain being the decider. Which team/captain is better equipped to handle consistent rain delays? What do players do during rain delays? TV games? Tweet? Push ups? Indoor nets?
Ken answered:
Hi Michelle, best question of the day and you made me laugh! I don’t think Graham Gooch will take at all kindly to being compared to Alan Kourie (who was one of my heroes by the way!) …
You’re dead right about rain, which is why having a 3-test series is so crazy! Both captains are very experienced, Smith is the most experienced in current cricket, but I guess Strauss must have had more experience of rain!
The players certainly don’t tweet during games because ICC rules forbid cellphones, laptops in the changeroom! In the old days they used to play cards but I’m sure X-Box, playstation etc are the new rage in the modern era! Some of the batsmen will go have an indoor net if they are available.
Brendon asked:
Hi Ken.
The loss of Mark is huge but I feel the Proteas will rally together and win this series for him.
My question is surely SA cricket must look for a keeper for all forms of the game, if that is the case why have they not called in Quinton de Kok from the Lions , this must be the perfect opportunity to blood a young exciting keeper , batsman.
Thami is past his sell buy date and Villas is not in the same class as de Kok, but nobody mentioned Quintons name as a replacement for Mark. Why not
Ken answered:
Hi Brendon
De Kock hasn’t even been keeping wicket for the Lions! He’s still very young, hardly has a 4-day record to speak of and is almost certainly not ready for Test cricket.
I don’t agree that we need a wicketkeeper for all formats … for tests, you need a specialist, but for limited-overs it’s a real advantage to have AB or an explosive batsman who can keep (like De Kock or Dane Vilas).
Thami is certainly not past his sell-by date, by the way, he’s as hungry as ever, has a similar temperament to Boucher and is the best gloveman in the country, along with Daryn Smit.
Ashraf asked:
Don”t you think it would have made more sense that South Africa had to start mentoring a successor to Mark Boucher at least 3 or 4 years ago. With all due respect to Tsolokele, we needed someone younger that would serve for at least 6 years plus. What are your thoughts?
Ken answered:
I don’t think we needed a successor that far back … Boucher was still a vital part of the team three years ago! I will say, however, that the time to start the process is right now. De Villiers keeping wicket in the 1st test just delays things. Tsolekile has a good three or four years in him, which is perfect to bridge the gap while one of the younger wicketkeepers comes through.
Doron asked:
Ken hi, hope you well. Just a quick question regarding the wickie situation. Boucher is a massive loss to the side with his experience and tenacity. While Tsolekile is a good keeper, he is already moving on in age. Should we not rather be bringing in younger blood and grooming them into the position? AB is wasted at keeper considering his great fielding talents? your thoughts thanks.
Ken answered:
Hi Doron, all good thanks, especially with an epic test series around the corner!
I think Tsolekile is the best bet at the moment, he’s experienced, has played Test cricket before and is the best gloveman in the country along with Daryn Smit. Tsolekile can fill the gap while the likes of Smit, Heino Kuhn, Dane Vilas or Quinton de Kock hone their games up to international standard. I agree, AB is a waste at wicketkeeper!
Jacques asked:
Dear Ken,

How is it even possible that we slipped to no. 3 in the test rankings, even after we won our last two series. According to my knowledge we were number 2 and just by a point?

Ken answered:
Hi Jacques
There is an annual “refresh” of the rankings and results before 2009 have now been excluded. We’ve paid for not playing that many tests between 2009 and now, and our wins in England & Australia in 2008 now no longer count! The good news is that if we win this series against England then we will still be number one!
Patrick asked:
With Mark gone, do you think we should look for a new up and coming keeper, like we did when mark joined us. We put our faith in a new talent back than and look what Mark did for SA cricket.
Ken answered:
I would prefer Tsolekile to have the job for a few years, while the successors hone their games to international standard.
carlo links asked:
Good day
Now that the warm up matches have passed, our bowlers have not hit their straps yet, do you think one should be a bit concerned ahead of the test matches? I for one dont look to much into these matches and see them purely as batting and bowling practise, i think england has a good side , but i think our bowling unit has got a edge over them do you agree?
Ken answered:
Hi Carlo
Yes I agree with you. The county matches lack intensity and Test match atmosphere should see Steyn, Morkel & Philander raise their games a good notch. And yes, I believe our attack has the edge on their’s – bit more pace & variety, plus a wrist-spinner.
Ismail asked:
Hi Ken. Kirsten”s method of ”preparing” his side seems to be the most telling issue currently w.r.t. SA. I sure do hope/pray it works out for the better. Also although we have a very competitive side, i still think that the test & ODI series is England”s to lose seeing that they have an established side & are playing at home. I dont think Boucher”s absence will be that drastic as both AB & Thami are satisfactory replacements even though they dont have that qauntity & quality of experience that Bouch posseses. Your comments. Thanx for you time. All the Best to our team …
Ken answered:
Hi Ismail, spot on, let’s hope Kirsten is right in terms of preparation! I do think our team is better than England’s, but they will be formidable at home. And hopefully the loss of Boucher will inspire the team to greater heights as a form of tribute …
Gary Peel asked:
Do you think if Gary & Graeme, got offered a 1-1 drawn series, they would take that? Or do you think they have the self belief that they can turn over the English twice in a row, at home?
Ken answered:
I certainly think they’ll be aiming for the series win. We have a great side, with a fantastic record away from home, and if we’re serious about being number one, then we have to win this series! A draw would be disappointing.
Justin asked:
Hi Ken

Where would you consider the biggest battle in England. I would imagine that the bowling will be due to the English summer that is so wet this year. When I was reading all the reports about the matches the saffers played against the counties, there was no bowler who was exceptional. Should we be concerned as supporters that South Africa might be outbowled by the poms. Thank for you time to answer my question … Justin

Ken answered:
Hi Justin
I think we have the better attack, with more pace, variety and a leg-spinner, and hopefully the intensity of Test cricket will bring out the best in them. Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt!
Chris asked:
Much has been said of the two sides” batting v bowling. What is your opinion of who has the upper hand in batting? And then also on the bowling front?
Ken answered:
The batting is fairly even, although Smith, Amla, Kallis & De Villiers are modern-day greats, whereas I would only rate Cook & Pietersen in that bracket from the England team.
And I also believe we have the edge in the bowling, see reasons above.
Lloyd asked:
Good Day Ken;
First and foremost; I would like to wish the Proteas the Best Of Luck.It”s more of a comment than anything. But It”s got to be painful for Mark”s incident. I would personally have loved to see him close his Test Cricket chapter with a win. But since its a team effort; I would like to say Good Luck to his future. As for England- I got one word. TAHIR
Ken answered:
Hi Lloyd, let’s hope the sun shines both literally and figuratively for Tahir and the rest of the team!
And let’s hope Mark recovers fully from his awful injury.
Harold asked:
I am quietly confident that the Proteas can take the series. My question revolves around the venue for the 1st test, The Oval. I can remember from the the top of my head that we have lost at least 3 test matches there being the Devon Malcom test, the Harmison one in 2004 and the Pieterson one in 2008. Is this the banana skin that can cripple the series before it starts for the Proteas??
Ken answered:
The Oval Test has previously been the last one in the series, when mental fatigue has taken it’s toll or we’ve already won the series. I expect us to play much better there this time because it’s the start of the series. England have moved Lord’s to the end of the tour because visiting teams always seem to be inspired by the venue and play better there!
Jan du Plessis asked:
I think England will win because they have momentum and more, much more game time underneath their belt.Why do S.A. play so little Test Cricket, why do S.A.have so Looooong
off season from Test Cricket,we as the South African public are being treated to Aus vs Sri-Lanka;England vs West-Indies;Sri-Lanka vs Pakistan and so on but when last did SA play Test Cricket.How can we expect to win with no match fitness.I think us, the public, are being robbed of good cricket from S.A. because of IPL and a busy international schedule.
Ken answered:
The public must show Cricket South Africa that they love Test cricket!
Peet Coetzee asked:
Hi Ken thanks for your time.

I”ve got two questions. Firstly even though the injury to Boucher is very tragic, don”t you think our batting and bowling line-ups has improved with the addition of Duminy? With the only slight concern being AB”s ability to cope with the added responsibilty?

Secondly what do you think of Greame Smit”s comments regarding KP”s exit from ODI”s and Twenty20”s. Although I agree with most of Greame”s remarks I just think due to the history between them it”s not wise to openly question his decisions. Surely KP will react on this in some way soon. Won”t this distract Greame from the job at hand?

Thanx

Ken answered:
I don’t think there’s as much between Smith and Pietersen as there was in the past. And his comments have been taken rather out of context, the original context was more supportive of KP, saying he might not know what he’ll be missing, based on Graeme’s experience of stepping down from the limited-overs captaincy.
Praveer asked:
Hi Ken. DO you think it is wise to have Duminy in against England? The reason I ask is that with Rudolph and Duminy in at 6 & 7 and both being left handed and taking into consideration Swann”s record against left handers
Ken answered:
Another good reason why Tsolekile should play and De Villiers just concentrate on his batting!
Basil de Beer asked:
Hi Ken, How do you rate our tail battingwise against England? The English tail did quite well against their previous opponents.
Ken answered:
yes, the strength of the English tail is a concern, given our past history of struggling against the lower-order. Broad, Bresnan and Swann are all very capable with the bat …

http://www.supersport.com/cricket/sa-team/news/120717/First_test_preview_QA_with_Ken



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