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Ken Borland

CSA & anti-corruption unit have been methodical & efficient 0

Posted on December 26, 2016 by Ken


Cricket South Africa and the chairman of their anti-corruption unit, former Judge President Bernard Ngoepe, need to be congratulated for the methodical and efficient manner in which they have dealt with the attempts to fix matches during last season’s T20 competition, resulting this week in Alviro Petersen joining ringleader Gulam Bodi and Jean Symes, Pumelela Matshikwe, Ethy Mbhalati and Thami Tsolekile as players who have received bans.

Petersen accepted a ban of two years this week and his was the most complex of the cases, the former Proteas batsman being both whistleblower and conspirator, both helpful and obstructive to the investigators.

That half-a-dozen players have now successfully been prosecuted – with just one more high-profile name believed to be on the radar – points to the systematic, detailed work of Ngoepe’s anti-corruption unit. There had been pressure on them early on in the investigations to speed up the process and some of the guilty were also politically-sensitive figures, but they ensured they followed due process every step of the way, even if it meant there was no news for a baying public for periods of time.

The acquittal of former New Zealand all-rounder Chris Cairns on matchfixing charges last November really upped the ante in terms of the evidence required by cricket administrators looking to pursue successful prosecutions of those involved in corruption and CSA chief executive Haroon Lorgat and Ngoepe and his staff have handled the latest South African case with the delicacy and precision of a surgeon.

While Petersen claims he raised the alarm about the nefarious activities Bodi was putting into play, the investigators always had questions about the 36-year-old’s continued involvement in the scheme. Did he pull out because he wasn’t going to get enough money out of the scam?

Petersen was implicated by the evidence of his co-accused as well as his actions in destroying key evidence, believed to be his cellphone records, and has basically been found guilty of that and of not immediately reporting the suspicious activities. Perhaps by trying to be the hero and bypassing the rules which all cricketers should know, he has probably ended his professional career.

It is fair to say Petersen is not well-liked by most of his team-mates, I have heard him referred to as “Lord Voldemort”, and, probably due to a really tough upbringing in the Port Elizabeth township of Gelvandale, he is a bristly, difficult character, always on the defensive.

Coming from a really poor background, perhaps the drive to make “easy” money was too strong; or perhaps his desire to be the hero and singlehandedly destroy Bodi’s matchfixing ring turned into hubris.

Perhaps he is guilty of merely showing poor judgement, something all of us suffer from at times, but he has paid a terrible price in his name being tarnished and losing two of his twilight years as a player, particularly in English county cricket, where he has been a prolific and highly-valued run-scorer for Lancashire.

But that’s the penalty under a system that rightly operates under a zero tolerance principle and no professional cricketer can claim that they are uneducated about the anti-corruption measures.

Petersen’s punishment is par for the course for what he did and thankfully he has accepted it without the need for protracted hearings and appeals. This frees up the anti-corruption unit to now zoom in on a former international pace bowler with especially strong political connections.

Perhaps they have left the toughest case to last.

Matchfixing investigators studying Tsolekile recording 0

Posted on May 11, 2016 by Ken


Investigators studying the Gulam Bodi cricket matchfixing case are in possession of a recording allegedly detailing a meeting between former Highveld Lions captain Thami Tsolekile and Indian gamblers, three informed sources have confirmed to Saturday Citizen.

The recording, in which Tsolekile allegedly discusses other players who are in on the scam, was apparently sent to one of the players who was approached by Bodi, possibly as a warning for them to keep quiet.

It was, instead, handed in to the anti-corruption and security unit at Cricket SA (CSA).

Bodi’s lawyers are also believed to have a copy of the recording and are looking at using it as leverage to prevent their client from being criminally prosecuted or to even get his sentence reduced. Bodi was banned from the game for 20 years in January.

Investigators are reportedly also homing in on a meeting Tsolekile had with the alleged bookies at a Rivonia strip club, with telephone records apparently showing he was there until 4am one morning in September.

The recording was apparently made of a subsequent meeting.

The match-fixing investigation has seen Tsolekile, who captained the Highveld Lions in the RamSlam T20 Challenge at the end of 2015 – but has not played for them since – go underground.

Saturday Citizen was unable to contact him for comment, but he has previously denied any involvement in corruption.

The former test wicketkeeper/batsman has not been seen at the Wanderers all year and team-mate Lonwabo Tsotsobe, who has previously admitted to being under investigation but denied having taken money to underperform, has also not been seen there since the end of the T20 competition, in which the Lions won just four of their 10 matches to finish second-last.

The 35-year-old Tsolekile has played three Tests for South Africa, the last one against England in 2004.

CSA said they were unable to comment on the matter as there was an ongoing investigation. Bodi was banned from the sport for 20 years, five of which are suspended, after earlier this year admitting to charges of contriving or attempting to fix matches in South Africa’s 2015 Ram SLAM T20 tournament.

He was charged with several counts of contriving or attempting to fix matches on December 31 2015 following an investigation conducted by CSA’s anti-corruption and security unit.

Bodi played two one-day internationals and one Twenty20 match for the national side in 2007.

SA’s wicketkeeping post: An embarrassing shambles 0

Posted on April 18, 2013 by Ken

The Proteas team management faced embarrassment this week when its handling of the whole Thami Tsolekile saga was followed by the shambolic manner in which the wicketkeeping job for the one-day team was handed from AB de Villiers to Quinton de Kock.

It’s a serious blow to the good image of the South African cricket team’s management and selectors, who have been exemplary in most other departments, that they still don’t seem to have a clue when it comes to a long-term plan for a successor to Mark Boucher behind the stumps.

Having controversially insisted that the role belonged to De Villiers, one of their standout top-order batsmen and the captain of their limited-overs sides, they have now passed the gloves to an untried 20-year-old who has suddenly jumped the queue.

Coach Gary Kirsten and De Villiers himself have strongly defended their decision to make one of their key batsmen keep wicket in all three formats for the last year but now, suddenly, in mid-season it seems there is a problem with the tactic.

“We want to give AB a chance to just be the captain. We feel that to captain, bat at four and keep is a very hard task, especially as a new captain. It’s something that we spoke about even before he started the role, because I was concerned that it was going to be too much to ask of him. He really wants to focus his attention on his captaincy,” Kirsten said on Thursday.

Kirsten’s comment that he has been “concerned” about the workload from the outset will come as a big surprise to all those journalists who have queried the decision over the last year, only to be met with a forthright defence, as solid and as straight a bat as the left-hander wielded in his playing days.

It’s a dramatic change of mind and it suggests there is not as much stability as there should be in the one-day team as De Villiers completes 18 months in his captaincy term.

And that De Kock should suddenly be the next in line is also cause for much debate. There is no doubt the Highveld Lions prospect is seen as a “Golden Child” … why else would the disciplinary inquiry he is currently embroiled in for shoving a player in a Sunfoil Series match be delayed by Cricket South Africa until after his ODI debut?

”It’s a chance to look at a really young ‘keeper who has some quality batting in him. Everyone within cricketing circles is very excited about his batting ability. I remember Mark Boucher being very much the same and then he came through as a ‘keeper,” Kirsten added.

Well not quite everyone would agree with you Gary. There is a strong caucus of opinion that for all his exciting talent, De Kock is not yet ready to keep wicket at international level or even play as a specialist batsman.

The Lions have seldom elected to put him behind the stumps when Tsolekile is available and Ray Jennings, CSA’s own wicketkeeping guru and the coach of the SA U19 team that De Kock kept for last year, has stated his preference for other glovemen in the pecking order.

It would seem that the selectors and Kirsten may well have made anuninformed selection when it comes to De Kock. It is always a massive risk throwing someone so young, with so little senior cricket experience into the international arena, and generally a mature temperament and life skills are looked for in order to ascertain whether a kid will be able to handle the fame and pressures.

Do they know De Kock opted out of school at King Edward before he had completed matric? What does his current disciplinary problem and a history of frustrated coaches at junior level say about his temperament?

“I’ve met this guy once before and the longest conversation I had with him was one minute,” Kirsten admitted.

This sudden change of wicketkeeper also smacks of De Villiers picking and choosing, series-by-series, which roles he wants to fulfil. This can’t be good for the continuity of the team. Unless, of course, the decision he has made for this ODI series will also count for the Tests against Pakistan next month.

But this seems unlikely as Kirsten said De Villiers “feels keeping in 50 overs is more intense than in a Test match”.

That may well be true when you’re busy rolling New Zealand over in three days, but proper Test cricket could see De Villiers having to keep for 120 overs, often in extreme heat, and then come out and score the match-winning, big hundreds his ability demands of him.

The one sensible thing the management have done this week is employ Boucher as a mentor for De Kock. But will the record-breaking wicketkeeper’s services also be extended to the other contenders like Tsolekile, Heino Kuhn, Daryn Smit and Dane Vilas?

De Villiers’ reluctance to be the incumbent wicketkeeper in all three formats makes the decision to snub Tsolekile look even worse and will only ensure a tougher time for CSA when they try to explain the fiasco to the parliamentary sports portfolio committee.

As the future leader of the best cricket team in the world, it is time De Villiers took a stand and made a firm decision that he will concentrate on being the number one batsman in the world and Graeme Smith’s successor in all three formats, leaving the wicketkeeping job to a specialist.

Ian Healy was at the heart of the great Australian team of the 1990s and kept wicket with great success to Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath as they dominated all batting line-ups.

Interviewed on Australian TV recently, he said not having a specialist wicketkeeper would leave a hole in any Test team, except those that can boast bowlers of the quality of Warne and McGrath.

“Warne and McGrath were so good that they would create probably 22 wicket-taking chances in a Test, but most teams only create 16-18, which makes it absolutely crucial to have a specialist wicketkeeper who can take every chance that comes his way.

“People go on about Adam Gilchrist’s batting, but you must remember he was not batting in the top five and could play with freedom, especially since he had such a powerful line-up coming in before him,” Healy said.

The South African cricket team are digging themselves a hole, when there are common-sense solutions staring them in the face.

De Villiers keeping in limited-overs matches makes sense, but then the workload on him must be lessened by choosing a specialist wicketkeeper for the Test team.

‘Don’t delay Boucher’s successor’ – Jennings 0

Posted on August 02, 2012 by Ken

Former national coach Ray Jennings has called on the South African team management to not delay choosing wicketkeeper Mark Boucher’s successor.

Jennings, the guru of wicketkeeping in the country, believes current wicketkeeper AB de Villiers does not want the job permanently.

“Ideally, we want to choose a wicketkeeper for the next two or three years and I’m not sure AB is the man for that job. His back is a problem and it’s not his dream to be a wicketkeeper/batsman. I do know that he wants to be a number four batsman and the number one batsman in the world.

“So I see AB as a short-term solution and I presume the selectors will make the call for a long-term wicketkeeper before the next series,” Jennings told on Wednesday.

The former Mean Machine Transvaal gloveman was firm in his support of Thami Tsolekile, currently on tour with the national team in England but not used in the first test, as Boucher’s long-term successor.

“It’s important to have a specialist wicketkeeper in test cricket, but you also don’t want someone who’s not producing with the bat. I know some people say Tsolekile has a lame record with the bat, but he’s averaging about 45 in the last few years. He’s done as much at franchise level as someone like Morne Morkel and he’s a top-class gloveman, our best. He was picked in 2004 and now it’s time to justify that selection,” Jennings said.

Batsman Dean Elgar is another who is hoping to make a breakthrough at international level, having received a call-up into the ODI squad as Jacques Kallis takes a well-deserved rest.

Elgar is, of course, also a handy left-arm spinner and he sees himself as someone who can step into the role of a batting all-rounder.

“Look, no one can fill Jacques Kallis’s boots, but I like to think I could bat three for the national team and be the batsman that bats through the innings and bowls a few overs,” Elgar told in Pretoria.

The 25-year-old was chosen in the ODI squad to play Sri Lanka earlier this year but suffered a knee ligament injury before the start of the series, so he is in line to make his international debut in England. Not that he is feeling the pressure.

“It’s very nice to get the call again, the first time wasn’t very lucky but maybe the second bite of the cherry will be! I’m definitely ready for it and wherever I bat, I’m just going to enjoy it, England is one of the best places in the world to play cricket,” Elgar said.

People have likened the gritty left-hander’s style to Justin Langer or Kepler Wessels (although he is less keen on that comparison), but he can also be a fluent strokeplayer and has been connected to some of the Chevrolet Knights’ best limited-overs triumphs, being the leading run-scorer in last season’s Franchise One-Day Cup and steering his team to the semi-finals.

As luck would have it, Elgar won’t be carrying great form to England, having scored just 16 runs in his last five innings for South Africa A.

“That’s cricket! But I’m still in form, I scored 171 in the innings before that. I’m happy with my form, technically I feel I’m the best I’ve ever been. I always thrive on opportunity and I just have to knuckle down and be ready to make that mental switch because I’m going into a tough environment,” Elgar said.

The Welkom product is initially travelling to England with the SA A team and will be able to get plenty of time at the crease in two four-day games against Ireland from August 6-9 and August 13-16. There will then be three one-day matches against the World Cup surprise packets for Elgar to get into limited-overs mode ahead of the first ODI against England on August 24.

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