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Ken Borland



Bursting with pride over Faf 0

Posted on December 01, 2016 by Ken

 

I think it’s fair to say most South African cricket fans almost burst with pride when Proteas captain Faf du Plessis produced the most magnificent riposte to all his detractors with his century on the first day of the third Test against Australia in Adelaide.

Under huge pressure for a week – hounded by the International Cricket Council’s desire for a scapegoat and persecuted by the Australian media, who even went so far as to launch a physical assault through the pushing-and-shoving goon with a microphone, Will Crouch – Du Plessis played an innings of immense mental strength, skill and determination as he rescued the South African innings from total collapse in tough conditions.

The Adelaide airport incident was undoubtedly a set-up because there were go-pro cameras stationed ahead of time on the walkway and all media were well aware that Du Plessis was not allowed to comment anyway as per ICC rules.

The South African camp believes the original ball-tampering video was placed in the media’s hands by Cricket Australia and, desperate for something to deflect from the massive problems in their cricket, the media pushed it to the limit.

At which point the ICC stepped into the fray and the song-and-dance about the Proteas captain doing two entirely legal things at the same time – eating a sweet and using his saliva to shine the ball – and something the Australian team themselves have sportingly admitted they do as well, turned into a full-scale operetta.

The ICC’s behaviour in this matter has been truly pathetic and to hear CEO David Richardson whingeing on Friday about how disappointed he is that Du Plessis is appealing, as is his right, his guilty verdict astonished me.

Richardson is a trained lawyer and yet he thinks Du Plessis has been fairly treated when the ICC laid the charge and appointed one of their own employees, match referee Andy Pycroft, as the judge, with other employees, the umpires, as the star witnesses. To make matters worse, because the ICC wanted to rush the whole process to completion before the start of the Adelaide Test, Du Plessis was denied the right to have the legal representation he wanted, being unable to fly them in from South Africa in time.

I know this all happened in Australia, but to make it an absolute kangaroo court was taking things too far.

If Du Plessis is guilty of an offence, what about all those cricketers who put sunscreen on and then wipe their sweat on the ball? The infused mixture is a wonderful ball-shiner.

What about the ubiquitous practice of chewing gum and then using your saliva to polish the ball?

If Richardson really wants to uphold the integrity of the game then perhaps he should be applying his mind to the blatant shortcomings in the laws of cricket.

Du Plessis’ tremendous performance in adversity has had even more people wondering if he should not continue as captain even once AB de Villiers returns.

Personally, I rate Du Plessis as the more natural captain and probably someone who wants the job more. But you cannot just ditch De Villiers as he has done little wrong as captain and also has a wonderful cricket brain. Convenor of selectors Linda Zondi has said all the right things in this regard.

I believe you have to leave that sort of decision to De Villiers himself and, with his workload issues, he may well decide to hand over the reins to Du Plessis.

The only other issue is that Du Plessis might have been the batsman earmarked to make way for De Villiers, but you surely cannot leave him out after his Adelaide masterpiece?

Last rites take a while, but the clean sweep is achieved 0

Posted on February 24, 2013 by Ken

 

The last rites took a while, but the summer of ’13 still ended on the most triumphant of notes for South Africa as they completed an innings-and-18-run victory over Pakistan at Centurion and a 3-0 sweep of the series.

It’s just the third time South Africa have claimed a whitewash in a series of at least three Tests, the other two instances being the great Springbok team of 1969/70 that hammered Australia 4-0 and the impressive 5-0 clobbering of the West Indies in 1998/99, when the tourists had such greats as Brian Lara, Curtley Ambrose and Courtney Walsh in their ranks.

The Pakistan second innings came to an end just before 5pm on Sunday on 235 all out, the last pair of Rahat Ali and Mohammad Irfan having frustrated the South Africans for 45 minutes.

Pakistan were in a good state at lunch as Azhar Ali and Imran Farhat batted with defiance and positivity to take them to 87 for two, but Dale Steyn and Rory Kleinveldt reduced them to 176 for six by tea.

Steyn finished with four for 80 and Kleinveldt and Abbott took two wickets each. Considering it was a dead rubber game and South Africa were missing two key cogs in Jacques Kallis and Morne Morkel, it was an emphatic statement of their intent to truly dominate Test cricket.

“It’s been a very special summer at home and this result is very important. We wanted to step up, we were a bit uncertain about what to do on the first day, but we took on the challenge of batting. It would have been easy to be soft in this Test and not totally commit to the cause, but if you’re 10% off your game at this level, then you’re not going to produce a performance,” captain Graeme Smith said.

“It shows we’re hungry and we have a real pride in our performance. There was maturity and professionalism. We’ve had a few injuries, but to see the new guys come in and step up shows that there’s a good environment and platform for them to perform.”

None more so than Abbott, who owned the third best match figures ever on debut for South Africa of nine for 68. South African cricket’s house is clearly in order on the field considering how well debutants have done recently.

Three of the last four pace bowlers – Vernon Philander and Marchant de Lange being the others – have taken a five-wicket haul in their debut Test, while Faf du Plessis and Dean Elgar both have centuries to their name.

Kleinveldt is the odd seamer out, but he bowled well at Centurion and eventually had some reward when he picked up the wickets of Misbah ul-Haq (5) and Asad Shafiq (6) midway through the second session.

Azhar and Farhat had added 54 for the third wicket and South Africa were in need of a breakthrough after lunch.

And it came, as ever, from Steyn, although this time it was a run out.

Farhat had turned left-arm spinner Robin Peterson to fine leg and Azhar was looking for a second run, but was turned back and couldn’t make his ground from just two metres down the pitch as Steyn fired in a superb bullet throw straight over the stumps.

Quite how the lower-order wagged so enthusiastically – Sarfraz Ahmed (40), Saeed Ajmal (31), Ehsan Adil (12) and Rahat (22) didn’t really mind how the runs came – baffled many, but victory was never in doubt.

Pakistan had begun the day on 14 for one and Azhar and Younis Khan survived for the first half-hour, before the opener and Farhat added 48 for the third wicket to take the tourists to lunch and cut the deficit to 166 runs.

The match situation was right down the obdurate Azhar’s alley and the 28-year-old batted for nearly three hours and faced 110 balls in scoring his 27.

Farhat, in contrast, once again looked keen to tee it up and struck five fours in his 43 off 91 deliveries.

Philander and Abbott were both probing, but the pick of the bowlers in the morning was Steyn, who had bowled nine overs for 22 runs and taken both wickets.

He removed Mohammad Hafeez with the first ball of the innings on the second evening and added the scalp of Younis for 11 on Sunday.

Steyn struck with a beautiful late away-swinger, Younis reaching for the ball to try and play it to mid-on, getting the outside edge and sending a comfortable catch to Smith at first slip.

 

Kyle Abbott: ‘A captain’s dream’ 0

Posted on February 23, 2013 by Ken

AB de Villiers described him as “a captain’s dream” and this was after just 11.4 overs in his first Test.

But this was Kyle Abbott South Africa’s vice-captain was talking about after the Dolphins paceman had taken an extraordinary seven for 29 on debut to make sure the third Test against Pakistan at Centurion will always be indelibly linked to his name.

With three days to go, the third and final Test is in South African control as Abbott’s amazing bowling dismissed Pakistan for just 156 and, forced to follow-on 253 runs behind on first innings, they have already lost a wicket in their second innings.

Pakistan’s batting is ill-equipped to handle skilful seam bowling on helpful pitches and many cricketers have enjoyed sensational debuts without kicking on, but Abbott is blessed with the basic, yet seemingly most difficult skills, to make this an idle warning.

The 25-year-old is pacy enough and the nagging line just on or about off stump that he bowls, with his height often giving him steepling bounce, is guaranteed to put batsmen in danger.

Six of the seven wickets Abbott took fell to catches behind the wicket and the Kearsney College old boy is a perfect fit for the preferred South African tactics of controlled aggression, bounce and aiming for the edges of the opposition bats.

“He’s a captain’s dream. He bowls with a lot of control, he’s really consistent, hits the deck hard and finds the outside edges. He gets good torque on the ball and gets the batsmen to play. He was amazing today,” De Villiers gushed.

The Zululand product’s figures were the best ever in the first innings of a debut Test for South Africa (fifth overall) and the second best by a Proteas bowler in his first Test. The South African record is held by Lance Klusener, who just happens to be the lanky paceman’s coach at the Dolphins, and who took eight for 64 in the memorable 329-run victory over India in Kolkata in 1996, the tourists’ first win there.

The famously taciturn Klusener has undoubtedly been the major factor in Abbott’s rise from talented paceman to the best on the domestic circuit, but the advice the debutant received from his mentor on the eve of his big day was of the brief but meaningful variety.

“He phoned me on Thursday night and I was telling him that Jacques Kallis had got injured and I was going to play, and he was just saying ‘yes, ja, ok, yes’, but then he just said ‘keep it tidy’ and that was the end of the conversation,” Abbott said.

The reserved Klusener was unfairly criticised during his playing days for not being a team man, but it must now be official, the man is a man-management genius.

“Lance has been unbelievable, what a guy! He has really helped me mentally the most, he hasn’t changed anything technically. He’s just taught me a different mental approach, to be more aggressive and to hit the deck hard.

“Lance and I have just clicked, he understands what I need to fire and he presses the right buttons,” Abbott said.

While pace and aggression are definitely there, the most impressive aspect of Abbott’s bowling was his probing line just on or about off stump.  With the occasional delivery standing up as well, the rookie was in charge from the moment he had Mohammad Hafeez caught in the gully off the last ball of his first over.

After having Pakistan captain Misbah ul-Haq brilliantly caught in the slips by Alviro Petersen, Abbott had two for 16 from six overs at tea, which the visitors took on 91 for four.

The Pakistanis never recovered from Dale Steyn trapping Asad Shafiq lbw for six in the first over after the break, with Abbott piling on further misery for the tourists by removing Sarfraz Ahmed (17) and Saeed Ajmal, both caught at first slip by Graeme Smith, with successive deliveries.

Ehsan Adil (9) then edged Abbott to third slip and the Sunfoil Series’ leading wickettaker then added the wickets of Mohammad Irfran (0) and Younis Khan (33) to finish with the ninth best debut figures in Test history.

South Africa captain Smith then forced Pakistan to follow-on – to show how positive he is and how much faith he has in his bowling attack – and there was immediate reward as Mohammad Hafeez edged Dale Steyn’s first ball into his stumps.

Azhar Ali (5*) and Younis (8*) then took Pakistan through to stumps on 14 for one.

South Africa’s weakened pace attack had already shown that they meant business as they reduced Pakistan to 91 for four at tea on the second day.

South Africa were right on top, having scored 409 in their first innings after De Villiers’ superb century and strong support from Vernon Philander had considerably boosted their innings from 248 for six.

Resuming on nine without loss after lunch, Hafeez and Imran Farhat looked on their way to just the second half-century opening partnership against South Africa this summer as they reached 46 without loss after 16 overs.

Ed Cowan and David Warner of Australia had been the only other opening pair to prosper as they put on 77 in Adelaide in November.

But the seventh delivery of Philander’s first spell from the West Lane End pitched on middle-and-off and straightened, trapping Farhat lbw for 30 as the left-hander tried to play around the front pad.

The aggressive Farhat had faced 60 balls and hit three fours, but the slips were always interested when he was at the crease.

The next over saw Abbott bowl the first over of his international career. The first ball was too straight and tucked through square-leg for four with the sweetest of timing by Azhar.

The 25-year-old Abbott thereafter settled on a steady line just outside off stump and, being tall, he occasionally obtained steep bounce, making it a risk for the Pakistan batsmen to attack him.

Hafeez did try at the end of his first over and was cramped as the ball nipped back into him, and the catch went low to gully, where it was well-taken by Dean Elgar.

Hafeez had survived for 85 minutes and 44 balls, and scored 18.

Both openers were out within 11 balls of each other and worse was to follow when Philander removed Azhar (6) with the next delivery.

Azhar was conned by a delivery that kept low outside off stump, edging the ball back into his stumps. Although it is not a pitch batsmen can fully trust, it was a lame stroke by Azhar, hanging a limp bat out to dry.

The West Lane End was giving Abbott steep bounce and that’s what undid Misbah ul-Haq, who provided the slips with an edge as he was squared-up. Alviro Petersen dived low in front of first slip to take a great catch and the Pakistan captain was back in the hut for 10.

Younis had been in for almost an hour when tea arrived, but had scored just 13, while Asad Shafiq was with him on two not out.

Philander had taken two for 21 in seven overs and Abbott two for 16 in six, while Rory Kleinveldt, wicketless in eight overs, had been most unfortunate in his first spell.

He beat the bat several times and seemed to have trapped Farhat in front on 27, only for Hawkeye to say the ball pitched outside leg-stump. It merely added more fuel to the fire for those who don’t have complete faith in DRS’s ball-tracking abilities.

The morning belonged to De Villiers and Philander.

It’s becoming apparent that De Villiers is maintaining his brilliant batting form despite having to keep wicket as well, while Robin Peterson and now Philander have made crucial contributions down the order in successive Tests.

South Africa had resumed on their overnight score of 334 for six, with De Villiers on 98 not out, and his second scoring stroke, another classical drive through the covers, brought him three runs and his 16th Test century. It came off 186 balls and included 13 wonderful strokes to the boundary.

Just a ball later, Pakistan had one of two chances to strike an early blow but fluffed it as Philander edged a drive at Rahat Ali which wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed dived for but could not reach, while first slip Hafeez hesitated.

Philander was obviously going to play his shots on Saturday morning and he went to his second Test half-century off 85 balls and made it to 74, a career-best, before Younis proved the surprise package and had him caught low down by Hafeez at first slip.

De Villiers continued to score freely, going to 121 off 215 deliveries, with 15 fours, before he chased after a short-pitched delivery from Rahat and Shafiq took a very well judged catch on the midwicket boundary.

South Africa were all out four overs later as Rahat claimed his fifth and sixth wickets, removing Kleinveldt (0) and Abbott, the debutant who showed some ability with the bat in scoring 13. The straight drive he hit off Rahat for his only boundary was the shot of the morning.

Rahat was the most successful of the Pakistan bowlers, the Centurion pitch providing him with just enough nibble, while the ball also swung for him, and the 24-year-old who entered the Test scene at the Wanderers finished with six for 127 in 27.2 overs.

The debutant, Ehsan Adil, was unable to bowl on the second morning due to the calf injury that took him off the field shortly before the close of play on the first day, so the visitors were grateful for the penetration Rahat provided.

South Africa precariously placed 0

Posted on February 22, 2013 by Ken

South Africa were precariously placed on 201 for five at tea on the first day of the third Test against Pakistan at Centurion on Friday.

The second session was a particularly good one for Rahat Ali, bringing him his second and third Test wickets as the Centurion pitch helped him with just enough lateral movement.

Hashim Amla had been the mainstay of the South African first innings with a classy 92 filled with some great strokes that brought him 13 fours, but Rahat removed him with a wide delivery that was edged to wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed as the Bearded Wonder went on the slash.

It was a stirring fightback by Pakistan after lunch as they claimed three wickets for 97 runs in 26 overs, leaving South Africa in a sticky situation.

Amla and Faf du Plessis had been excellent in adding 66 for the third wicket to lift South Africa to 104 for two at lunch and were looking to crack on the pace after the break.

But Du Plessis would be gone in the fourth over of the session, caught behind for 29 off a fine delivery from Ehsan Adil that was back-of-a-length and nipped away.

AB de Villiers was quickly into his stride as he and Amla added 79 for the fourth wicket off just 112 balls but Pakistan would be the happier side at tea as Rahat struck twice in two overs.

Dean Elgar came to the crease when Amla left and only lasted seven balls when he was trapped in the crease by a Rahat inswinger, wasting a review to compound his error.

When South Africa return for the final session, much will depend on De Villiers, who had gone untroubled to 40 not out.

Much was asked of Robin Peterson in Cape Town and he delivered superbly, but South Africa need another contribution from him as well as he resumes on two not out.

To win the toss, bat first and be bowled out on the first day is not going to please captain Graeme Smith, and he will be looking to his lower-order to help De Villiers steer them to 300 before stumps with the loss of as few more wickets as possible.

The grossly inexperienced Pakistan pace attack were beginning to feel the strain at lunch as Amla and Du Plessis cruised along.

The Pakistanis had claimed two early wickets as the openers, Alviro Petersen (10) and Graeme Smith (5), fell cheaply in the first 10 overs.

The visitors had made two changes to their pace attack with Umar Gul unwell and Tanvir Ahmed dropped. With Junaid Khan still feeling the effects of the strange thigh wound that kept him out of the second Test in Cape Town, the Pakistanis brought in Rahat and debutant Adil.

That left Mohammad Irfan, who made his debut in Cape Town, as the leader of the attack, while Rahat had also played his first Test just 10 days earlier at the Wanderers.

It was Rahat who made the first breakthrough, trapping Petersen lbw for 10, although he had been innocuous up till then.

Petersen’s form may be one of the few items up for discussion in terms of selection, but he had looked good, stroking two boundaries, before receiving a fine delivery from the left-armer (practically his only one of the morning) that straightened sharply back into him.

Smith was less convincing as he scored his five off 21 balls, before he was dismissed in Adil’s first over in Test cricket, edging into the slips, where second slip Younis Khan dived in front of first slip to take the catch. It was a good delivery just outside off stump that bounced a bit more than expected, but Smith’s angled bat towards midwicket was as much to blame as anything else.

South Africa were in some bother at 38 for two, but Amla came in and immediately started middling the ball. He fed off the left-armer’s deliveries angled into him, scoring freely on the leg-side, and reached his 27th Test half-century in the over before lunch, in 102 minutes off 76 balls, with nine fours.

Du Plessis also looked in fine form as he went to 29, collecting three magnificent fours – through the covers, straight and square on the off side – in Adil’s fourth and last over of the morning.

With the inexperienced seamers struggling to regain the upper hand, off-spinner Saeed Ajmal was introduced in the 18th over, but both Amla and Du Plessis continued to score with freedom, using their feet well, and purring along to their 50 partnership off just 74 balls.

With the early moisture having been burnt off and the green tinge gradually disappearing from the pitch, the table is set for the South African batsmen to prosper, even in the absence of Jacques Kallis.

The master batsman injured a calf muscle on Thursday, on one of the rare occasions he attends optional training, and has been replaced by Kyle Abbott, the in-form Dolphins seamer who will earn his first Test cap after excelling in the Sunfoil Series with 49 wickets.

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  • Thought of the Day

    1 Corinthians 3:3 - "For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way?"

    One of my favourite U2 songs is a collaboration with Johnny Cash called The Wanderer, and it features the line "they say they want the kingdom, but they don't want God in it".
    Many people say they believe in God, but they don't experience his loving presence. They may be active in Christian work, but only if they have their way. If they cannot be leaders, they refuse to be involved.
    Because they refuse to allow God to fill their lives with his love, they remain weak and powerless.
    Spiritual maturity means developing a greater love for others.

    "When the love of Christ saturates you, immature attitudes such as pettiness, jealousy and strife are dissolved.
    "It is only when you have an intimate relationship with the Lord that you receive sufficient grace to rise above this immaturity and enjoy the solid food that the Holy Spirit gives you." - Solly Ozrovech, A Shelter From The Storm



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