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Ken Borland



Unity & resilience the major factors in success: Domingo 0

Posted on December 06, 2016 by Ken

 

Proteas coach Russell Domingo said on Tuesday upon his return to South Africa that the unity and resilience of the team had been the major factors in their stunning resurgence this year, highlighted by their Test series triumph in Australia.

“It’s been a combination of things and getting a few players back that we have missed a lot, like Vernon Philander and Dale Steyn, has made a massive difference. But the unity amongst the guys and the realisation of how important it is to play for your country has been very important.

“A few players have also come back into form, the team as a whole has got their confidence back, the belief has slowly been coming back, and although we’re not yet where I feel we can be, we’re heading in the right direction. This team prides itself on their resilience and we’re in a good space at the moment. We have to treasure and nurture that because things can change very quickly,” Domingo said at O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg.

A year ago, Domingo was fighting to keep his job, but a limited-overs series whitewash of Australia and then winning the Test series in their backyard means the 42-year-old is sitting pretty and able to enjoy the contract extension until August 2017 he received last month.

“Coaches, like players, are always learning in terms of preparation and support staff. I don’t know if there have been massive changes in the way we coach, but the players have really stepped up. We still put in the same hours and hours to get the best out of them,” Domingo said.

While praising the captaincy of Faf du Plessis, Domingo reiterated the official position that AB de Villiers will resume as skipper when he returns for the series against Sri Lanka next month.

“Faf has matured in great fashion as a leader and is an outstanding captain. Fortunately he’s found some good form with the bat as well, so he’s able to lead from the front. But the bottom line is that AB is the captain and the status quo is set to remain. He only had two Tests as captain of this side, and he lost one and won one against England, so he needs to have a full crack, with my unstinting support,” Domingo said.

Du Plessis confirmed that he had thoroughly enjoyed the captaincy and described the second day of the first Test in Perth, when the Proteas recovered so magnificently from the huge setback of losing bowling spearhead Dale Steyn, as his best day on a cricket field.

“If there was one specific incident that won us the series, it was the turnaround in Perth. The belief that the team took from that session, sparked by resilience, was out of this world and it took the team to a new level of confidence. It’s probably the best session I’ve been part of on a cricket field, the way everyone stood up after losing Dale, which was incredibly hard, the whole team felt it, but somehow they just made it possible to bounce back.

“I’ve always enjoyed the captaincy, I feel it does bring out the best in me, but AB knows that I am 100% behind him. I’ve learnt a lot about myself as a leader and the great thing is that the team has three guys – myself, Hashim Amla and AB – who have been captains and we are all very similar in the way we want the culture of the team to move forward,” du Plessis said.

http://citizen.co.za/sport/1361363/unity-resilience-major-factors-test-series-success-says-domingo/

Fans licking their lips for top-class running rugby, but game-management the focus 0

Posted on May 26, 2016 by Ken

 

The Lions have produced some top-class running rugby this year and it is a style of play the Bulls are striving to replicate, which should have rugby fans licking their lips ahead of the big Gauteng SuperRugby derby at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Saturday.

But Bulls coach Nollis Marais believes his team need to focus more on their game-management skills than on trying to match the Lions at their own game and run them off their feet.

“Sometimes we’ve been playing too much rugby in our own 22, it’s attractive to run the ball, but you can’t do it from everywhere. If you make a mistake there in your own 22, you will be penalised. Playing in the wrong areas leads to putting yourselves under pressure,” Marais said.

“We’re still having the odd soft moments, but it’s much better than before. On Saturday against the Stormers there wasn’t a big dip in our performance. It’s all about game-management and the more experienced the players become, the better they will be at that. We learnt, although it wasn’t a nice experience, on tour against the Brumbies and Waratahs. We’ve battled with decision-making and game-management in the last few minutes of matches, but we did very well with that against the Stormers,” he added.

The Bulls know that, instead of trying too hard to play a free-flowing style of rugby, if they can dry up the Lions’ front-foot ball, as they did so effectively against the Stormers, then the South African pacesetters could find themselves struggling as they did against the Hurricanes four weeks ago.

But the Lions are a couple of years ahead of the Bulls when it comes to the sort of ball-in-hand, up-tempo play that is bringing renewal to South African rugby, so if they allow the visitors momentum on Saturday, it could lead to a major setback to their playoff hopes.

Sharks travel to Loftus Versfeld without robust Du Preez 0

Posted on March 17, 2016 by Ken

 

The Cell C Sharks will be without arguably the most robust loose forward in the country this year for their Vodacom SuperRugby clash with the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld on Friday, but Jean-Luc du Preez will be replaced by the under-rated and experienced Philip van der Walt for the crunch local derby in Pretoria.

Du Preez suffered what has been described as a “minor” foot injury in the Sharks’ gripping win over the Stormers last weekend in Cape Town, but Van der Walt, who has made a different, more dynamic if less physical impact off the bench during the Sharks’ three-match unbeaten run, is a more-than-capable replacement.

The 26-year-old former Cheetahs star is one of five changes to the Sharks starting line-up coach Gary Gold announced on Wednesday, a short week encouraging some rotation amongst the players.

Lwazi Mvovo returns to the left wing, with JP Pietersen shifting to the right and Odwa Ndungane moving down to the bench; Michael Claassens swops with Cobus Reinach at scrumhalf; and two of the replacement front-rowers, tighthead Lourens Adriaanse and hooker Kyle Cooper, will get their first starts of the campaign as Coenie Oosthuizen and Franco Marais shift to the bench.

Of course, making five changes to the most in-form team in the country does bring certain risks, but Gold is confident that the introduction of fresher legs will actually aid their momentum rather than harm it.

“We are really keen to keep the momentum going now and, as a result, our confidence will keep growing. It’s the reason we’ve rotated a few guys this week, we want to improve each week and keep on building as a team and we have a huge amount of confidence in the guys that have come off the bench. They have made a significant difference to our games at critical stages.

“There were a few sore bodies after the Stormers match, so it made sense to make a few changes.  These changes are not disruptive and it does mean that other guys that have put their hands up have an opportunity to start this week, rather than come off the bench,” Gold said.

Van der Walt agreed that the changes would not weaken the Sharks for what they believe will be another demanding away derby.

“We have a big group and the two different teams that played in France played just as well as each other, as well as allowing us to get used to playing with each other. So there’s no big difference or harm to the momentum we’ve created. The core of the team is the same, the coach hasn’t changed too much, it’s just subtle changes.

“It’s been tough sitting on the bench, but all the other loose forwards have played well. The team is my main focus and how I can improve the team, so I could give everything for 20 minutes and continue contributing. I’ve just been trying to do the best I can, luckily I’ve had good form.

“The competition for places is a good thing, it pushes you to new levels. It’s lovely to have, especially for the coaches. As players, you always want to start, but we have this added incentive now. Fortunately us loosies all get along well and we push each other too,” Van der Walt said.

The space on the bench created by Van der Walt’s elevation will be filled by Keegan Daniel, back in the country after a stint in Japan and poised to play his first match in South Africa since 2014.

The Sharks have tasted bitter defeat in their last four SuperRugby visits to Loftus Versfeld, dating back to June 2011, and have lost three in a row to the Bulls home and away, so they are right to be wary despite their highly impressive performance last weekend and the lofty heights they are currently enjoying as the only unbeaten team alongside the Brumbies.

“We’re not expecting anything different to the Stormers game, the Bulls back three is just as capable and they also always pride themselves on big forwards and big drives. And they’re coming off a good win and a good rest, so they’re definitely going to come out firing.

“We worked hard last week because we knew the Stormers have a good set-piece, especially the scrums, and we were able to stand our ground and even get one or two of their balls. If the opposition have a good scrum then that’s something you focus on, and we know it’s most important that we carry that same effort into the next game,” Van der Walt said.

The Bulls scrum has endured some bitter experiences in recent times, but they will certainly be working hard on that facet of their game, and the Sharks will need to be at their best in that department.

Sharks team: Willie le Roux, JP Pietersen, Paul Jordaan, Andre Esterhuizen, Lwazi Mvovo, Joe Pietersen, Michael Claassens, Daniel du Preez, Philip van der Walt, Marcell Coetzee, Stephan Lewies, Etienne Oosthuizen, Lourens Adriaanse, Kyle Cooper, Tendai Mtawarira (C). Bench – Franco Marais, Juan Schoeman, Coenie Oosthuizen, Hyron Andrews, Keegan Daniel, Cobus Reinach, Garth April, Odwa Ndungane.

Stats & personal experience show new quotas are a mixed success 0

Posted on February 29, 2016 by Ken

 

Hopefully this year Cricket South Africa (CSA) will call in the consultants and the experts before making any decisions about transformation quotas in franchise cricket, but something that happened in the lift at the Wanderers suggests this season’s increased targets have been a mixed success.

It was after the T20 international against England and a group of youngish Black African fans, three guys and a woman, walked into the lift in animated, festive mood, having obviously had a good evening.

They were raving about the whole Wanderers stadium experience and one of them said “I’ve actually been to the Wanderers more times this season than I ever have before!”

Now, considering that there have only been three international matches in Johannesburg this summer, that tells you that the demographic most sought after by CSA is coming to franchise matches, which is surely a good thing.

I had a more scientific look at the situation via the averages and they show that there are several Black African bowlers of quality. The Knights are challenging for the Sunfoil Series title thanks to the efforts of Mbulelo Budaza, Tumi Masekela and Malusi Siboto, who have taken 39 wickets between them at an average of 15.25 at the halfway mark, providing superb support for Duanne Olivier (19 wkts @ 14.84).

Ethy Mbhalati is top of the Titans averages with 18 wickets at an average of 17, while, in the Momentum One-Day Cup, Siboto is the leading wicket-taker with 19, Junior Dala is third with 16, Tshepo Moreki has 15 scalps and Sisanda Magala 14. Eddie Leie and Andile Phehlukwayo have both taken 11 wickets, while Pumelela Matshikwe and Aaron Phangiso have been amongst the most economical bowlers in the competition, helping the Highveld Lions to the final.

Some of the same names featured prominently in the RamSlam T20 Challenge, with Magala finishing with the second-most wickets, Phangiso and Siboto having outstanding campaigns in terms of both wickets and economy, while Leie and Phehlukwayo were both among the leading wicket-takers. Lungi Ngidi showed promise in seven matches for the Titans.

But in terms of the bowlers, we already knew that was where the Black African talent is concentrated. Where are the batsmen looking to follow Temba Bavuma?

An average of 39 for Omphile Ramela is a bit disappointing for him considering he averaged 48 for the Cape Cobras last season, while there have been brief flashes of brilliance from Mangaliso Mosehle with his spectacular match-winning innings in the T20 final, Khaya Zondo in the One-Day Cup and Letlotlo Sesele, Thami Tsolekile and Somila Seyibokwe here and there.

To be fair though, the batting averages are dominated in general by the old guard – Vilas, Petersen, Cook, Kuhn, Ontong, Smit and Ingram.

As predicted in this column before the season started, coloured players are the ones losing out most in terms of opportunity and CSA are going to have to undergo a thorough review with the franchise coaches, players’ association and Corrie van Zyl’s cricket department to properly unpick the effects of a new system that was implemented on the whim of an individual.

There is currently a lot of negativity around South African domestic cricket, but to some extent the quality of local competition has always ebbed and flowed.

What is clear is that some of the sternest critics are sourcing their information from the sort of people who thought Geoff Toyana fielding for the Lions last week was due to quotas. What nonsense, especially since it was a White student who eventually replaced the coach as an emergency 12th man, forced into duty due to two injuries, one in the warm-up and one in the first half-hour.

These are the same sort of people who think protesters interrupting a rugby match is racist. How on earth does that make sense unless they believe rugby actually belongs to white people?

Fortunately cricket is further down the road away from that attitude. If the majority of the population love cricket, it can only be good for the game.

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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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