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Ken Borland



Theunis de Bruyn’s selection for the Proteas is no surprise 0

Posted on December 19, 2016 by Ken

 

There will be a new cap in the Standard Bank Proteas squad for their three-Test series against Sri Lanka starting on Boxing Day, but the selection of Theunis de Bruyn is hardly a surprise given the 24-year-old’s amazing first three years of his franchise career.

Having scored over 500 runs for the Titans in his first two seasons of Sunfoil Series cricket, De Bruyn has continued to make progress after a move to the Knights, having already made 423 runs at an average of 60.42 in eight innings this season. He has also enjoyed a couple of prolific limited-overs campaigns, in both 50 and 20-over cricket, to suggest he is a batsman for all formats.

De Bruyn’s first-class haul of over 2500 runs at an average of 48.73 includes six centuries and an unbeaten double-hundred for SA A against the England Lions. The tall, elegant right-hander has in fact scored two centuries and two half-centuries in seven innings for SA A, another reason why his promotion to the Proteas squad was considered almost certain.

“Theunis is a good talent and has done well for both his franchise and SA A and is next in the pecking order. It’s good to get him into the set-up because we definitely see him as a future star for the Proteas, playing in all the formats,” convenor of selectors Linda Zondi said.

While the promotion of a new, young batting star to the national squad is always exciting, there will also be a tang of regret for Rilee Rossouw, who toured Australia but has now suffered yet another inopportune injury, another foot problem ruling him out of contention.

“Obviously we aren’t pleased with Rilee’s injury because he was the next batsman in line, and Stiaan van Zyl would probably also have been in line had he not signed a Kolpak deal. It’s obviously very disappointing for Rilee, I spoke to him in Australia and he really wants to do well for South Africa and was very happy with the way we backed him in the ODIs. He’s obviously an exceptional player and he will still do well in the future for South Africa and contribute immensely going forward because it’s still a long season ahead and he’s definitely still in our plans,” Zondi said.

Rossouw did not play in any of the Tests in Australia and was very much the reserve batsman on tour, and that is probably going to be De Bruyn’s role during the three Tests against Sri Lanka in Port Elizabeth, Cape Town and Johannesburg. But with AB de Villiers already ruled out and captain Faf du Plessis potentially facing a ban from his ball-tampering appeal on Monday, the Knights captain will be preparing as hard as anyone in the camp.

And that’s the positive – whether he plays or not, De Bruyn will learn plenty about the skills and mindset required at full international level.

“Even if Theunis doesn’t make the starting XI, he’s going to gain more experience and fitting into those surroundings and the culture of the team will only enhance his belief that he will be able to fit in at international level,” Zondi said.

The squad for the Sri Lanka series also features a recall for left-arm fast bowler and useful batsman Wayne Parnell, who has been in top-class form for the Cape Cobras this season. He is averaging over 30 with the bat in T20 cricket and less than 20 with the ball, at a brilliant economy rate of 6.7.

A replacement for the injured Morne Morkel and Dale Steyn, he could play a part in the Wanderers Test if the Proteas decide to go with four pacemen and let JP Duminy take the spinner’s job.

“Wayne strengthens the depth and therefore makes it a better squad. He’s an exciting cricketer with the left-arm variation he brings and he adds to our depth in batting. We’ve been hoping he would stay injury-free and dominate at franchise level, and we’ve seen that with his batting and bowling,” Zondi said.

Being on home soil, just a 13-man squad has been chosen and the starting XI pretty much selects itself after the dazzling success in Australia.

Stephen Cook, son of the legendary Jimmy, and Dean Elgar will continue as the opening batsmen taking the shine off the ball, with Hashim Amla, Duminy, Du Plessis or De Bruyn, Temba Bavuma and wiucketkeeper/batsman Quinton de Kock to follow. The bowlers will be Vernon Philander, Kagiso Rabada, Keshav Maharaj or Parnell, and Kyle Abbott.

The likes of fast bowler Hardus Viljoen and Van Zyl would have stood a decent chance of making the squad, were it not for their decision to sign Kolpak contracts for English county cricket. Although disappointed that two fine cricketers are no longer eligible for selection, Zondi said he is content there is still more than enough talent in South Africa for the Proteas to build on their recent success.

“We can’t compete with the pound and it hurts to lose quality players, but we do have depth. So I’m comfortable but not happy. Upon signing a Kolpak deal, these players make themselves unavailable, otherwise someone like Stiaan van Zyl probably would have been next in line in the batting queue,” Zondi said.

Sadly, there are going to be more high-profile South African cricketers signing Kolpak deals in the near future.

It has now been confirmed that Du Plessis will once again guide the Proteas as captain and he said he is grateful for his long-time friend De Villiers’ decision to step aside in the interests of the team.

“It just shows you the person that AB is, that he always puts the team first, and it also shows how strong the culture of the side is.

“Test cricket is for me the most enjoyable time to be a captain because you have to work on plans for a long period of time. You have to strategise on how you’re going to make sure you’re going to get guys out and continue to challenge guys over a long time.

“To finally have it now‚ as something that is set in stone‚ is a huge honour and I’ll be taking it very seriously. I’ll try and make sure that the stuff that we’ve been working on for the past six months to a year‚ that we don’t let those standards drop. If I keep pushing the guys to make sure we hit those standards, we’ll be a consistent team,” Du Plessis said.

If the Standard Bank Proteas show the same team unity and focus on executing their basics to perfection, then their fans at home can look forward to more stellar performances against the Sri Lankans.

Misfortune of Rossouw the joy of De Bruyn 0

Posted on December 16, 2016 by Ken

 

The continued misfortune of Rilee Rossouw has turned out to be the joy of Theunis de Bruyn, with the Knights captain called up to the South African Test squad for the first time on Wednesday, ahead of the three-Test series against Sri Lanka which starts on Boxing Day.

Rossouw, who toured Australia without playing in any of the Tests, has been ruled out of action by another foot injury and his place in the squad has been taken by uncapped Knights team-mate De Bruyn.

The tall 24-year-old has been considered an obvious future international for the last three seasons, boasting an impressive first-class average of 48.73 with six centuries in 32 matches including a double for  SA A against the England Lions. Convenor of selectors Linda Zondi told The Citizen that De Bruyn is considered a future star of all three formats.

“Theunis a good talent and has done well for both his franchise and SA A. Obviously we aren’t pleased with Rilee’s injury because he’s the next batsman in line, and Stiaan van Zyl would probably also have been in line had he not signed a Kolpak deal, but Theunis is next in the pecking order. It’s good to get him into the set-up because we definitely see him as a future star for the Proteas, playing in all the formats,” Zondi said.

“It’s obviously very disappointing for Rilee, I spoke to him in Australia and he really wants to do well for South Africa and was very happy with the way we backed him in the ODIs. He’s obviously an exceptional player and he will still do well in the future for South Africa and contribute immensely going forward because it’s still a long season ahead and he’s definitely still in our plans.”

Because the Proteas are now back on home soil, the squad has been reduced to 13 players, with Wayne Parnell the fast bowler called in to replace the injured Morne Morkel and Dale Steyn. Wrist-spinner Tabraiz Shamsi, all-rounder Dwaine Pretorius and reserve wicketkeeper Dane Vilas are no longer part of the squad.

The likelihood of De Bruyn making his debut will depend on whether captain Faf du Plessis escapes a ban from his appeal for ball-tampering on Monday, but just being in camp with the Test team will be of immense benefit to the development of the elegant right-hander.

“Even if he doesn’t make the starting XI, he’s going to gain more experience and fitting into those surroundings and the culture of the team will only enhance his belief that he will be able to fit in at international level,” Zondi said.

http://www.pressreader.com/south-africa/the-citizen-kzn/20161215/282209420496484

Boks need to cut out the stupid stuff – De Allende 0

Posted on June 16, 2016 by Ken

 

Springbok centre Damian de Allende said on Tuesday that the team needs to cut out the “stupid” stuff on Saturday if they are to beat Ireland at Ellis Park and stay alive in the three-Test series.

A tactically naïve Springbok team went down 26-20 to a 14-man Ireland side last weekend in Cape Town, playing frankly dumb rugby that saw them frenetically just try to throw the ball out wide without drawing the defence or worrying about what area of the field they were playing from. De Allende said they have learnt their lesson from that debacle.

“We need to fix a lot of things this week, especially our execution out wide. We need to use the inside balls as well, but we tried to force it outside all the time and go too early. We want to get the ball wide but we mustn’t be stupid about it.

“It’s about decision-making, when to keep the ball and when not to, you need to play in the right areas. We played too much in our own half, sometimes you need to put the ball in the space behind the defence and put your opponents under pressure,” De Allende said after training on Tuesday.

The Springboks only cut through the Irish defensive line seven times at Newlands, two times fewer than Ireland managed even though they were understandably defence-orientated after being reduced to 14 men for the last hour. De Allende said the Springboks were still focusing on targeting space better.

“There aren’t major changes to our game plan with Allister Coetzee as the new coach, we still want to play with the South African mentality of being physical, but we also want to recognise the space on the outside and not just try to go over people,” De Allende said.

The 24-year-old, who earned his 14th cap in Cape Town, admitted that he is currently out of form having missed most of the SuperRugby season due to injury.

“It’s been difficult, I’m still struggling for a bit of confidence and it’s been very tough coming back from injury, I didn’t think it would be this tough. But I hope in the next few weeks that I will be back to my form of last year.

“The key for me is to be looking up and to be aware of the space, give the players on the outside even better space and bring the forwards into the game more as well. We all need to make a statement after last week and the best way to do that is to increase our line speed. That’s the new key nowadays, to attack the space quicker and it went a lot better for me today on the training field,” De Allende said.

 

History suggests bowlers will dominate SA v Aus series 0

Posted on February 11, 2014 by Ken

Australia’s previous tour to South Africa – in November 2011 – was famous for their incredible 47 all out at Newlands, but the entire two-Test series was characterised by the bowlers dominating. And this year’s three-Test series which starts at Centurion on Wednesday is shaping up to be similar.

Of the 8 innings in that previous series, only two were above 300 and South Africa’s 339 all out in the second innings at the Wanderers (where Australia levelled the rubber) was the highest total.

Australian wicketkeeper Brad Haddin scored a match-winning half-century to win that thrilling second Test and he said on Monday that his approach in this series would be to “get them before they get you” … in other words, the feisty veteran is not going to hang around, he’ll be trying to score quickly before the inevitable ball that dismisses him comes along.

But Hashim Amla was the most successful batsman in that series with centuries at both Newlands and the Wanderers, and he was typically unruffled on Monday by all the talk about a bowling shootout and batsmen having to hit out before they get out.

“Conditions will be the deciding factor, but regardless of those, I will try and occupy the crease, that’s the best way to score runs. Both teams are quite attacking, but it’s impossible to say what the pitch will be like until the game starts,” Amla said.

The Bearded Wonder is probably at the other end of the scale to Australian batsmen like Haddin and David Warner when it comes to batting. That pair are both extremely aggressive in their approach, while the likes of Michael Clarke and Steven Smith can be described as very positive; it is only opener Chris Rogers who has shown the propensity for patience that Amla epitomises.

And with an Australian attack that is bound to be a handful on what is expected to be a helpful surface at SuperSport Park, South Africa seem to be banking on grinding out runs with captain Graeme Smith stating that “batting ugly” normally wins the day here at home.

There is even more focus on Amla now as the banker in the batting line-up with the retirement of Jacques Kallis, but he was, again, unfazed.

“Nobody can replace Jacques and I don’t feel like I’m any more of a senior batsman now. Sure, the team does have a different dynamic now, a different flavour, but there was a contingency plan because we knew the day was going to come when Jacques retired.

“The way Faf du Plessis has fitted in in exceptional circumstances means we hope he can slot in again and do his thing. We all believe he can, he’s proven he’s a world-class performer,” Amla said.

With Du Plessis almost certain to replace Kallis at number four in the batting order, the only unknown when South Africa announce their XI at the toss on Wednesday morning will be who comes in lower down the list as the all-rounder.

When the Proteas played their warm-up match last week at the Wanderers, Ryan McLaren seemed the steadier, more likely option. Wayne Parnell was more threatening with the ball but also more expensive, while Rory Kleinveldt was impressive with the ball but is not as consistent a batsman as McLaren.

If bowlers hold as much sway as they are expected to, then South Africa will surely want the better batsman amongst their all-rounders.

That being said, Amla was full of confidence that they could handle the Australian attack, however dismally the soft English batting line-up fared against them.

“We’ve played against Australia a lot and against the same bowling attack, and we’ve had success against them. We don’t think there are too many big issues,” he said.

Australia, who have lost their number three batsman in Shane Watson to injury for the first Test, continue to talk up their bowlers, but there is less confidence when it comes to their batting.

“We had a really good hit out on the Johannesburg centre wicket against our own bowlers but it was very uncomfortable at times, I was petrified!” Haddin said.

“The obvious challenge is going to be the first innings, when big runs are very important.”

Haddin saw South Africa as the favourites and whether Australia’s all-out approach can rattle them remains to be seen against the bowling attack that has most consistently applied the strangulation method in the last four years, not just the last six months.

The typical Aussie brashness was not there when Haddin said “South Africa are number one for a reason, they’ve played consistent cricket over a long period of time. They deserve the tag as favourites, but you play Test cricket to test yourself. We hope they’re not too good.”

 

 



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