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Ken Borland



CSA slammed out the park too often 0

Posted on November 22, 2016 by Ken

 

If Cricket South Africa were a bowler, they would be the type that gives you an over comprising three great deliveries, beating the bat a couple of times and maybe bowling the batsman, and three rank full tosses that are hammered out of the park, and are no-balls just to make matters worse!

There are so many good things going on in CSA, so many people within that organisation who have a deep love for the game and are faithful servants of it, often at considerable cost to themselves. While those good balls are being bowled, it is easy to believe that everything in South African cricket is hunky dory and the future is bright.

Like when you go to the Centre of Excellence and National Academy in Pretoria. This is a superb facility where national teams can prepare with the latest technology at their fingertips.

The gadgets have recently been improved with the world’s most advanced batting simulator – the PitchVision Batting Studio – now installed. The high-tech bowling machine and smart lane equipped with sensors takes net batting to the next level. The simulator features a moveable bowling machine that can bowl over or around the wicket, videos of bowlers, shot-tracking, field setting and tracking of runs scored. The system also records technique for video analysis.

The batsman can set up any match scenario and bat with the realistic pressures of finding the gaps and trying to chase down a score at the death.

The technology even showed that I was planting my front leg when batting, but then a good coach could probably have pointed that out anyway. And, as I told coaches Shukri Conrad and Vincent Barnes, nobody has trapped me lbw for a long time! (Now I’m just tempting fate!)

There are lots of other good news stories around CSA at the moment, such as the thawing of relations with India. According to Haroon Lorgat, the CSA chief executive, the BCCI are keen on the idea of South Africa and India developing an icon series like the Ashes. The Proteas will be playing four Tests in India this year and the next tour to South Africa is not going to be the thoroughly inadequate shortened series which was foisted upon CSA in December 2013.

Sadly, however, there are still people in CSA who seem more intent on furthering their own agendas than the good of the game.

Despite CSA continuing to swear blind that there was nothing untoward in the selection of the team for the World Cup semi-final, that merit is the only criterion for the Proteas (except when the call is 50/50), the gathering of the cricket family this week for the CSA Awards (another example of how well they can do things) meant I was given yet more snippets of information that would seem to confirm that the side that took the field at Eden Park was not the one Russell Domingo, AB de Villiers or the selectors initially wanted.

And now, an event as happy and well-organised as the awards banquet has also been marred by the same faceless, cowardly interferers as allegations of the judges’ decisions being changed rear their ugly heads.

Two members of the judging panel confirmed to me that one of the franchise award-winners had been changed – that when they left their selection meeting, they were under the impression that a different player had won.

The last thing I want to do is cast aspersions on the ability and class of Robin Peterson (poor Vernon Philander was shamefully treated by the World Cup fiasco), whom I rate highly and believe should be in the Test squad ahead of Aaron Phangiso, but apparently he was the third-choice for the Momentum One-Day Cup Player of the Season, behind Dean Elgar and Andrew Puttick.

So the last week has pretty much summed up CSA’s performance in general: leading the field in many ways, like the centre of excellence in Pretoria, enjoying the support of an ever-growing list of sponsors and putting on superb events, but then also shooting themselves in the foot through dishonesty and backroom dealings. It felt like a family gathering this week, even if the family is dysfunctional at times, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some members who really would be better suited to Fifa than cricket administration.

Player power and perfect storms 0

Posted on June 07, 2016 by Ken

 

I am totally behind empowering players and allowing them to lead the way in terms of the direction and culture of a team, but there are times when too much player power can become a bad thing.

Knowing Sharks director of rugby Gary Gold reasonably well, I know that he is the sort of coach who will look to empower the players, treat them as adults and allow them to plot their own destiny. But it seems the Sharks are embroiled in a perfect storm at the moment and it is showing not only in their results but in the shocking lack of discipline their senior players are exhibiting.

The Sharks are a team dominated by senior Springboks, a lot of older players who are eyeing one last World Cup before earning their pensions in Europe or Japan. This strong core of players totally lost respect for Jake White and it was their rebellion (which probably isn’t too strong a word given the stories I heard this week about what happened on tour last year) that forced CEO John Smit to release the World Cup-winning coach.

Gold will be well aware of his predecessor’s fate but his efforts to refresh the team, bring in some new blood, are hampered by the poor recruitment that has happened at the Sharks in the last couple of years.

Signing players like Matt Stevens, Mouritz Botha and Marco Wentzel merely strengthens the “old boys club” and, people being people, nobody likes the feeling that they’re about to be replaced by someone younger, so they cling on to whatever power or influence they have. Because most of these players spent their formative years elsewhere, their attachment to the Sharks’ brand and badge is perhaps not as strong as that of players like Pat Lambie or Marcell Coetzee, a duo to emerge with credit so far this troubled season.

A major part of the Sharks’ problems is that their academy is not functioning properly, its emphasis is more on making money than providing a pipeline of players for the franchise. Wealthy parents of kids who only played 3rd XV rugby at school are getting entries for their children, which only lowers the standard of the academy.

The Sharks must rediscover their soul, return to their roots and start looking closer to home for their answers. The best Natal/Sharks sides were made up of a core of players who studied in the province – think John Allan, Rod Gould (Glenwood), Mark Andrews, Tommy Bedford, John Smit (Natal University), Steve Atherton (Pinetown), Tim Cocks (Westville), Wayne Fyvie, Gary Teichmann (Hilton), Trevor Halstead (Kearsney), Henry Honiball (Estcourt), Butch James, Keith Oxlee, Joel Stransky, Jeremy Thomson, Craig Jamieson (Maritzburg College), Andre Joubert (Ladysmith), Dick Muir (Kokstad), Hugh Reece-Edwards (Northlands), Andre Snyman (Newcastle) Rob Hankinson (Michaelhouse) and Lood Muller (Voortrekker).

And the standard of schools’ rugby in KwaZulu-Natal has risen considerably in the last 30 years.

The senior players must either buy into the new vision or go elsewhere, but they certainly have roles to play in restoring Sharks rugby to even keel.

The happy days must return to Kings Park and that also involves tough decisions for Smit and the board.

Conversely, a bit more player power would probably be a good thing when it comes to South African cricket.

Although there probably won’t be any clarity on the whole Philander/Abbott selection issue any time soon, the deafening silence of the players has been telling.

If all the speculation that there had been a late, unpopular change to the team for the World Cup semi-final was totally wide of the mark, then surely either Philander or Abbott, AB de Villiers or some other player would have been quick to stand up and say it was absolute nonsense?

As someone very close to the team said to me: “Where there’s smoke there will always be fire”.

The day will come when, with a lucrative IPL contract in his pocket, a player makes a public stand, but at the moment there would be too many repercussions.

The last time a player protested against interference in selection – the courageous Charl Langeveldt – he was mercilessly bullied by the same person who is now the lead independent director of the Cricket South Africa board.

 



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