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Ken Borland



Sanzar’s SuperRugby Christmas present is likely to be meh 0

Posted on February 20, 2017 by Ken

 

Rugby fans who have had enough of the current fatigue-inducing set-up will be eagerly anticipating Christmas and the expected announcement by Sanzar of a new SuperRugby format from 2016. But what they find in their stocking might still leave them unimpressed because Sanzar are unlikely to go the most obvious route of two pools of nine, eight matches home and away and semi-finals and a final.

Because the Southern Kings had such a dramatic impact on rugby in the Eastern Cape, certainly in terms of crowd figures, the South African Rugby Union (Saru) seem to have accepted that they can no longer leave such a massive region out in the cold even though they lost the promotion/relegation series to the Lions. And Argentina, full Sanzar partners now, look set to be rewarded with a place in SuperRugby as well, expanding the competition to 17 teams. Judging by the noises coming out of New Zealand and Australia, some sort of Japanese involvement is also being strongly considered to make it an even 18.

But the same Australian demands that impacted so heavily on the previous broadcasting agreement, which brings in all the money and therefore decides the format, seem set to ensure common sense does not apply. In order to sustain the ailing code of rugby union in Australia, they want their own conference, even if they have to share it with some New Zealand teams.

So the three proposals that Sanzar are considering are to keep the status quo (yes, many stakeholders, most of them living on a big island, actually think the current format is great), to split into South African and Australasian conferences, or to expand the competition even more and include other Asian teams, and the USA and Canada as well.

It would appear the two-conference system has been most positively received by Saru, and hopefully their negotiators will show much more skill when Sanzar meet in Sydney next week than the muppets who negotiated the previous deal. That could mean six South African franchises, which play each other home and away, making 10 fixtures. If the Australasian conference is split into two pools, with Japan in one and Argentina in the other, then they, too, could play 10 round-robin matches. The idea is then for the top six or eight teams across the conferences to play in the finals. If six teams go through and play each other, that’s five more matches. A semi-final and a final would then mean a maximum of 17 games per team – much cleaner, much simpler and less of a slog than SuperRugby is at the moment for all concerned.

What is vital is that Sanzar consult the players, on whom they rely to sell their product. There is a strong suggestion that the current exodus of players from the southern hemisphere to Europe is not just because of the power of the euro, but also because they are on their last legs due to the unceasing intensity and quantity of rugby Sanzar has foisted on them.

Bulls captain Pierre Spies, one of many on the injured list after the prolonged SuperRugby campaign, is pegging his hopes on change. “I’d really like to see the competition end before the international season. That three-week break for the internationals in June is a waste. I’d like to see all the focus on SuperRugby, get that done with and then give all the teams three or four weeks to prepare for the Tests. We could then finish the Rugby Championship at the end of October and either go back to our franchises or prepare for the end-of-year tour. I’d prefer there to be one global schedule and to finish SuperRugby in one go. That would also give all the teams one extra bye,” Spies told Daily Maverick on Thursday.

There does seem to be growing agreement on the sense of having one global rugby season. The International Rugby Players’ Association has come out in favour of it and even Sanzar CEO Greg Peters has said it makes sense. “The idea of moving June to July, in a Sanzar context, certainly holds a lot of appeal, for a lot of reasons,” Peters told The Herald Sun. “We could complete the SuperRugby season without a break, which is something in an ideal world we would want to do. Then you would move straight into the international program, have a short break, the Rugby Championship, short break, and then the Spring Tours. We would certainly be interested in sitting down with the northern unions and getting their views about whether it would work. And obviously we are interested in the views of the players’ associations as well.”

The Currie Cup Premier Division also looks set to change, with a new eight team format apparently agreed to in principle by the Saru executive committee, just two years after they went to great lengths to justify a cut to six teams. The phrase “political expediency” immediately springs to mind, but the thought of the Kings and the Pumas, who have dominated the First Division in recent times and are based in the rapidly-growing centre of Nelspruit, competing at the top table does have appeal.

The administrators sit in the boardrooms and make the decisions over lavish lunches, changing tune according to their own vested interests, but it is the players who have to go out, put their bodies on the line, and make these formats work.

“I’ve only been playing SuperRugby for six years and I’m struggling to get on the field now,” says Springbok star Francois Steyn, who has been out of action since May after two operations for compartment syndrome in the leg – an over-use injury.

“In South African rugby, we all worry about saying something wrong and stepping on someone’s toes, so I should probably keep my mouth shut. But it’s all about bringing the fans out and less rugby is probably better. Then the top players can play for longer. At this rate, if you play for 10 years, you’re a lucky guy.”

https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2013-08-30-quo-vadis-superrugby/#.WKrl_2997IU

Morkel leads Titans to title with one of the great innings in finals 0

Posted on July 30, 2015 by Ken

Albie Morkel struck 134 not out off 103 balls, including eight fours and seven sixes, as he led the Unlimited Titans to an unlikely five-wicket win over the Nashua Cape Cobras in the Momentum One-Day Cup final at Newlands on Friday night.

It was one of the great innings in the history of South African domestic limited-overs finals and Morkel shared the glory with Dean Elgar. His fellow left-hander scored 100 off 119 balls, his second successive century under pressure after his hundred in the playoff against the Dolphins.

Morkel entered the ring with the Titans in dire trouble on 60 for four in the 15th over, chasing 286 for victory, and the powerful left-hander took a while to get going as the Cobras pacemen attacked him with short-pitched bowling.

But the gritty Elgar and the determined Morkel dug in and would go on to add 195 off 189 balls for the fifth wicket, a record partnership and one that dramatically changed the momentum of the final.

Rory Kleinveldt had been the star of the opening overs of the Titans innings, dismissing both openers, Henry Davids for a duck and Jacques Rudolph for 4, but Morkel greeted his return in the batting powerplay by pulling and cutting him for three sixes in two overs.

Morkel reached his maiden List A century in the 43rd over, off just 87 deliveries, and Elgar reached three figures in the 45th over, before mistiming a pull off Kleinveldt and being caught at deep backward square-leg.

Elgar’s dismissal left the Titans needing 31 runs off 28 balls and one could sense renewed hope amongst the Cobras.

But Morkel then took complete charge, rushing the Titans to victory with 17 balls to spare as he ended Kleinveldt’s over with two sixes and a four and collected two more boundaries off Beuran Hendricks in the 47th over.

It was left-arm spinner Robin Peterson’s misfortune to see his first ball of the 48th over launched for six and the winning runs by David Wiese. Peterson came into the match as a key bowler, being the leading wicket-taker in the competition, but his contribution was minimal and questions will be asked of captain Justin Ontong’s use of his experienced star, limiting him to just 3.1 overs.

His reasoning was probably that he did not want a left-arm spinner turning the ball into the pads of two left-handers while Elgar and Morkel were at the crease, but none of his other bowlers were able to make an impression on the pair until it was much too late.

Off-spinner Sybrand Engelbrecht had removed Theunis de Bruyn (30) and Qaasim Adams (3) in successive overs to set warning bells ringing amongst the Titans, but Elgar and Morkel showed enormous composure and skill to first bat the visitors out of trouble and then into a commanding position.

Elgar has batted like a man with a point to prove after not featuring in the national team’s limited-overs plans, while Morkel continues to produce extraordinary match-winning performances at the evergreen age of 33.

Centurion Richard Levi and Andrew Puttick continued their prolific opening partnership but the rest of the Cape Cobras batsmen failed to chip in as the Titans pulled together and restricted them to 285 for eight in their 50 overs.

Levi and Puttick added 180 off 198 balls after the Cobras had won the toss and elected to bat first and really seemed to have set the home side on course for a total well in excess of 300.

But wrist-spinner Tabraiz Shamsi bowled with wonderful control and guile, removing Levi, and the Titans bowlers applied the squeeze most effectively thereafter as the Cobras scored just 115 runs in the last 20 overs for the loss of eight wickets.

The powerful run-gathering abilities of Levi gave the Cobras the perfect start and the burly 27-year-old collected a pair of boundaries in overs from JP de Villiers, Wiese and Dala up front.

Puttick was content to feed Levi the strike and the pace bowlers were severely dealt with by the T20 international as he pounced on some friendly half-volleys and long-hops from the Titans, who also helped the Cobras by conceding numerous extras.

While Levi went to 104 off 113 balls, with 11 fours and a massive six, the spinners slowing him down, it was another day in the office for Puttick, who passed 50 for the eighth time in 10 innings in this season’s Momentum One-Day Cup, and went on to score 69 off 99 deliveries, a workmanlike effort that provided the platform for his opening partner to launch.

After Shamsi turned a delivery into Levi to trap him lbw in the 32nd over with the total on 180, there was much conjecture as to which batsman the Cobras would send in next to take full advantage of the commanding position.

It was captain Justin Ontong, a fine finisher, who came in but he could only score seven off 11 balls before being run out at the bowler’s end looking for a second run to fine leg which Puttick was not interested in. It was Shamsi who did the fielding, Dala completing the run out from a throw which was relayed by wicketkeeper Mangaliso Mosehle.

Stiaan van Zyl rightfully has many fans, but power-hitting in the closing overs of a limited-overs game is not one of his strengths and, when Puttick was run out by a sharp Dala direct hit, the elegant batsman was stuck with Omphile Ramela and the run-rate plummeted.

Shamsi completed an outstanding spell of one for 32 in 10 overs – he should have had two wickets but for Mosehle missing a stumping before Ontong had scored – and the Cobras batsmen were then besieged by the off-spin of Davids and tidy spells from Dala and Morkel.

The Titans were cock-a-hoop as they worked their way through the rest of the Cobras batting line-up, Davids claiming two wickets, Dala a sharp caught-and-bowled, and there was a third run out when Rudolph removed Peterson with a direct hit from mid-on.

The Cobras were grateful that Dane Vilas finally added the finishing touches to the opening stand as the wicketkeeper/batsman married innovation with the occasional swipe to score 40 off 25 balls before falling in an excellent final over from Wiese.

http://citizen.co.za/326546/one-greatest-innings-history/

Rossouw proves himself against lightweight West Indies 0

Posted on April 23, 2015 by Ken

Rilee Rossouw proved his credentials with the World Cup just around the corner as he lashed a great century to take South Africa to a massive 361 for five in the rain-shortened fifth Momentum One-Day International against the West Indies at SuperSport Park in Centurion on Wednesday.

Midway through their run-chase, the West Indies had done little to divorce themselves from the perception that they are lightweights in comparison to the Proteas as they stuttered to 115 for three in 21 overs in reply, leaving them with an unlikely 250 runs to win from 126 balls.

And there will be no cavalier innings from Chris Gayle to rescue them either as the big-hitting left-hander was out to the first ball of the innings.

Kyle Abbott sent down a rather wretched loosener, short and very wide outside off stump, which Gayle flashed at and umpire Sundaram Ravi called wide. The South Africans were convinced, however, that the batsman had nicked the ball and called for a review, receiving a positive verdict from third umpire Steve Davis.

Narsingh Deonarine and Dwayne Smith then added 77 from 77 balls for the second wicket, but it was hardly a hair-raising time for the South Africans with the comfort of such a large total on the board.

There was some disappointing bowling from Abbott in particular, but Wayne Parnell joined the fray in the eighth over and suggested that his game is there or thereabouts as he bowled three tidy overs for just nine runs.

There was some respite for the home side when Aaron Phangiso trapped Smith lbw for 31 with a straight one, and it all went horribly wrong for Deonarine in the left-arm spinner’s next over when he was run out for 43, losing his bat in the process as he tried to beat Hashim Amla’s whirlwind throw from short fine leg.

Marlon Samuels (22*) and Denesh Ramdin (11*) were working the ball around in a stand of 32 for the fourth wicket, but they had an awful amount of work to do if they were to challenge South Africa’s total.

Rain had delayed the start of play for two-and-a-half hours and saw the match reduced to 42 overs a side, and the West Indies won the toss and sent South Africa in to bat.

Rossouw helped himself to a career-best 132 off just 98 balls, with nine fours and eight sixes, and Amla cruised to yet another century, scoring a fine 133 off 105 deliveries.

Rossouw and Amla added 247 for the third wicket off just 181 balls, a record third-wicket partnership for South Africa and equalling their own mark for the best stand for any wicket that they set in the second ODI at the Wanderers.

It was another top-class batting display by the South Africans, even with big gun AB de Villiers having a rest, as they laid a solid platform on a tricky pitch and then launched a spectacular late onslaught.

A couple of wickets had fallen in the first 10 overs as Quinton de Kock (4) and Faf du Plessis (16) fell to horizontal-bat strokes on a pitch that provided enough awkward bounce to make those shots difficult.

Amla once again looked in a class apart as he reached a 49-ball half-century in the 21st over, midway through the innings with South Africa on 109 for two, while Rossouw, who has endured a troubled ODI career thus far, struggled through to his 50 off 60 balls.

But those early miscues all seemed a lifetime ago as Rossouw then blossomed in spectacular fashion, needing just 23 more deliveries to register his second century of the series.

The left-hander raced past Amla and looked every bit a power-hitter as he smashed 82 runs off his last 38 balls.

Amla just kept on amassing runs as he has all series, except in this innings he was able to do it in half-dozens at a time, clearing the boundary six times to go with his 11 fours, showing that even a great batsman like him has had room to improve his game.

The West Indies were bleeding runs horrifically as the sun shone brightest on its way to the western horizon, bathing SuperSport Park in a sepia light befitting a display that was one for the ages.

The last 147 runs of the Amla and Rossouw partnership came off just 69 balls … and that by two batsmen who are not renowned for being big boundary-hitters.

Finishers David Miller (23 off 9) and JP Duminy (18* off 7) were left with only a handful of overs to bat but they collected their share of boundaries as 87 runs were hammered in the last five overs.

With the bounce providing something for the bowlers to work with – which the West Indians failed to do – South Africa’s total is certainly well over par. But they will be wary that Chris Gayle is probably due a score in this series.

 – http://citizen.co.za/316633/no-cavalier-innings-for-gayle/

Petersen giving other kids the chance to repeat his unlikely story 0

Posted on December 29, 2014 by Ken

A young boy raised by a single mother in an impoverished Port Elizabeth community beset by drug and alcohol abuse is an unlikely candidate to become an opening batsman with five centuries for the world’s number one Test side, but that’s the story of Alviro Petersen.

And the 33-year-old is making sure that other young kids in Gelvandale now have the opportunity to enjoy the same success story through the Alviro Petersen Foundation, which celebrated its first birthday at a fundraising dinner at Randpark Golf Club this week.

It was an elite gathering of three excellent Test opening batsmen in Petersen, Barry Richards and Chris Gayle.

The West Indian has always shown an acute appreciation for the fact that his job as a sportsman is to entertain and he certainly did that in his own inimitable Caribbean style.

But beyond the often raucous humour lay the serious business of changing lives, which the Foundation is certainly already doing.

Their efforts have so far focused on four schools in the northern suburbs of Port Elizabeth – Fontein Primary School, Otto du Plessis and Gelvandale high schools and St Thomas School. Apart from donating cricket kit, the Foundation have also made arrangements for two-dozen children to have their school fees paid and they have contracted Second Chance to deliver substance abuse and life skills programmes.

Petersen himself spoke with great meaning and passion to the couple of hundred supporters and friends of his foundation at the dinner.

“I was a young boy growing up in a poor community, raised by a single mother after my parents split when I was two. It was a community rife with drugs, alcohol and gangsterism and it was never going to be likely that I was going to get to where I am today,” he said.

“But South Africa is a country of the unlikely and when I was eight I said I wanted to play for South Africa. When I was 18, I hopped on a bus for a 20-hour trip to Pretoria, where I had a small contract with a club,” Petersen recalled of his humble beginnings.

“It’s been one year since our launch and we’ve been very busy. We’ve done so much already, but there’s so much more to do. You can find potential in every person and we just want to make sure kids get an adequate education and it’s safe for them to play. Women and children must be safe from abuse and we’re going to focus on that in 2015.

“There are kids who drop out of school because of circumstances beyond their control and we hope we can make their dreams come true as well,” Petersen said.

Perhaps the pick of the stories told, however, was of Ashton Frodsham, a Grade 7 pupil at Beaulieu Prep School, who raised R15 000 in two weeks for KES lightning strike victim Mpheto Bidili and then donated R10 000 to the Alviro Petersen Foundation to buy cricket kit, having asked for donations rather than presents for his 13th birthday.

It is rare that someone who is still active at international level – and is surely also focused on dealing with the pressure to keep his place – is already giving back to such an extent. Having survived all the early blows that life dished up to him, it is a further mark of Petersen’s character.

For cricketing wisdom, the dinner had Richards, who in his day was up there with Gayle when it came to destroying bowling attacks. The former opening batsman turned commentator said he was puzzled by AB de Villiers not batting higher up the order for South Africa and was concerned about the Proteas’ suspect death bowling.

 

 

 

 



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