for quality writing

Ken Borland

Abbott & Phangiso, victims of CSA’s transformation failures 0

Posted on May 31, 2016 by Ken


The tears and recriminations are flowing after yet another premature World Cup exit for South Africa’s cricketers, but spare a thought for Vernon Philander, Kyle Abbott and Aaron Phangiso, who all have good reason to feel angry on top of the brutal disappointment they must be suffering after the semi-final loss to New Zealand.

Nobody selects himself to play for the Proteas, and while it was undeniably a poor decision to play Philander ahead of Abbott, the Cape Cobras man has been a wonderful bowler for South Africa, even if his ODI skills on flat pitches don’t match his Test brilliance, and he certainly deserves way better than to be scornfully dismissed as a “quota” selection.

There were so many good cricketing reasons to play Abbott – his superb form in the quarterfinal against Sri Lanka, the doubts over Philander’s fitness (made worse by Dale Steyn’s own niggles and the ridiculously arrogant decision to only play four frontline bowlers), and the fact that the strategy against Brendon McCullum and some of the other NZ batsmen revolved around digging the ball in short and targeting the ribcage, for which Abbott is suited and Philander, who bowls at a very hittable pace if there is no movement, is not.

There has been speculation that Abbott was left out in order to play another player of colour, with rumours coming from people close to the camp that the Dolphins fast bowler was extremely angry ahead of the semi-final.

Which begs the question – when will Cricket South Africa get transformation right?

For me, it is just as much of a disgrace that Phangiso did not play a single game at the World Cup as it is if Abbott was left out for political reasons.

Will young Black Africans believe CSA when they say the Proteas are for everyone or will they look at Phangiso’s treatment and say his selection in the squad was all just window-dressing of the worst kind?

Instead of bowing to political demands before a semi-final that will now leave fresh scars on the South African psyche, why did CSA not insist Phangiso play at least against the UAE?

South Africa have not bowled skilfully enough in limited-overs cricket for a while now and this is ultimately where the World Cup campaign was lost; the only good all-round bowling performance they produced was against Sri Lanka. And to think they thought going into a semi-final with just five bowlers was a wise move.

All AB de Villiers’ statements about the Proteas being “the best team in the tournament” now sounds like empty chest-beating, designed to cover their own doubts.

If Russell Domingo did not have any misgivings about his side, why did he say they could not play Phangiso against the UAE because it was vital they finish second in their pool? An SA A side should have no trouble beating the UAE!

Yes, the Proteas have given their all and played with tremendous courage in the semi-final. But they also seem to have had an over-inflated opinion of how good they were throughout the World Cup, only for the doubts that have so blighted them in previous tournaments to come back once that bubble was burst.

SA player ratings v England 0

Posted on August 25, 2012 by Ken

South Africa player ratings


Graeme Smith – 8

The South African captain once again provided immense substance at the top of the order. His unorthodox strokeplay drove England to distraction and he was solid in trying conditions.

Alviro Petersen – 7

Starting to feel comfortable at international level; a solid series highlighted by his epic, stoic 182 at Headingley after missing out on the Oval run-fest.

Hashim Amla – 9

As reliable and elegant as always, his 311* at the Oval will be remembered forever. When his team were under pressure at Lord’s, he responded with another fine century.

Jacques Kallis – 7

Never failed to impress whether it was in scoring his wonderful, series-defining century at the Oval, making vital breakthroughs with the ball or taking superb catches in the slips.

AB de Villiers – 6

Three 40s suggest there may have been too much of a load on him being asked to keep wicket as well. Reliable with the gloves, but his focus is surely on scoring big hundreds.

Jacques Rudolph – 6

Although he has still not cemented himself at number six, his battling efforts at Headingley and Lord’s were crucial for victory.

JP Duminy – 7

Batted beautifully and with an air of assurance that he has not had for a while. Possibly moved himself ahead of Rudolph in the queue with his defiant efforts down the order.

Vernon Philander – 8

Starred with bat and ball at Lord’s after chipping in with a couple of wickets in each of the first two Tests. His unerring line and length did not bring as much reward as it could have … until Lord’s where he showed what all the fuss was about.

Dale Steyn – 8

Another whose efforts did not always bring the reward they deserved, but he showed his class at the Oval. The leader of the attack even if he didn’t take the new ball and tremendously skilful and fiery.

Morne Morkel – 7

England’s batsmen were kept on their toes when he hit his straps – his pace, bounce and aggression meant they were continually under pressure.

Imran Tahir – 5

Stopped some threatening England lower-order rallies with important wickets, but is still in the developmental stage of his international career. A lack of control at times arrested his ability to build pressure.



Highlights of the series


Kevin Pietersen – The only England batsmen capable of turning a dodgy position at Headingley into a situation where the hosts could be the only winners. The only person capable of sowing such discontent that his international career was seemingly over straight after that innings.


Vernon Philander’s dream day – Philander had an outstanding fourth day at Lord’s. He had been joint top-scorer with Duminy in the first innings and South Africa had been reduced to 282 for seven in their second innings, a lead of just 276, when he scored a crucial 35 to take the target well beyond 300. Philander then claimed two quick wickets to fatally undermine England’s chase.


Oval heroics – There have been many great batting line-ups that have taken on England, but in 924 Tests they had never conceded successive double-century partnerships until Kallis and Amla put on an unbeaten 377 for the third wicket, following the 259 for the second wicket between Smith and Amla. A pitch that had been seemingly flat was then transformed as Dale Steyn took three for eight after lunch on the final day to set up a crushing innings win.



Final page left unwritten 0

Posted on March 14, 2012 by Ken



The final page of the first test between New Zealand and South Africa was left unwritten as rain washed out the last day’s play at the University Oval in Dunedin on Sunday.

After the first two days had finished basically all-square, South Africa took control of the test by posting 435 for five declared in their second innings, thanks to memorable centuries by Graeme Smith, Jacques Kallis and Jacques Rudolph.

That set New Zealand a highly unlikely 401 to win, with South Africa’s target of 10 wickets in four-and-a-half sessions more likely.

But the experienced pair of Brendon McCullum and Ross Taylor had left the test interestingly poised after the fourth day as they took New Zealand to 137 for two. But there was to be no gripping finale as sheets of rain fell on the fourth night and continued on Sunday, with the test being called off an hour after lunch.

Brendon McCullum and Ross Taylor batted through the final session to take New Zealand to 137 for two at stumps on the fourth day of the first test on Saturday.

The hosts will need to score a further 264 runs on what should be an absorbing final day.

After tea, there was just the one success for the Proteas, as legspinner Imran Tahir claimed the wicket of opening batsman Rob Nicol for 19 in the most fortunate of ways.

Having come through a torrid 90 minutes against the quick bowlers, Nicol’s concentration obviously wavered against the slow bowler and he bunted a dipping full toss to mid-on, where Graeme Smith moved to his left and took a low, tumbling catch.

New Zealand were 55 for two, but the class of McCullum and Taylor then shone through as they added 82 for the third wicket in 20.5 overs.

McCullum was the initial aggressor and the former wicketkeeper raced to his half-century off just 65 balls, the precision of his strokeplay, whether scoring in front of the wicket or behind, being most impressive.

The second half of the session belonged to Taylor as McCullum added just eight more runs to his tally from the last 26 balls he faced before the umpires took the players off for bad light 10 minutes before the close of play.

The skill and timing of the Kiwi captain, particularly through the off side, was in great evidence as Taylor stroked eight fours in his 48 not out off 68 balls.

The South African attack began to look innocuous on the stodgy pitch, with Dale Steyn clearly out of sorts and Tahir tending to bowl too full.

Vernon Philander looked the most threatening of the bowlers with consistent movement off the seam, while Morne Morkel hurried the batsmen with some fiery short-pitched bowling.

Afternoon session

Jacques Rudolph and Vernon Philander were the shining lights as New Zealand reached tea on 27 for one on the fourth day of the first test against South Africa at the University Oval in Dunedin on Saturday.

Rudolph finished on 105 not out as South Africa declared their second innings on 435 for five, and finished the session well on top with New Zealand still 374 runs from a highly unlikely victory.

South Africa had resumed on 359 for five after lunch and Rudolph and Mark Boucher quickly got on with it. New Zealand were not able to stop them scoring at will as 76 runs were scored in 16 overs.

Canny left-arm spinner Daniel Vettori was the one bowler not to get collared, conceding just 65 runs in 32 overs through the innings.

South African captain Graeme Smith probably always intended to declare midway through the second session with a lead of around 400, but the timing worked so perfectly that Rudolph was able to notch his first test century since December 2005 against Australia in Perth.

Rudolph completed his sixth test century in four hours, off 177 balls, in a solid display of strokeplay, sweet timing and sound technique. Boucher also looked in solid form as he scored 34 not out with four boundaries.

South Africa had 11 overs at the New Zealand openers before tea and Philander struck the first blow by removing Martin Guptill, one of their key batsmen, for 6.

Guptill was out when he pushed half-forward to an away-swinger from the pace bowler and edged an easy catch to third slip.

Brendon McCullum had raced to 10 not out, with two fours, at the break, the same score opener Rob Nicol had laboured 38 balls to reach.

McCullum is a class batsman and will be a key wicket for South Africa to gain before the close of the fourth day.

Morning session

South Africa lost the services of Jacques Kallis early on, but Jacques Rudolph carried them to 359 for five at lunch on the fourth day of the first test against New Zealand in Dunedin on Saturday.

Rudolph was the chief provider of runs as he took his overnight score of 13 to 59 not out and South Africa extended their lead to 324. The other not out batsman is Mark Boucher on five.

The search for quick runs was stymied to an extent by the early loss of Kallis, who was dismissed in the ninth over of the day when he flicked the lively left-armer, Trent Boult, straight to midwicket.

Kallis was out for 113, which included 16 beautiful boundaries, but the most impressive aspect of the innings was its construction. Kallis had come in when the loss of two wickets in an over had left South Africa reeling on an effective score of 12 for two, but the composure and sheer technical brilliance of the Proteas’ leading run-scorer carried him through a tricky start. He became more fluent as he gained the measure of the bowlers and the stodgy pitch and seemed set to up the run-rate again on the fourth morning when he was out.

AB de Villiers came in and it was obvious he had positive intentions as he welcomed Tim Southee by cutting him superbly through the covers for four.

But De Villiers had reached 29 when he heaved the part-time off-spin of Kane Williamson to cow corner and it was left to Rudolph to guide the target-setting effort.

The experienced left-hander breezed to his 11th test half-century and second of the match off 106 balls as he took to seamer Doug Bracewell with successive boundaries nine overs before lunch.

The game rather went to sleep after the dismissal of De Villiers, with Rudolph and Boucher content to make it to lunch and New Zealand just trying to restrict the number of runs scored. The players even had the cheek to wander off the field for lunch before umpire Aleem Dar had even called time!



McCullum & Taylor bring excitement 0

Posted on March 13, 2012 by Ken


Exciting batting by Brendon McCullum and Ross Taylor left the final day nicely poised as New Zealand reached 137 for two at stumps on the fourth day of the first test against South Africa on Saturday.

34th over – The flurry of runs continues as Taylor lashes a cut through backward point for four off Jacques Kallis.

33rd over – Imran Tahir pitches the googly on leg-stump, Taylor reads it and leg-glances the ball for another four.

32nd over – A wonderful over for New Zealand. McCullum completes his half-century, Ross Taylor then brings up the fifty partnership off just 70 balls as he skilfully steers Kallis between backward point and gully for four. Taylor then pushes the next delivery sweetly through the covers for another boundary.

31st over – Tahir continues to bowl very full and Taylor drives beautifully and elegantly through extra cover for four.

29th over – Tahir drops short and McCullum pulls him powerfully for six.

22nd over – Dale Steyn slides down leg and McCullum turns the ball around the corner, beating a very square fine-leg for another boundary.

21st over – WICKET – Rob Nicol has come through a torrid 90 minutes against the quick bowlers and now he bunts a dipping full toss from leg-spinner Tahir to mid-on, where Graeme Smith moves to his left and takes a low, tumbling catch. Nicol scored 19, but what a way to go! Taylor is off the mark with a boundary as he steers a full ball outside off stump through point.

18th over – Vernon Philander is bowling straighter now and Nicol jumps across and flicks the ball through square-leg with wonderful timing for four.

16th over – Philander eventually departs from his immaculate line and length, McCullum seizing on a bit of width outside off stump and crunching a cut for four through point.

15th over – Full and outside off stump from Morne Morkel and McCullum monsters a magnificent cover drive for four. Morkel ends the over by thundering a bouncer into McCullum’s shoulder, from where it loops to the slips. Considering how far away from the gloves the ball was, South Africa’s decision to review the not out verdict is absurd.

The impeccable Vernon Philander made the first breakthrough as New Zealand went into tea on 27 for one on the fourth day of the first test against South Africa at the University Oval in Dunedin on Saturday.

11th over – Morne Morkel strays on to the leg-stump and Brendon McCullum tickles the ball away for four runs to fine leg.

10th over – Short and wide from Dale Steyn – a poor ball – and McCullum jumps all over the gift, getting off the mark with a crunching square-cut for four.

8th over – WICKET – Philander is rewarded for his impeccable line and length as he claims the wicket of Martin Guptill for eight. Guptill pushes half-forward, there is just a bit of away movement, and he edges the ball straight to AB de Villiers at third slip.

5th over – Morkel has been a little straight in his first over and Rob Nicol turns him neatly through midwicket for the first boundary of the innings.

South Africa decided to keep New Zealand in the field until their lead was 400, declaring their second innings on 435 for five on the fourth day of the second test at the University Oval in Dunedin on Saturday.

138th over – After just two balls on 99, Jacques Rudolph meatily sweeps a straightish delivery from Daniel Vettori over the infield for four to reach his sixth test century off 177 balls in four hours. The stylish left-hander has put South Africa in a powerful position with his impressive innings.

137th over – Another horrible long-hop from Tim Southee and Mark Boucher chops it one-bounce over backward point for four. Jacques Rudolph ends the over with a square-drive over point for four as he races to 99 not out.

136th over – Daniel Vettori is trying to target the rough full outside Rudolph’s off-stump, but over-pitches and the left-hander lashes the ball past deep mid-off for another boundary.

135th over – Southee again drags down the first ball of a spell and Rudolph cuts it powerfully for four.

133rd over – A marvellous shot by Boucher as he steps outside off stump and whips Trent Boult through midwicket for four.

131st over – Rudolph steps across and blasts Boult through the covers for four with a magnificent cover-drive.

127th over – Boult fires in a full ball on Boucher’s legs and he clips the ball through square-leg for a fine boundary. Rudolph then runs the last ball of the over down to the amazingly vacant third man boundary as 10 runs come off the over.

126th over – New Zealand have kept part-time off-spinner Kane Williamson on after lunch and Rudolph launches him over wide long-on for six.

A steady accumulation of runs saw South Africa reach 359 for five at lunch on the fourth day of the first test against New Zealand at the University Oval in Dunedin on Saturday.

123rd over – A little bit of width from Chris Martin and Mark Boucher pounces, collecting his first boundary with a cracking square-cut.

118th over – WICKET – Part-time off-spinner Kane Williamson has his fourth test wicket as AB de Villiers heaves him straight to Brendon McCullum at cow corner. De Villiers is out for 29 off 55 balls.

115th over – Another fine shot behind the wicket by Rudolph as Doug Bracewell straightens the ball back into the left-hander and he glances it away for four. Rudolph has his second half-century of the match off the next ball, as he drives Bracewell crisply through the covers for four. There’s no denying he’s here to stay as he has batted for two-and-a-half hours and faced 106 balls, stroking nine fours.

114th over – The fifty partnership and the 300-run lead are up as Jacques Rudolph steers Tim Southee through the gully with wonderful timing for four.

113th over – Rudolph brings out the slog-sweep and cracks Daniel Vettori past the despairing dive of McCullum on the square-leg boundary for four.

110th over – Super shot by De Villiers as he late cuts a wide away-swinger from Southee past the slips for four.

107th over – Tossed up by Daniel Vettori and Rudolph punches in the ball in the air past the spinner’s left arm for four.

104th over – The 300 comes up with a beautiful stroke as left-armer Trent Boult, bowling over the wicket, delivers on to De Villiers’ pads and he strokes the ball wide of mid-on with wonderful timing for four.

102nd over – Full from Boult and Rudolph gets forward confidently and slams the ball through the covers for four.

99th over – Southee’s first ball is short, it sits up on the slow pitch and De Villiers cuts it through the covers for an emphatic first boundary.

98th over – Left-armer Boult is brought on and removes Kallis with his third delivery. WICKET – Kallis flicks a delivery off his pads but straight to midwicket and is out for 113, in 380 minutes off 263 balls, with 16 fours. It was another great innings by the run-hungry maestro, but South African fans would have liked to have seen more of him today.

91st over – Martin ends his first over of the day with a yorker, but it’s wide outside off stump and Rudolph expertly steers the ball between the slips and gully, the ball racing away to the boundary with the strong wind behind it.

↑ Top