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Ken Borland

The most memorable performance by a fast bowler 0

Posted on August 01, 2016 by Ken


The thrilling Kagiso Rabada stole the show at the CSA Awards this week by claiming most of the trophies for himself with the same ruthlessness he displays in targeting the batsman’s wicket, but the most memorable performance by a fast bowler, for me, came the night before at the 25 Years of Unity celebration when Vincent Barnes spoke movingly about the challenges he had to face as a cricketer whose career was ruined by Apartheid.

Barnes is currently the high performance manager for Cricket South Africa, having previously served for many years as the national team’s bowling coach. But he was also arguably the greatest cricketer in the non-racial ranks during the decade before 1991’s formation of the United Cricket Board and the return to international cricket.

The pitches were notoriously poor on their side of the divide – the Apartheid government certainly wasn’t bothered with providing facilities for the majority back then – but Barnes’ figures stand head and shoulders above everyone else in his generation: 323 wickets at an average of just 11.95!

The injustices of Apartheid meant Barnes had to work doubly hard just to play cricket and the passion he has for the game overcame the fact that there was no higher outlet for his talents. But the 56-year-old has seldom spoken of those frustrations – unlike some of the privileged set who were denied international cricket due to isolation – and instead focused on passing on his knowledge to the new, unified generation of South African cricketers.

The greats of White cricket were also acknowledged at the celebration, but it was Barnes’ story of overcoming the odds which was the most poignant for me.

As good as the awards dinner was the next evening, the shadow of sports minister Fikile Mbalula’s enormous ego and Donald Trump-like “leadership” did hang over it a bit for me. I am sad that Cricket South Africa’s response to the increase in pressure from the sports minister for a faster transformation pace, purely intended to put the spotlight on himself in this election year, has been to kowtow to a man who is all bluster and no positive action.

First we had HD Ackerman shamefully removed from the hosting duties because he is taking up a job in Australia (Derek Alberts did a fine job standing in), and then the announcement that quotas will be formally introduced at national level. At least that ends the dishonest sham that resulted in disasters like last year’s World Cup semifinal.

As if to really drive home the point that CSA have worked harder on transformation than any other code, Rabada then takes home half-a-dozen awards.

What was miserable Mbalula’s response? – a tweet that read “Congratulatons! Kagiso Rabada, I sincerely believe you not gonna disappear after being used like all others who came bfo”.


Barnes preparing SA A for mental assassination 0

Posted on July 10, 2014 by Ken

While the Proteas are in Sri Lanka, South Africa’s next tier of internationals – the SA A side – will be heading off to Australia soon and coach Vincent Barnes says one of his most important tasks will be to mentally prepare the up-and-coming players for a country in which character assassination seems as much of a goal as taking wickets or scoring runs.

The SA A squad play their first match in a triangular series with the Australian and Indian A sides on July 20 and are busy preparing for a tough tour at the CSA Centre of Excellence in Pretoria. Barnes will be able to take fully-fledged internationals such as captain Justin Ontong, Marchant de Lange, Beuran Hendricks, Rory Kleinveldt, Heino Kuhn, Farhaan Behardien, Aaron Phangiso and Vaughn van Jaarsveld in his party, but there are numerous younger players, several of whom have never been to Australia before.

“The tour is designed to give our fringe players top-quality opposition and it’s a fantastic opportunity to play in Australia even though it’s winter. There are four recent Proteas [Hendricks, Phangiso, Kleinveldt & Behardien], but it’s a nice blend with a lot of senior players and quite a few young debutants.

“I’m doing a lot of mental work with them because I want us to go across there with presence, our body language is important. The biggest challenge in Australia is mentally and quite a few of the guys are on their first tour there. They’re going to have to deal with those mental pressures and learn how to overcome them,” Barnes told The Pretoria News on Wednesday.

Warriors opening batsman David White and Highveld Lions pace bowler Kagiso Rabada are two of the rookies in the squad, but they are both excited by the learning opportunities they will have in Australia.

“It’s a great honour to be chosen for the A side, I feel very privileged and I’m very excited. I want to learn as much as I can so I can build on my game for the Warriors, after I put in some nice performances for them in four-day cricket last season. Obviously the goal is to play Test cricket for the Proteas, but I don’t want to get ahead of myself.

“I have huge respect for the guys I’m playing with, there are some great cricketers and I’m going to learn as much as possible from them. Especially Justin Ontong, because he’s been around the block and has a lot of information to share,” White said.

Rabada was shining for the SA U19 Junior World Cup-winning side at the start of the year and his selection in both the four-day and limited-overs squads completes a whirlwind six months for the St Stithians product.

“Everything has happened so quickly, I went straight into the franchise team from the U19s and now I’m playing for SA A. I hope to learn from it and become a better cricketer. If I just play my best then the other things will take care of themselves, but my main goal is to play for the Proteas and long-term to be one of the best fast bowlers in the world,” Rabada said.

Five members of last season’s SA A squad – Kyle Abbott, Stiaan van Zyl, Dean Elgar, Hendricks and Phangiso will be involved in the Proteas’ tour of Sri Lanka and Barnes is excited by the possibilities that lie ahead for this year’s intake.

“Having so many young players has been refreshing and they’ve brought a lot of freshness and energy to the squad,” Barnes said.

And let’s not forget that next year’s World Cup will be held in Australia and history suggests a player or two from this A squad could well be involved with the full national team by then. While the wintry conditions in the sub-tropical far north will be different to those experienced at the height of the 2014/15 summer, it will do them the world of good to acclimatise to the abrasive Australian way of playing the game and all the other off-field quirks over there.

SA A squads

Four-day squad: Justin Ontong, Temba Bavuma, Marchant de Lange, Simon Harmer, Beuran Hendricks, Reeza Hendricks, Rory Kleinveldt, Heino Kuhn, Eddie Leie, Mangaliso Mosehle, Kagiso Rabada, Rilee Rossouw, Hardus Viljoen, David White, Khaya Zondo.

Limited-overs squad: Justin Ontong, Farhaan Behardien, Cody Chetty, Marchant de Lange, Simon Harmer, Beuran Hendricks, Reeza Hendricks, Rory Kleinveldt, Heino Kuhn, Mangaliso Mosehle, Aaron Phangiso, Kagiso Rabada, Rilee Rossouw, Mthokozisi Shezi, Vaughn van Jaarsveld.

Itinerary: July 20 v Australia National Performance Squad (Northline); July 22 v India A (Gardens Oval); July 24 v Australia A (Northline); July 26 v India A (Gardens Oval); July 29 v Australia A (Marrara); July 31 v Australia National Performance Squad (Gardens Oval); August 2 1v2, 3v4 (Northern Territory); August 7-10 v Australia A (Tony Ireland Stadium); August 14-17 v Australia A (Tony Ireland Stadium).


SA pace bowling stocks not as full as they’d like 0

Posted on January 05, 2013 by Ken

WHILE there is still understandable euphoria over South Africa’s Faf du Plessis-inspired great escape in Australia, the series has provided evidence that the Proteas’ pace bowling stocks are not as full as they would like.

South Africa’s rise to the No1 ranking has been built to a large extent on the strike-bowling brilliance of Dale Steyn, Morné Morkel and Vernon Philander, but when one of the trio is injured or not bowling to full capacity, their attack does not look totally convincing.

Rory Kleinveldt has risen up the queue to become the next paceman in line and has played in both Brisbane and Adelaide. But he looked innocuous, save for his three-wicket burst on the third afternoon of the second Test.

Ryan McLaren, meanwhile, could get the chance to start his international career afresh in Perth after being flown over as bowling all-rounder cover for both Jacques Kallis and Philander.

But while this Test generation is dominated by a superb batting line-up and the Steyn/Morkel/Philander bowling trio, these things are cyclical, and fans will await the birth of the next generation of fast bowlers.

So far, the next generation has thrown up Marchant de Lange, who claimed 7/81 against Sri Lanka on his debut in Durban last December.

But seven months later, the Titans youngster developed a stress fracture of the lower back and has been in cotton wool ever since.

De Lange will not be fit to play in the two Tests against New Zealand in January but Vincent Barnes, the national selector and former Proteas bowling coach, who is taking care of the 22-year-old’s rehabilitation, is still pleased with his progress.

“I’ve been tasked with overseeing his recovery from what was quite a serious injury, and it’s a slow process. We’ve mapped it out with the Titans and they send me video clips of every training session he does and a weekly report from the physio.

“It’s going slowly but the big positive is that we’re doing it properly and he’s not being rushed. Marchant is now bowling pain-free off a short run-up and we’re working towards him playing again in late December. But he definitely won’t be ready for the Tests against New Zealand,” Barnes said on Tuesday.

While everyone will be hoping De Lange’s return is not an anticlimax, there is another, more established bowler plotting his own return in Durban.

Lonwabo Tsotsobe missed the tour to the Antipodes because his form, and reportedly his attitude, were at odds with what was required. But Dolphins coach Lance Klusener on Tuesday praised his work ethic with his new franchise team.

“Lopsy has been extremely eager to get stuck in and while I’m really happy with his effort, I’m just sad that he hasn’t had the wickets to show for how hard he’s been training. He’s done his job really well for us, he’s just been unlucky and I’m sure wickets are just around the corner for him,” Klusener said.

Since South Africa’s return from the grim days of apartheid, their fast bowling stocks have been the envy of many — current bowling coach Allan Donald leading the way for the likes of Klusener, Shaun Pollock, Makhaya Ntini and now Steyn and Morkel.

Barnes believes newcomers such as Kleinveldt, Chris Morris and Hardus Viljoen have the potential to swell that list.

“We need to give Rory time, and the important thing is he’s getting better, not worse. And Chris and Hardus have both been quite impressive and both have good pace,” Barnes said.

And talented young fast bowlers such as Beuran Hendricks, Marcello Piedt, Graham Hume and Duanne Olivier have the potential to add their names to that list as well.

Barnes surprised by lack of success 0

Posted on July 01, 2012 by Ken

National selector Vinnie Barnes said on Tuesday that he was surprised both by South Africa’s lack of success in Zimbabwe and the conditions which the team played in during the T20 triangular series.

South Africa were hammered by nine wickets by Zimbabwe in the final of the tournament last weekend, having been beaten once each by both the hosts and Bangladesh in the round-robin stage.

“I was a bit surprised, I thought we’d play better. I know there was a bit of rustiness and they were up against international bowlers, especially the slower bowlers, who are world-class. It was also difficult for the batsmen because it was not easy just to come in and score runs,” Barnes said at the High Performance Centre in Pretoria on Tuesday.

“I was also surprised by the conditions. Last year when South Africa A played a triangular series with Zim and Australia A, the conditions weren’t like that at all. At the start, teams were defending 230 in 50 overs, but, by the end, teams were scoring 300.”

The T20 triangular series was regarded as a warm-up/trial for the ICC World Twenty20 Championship in Sri Lanka in September, and South Africa will probably be met by similar conditions on the sub-continental island.

“Some places in Sri Lanka will be similar, but at others you’ll be looking to defend 200. But the pitches will generally be slow and turning and the ball won’t be bouncing much,” Barnes conceded.

But the former national assistant coach said the trip should not be regarded as a failure, because it has brought more clarity to selection, some players advancing their cause and others dissuading the national selectors of their suitability.

“We definitely have more clarity now, it gives us ideas of what combinations will work. Gary Kirsten wanted specific players to rest for the tour and we wanted to have a look at fringe players, we wanted to know what was available for our best 15 for Sri Lanka,” Barnes said.

There has been a simmering air of discontent over South Africa’s strength in depth after the unexpected results, but Barnes, who is currently coaching the SA A team, put the inconsequential defeats into context.

“Lonwabo Tsotsobe is still the number one ranked bowler in limited-overs cricket, even though it was disappointing to see him not being so effective, and Wayne Parnell and Marchant de Lange are both quality bowlers who are coming up through the system.

“Our preparations this winter are all about the A team shadowing the national side and I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the energy and drive and ambition there is to play for the national team. It’s higher than I expected, even more than last year.

“A lot of time and effort is spent with the A team and we give them all the necessary tools to get them where they should be,” Barnes said.

As the South Africa A team prepare to do battle with Sri Lanka A in two four-day matches, plus a one-day triangular series in Zimbabwe against the same opposition and their neighbours, it would be stupid to write off the system that has served brilliantly as a pipeline in the past, based on one poor series of matches that were being used more as a trial than competitive outings.

Even though Quinton Friend is likely to sit out with a strained back, South Africa A will still field a top-class attack with De Lange, Rory Kleinveldt, Ryan McLaren, Chris Morris and Parnell all available, while leg-spinner Imran Tahir will be making a guest appearance in the first four-day match at Kingsmead.

A batting line-up featuring Faf du Plessis, Farhaan Berhardien, Dean Elgar, Colin Ingram, Heino Kuhn, Richard Levi, David Miller, Justin Ontong and Dane Vilas should certainly also engender a great deal of confidence, and a clearer picture of South Africa’s depth should emerge after SA A complete the four-dayers and the limited-overs triangular on July 21.

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