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Ken Borland

Faf says the ball-tampering saga showed the unity in the Proteas squad 0

Posted on December 04, 2016 by Ken


Triumphant Proteas captain Faf du Plessis returned to Johannesburg on Tuesday and described the whole ball-tampering saga as a ploy by the Australian media to disrupt the South African team, but said the farce had served as a powerful indicator of the unity within the squad.

A video of Du Plessis doing two entirely legal things at once – sucking a mint and using his saliva to shine the ball – went viral in Australia between the second and third Tests, leading to the International Cricket Council charging the captain with ball-tampering and later finding him guilty and fining him his entire match fee from the Hobart game, during which South Africa won the series.

“The Australian media used it as a ploy to derail us, they speak of themselves as the Australian team’s 12th man. The challenge was to fight back and it was remarkable the way the team fought the battle so firmly for me, it shows where we are as a team in terms of our strong culture.

“At first we didn’t think it was anything really serious, but the media made it a big issue until nobody could control it. It was very disappointing the way it turned out, but my character was tested and against all odds I was able to make a play, it showed I can withstand those tests,” Du Plessis, who made a century in the third Test, said.

Team manager Mohammed Moosajee said they will be arranging a date for the appeal hearing, at which Du Plessis will have his own legal representation from South Africa, with the ICC and it should be set by the end of this week.

Moosajee also revealed that Cricket South Africa had laid an official complaint with their Australian counterparts and broadcasters Channel 9 had apologised for the behaviour of their aggressive reporter who sparked a scuffle at Adelaide Airport.

While admitting that captaincy brought out the best in him, Du Plessis reiterated that he sees himself as the stand-in skipper for AB de Villiers, who is set to return for the Sri Lanka series next month.

“I’ve always enjoyed it, I feel it does bring out the best in me, but AB knows that I am 100% behind him. I’ve learnt a lot about myself as a leader and the great thing is that the team has three guys – myself, Hashim Amla and AB – who have been captains and we are all very similar in the way we want the culture of the team to move forward,” Du Plessis said.

South Africa are still only fifth in the Test rankings, however, with Australia third.

“Going up the rankings is a goal of ours but it won’t just happen, we need to take really small steps to get back to number one. But all the signs are there that we can get back there; Sri Lanka are a good team, they’re playing well, but if we beat them then I reckon we’ll be close to number two,” Du Plessis said.

Schwartzel the star of SA Open 2nd round, just 1 behind 0

Posted on March 16, 2015 by Ken

Charl Schwartzel was the star of the second round at the South African Open on Friday as he closed to within a stroke of leader Andy Sullivan at Glendower Golf Club.

Despite battling a badly bruised toe and still trying to rediscover his perfect swing, Schwartzel was able to make five birdies and an eagle, offsetting four bogeys, as he posted a 69 that took him to seven-under-par for the tournament, in second place behind Sullivan.

The Englishman, the joint leader overnight, went out from the 10th hole in three-under 33, but would make bogeys at the par-four fifth and seventh holes, before picking up a shot at the par-five eighth to finish with a 70 and eight-under-par overall.

Schwartzel also started on the 10th and had grafted through his round, playing his first 15 holes in one-over-par. But a spectacular birdie-eagle-birdie finish allowed the South African to make a dramatic surge up the leaderboard.

“I was just missing fairways by a little bit, or when I finally hit a good shot I would three-putt, so nothing was really going for me. But any time you finish like that, it turns your day into a much better one and nobody was more surprised than me!” Schwartzel said after his round.

Schwartzel has not had a top-10 finish on the European Tour since August’s Bridgestone Invitational WGC event and has been battling much-publicised swing problems. But on Friday his biggest wish would have been for carts to be allowed so he wouldn’t have to walk between holes after bashing his toe on some househould furniture in the build-up to the tournament.

“I’m trying to get an old feeling back in my swing and it’s the same with the putter, I’ve spent quite a few hours on the practice green. I’m just trying to remember what I used to do, even going as far back as my junior days, just trying to be more consistent.

“But my toe was worse today. There’s no real pain when I hit the ball, it’s just the walking that is very painful. But I’m not playing in pain otherwise I would withdraw,” Schwartzel said.

While South Africa’s highest-ranked golfer merely had to deal with stabbing pains in his toe, five-time champion and tournament host Ernie Els must have felt like Glendower had kneed him in the groin as he crashed down the leaderboard with a staggering bogey, triple-bogey, triple-bogey sequence from the eighth hole.

But Els has not won 67 professional tournaments and earned the equivalent of nearly a billion rand in prizemoney by being mentally fragile and he fought his way back with successive birdies on 13 and 14, before parring his way in for a 77. The host will nevertheless be around for the weekend and is only eight shots behind Sullivan on level-par for the tournament.

Jbe’ Kruger, who was tied for the lead with Sullivan overnight, had a disastrous day with an 80 and just scraped into the weekend on the cut-mark of two-over.

JJ Senekal was the other golfer to produce a top-class round on Friday, shooting a 67 to climb into a share of third with Denmark’s Lasse Jensen and fellow South African Colin Nel on six-under.

Sullivan, a jovial 28-year-old from Nuneaton, once again brought an aggressive approach to the tight parklands course and, apart from a wobble coming in, it paid off.

“The course was a bit tougher today but I’m happy with my round, I actually probably played a bit better today. The rough is brutal but yesterday I got away with it, while today I was punished a couple of times. But I attacked just as much,” Sullivan said.


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