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Ken Borland

Competitiveness of Sharks youngsters on display after suspension of April 0

Posted on August 03, 2016 by Ken


The competitiveness of some of the Sharks’ youngsters will be on display early on in the Currie Cup with the suspension of Garth April for a breach of team protocol allowing 19-year-old Curwin Bosch an early chance to shine in the flyhalf position against the Pumas in Nelspruit on Friday.

The exact nature of April’s ill-discipline has not been revealed but it is obviously another blow to an exciting prospect whose game has gone dramatically backwards since his inclusion in the Springbok squad as more of an observer than anything else, culminating in a shellshocked display in the awful Wellington weather in the SuperRugby quarterfinal against the Hurricanes.

Bosch, a star member of the South African team at the Junior World Cup in June, made three appearances off the bench in SuperRugby, while he will have two debutants outside him in the backline in wing Neil Maritz and outside centre Lukhanyo Am.

“There’s great competition with the youngsters, which is fantastic. Hopefully we can expose them at that level and they will learn a lot. We’re blessed to have basically the same pack as in SuperRugby, which will give us great confidence, but there are a couple of new guys in the backline. But I’m very excited and positive about what lies ahead,” coach Robert du Preez said.

The former Springbok scrumhalf said he hoped some of the attacking ambition that was unborn in SuperRugby would now come to fruition in the Currie Cup.

“We had a good SuperRugby season, the focus was on sorting out our defence and I think we did that quite successfully, although we did leak tries towards the end of the competition. But the Currie Cup is certainly about attacking rugby, that’s our focus now. Defence is obviously a major part of what a team is about, but we want to play rugby that inspires,” Du Preez said.

Sharks team – Odwa Ndungane, Neil Maritz, Lukhanyo Am, Andre Esterhuizen, S’bura Sithole, Curwin Bosch, Michael Claassens, Philip van der Walt, Jean-Luc du Preez, Keegan Daniel (c), Stephan Lewies, Etienne Oosthuizen, Lourens Adriaanse, Franco Marais, Dale Chadwick. Bench: Chiliboy Ralepelle, Thomas du Toit, Ruan Botha, Tera Mtembu, Stefan Ungerer, Innocent Radebe, Heimar Williams.

Markram rumours wide of the mark, but 4 other Titans will leave 0

Posted on March 14, 2016 by Ken


The rumours that junior world cup winning captain Aiden Markram could be lost to South African cricket are wide of the mark with the 21-year-old confirming on Tuesday that he has signed a contract with the Titans, who will, however, be losing four of their talented youngsters ahead of next season.

Markram will be spending the off-season playing for Walkden in the Bolton League, but the promising top-order batsman will be back in time for what is already shaping up as a massive summer for him. Especially since Theunis de Bruyn and Graeme van Buuren, two of his team-mates in the all-conquering Tuks side, are moving on to fresh pastures. Corbin Bosch, the opening bowler for Markram’s triumphant SA U19 team, has already relocated to Australia, having failed to break into the Titans team this season.

The Titans have also lost out on the services of wicketkeeper/batsman Mangaliso Mosehle, who is moving to the Highveld Lions next season.

Van Buuren has earned a two-year contract with Gloucestershire and, because his wife Hannah, the former Tuks conditioning coach, was born in London and has a British passport, he will try to qualify for England.

De Bruyn, one of the brightest batting talents in the country, will be moving to the Knights for the 2016/17 season, opening the way for Markram to play more regular franchise cricket, having made just two Momentum One-Day Cup appearances this season.

“I’m looking forward to spending the off-season in different conditions and growing my game, but I’m happy with where I am in my career. Any opportunity I get for the Titans I’m just going to try and take, but at the moment I’m really focusing on my preparation. At school, there might be four or five good players in the opposition, but in senior cricket there’s a lot more good players, so it takes time to work out how to play at that level. But the more cricket you play, the faster you learn,” Markram told The Citizen on Tuesday.

Van Buuren has been a highly-valued performer for the Titans, averaging 45 in the Momentum One-Day Cup and 30 in the RamSlam T20 Challenge, as well as bowling economical left-arm spin, but with doors opening up for him in county cricket, it was only natural that he would seize the opportunity.

“I’m not going with any regrets, I’m not at all complaining about anything, I owe the Titans for everything I’ve achieved, having played for them since Northerns U7s 18 years ago. So I’m very thankful to them, but this is a great opportunity in terms of my career as a professional cricketer and not a lot of players have this chance.

“I’m excited for something new, an unbelievable opportunity and a new chapter. Obviously I want to play international cricket, that’s the main reason for playing because you always want to push yourself to be the best. I’ll qualify for England when I’m 29 and until then I’ll just let things take their course,” Van Buuren told The Citizen.

Self-awareness is Mahatlane’s new mantra for U19s 0

Posted on September 15, 2014 by Ken

Lawrence Mahatlane is the new man tasked with the vital job of developing the best U19 talent in the country and he firmly believes that making those youngsters more self-aware will be the key to them succeeding at senior level, when the pressure on them becomes really serious.

It’s a fact of biology that the age-groups Mahatlane are dealing with can be almost too self-aware, self-conscious and unassured, but the 37-year-old is experienced in handling youngsters and he believes that giving them confidence in their techniques will provide them with great security out on the field.

“My job is to get them ready, mentally as much as anything, for senior cricket. It’s about how they adapt to match situations and we need to accelerate the process of their up-skilling. It’s all linked in to their self-awareness. Are they comfortable with their own technique?

“Technical matters can create doubt – thinking about your head falling over or your hands not going through the ball while you’re batting is not ideal. If you’re worrying about your technique, worried about where your toes are pointing when someone as fast as Dale Steyn is running in to bowl at you, then you’re in a lot of trouble.

“A player is going to run into a hundred coaches through his career and if he’s not self-aware, he will struggle emotionally. You need to understand your technique and grow with it. The game is a lot more about the mental aspect higher up and the youngsters need to be able to survive the heat.

“So that’s why I had all my squad fill in questionnaires about how they see their own games. By writing it down, they become more self-aware and then we have video analysis to see if they are actually doing it – it’s a different thing doing it under pressure in the middle,” Mahatlane explained.

Mahatlane’s method forces the youngsters into honing their techniques so they become second-nature.

“When you first start driving a car, you have to work really hard on using the clutch correctly and that’s your focus. But after a while you just do it naturally and it’s the same with cricket. You must deal with the technical issues in the winter so that you don’t even have to think about it when you’re in a match.”

The former Highveld Lions assistant coach faces the daunting task of replacing Ray Jennings straight after the former senior national coach won the ICC U19 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates in March, with some critics chanting the usual insulting allegations of political expediency and affirmative action.

But to be fair, Jennings had been at the helm of the U19s for 10 years and was always going to leave sooner rather than later. Nevertheless, many feel that Mahatlane has been given a hospital pass.

“I don’t see it as daunting, I see it as exciting. At this age-group, every year there is change and growth and if players are going to perform at such a young age, then they need to be mentored better and for longer,” the popular radio commentator said.

Although he was a talented player himself, the St Martins and St Stithians educated Mahatlane knew his future was in coaching. He first worked with the SA U19s in 2002 as the assistant coach and the next year, he was in charge as the team won the Junior Commonwealth Games title, and he also worked under current Proteas coach Russell Domingo in the 2004 Junior World Cup in Bangladesh.

He would then leave the juniors and take up the position of Gauteng Strikers coach, leading them to the three-day title in 2006/7 and the limited-overs crown the following season. Promotion to the Highveld Lions coaching staff followed, before he took a break from coaching in 2011 and began working as a cricket commentator.

Mahatlane is adopting a long-term view with the national U19s, with his focus being the 2016 Junior World Cup in Bangladesh.

“At this age-group, every year there is change and growth, different individuals putting their hands up. There are only three players eligible from the World Cup-winning squad, so the rest are guys that just missed out or boys that have newly become eligible. Which makes it quite a challenge.

“I’ve planned the process of how best to prepare for 2016 in Bangladesh, we need to get ourselves ready, mentally as much as anything. We need to accelerate the process of getting these players up-skilled and there are three tiers of players involved – those who are in matric now, those already at varsity and the ones with 18 months still to go in the U19 age-group.

“It’s not even just about cricket – the guys have to get used to being forced to make a three-hour drive from their hotel to the cricket ground, the sound of all the hooters, the smells of the sub-continent; they cannot be shocked when they arrive at the World Cup,” Mahatlane said.

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