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Ken Borland

More words written about Teeger than for any other U19 captain, but what of his successor, Juan James? 0

Posted on February 21, 2024 by Ken

More words have been written about former SA U19 captain David Teeger in the last week than for any other skipper ever before in the build-up to the junior world cup, but what about his successor, Juan James?

The 19-year-old James has more experience than Teeger, being 96 days older and having already played senior first-class cricket for Western Province and North-West.

The furore that followed Teeger’s comments supporting the Israeli defence force, the subsequent investigation into what he said at the Jewish Achievers Awards in October, his not guilty verdict but then Cricket South Africa’s decision to strip him of the captaincy anyway, would have made most teenagers exceedingly unhappy and one could have forgiven the national U19 team for going into their showpiece tournament feeling bitter and gloomy.

But this SA U19 squad is made of much more sterner stuff and it seems they have been able to handle the whole controversy more maturely and sensibly than their so-called adult leaders on the CSA Board.

Teeger’s comments, which were made five days before Israel’s large-scale invasion of Gaza, were the subject of no-holds-barred questioning from his team-mates when the squad did media training ahead of their world cup.

Other questions dealt with quotas and matchfixing.

Perhaps this willingness to engage with each other and confront any issues head on is why the team has been able to rally around each other in the wake of Teeger’s controversial axing as captain.

“The whole thing has not affected us at all,” James said earlier this week. “We are a very tight bunch and we stick to our processes as a team.

“David is taking the disappointment very well, he told me that he will give me his full backing and he is prepared to give everything in trying to score runs and take wickets for the team.”

They certainly showed more resolve and ability to handle tough situations than many other South African teams at world cups when they held off a ferocious challenge from the West Indies to win their opening game by 31 runs in Potchefstroom.

Teeger scored 44 and took an important wicket, and appeared to be leading them during the West Indian run-chase when James left the field with an injury.

The Caledon-born James made his senior first-class debut last season for North-West, but Western Province quickly decided to find the finances and bring him back home for this season. Before heading to Potchefstroom University, James had attended Wynberg High School and played club cricket for Ottomans.

While he has batted down the order for the SA U19s and been used more as a very handy off-spin bowler, he has batted at number six for the Western Province senior side.

Having been introduced to the game by his father as a three-year-old in the backyard, James is determined to make full use of every opportunity available to him. His most impressive first-class innings so far came against the Titans at SuperSport Park last season when he came in as a concussion substitute and lashed 37 off just 35 balls.

“It wasn’t a lot of runs, but it was definitely a confidence boost for me because it was the first time I felt I belonged at that level,” James said.

Teeger’s blacklisting by CSA has placed James firmly in the spotlight, but he has captained the SA U19s before, during their series in Bangladesh in July last year.

“It’s second nature for me and the team seems to be engaging quite well with me,” James said ahead of the World Cup. “I’m a fairly relaxed captain, I just want everyone to be themselves.

“But I do like to take the opposition on. I like to take control as a captain, but I don’t mind getting ideas from my team-mates.”

Central Gauteng Lions batsmen show there is light at the end of the batting tunnel 0

Posted on December 30, 2023 by Ken

There has obviously not been too much to get excited about lately in terms of South African batsmanship, but the Central Gauteng Lions are showing that there is perhaps light at the end of the tunnel.

They clinched the One-Day Cup title shortly before the New Year with the most powerful of batting displays in the final at the Wanderers – amassing 358/5 to beat Western Province by 62 runs.

It was no one-off either – the Lions won seven of their eight games in the 50-over competition thanks to their batting. Their top seven all averaged over 40 and the lowest strike-rate was the 78.62 of opening batsman Josh Richards, who generally played the anchor role.

Ryan Rickelton was the leading run-scorer in the tournament with 452, 91 ahead of Tristan Stubbs; while Evan Jones, the finisher, averaged 148 with a strike-rate of 149.

But beyond just the sheer scale of the numbers, what was just as impressive about the Lions’ batting effort was the clear growth that was evident in all of their individual games. It was not that long ago that the Gauteng batting line-up was considered too top-heavy for white-ball cricket, while last season it was their top-order that struggled.

Coach Wandile Gwavu and his assistants deserve great credit, and Gwavu said there was a moment in the final when they were able to ponder and appreciate just how far they have come.

“I was actually having a conversation with Ryan Rickelton and Wiaan Mulder during the game and we were admiring the growth in individual games that we were seeing. We spoke about how much everyone had invested in the growth of their own technical games and as human beings,” Gwavu told The Citizen.

“What’s stood out for me in the last four years has been how the batsmen have learnt to understand their games and their roles.

“And we’ve also mastered how to play at the Wanderers, the majority of our six hundreds were scored there. We’ve got to know our own conditions and how to dominate, the batsmen make sure they stand up and be matchwinners. If it’s difficult to bat there for other people, then we have the inside lane.

“Last season when we won the tournament the bowlers dominated for us, but this year was the opportunity for the batsmen to step up. Last season we were always three down for nothing, so it shows we have adapted.

“Especially batting against spin, which has often been a Lions problem. This season it was a stand-out how we played spin away from home – neutralising the likes of George Linde at Newlands, Prenelan Subrayen at Kingsmead and the Warriors attack in Gqeberha,” Gwavu said.

The bowling effort was also special, however. Spinner Bjorn Fortuin and seamers Malusi Siboto, Wiaan Mulder, Lutho Sipamla and Sisanda Magala were just a relentless unit. Magala, who is almost always bowling in the powerplay, was the most expensive of the quintet, going for 6.30 runs-per-over, but he was the leading wicket-taker with 17 in seven matches.

Fortuin and Siboto, who took 12 wickets along with Sipamla, both conceded less than five runs an over.

“Our attack took every opportunity to put the opposition under pressure,” Gwavu said. “There are a lot of good players in that attack, but they all had very clear bowling roles and responsibilities. We were very particular about which players we used in which conditions.

“The standout for me was how we bowled at the death. I knew we could take wickets, but we were also always very calm in our execution,” Gwavu said.

The coach said another mistake fixed this season was one of his own. Although the Lions had a clear core of first-choice players, other squad members, like Tladi Bokako, Duanne Olivier and Liam Alder, were mixed into that

“I made the mistake in the T20 competition of playing the same team all the time, so that was also one of the learnings,” Gwavu said. “You only know how good players are if you give them more opportunity.

“You’re never going to win a competition with just 11 players because you always have injuries or someone off-form. You need to be able to shift players around.

“Dominic Hendricks [the captain] managed it all very well on the field as well,” Gwavu said.

Proteas secure draw to avoid last round of smarmy remarks 0

Posted on December 30, 2023 by Ken

The Proteas at least spared themselves one last round of smarmy remarks about their abilities as they secured a draw in the third and final Test against Australia at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Sunday.

Having already lost the series 2-0, South Africa needed to bat through the final day with 14 wickets in hand. Simon Harmer and Keshav Maharaj showed some stout resistance in the lower-order as the Proteas made 255 in their first innings.

It was just 21 runs shy of avoiding the follow-on, but it did at least mean there were only 47 overs left for them to survive in the final day’s play, and they comfortably batted themselves to safety on 106/2.

Captain Dean Elgar’s torrid tour continued as he was once again caught down the leg-side, sparring at a lifter, from opposite number Pat Cummins, having struggled to 10.

But his opening partner, Sarel Erwee, was looking solid, and Heinrich Klaasen, in the unaccustomed position of No.3, batted with a lot more positivity than in the first innings as they added 48 for the second wicket.

Klaasen was eventually bowled for 35 as Josh Hazlewood, making an impressive return from injury, snuck a superb reverse-swinger through his defences.

But Erwee fought through to 42 not out in 125 balls at the crease, Temba Bavuma being with him on 17 not out when the captains agreed to call it a draw with five overs remaining.

Earlier, the effort of Harmer and Maharaj, adding 85 for the eighth wicket either side of lunch showed that the fighting spirit in the Proteas side is probably still kosher.

Harmer was well-equipped for a long stay at the crease, deserving great praise for his defiant 47 in three-and-a-half hours, while Maharaj did his utmost to see South Africa past the follow-on score with his 53 off 81 balls. He got himself in first, and then backed his attacking game as he struck six fours and a six, pulling especially well.

South Africa had begun the final day on 149/6 and Marco Jansen extended his tenacious stay at the crease, batting for more than an hour-and-a-half in scoring 11 off 78 balls before edging part-time off-spinner Travis Head to the wicketkeeper.

Hazlewood eventually broke South Africa’s resistance in an excellent spell after lunch. Using a hint of reverse-swing, he trapped Maharaj lbw and then bowled Harmer off the inside-edge, to finish with 4/48 in 23 overs.

‘Moving Day’ not about building a lead for Homa but consolidation 0

Posted on November 11, 2023 by Ken

Max Homa of the USA plays his second shot on the 13th hole during the third round of the Nedbank Golf Challenge at Gary Player CC on Saturday.
(Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)

The third round of a golf tournament – colloquially known as ‘Moving Day’ – is often about building a healthy lead heading into the final round, but for Max Homa, Saturday at the Gary Player Country Club was all about consolidation and the world number eight has fought off numerous challengers to end the penultimate day of the Nedbank Golf Challenge with a one-stroke lead.

Beginning the third round tied for the lead with Matthieu Pavon, Homa dropped just one stroke on Saturday and that was the key to his pre-eminent position heading into the final round. What he described as a “squirrelly” start saw the American bogey the par-three fourth hole, but he immediately birdied the fifth to cut Pavon’s lead back to one shot.

The key moment of the day came on the par-five 10th as Homa holed his bunker shot for eagle. Another birdie for the 32-year-old on the next par-five, the 14th, ensured he would lead alone after Pavon dropped shots on 15 and 16.

Homa posted a three-under-par 69 on Saturday to finish on 13-under overall, with Pavon’s 70 leaving him on 12-under. Nicolai Hojgaard’s 69, containing three bogeys as well as six birdies, lifted him to 11-under-par with Thorbjorn Olesen, whose only bogey came on the 16th, as he also shot 69.

“I didn’t swing so well to start, it was all a bit scrappy, but I hit the ball really well for the last 10 holes, I just didn’t sink anything,” Homa said after his round. “It felt like I was hitting good shots but not capitalising, things weren’t going my way before that nice bunker shot on 10, that was a lovely boost.

“I gave myself a lot of looks today and the plan tomorrow is to make a few more putts. It’s a dream and an honour just to have the opportunity to win this tournament, which has a tremendous history. Every day we walk past the winners’ plaques at the ninth green, it’s an impressive list and I would love to add my name to that legacy. All I can do is put myself in the best position to do that,” Homa said.

Pavon was okay with his position after a boiling hot, gruelling day at Sun City, nestled like a kiln between the Pilanesberg mountains. Before his late bogeys on the 15th and 16th holes, the Frenchman had been four-under for his round, not bad going in the testing conditions with the wind also having picked up.

“It was nice to start well with three birdies in the first seven holes, but overall it was a real grind today. It was hard, the pins are in tricky places and it was all about managing your game. It was also a very long day – five-and-a-half hours, which is too long in that heat and intensity, you drain a lot of energy.

“It was good to walk away with two pars, that was a very solid finish. It’s always nice having won a few weeks ago [the Spanish Open on October 15], so my confidence is pretty high and my game feels good,” Pavon said.

The chances of a South African winner, for the first time since Branden Grace in 2017, seem to be drying up with Hennie du Plessis still the leading local, but on five-under, eight shots off the lead. Three birdies in the first five holes on Saturday were considerable hops up the leaderboard, but he then slumped back with five bogeys leaving him with a 74.

Dan Bradbury, whose rapid rise from nowhere to prominence is one of the stories of the season, had a day of astronomical ups and downs, a bogey at the last leaving him on 10-under-par in fifth place.

On the 195m, par-three foirth, he was inches away from claiming a hole-in-one, but he followed up that birdie with another one on the fifth. The Joburg Open winner went out in two-under 34 after a bogey on the par-four eighth and a birdie on the par-five ninth.

The back nine was an epic rollercoaster for the Englishman. He left his birdie putt on the par-five 11th just short and then bogeyed the par-three 12th. He missed another birdie opportunity on the par-fibe 14th with a terrible close-range miss, but them made a marvellous 25ft putt for par on 15, followed by a massive 34-footer for birdie on the 16th.

Like many others, he then found himself in trouble on the 18th, the toughest hole in the third round, when he missed the green right and chipped out of the rough, 17 feet past the flag, failing to make the par-putt.

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    Philemon 1:7 – “Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints.”

    “Every disciple of Jesus has a capacity for love. The most effective way to serve the Master is to share his love with others. Love can comfort, save the lost, and offer hope to those who need it. It can break down barriers, build bridges, establish relationships and heal wounds.” – A Shelter From The Storm, Solly Ozrovech

    If there’s a frustrating vacuum in your spiritual life and you fervently desire to serve the Lord but don’t know how you’re meant to do that, then start by loving others in his name.


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