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Ken Borland

Bulls youngsters have a lot on their plates, but Uys says there is clarity 0

Posted on June 28, 2022 by Ken

There’s a lot to think about for the young players at Loftus Versfeld these days: Trying to win the United Rugby Championship and the Currie Cup at the same time, and then next year having the European Champions Cup as another add-on to their plate.

And for an exciting prospect like loose forward Muller Uys, who also played club rugby for Tuks last weekend, there is the added pressure of trying to nail down a place in the Bulls URC squad.

The 23-year-old Uys will no doubt pack down at the back of the scrum for the Bulls on Friday night in their Currie Cup match against the Pumas, but with Cyle Brink injuring his knee against the Ospreys last weekend, there is likely to be a place in the match-day 23 for the following weekend’s quarterfinal against the Sharks.

Uys credits the set-up at Loftus for providing both clarity and motivation for all their players.

“When I get the chance, it’s my responsibility to show I am good enough to play URC,” Uys said on Tuesday. “I need to take ownership and show what I’m worth. There’s a clear plan and the players understand.

“In terms of training with the two squads, they make it easy for us to go from Currie Cup to URC, to slot into either side. The way we prepare, it’s 100% about the long-term and that will help a lot for next year.

“My career took a bit of a different turn with injury, but I must just take it day-by-day and keep learning. I must not think I’m too old or too good to learn. In a way I’ve started afresh.

“I played club rugby for Tuks last week, it was a nice way to get game-time, keep the skills sharp. It’s an opportunity to grow and learn because maybe there are things you haven’t seen there,” Uys said.

The Bulls Currie Cup side showed their ability when they totally dominated a URC-strength Lions team in their first half of their previous Currie Cup game, before sadly going off the boil in the second half. But the 43-37 win has nevertheless given them a timely confidence boost going into the last couple of rounds.

“We’ll carry a lot of confidence from that game because the Lions had a quality side and we manned up and really went well in the first half. There’s a lot of responsibility now for us to back up that performance,” Uys said.

“We matched up physically and did quite well against the Lions, we just had to manage the game better in the final 40 minutes, both with the ball and without ball-in-hand. The Pumas will not be much different to be honest,” assistant coach Hayden Groepes said.

Memorable triumph happening at Kingsmead will add to Proteas’ elation 0

Posted on May 03, 2022 by Ken

Routing the opposition for just 53 in 55 minutes on the final day made for a memorable triumph for the Proteas over Bangladesh on Monday, but the fact the remarkable victory in the first Test happened at Kingsmead will add to the elation for Dean Elgar and his team.

Keshav Maharaj destroyed the Bangladesh batting with 7/32 in 10 overs, the best ever figures for a South African bowler against them, and was ably supported by Simon Harmer (9-3-21-3) as the Proteas surged to victory by 220 runs.

It is only the Proteas’ second win at Kingsmead in their last 10 Tests there dating back to 2009; as a venue it had become a nemesis for them and finally enjoying a tremendous win at their hoodoo ground no doubt contributed to the emotion the players displayed.

“I’ve caught quite a few hidings here,” Elgar, who seemed to be choking back tears during the post-match presentation, said later. “This is the first Test I’ve been part of a winning side here.

“So it’s nice to have victory on our side for a change. The way we played is not the style we are generally used to or the way we want to play, but we showed a lot of character and the resources to adapt.

“Fast bowling is still our prime source of attack, but we play quite a lot in the subcontinent so it’s great to have two spinners bowling in tandem like Keshav and Simon did.

“How awesome was it to see them have the ball on a string and absolutely dominating. It was great to see them competing at such high levels and I think most batting line-ups would have had a tough task against them,” Elgar said.

South African cricket has certainly undergone a sea change in terms of mindset towards using spinners. Given the assistance that an excellent Kingsmead pitch also provided the seam bowlers, Elgar could have resorted to type and backed his pacemen more, especially with the new ball.

“Even if the IPL guys were here, Keshav and Simon would still have bowled most of the overs,” Elgar stated. “My style of captaincy is to play positive cricket and to be ruthless.

“It’s about making bold, brash decisions to take the players out of their comfort zone. It was purely my gut feel to give the spinners the new ball, and the coaches allow me to do me during the game.

“I want to see players put their hands up and make big contributions for the team. I could have bowled the seamers, but I wanted to be ruthless.

“It’s about exposing the players to the level I expect them to play at, and the only way guys coming in are going to know what is needed at this level is through exposure,” Elgar said.

‘Just add it to my tab,’ Smith can say as India tour is confirmed; but Omicron still a threat so no spectators allowed 0

Posted on January 13, 2022 by Ken

“Just add it to my tab,” Graeme Smith would be justified in saying as India’s tour to South Africa was confirmed and in no small part due to the excellent relationship CSA’s director of cricket enjoys with Sourav Ganguly and Virat Kohli.

Although India will arrive a week later than the scheduled date of December 9, they will still be playing three Tests and three ODIs in December/January. The four T20s that were meant to be played have, however, been postponed, although CSA are confident that they will be played sometime in 2022.

Many in India seemed to be itching to ditch the tour in light of the Omicron variant of Covid now sweeping the world, but those in the know say the respect former Proteas captain Smith is held in by BCCI president Ganguly and India captain Kohli, helped sway the most powerful team in world cricket.

Given that the broadcast rights alone are worth at least $100 million, Smith has saved financially-troubled CSA hundreds of millions of rand.

The first Test will now start on Boxing Day (December 26) and be played at SuperSport Park in Centurion, while the Wanderers will now host the New Years Test, from January 3. Newlands in Cape Town unfortunately again misses out on their traditional New Years Test, but they will stage the third and final Test from January 11/12.

The ODI series is scheduled for the Cape thereafter.

Omicron is still considered a threat to the tour, however, so it is likely that no spectators will be allowed at the games, insiders say. The number of Covid cases in the country has been rising rapidly, so CSA have had to put a lot of planning into ensuring their bio-secure bubbles in Gauteng and Cape Town will be based on the strictest protocols.

2022 is another T20 World Cup year and CSA are confident India will return to complete their tour with four T20 matches, worth around $20 million each, before the global showpiece is held in Australia in October/November.

India are currently playing their second and last Test against New Zealand, which is due to finish on December 7, and the uncertainty surrounding quarantines has led to their departure being delayed by a week.

Lions to bring a top-class attack to a typically lively Wanderers pitch 0

Posted on December 09, 2021 by Ken

The Central Gauteng Lions will be bringing a top-class bowling attack to their opening CSA 4-Day Series match versus the North-West Dragons on Friday and have promised a typically lively Wanderers pitch to add to what is bound to be a spicy affair against their former franchise team-mates.

History suggests Duanne Olivier, who has taken 13 wickets at an average of 14 in his two Tests at the Wanderers, will be a handful as he leads an attack that will also include Lutho Sipamla, Sisanda Magala and Malusi Siboto, providing a daunting test of technique and nerve for the North-West batsmen.

“I expect a very intense match against North-West,” Lions coach Wandile Gwavu told The Citizen on Thursday, “because there are some deep relationships between players who spent years and years in the same side, so there will be some emotion.

“But the most important thing is for us to concentrate on our skills, because that’s what will be tested. We’re not going to hide it, we’re not going to make it easy for the opposition at the Wanderers.

“We’ve only lost one four-day game here in the last two seasons, so it goes without saying that we have played some really good cricket here. Other teams can’t just come here and expect to get a result,” Gwavu said.

Lions captain Dominic Hendricks echoed his coach in saying batting is going to be hard work.

“I imagine it’s going to be tough for batsmen, with the overhead conditions and a pretty seam-friendly pitch. So if you get in, you have to make sure you cash in.

“It’s going to be a bit weird playing against some of our former team-mates. They’re obviously guys who are disappointed not to be playing for us, so they’ll have a couple of points to prove. I think a new rivalry might be building, much like the one we have with the Titans,” Hendricks said.

Speaking of the Titans, it is their batting that will also be the focus when they host the Eastern Province Warriors at Centurion.

Although they made the final last season, they are without the three batsmen who had the highest average last season – Aiden Markram, injured Dean Elgar and Heinrich Klaasen.

Nevertheless, they can bat deep with all-rounders Dayyaan Galiem, Simon Harmer and Chris Morris all named in the Northerns squad on Thursday.

The other Division I matches tomorrow see Western Province hosting KZN Coastal and Boland Rocks visiting the Free State Knights.

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