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Ken Borland



SACA gets involved in De Kock fray 0

Posted on December 06, 2021 by Ken

The players union gets involved in Proteas matters when the team as a whole is affected by an issue and that’s exactly why the South African Cricketers’ Association have been offering their support to the squad over the last 24 hours in the wake of the Quinton de Kock ‘taking a knee’ controversy, CEO Andrew Breetzke said on Wednesday.

De Kock withdrew from the Proteas’ T20 World Cup match against the West Indies a couple of hours before the start after Cricket South Africa issued a directive on the morning of the game instructing all players to take a knee in support of Black Livers Matter.

While CSA are awaiting a report from team management before deciding on what action to take, and De Kock spent Wednesday with agent Dave Rundle crafting a statement to explain his actions, SACA have been actively involved in protecting the interests of the team as a whole.

“It’s a complex and complicated scenario and our focus has been on supporting the team over the last 24 hours,” Breetzke told The Citizen on Wednesday. “But we’ve engaged with Quinton a lot too.

“The timing of CSA’s directive has been destructive to the team environment at the World Cup. While SACA would have preferred a unified team stance on taking the knee, the players’ stance has not changed in 12 months.

“So this directive by the CSA Board should have been made before the World Cup and not during the tournament. The timing of the directive is the problem for the players. We always seem to have issues at world cups,” Breetzke said.

Although the players have not been able to come up with a unified response to supporting BLM, Breetzke said “This current Proteas team has had more culture camps and discussions about diversity under Temba Bavuma than any other Proteas side.”

While the cricketing world eagerly awaits De Kock’s explanation for the stance he took, the fallout has continued with unconfirmed reports from India saying his IPL franchise, the Mumbai Indians, will not be re-engaging his services at the next auction. But after a fairly average last season for them, they might have been looking to move on anyway from a big earner with a reported $500 000 contract.

The Big Bash League in Australia has, however, already put out the welcome mat for De Kock should he no longer be playing for the Proteas this summer.

“We encourage our players to think about the issues and express their views as they see appropriate,” Cricket Victoria CEO Nick Cummins told The Daily Telegraph in Australia.

“We would certainly be interested in a player of his calibre to come to the BBL. It would be great for the competition.”

Readers will find the connection between Player’s life story & Higgo’s 0

Posted on July 07, 2021 by Ken

Readers of Gary Player’s life story will know how much South Africa’s greatest golfer was affected by losing his mother at a young age, but ironically it has been the tragedy that connects him to one of this country’s best rising talents – Garrick Higgo.

Player’s mother Muriel succumbed to cancer in 1943, when he was just eight years old. The last time he saw her was on Christmas Day, two days later she died. Player has said that something broke in him that day and he has been trying to fix it ever since, which partly explains the remarkable passion and tenacity of one of the hardest-working sports stars there has ever been.

Higgo was introduced to golf by his father Guillermo, but in 2008, when he was just nine, the family, which includes two siblings, were involved in a car crash, hit by another vehicle, and his Dad was fatally injured.

“I met Gary Player just after that because we both had a holiday home at Plettenberg Bay and we used to play and practise a lot together, play nine holes in the afternoon. His Mom died when he was eight, which was around the age I was when I lost my Dad. So we connected, it is a real and amazing connection, and it’s been there since before all the good things happened to me.

“It was only when I was around 12 or 13 that I totally understood who Gary Player is. I would be watching the Majors and I would see Gary’s name always popping up. He calls me a lot and he has really helped my game and especially the mental aspects of it,” Higgo says of his remarkable friendship with someone more than sixty years his senior.

It is Higgo who is now playing in the Majors and the lessons Player, who won nine times on golf’s biggest stages, has imparted should stand him in very good stead. The 22-year-old made his Major debut in May at the PGA Championship and made the cut, before really getting to grips with the brutal Kiawah Island course with a 69 in the final round that saw him rise into a tie for 64th.

In last weekend’s U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, Higgo missed the cut by two strokes, but one should take into account the hectic build-up the Paul Roos Gymnasium product had to that tournament. In a way, Higgo was the victim of his own success as he won the Palmetto Championship the week before, in just his second PGA Tour start.

And with a clearly emotional and overjoyed Player giving Higgo a phone call at the winner’s press conference, the U.S. media understandably had a new sensation to focus on, especially given his three wins in the last year on the European Tour.

“It had an impact because I was very tired mentally, each one of my wins has changed my life and the one on the U.S. PGA Tour the most significantly. My caddy, who is also my best friend, also had to fly back before the U.S. Open because his wife went into labour. So I wasn’t exactly fresh going in, but I played alright and just had a couple of bad bounces.

“I’m learning from each week I play and it made it tough winning the week before the U.S. Open. I didn’t play my best, I was mentally drained, I had a different caddy and I just missed the cut. And I’ve learnt so far in the Majors that you’ve got to have everything working, you have to do everything well. You can’t lose focus, if you are slightly off-line you will be punished.

“But the more I play in the Majors, the better I’ll get. I need to tighten up on my misses and just get more comfortable with everything going on,” Higgo said this week.

Naturally, he knows there is still plenty of room for improvement in his game as well.

“A couple of things in my swing were a bit off so I went back to a draw, that’s the way I like to hit it, I’ve gone back to what is comfortable for me. I’ve also had to work on my short-game technique because the pins are always tucked here in America; I needed to figure out how to get a lot more spin on my chips and get them shorter.

“I wold say my strengths are my mental game, putting and the short game, those are definitely my strongest suits, and my iron play has always been solid. I’m a little streaky off the tee though, I’m generally straight and can hit it a decent distance, but I would like to hit a lot more fairways,” Higgo said.

With arguably the best mental mentor one could have in Player, Higgo certainly seems equipped with the right stuff to keep making waves in world golf. And armed with a simple philosophy, it is understandable why the left-hander has been able to win so quickly at every new rung of the golfing ladder he has climbed.

“I treat every event the same, I don’t make them into big things, whether it’s a Big Easy Tour event or a PGA tournament, and I think that helps mentally. The other guys in a PGA event are obviously going to be better than those in a Big Easy tournament, but I don’t worry about them really, I’m just focused on my own game.”

With the sort of start to his international career Higgo has made, it is the opposition who are surely going to be worrying about him more and more.

Not surprising to see Walt play with extreme vigour after his Covid nightmare 0

Posted on May 28, 2021 by Ken

It is not that surprising to see young Bulls lock Walt Steenkamp playing with extreme vigour in the Rainbow Cup, given that the 25-year-old came down with Covid at the end of last year, which then affected his heart, meaning he only returned to the field three weeks ago.

Steenkamp came down with a particularly virulent but rare strain of the Covid-19 virus that attacks the heart muscle, leaving him with arrhythmia, a condition in which his heart-rate struggles to return to normal after exercise. It actually required surgery in which the misfiring electrical signals are corrected.

“After five months of not playing it’s lovely to be back and playing in a winning team again. But it was quite heavy going through that, I will take nothing for granted again when it comes to playing rugby, it was a big fright. Fortunately the doctors never said I would definitely have to give up rugby, so I always believed I would come back.

“I actually had to have the operation twice, it’s called an ablation – they insert catheters that destroy the tissue that’s causing the abnormal heart signals, turn it into scar tissue. I had just 20% heart function before the operations but it’s all perfect now. And I really value being back in the lovely culture of this team,” Steenkamp said this week.

The former Free State Cheetahs and North-West Leopards star has made a big impact since joining the Bulls last November and has made some major plays, especially a crucial lineout steal five metres from their own line against the Sharks when the Bulls had just gone 19-9 up last weekend. Steenkamp clearly has a big engine, he is mobile but also a big-hitter in the physical exchanges.

But even as a relative youngster, Steenkamp has noticed how the game of rugby is changing, which presents fresh challenges, especially in terms of adapting to the new way tackles are being refereed, which many people consider a cancer in the game.

“Rugby has changed a lot, but Jake White is a mastermind, he knows what it takes to win and we’re doing the right things at the moment. The rules now make it harder to do what locks used to do. There’s more focus on fitness now and we have to be more careful, especially when it comes to tackles,” Steenkamp said.

Good things have happened recently as well … 0

Posted on December 19, 2015 by Ken

 

Some awful things have happened in South Africa over the last 10 days, reflecting themselves in a depressing pall of negativity over a land that seems to have forgotten the miracle of the Rainbow Nation. Even us sports writers, fortunate as we are to pursue a career in something we love, are affected by the politics of the day.

Of course the results of our sporting heroes – and let’s be honest it’s been a poor year for South Africa – do affect us as well, although I always try to remember that it’s only a game. It’s far more important what sport can achieve in terms of bringing people together and changing lives.

So I’m delighted to report some good news in these tough times, a few encouraging things that have happened.

It is not easy to achieve complete transformation and equality because change is usually met with resistance and there is centuries of injustice to correct. It is difficult to come up with the right answers when one is trying to ensure representivity but also endeavouring to maintain standards and also do the right thing by the people you are trying to uplift.

It was most encouraging then to see our Springbok Sevens team triumph in the Cape Town stage of the World Series and do it with a fully transformed side. Following the blows to rugby’s transformation record at the 15-man World Cup, it was a timely reminder that there is plenty of black talent out there, it just needs to be nurtured.

Cricket had its own transformation scandal during their World Cup earlier in the year but it still seemed a low blow when Mark Nicholas, a former English county cricketer now commentating on Australian TV, suggested that South Africa will be the next international team to be “severely threatened” by the same disintegration that has afflicted West Indian cricket.

The financial situation outside of the Big Three is obviously a concern for Cricket South Africa, although it is ironic that the plummeting of the rand probably helps them (due to the sale of television rights in dollars) while it spells grave danger for rugby. But CEO Haroon Lorgat, a qualified chartered accountant, is a forward-thinking man and the organisation is running in a much leaner, efficient fashion than before.

Whatever White South Africans might think, the future of this country’s sport is Black – it’s simple economics and obvious when one considers the population.

The RamSlam T20 Challenge final at Centurion was a top-class evening, boasting great cricket, a sell-out crowd – one of the best I’ve seen for a domestic match since the days of isolation – and even the hero of the game was a Black player – Mangaliso Mosehle.

For me, the final offered a glimpse of what the future of South African cricket could be – and it took a lot of effort on the part of Cricket South Africa, the Titans and their marketing partners.

A thoroughly New South Africa crowd was entertained by Black Coffee and Euphonik; whereas Steve Hofmeyr would have been favoured by previous administrations.

I can only presume that Nicholas has been spending too much time with some of the expats in Australia who are notorious for broadcasting their opinion that everything is a nightmare in South Africa.

The day after the final, I spent the morning at Killarney Country Club where their Mandela Day fundraising is being put to good use coaching traumatised children in golf and tennis as part of their therapy. The sheer joy of the children and how apparent it was that they loved what they are doing, once again showed how much opportunity there is for sports bodies to tap into the raw talent that is there and hungry to be found.

The RamSlam T20 Challenge final,the Springbok Sevens’ success and the kids at Killarney Country Club showed what can be built when there is a will to be inclusive and a desire to spread the game and utilise the talent present in all communities.

 

 

 

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  • Thought of the Day

    Even if I’m just a signpost on the road, it would be a source of great joy to know that my service for Christ is effective. It may just be something you say; a kind deed; support in times of need; a sympathetic ear.

    Because you bear his holy name, God expects you to be his witnesses, to proclaim the gospel, and to win souls for God. But Christ inspires you through his Holy Spirit to do this.

    Persevere in your service as Christ did – through obstacles, disappointment and adversity, and never give up hope.

    “Seek the Lord in prayer and open your heart to the Holy Spirit so that Christ can become an essential part of your life. As he leads you along his path, you will experience unparalleled fulfillment that can only be found in serving Jesus Christ.” – A Shelter From The Storm, Solly Ozrovech



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