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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.”

You can tell Pink Day was a grave disappointment when … 2

Posted on December 17, 2023 by Ken

Arshdeep Singh was the destroyer of the Proteas batting at the Wanderers on Pink Day.

You can tell Pink Day was a grave disappointment at the Wanderers on Sunday when even India’s bowling hero, Arshdeep Singh, sounded a bit disappointed that no Proteas batsman could pose any serious challenge to him at a venue that used to be famous for spectacular batting exploits.

South Africa, choosing to bat first, were bundled out for just 116 in 27.3 overs, their lowest ever ODI total at home, with Arshdeep doing the bulk of the damage with career-best figures of five for 37 in his 10 overs.

The left-arm quick rocked the Proteas early with back-to-back wickets in his first over, the second of the innings, as he bowled Reeza Hendricks off the inside edge and then trapped Rassie van der Dussen lbw, both batsmen out for ducks on their home ground.

Tony de Zorzi led a slight shift in momentum as he scored 28 off 22 balls before being caught behind off Arshdeep in the eighth over, leaving the home side 42 for three. With Avesh Khan getting in on the action with brilliant figures of 8-3-27-4, South Africa then lost four wickets for 31 runs as they crashed to 73 for eight.

Avesh also took two wickets in two balls when he bowled Aiden Markram (12), also playing on, and then trapped Wiaan Mulder lbw, making it a team hat-trick as Arshdeep had bowled Heinrich Klaasen (6) at the end of the previous over with a lethal delivery that jagged back to hit the top of leg-stump.

That South Africa made it to 116 was thanks to Andile Phehlukwayo, whose defiant 33 came off 49 deliveries and included a couple of sweetly-struck sixes.

A used pitch – the same one that the Proteas batting crumbled on in the midweek T20 match – that offered considerable lateral movement, was not was expected on Pink Day, which is usually a pretty miserable day for bowlers.

Arshdeep sounded a little disappointed that the hype did not live up to expectation.

“I went to dinner last night with Axar Patel and Avesh and we were talking about how brutal the Proteas are on Pink Day, just hitting sixes all the time. We actually spoke about hopefully trying to restrict them to less than 400,” Arshdeep said after his man-of-the-match performance.

“But there was a bit of moisture in the pitch and it was also a bit up-and-down. The plan was really simple, to hit good areas and try and extract that movement, get nicks and lbws.”

There may be some questions over why groundsman Brendon Frost, who served for many years at Benoni’s Willowmoore Park, used a used pitch for the showpiece Pink Day occasion and also why it broke with tradition by being so bowler friendly. But according to the Central Gauteng Lions, the Proteas actually asked for the same pitch used for the T20 game.

But India’s brilliant bowling and South Africa’s meek failure to adapt meant their own attack barely had a chance to defend their meagre total. That became no chance when debutant Sai Sudharsan (55* off 43 balls) and Shreyas Iyer (52 off 45) added 88 for the second wicket.

The Proteas eventually bended the knee with 200 balls remaining in the match, surely their worst ever display on Pink Day and one that left a large but not capacity crowd mostly only halfway through the vats of booze they were hoping to consume.

South Africa batting coach JP Duminy did not exude any bitterness about the conditions and did not want to be drawn into a discussion of whether such pitches are good for ODI cricket, especially on important occasions like Pink Day. He said it was up to a batting line-up that, De Zorzi apart, has plenty of experience, to adapt better.

“In ODI cricket, you want a good competition between bat and ball. In the first phase of the game, the ball did a lot more than expected. We did expect it to do something, we make decisions based on previous information and we know at the Wanderers that if you get through the new ball then batting becomes easier,” Duminy said.

“Yes, conditions played a role today, but that can never be an excuse, we still have to find a way. Credit to the Indian bowlers, they bowled particularly well, but we need to understand the options that are there in those conditions.

“The batting has been pretty consistent for a period of time, but now we need to take accountability, our execution will always be judged and now is a time for reflection,” Duminy said.

With the match all over, done-and-dusted by 2.15pm, the Proteas certainly left themselves plenty of time for post-mortems.

Springbok quartet no longer waiting in the aisles as Powell brings them all back 0

Posted on September 14, 2023 by Ken

Springboks Ox Nche, Bongi Mbonambi, Eben Etzebeth and Siya Kolisi were waiting in the aisles last weekend, but Sharks director of rugby Neil Powell has brought them all back into the starting XV for Saturday’s United Rugby Championship match against the Bulls at Kings Park as he dares not allow any complacency to creep into his high-flying side.

The Sharks have won four games on the trot across the two European competitions and they face a fired up Bulls side that are coming off a fiercely-contested loss to the Stormers last weekend. Inconsistency has bedevilled the Sharks in the past, and Powell is eager to ensure there is no slip in intensity on Saturday.

“It’s always good to be able to select your best players against the Bulls, who are coming to our house and always bring a big physical challenge, but on Saturday they will bring a bit more because of that loss,” Powell said on Friday.

“They saved their players from the Champions Cup to target these games, so last weekend’s loss will definitely hurt and they will bring a lot of effort and physicality to get at least one win from these games.

“We’re obviously aware of it, and it’s a really good opportunity for us to still build momentum and cohesion. We would like to be more clinical and we know a quality team like the Bulls only gives you so many opportunities.

“It’s mid-season and we feel like we’re moving in the right direction. There’s still a lot we can do better and we want to build on last week’s performance against the Lions.

“We want to take the opportunities that weren’t taken and if we can play with that flow then that will be great. But there’s an awareness of complacency and we can’t let successive wins breed that.

“We can’t just rock up and think things will happen. We need to really get stuck in and make sure we do our various roles,” Powell said.

Nche, Mbonambi and Thomas du Toit combine as an all-Springbok front row, while Kolisi will be joined in the loose trio by Henco Venter and Sikhumbuzo Notshe.

Grant Williams will continue as the starting scrumhalf, with Curwin Bosch going well at flyhalf.

“It’s good to see Curwin slowly but surely getting back to his best form. Credit to the coaches because in pre-season he was in really good form but then unfortunately got injured.

“But the coaches have all been very positive about him. There’s still room for improvement and we will keep chipping away,” Powell said.

Sharks Boeta Chamberlain, Marnus Potgieter, Lukhanyo Am, Rohan Janse van Rensburg, Makazole Mapimpi, Curwin Bosch, Grant Williams, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Henco Venter, Siya Kolisi (c), Gerbrandt Grobler, Eben Etzebeth, Thomas du Toit, Bongi Mbonambi, Ox Nche. Bench: Kerron van Vuuren, Dian Bleuler, Carlu Sadie, Hyron Andrews, Phepsi Buthelezi, Jaden Hendrikse, Lionel Cronje, Yaw Penxe.

Comment: Who wins and who loses in great ‘merger’ 0

Posted on June 07, 2023 by Ken

Rory McIlroy is probably feeling like he has been thrown under the bus.

by Mike Green

There will be more rubbish spoken about this than there will be at a conspiracy theorists’ convention. But in the end, neither of the protagonists in the great golf culture war can with any certainty at all claim to be the winners with this great ‘merger’.

The PGA Tour and their ‘strategic partners’, the DP World Tour, have climbed into bed with the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund. The PIF was the monetary force behind LIV Golf, so, naturally, all the headlines are that the PGA Tour and LIV Golf are ‘merging’. In truth, there appears to be much still to be worked out. So it’s not entirely clear what the merger entails.

Reading and re-reading the press releases, and watching the ‘interview’ video of Keith Pelley of the DP World Tour (it was patently and painfully staged), and the MSNBC interview of the PGA Tour’s Jay Monahan and PIF’s Yasir Al-Rumayyan, there is not a single word about the continued existence of LIV in any shape at all after its 2023 season.

To quote Eamon Lynch (I realise that doing so might not sit well with some people, but so be it): “If this were a genuine victory for LIV’s concept, the announcement would have featured Greg Norman, the league’s chief executive and propagandist. Instead, he was not mentioned. Still, not the first man disappeared after his utility for the Saudis concluded.”

Of course, Norman’s is not the only ‘big’ name conspicuous by its absence from the announcement. If ever anyone went out on a limb (forgive the expression in this Saudi-soaked context) for his cause, it was Rory McIlroy. Quite what this sudden rapprochement has done to him can only be imagined. And as the cosying up between Monahan and Al-Rumayyan appears to have been about seven weeks in the making, perhaps it is no surprise that McIlroy slow-marched his way through two turgid performances in the Masters and the PGA Championship. And withdrew from an ‘elevated’ PGA Tour event, the virtues of which he himself had so evangelically extolled. His career might have looked very different had he not taken on himself the leadership role – or was it forced on him? – in the battle against the godless LIV. Someone owes him something that will be, at very least, an apology.

How will all of this kissing and making up change the face of golf? It would appear that the long-ballyhooed ‘global schedule’ might, at last, make an appearance, at least in rudimentary form, from 2024.

In that global schedule, it seems probable that there will be a nod to LIV’s alleged ‘selling point’, the team concept. If it takes place in a small window – say from September to December – Ernie Els will feel vindicated for his suggestion for accommodating Norman’s fantasies (I believe he might have used the term ‘hit and giggle’) in the ‘silly season’ before the end of the year.

It also seems probable that several of the DP World Tour’s events will enjoy some sort of elevated status, both in terms of prize-money and in having the week to themselves, or at least unchallenged by a PGA Tour event of remotely similar status.

Lost between those broad brushstrokes is the position of a circuit like the Sunshine Tour. There is hard work to be done to make the co-sanctioned tournaments it has with the DP World Tour retain a status that justifies the interests of the newly-born behemoth. Perhaps the PIF people will pour some of their money into a tournament like the South African Open to help it retain its status as one of the prestigious titles around the world. Perhaps the lure of increased visibility on a global stage will entice local commercial support too – and not just for the flagship of the local schedule.

As for the players that have been caught in the crossfire, the only winners seem to be those who kept their powder relatively dry. Brooks Koepka, for example, will emerge from this with his reputation and ability to compete at the highest level (that’s neither LIV nor the PGA Tour, if you were wondering) intact. Koepka has never been much of a stoker of animosities – other than with Bryson DeChambeau, and wasn’t that fun? He stayed true to himself and his belief that the LIV jump was of personal benefit to him on a number of levels, and he didn’t waste his energy on the pettiness that characterised much of the conversation about the great divide. There are one or two others like him, but they haven’t shown much yet. Much golf, that is.

The most vocal of the anti-establishment critics have been players who were already in the process of riding off into the sunset. Many of them will stay on the edges in the new dispensation, and probably remain outside consideration for Ryder Cup captaincies, for instance. Their golfing relevance is in any case tending towards the PGA Tour Champions, or the Legends Tour, now.

To their credit, the South Africans playing in LIV this season have remained admirably uncommunicative about their situations. But it will be good to see them able to participate in the mainstream again. All of them have international success in their futures, and now, perhaps, that can be achieved without the wretched dogfight that was the golf landscape over the last two years.

With details conspicuously absent from what we know so far, it’s premature to celebrate anything just yet. But it does seem sure that LIV Golf as we have come to know it is winding down.

First published on the SA Tour Golf website – https://satourgolf.co.za/2023/06/06/comment-who-wins-and-who-loses-in-great-merger/

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