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Ken Borland

Odds against SA as they try to avoid ‘4-day franchise game’ in 2nd Test 0

Posted on August 21, 2023 by Ken

The odds are stacked high against South Africa as their batsmen face trying to avoid turning the second Test versus Australia at the Melbourne Cricket Ground into something akin to a four-day franchise game, ending the third day still needing 371 runs to avoid an innings defeat.

The Proteas batted for just seven overs in their second innings on Wednesday, but in that time they lost captain Dean Elgar, caught down the leg-side for a duck. Sarel Erwee (7*) and Theunis de Bruyn (6*) then took them to 15 for one when rain stopped play at 4.21pm local time.

Mitchell Starc, bleeding from the finger he dislocated in the field on the first day, swung the ball prodigiously, but it was captain Pat Cummins who grabbed the wicket as he bowled three successive maidens.

The bowlers have been through one of their toughest tests as Australia piled on 575 for eight declared, their biggest total against South Africa since they smashed 652 for seven declared at the Wanderers in 2002. It meant the Proteas conceded a monstrous 386-run first-innings lead.

Anrich Nortje produced a thrilling double-strike in his second over of the day as he bowled Travis Head for a dashing 51, shaping the ball back into the left-hander. That brought second-day hero David Warner back to the crease, the left-hander celebrating his 100th Test having retired hurt with severe cramps upon reaching his epic 200*.

But Nortje, whose tremendous fast bowling the previous day had thrilled the MCG crowd almost as much as Warner’s innings, bowled the veteran opener first ball back with an excellent yorker.

Cummins survived the hat-trick ball but was then caught behind off Kagiso Rabada for 4. With Cameron Green and Starc both nursing hand injuries, South Africa may have expected to wrap the innings up quickly as Nathan Lyon came to the crease with Australia on 400 for six, leading by 211.

But Lyon batted brightly to score 25 off 17 balls as he and Alex Carey put on a quickfire 40, and the wicketkeeper/batsman carried on in exhilarating fashion to an exciting maiden Test century, one that ensured Australia enjoyed an insurmountable lead.

With Green surprisingly returning to the crease with a fractured finger and defending stoutly, Carey feasted on the tired bowling on a flat pitch, scoring a superb 111 off 149 balls before offering a return catch to Marco Jansen as he tried to withdraw his bat from a steepling, tennis-ball bounce lifter from the left-arm quick.

Green became more fluent the longer he was at the crease, but his 51 not out was still a grind, albeit a brave one, coming off 177 deliveries in 224 minutes.

Having bowled themselves into the ground, South Africa’s bowlers eventually received some respite when Australia declared shortly before tea, having batted for 145 overs. Nortje earned immense respect for his effort as he finished with three for 92 in 25 overs.

SA rebound from a terrible start 0

Posted on August 17, 2022 by Ken

The South African women’s hockey team rebounded from a terrible start to their crunch World Cup match against Japan on Tuesday night, salvaging a remarkable 3-3 draw from 3-0 down with 20 minutes remaining to avoid elimination from quarterfinal contention in Terrassa, Spain.

Having conceded two goals in the first eight minutes, South Africa then went 3-0 down three minutes into the second half. Hesitant on the ball and porous in defence, the African champions’ hopes were faltering.

But they then fought back superbly with Onthatile Zulu giving the Japanese defence a torrid time with her attacking runs down the flank. South Africa were on the board in the 37th minute through Kristen Paton’s reflex shot after a rebound from Kayla de Waal’s strike.

The team sitting in 16th spot on the world rankings continued to pile pressure on the 10th-ranked Japanese in the final quarter, with another fine run by Zulu earning a 54th-minute penalty corner. Jean-Leigh du Toit’s slap was brilliantly guided in by Tarryn Lombard to cut the deficit to 1-2.

With two minutes remaining, Zulu won another short corner and Lombard steered the ball home again to complete a remarkable comeback.

“We started very slowly and conceding two goals in the first quarter really set us back,” stalwart goalkeeper Phumelela Mbande said afterwards. “We did well to come back, we knew we were never out of it, but it took pure grit and determination.

“We knew what it meant if we lost, now we are still in it, which we wanted so badly. We will fight even harder against Australia,” Mbande said.

South Africa and Japan both have one point in the standings, but the Cherry Blossoms are currently in third place in Pool D, the last qualifying spot, because they have a goal-difference of minus-two compared to South Africa’s minus-three.

South Africa have conceded seven goals and scored four, and if they can somehow prevent making it an octoplet of shots into the back of their net against Australia in the late game on Wednesday night, then they could pip Japan on goal-difference because they play Belgium, who beat Giles Bonnet’s side 4-1 last weekend.

Stormers show same resilience for 2 weekends in a row on the road 0

Posted on February 24, 2022 by Ken

For two weekends in a row, the Stormers have looked down and out on the road but have shown the same remarkable resilience to avoid defeat and keep themselves very much in contention to win the South African Shield in the United Rugby Championship.

Last weekend in Pretoria, they were 26-18 down against the Bulls with just 12 minutes left, but the Stormers scored two brilliant breakaway tries at the death to win 30-26. This weekend, they were trailing 19-3 after 51 minutes and their scrum was getting mangled against the Sharks in Durban, but they fought back to snatch a 22-22 draw.

Those seven away points have lifted the Stormers to 12th place on the log with 14 points, just two behind the 10th-placed Sharks.

“You’ve got to be quite resilient to be a Stormers player these days and these players have obviously got bucket-loads of that,” Dobson beamed after their latest escape. “Things went for us … I thought we were dead, buried and finished.

“We conceded 18 penalties, seven of them at the scrum. I’m not sure what era of Western Province rugby would ever have seen that sort of count before.

“To get seven points away from home these last two weeks is really good, especially when you play as poorly as we did today. That was probably our worst performance of the URC.

“But I’m really very happy, it proves the guys are tight, they are showing that fight. If we keep this group together, we could be a reasonable team. Just give us some time,” Dobson said.

The Stormers coach seemed to acknowledge that his side had been outplayed and that, on a normal day, they would have suffered defeat.

“It was not a great game from us, we lacked organisation and control and that slowed our game down, until we decided to speed things up a bit in the second half. But our game-management was poor.

“The truth is we were lucky. The Sharks were not at their full pomp, but they had enough chances to finish us. But we defended their maul well,” Dobson said.

SA have made U19 QFs, but will need to be at their best v one of the best teams – England 0

Posted on February 23, 2022 by Ken

South Africa have made it through to the quarterfinals of the U19 Cricket World Cup in the West Indies but are obviously going to have to be at their best to avoid elimination as they take on one of the most impressive teams in the competition in England, at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium at North Sound, Antigua, on Wednesday.

With Dewald Brevis stealing the limelight in the first couple of games, it was encouraging to see the other Junior Proteas batsmen start to come to the party in the win over Ireland, which was basically a knockout fixture.

Brevis still made 96, but there was a tremendous century by captain George van Heerden and some brilliant late hitting by all-rounders Mickey Copeland and Andile Simelane.

But South Africa are going to need to repeat a similar batting effort against a stronger England attack that is led by a potent left-arm paceman in Joshua Boyden, while leggie Rehan Ahmed will test their abilities against spin.

While the rampant Brevis is the leading run-scorer in the tournament so far with 265 in three innings, England captain Tom Prest has roared to 251 runs.

He generally bats No.3 for England and South Africa have two ferocious fast bowlers in Liam Alder and Matthew Boast, who will want to get Prest in against the swinging new ball.

England, of course, are able to throw some serious cash at their U19 programme, but what the South Africans lack in Rands, they have been making up for in enthusiasm.

But for those wanting to take a punt on the outcome, bookmakers have installed England as the 1.6-1 favourites.

But much depends on Brevis.

“What works for you, you must stick with that,” Brevis, a major Bangalore Royal Challengers fan because his two favourite players – AB de Villiers and Virat Kohli – play for them, said when asked how he would be approaching the knockout encounter.

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