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Ken Borland

Sharks will miss Am, their provider of beautiful magic on the field 0

Posted on April 11, 2022 by Ken

Springbok centre Lukhanyo Am is not only the Sharks’ captain but he has been the provider of numerous moments of beautiful magic on the field, so wing Sbu Nkosi acknowledges the team are certainly going to miss him against Scarlets in Durban on Friday night, but they have confidence the large hole he leaves will be adequately filled.

Am has left for Japan for a lucrative two-month stint with Kobe Steelers, meaning he will miss the Sharks’ next seven United Rugby Championship matches, returning in time for the last game of the round-robin phase, away to Ulster on May 21.

“It would be very difficult for any team in the world to lose Lukhanyo,” Nkosi said on Tuesday. “But we have very capable replacements and they are learning quickly.

“But it’s a huge loss for any team, Lukhanyo has exceptional quality and the ability to produce some great moments on the field when they are really needed.

“We will take time to adjust, but if each player brings 10% extra then that will more than make up for Lukhanyo’s loss.

“In terms of the captaincy, Siya Kolisi has played a leadership role since he arrived, he’s been very influential and involved. He’ll bring the same energy now, he’s just got the authority of the captain’s title now,” Nkosi said.

The Scarlets have travelled from the rain and temperatures of less than 10° of Llanelli to Durban perhaps expecting the weather to be a bit milder on the coast than it is currently in a place like Limpopo. But the temperature will be pushing 30° in Durban this week with humidity of 85%.

“It’s not gonna happen!” Nkosi laughed when asked about the potential for cooler weather now that summer has entered its last month. “It’s still very hot and humid and the ball is very slippery.

“That’s just how it is and I expect that on Friday night as well. We’ve been training in that, we are moulded in heat and our coaches have us training when the sun is at its highest.

“We want to use the humidity and heat to our advantage. Scarlets are flying from the cold to extremely hot weather.

“But it does not matter where they are placed on the log [12th], that does not always reflect the quality of a side. We ourselves were in a totally different place on the log three weeks ago, so we will approach them with respect,” Nkosi said.

What the Proteas must do to win at St Lucia 0

Posted on June 17, 2021 by Ken

St Lucia, the venue for the Proteas’ first Test against the West Indies starting on Thursday, is a typically beautiful tropical island but it also has very unpredictable weather.

As pace bowler Lungi Ngidi said on Tuesday: “It’s tricky conditions, similar to Durban in terms of humidity and heat, but it’s also very windy and the overhead conditions seem to change every 30 minutes. It goes from scorching heat to pouring rain very quickly and you never know what to expect.”

So what must the Proteas do to ensure the first Test in the two-match series goes well for them?

*Make every moment count: The three previous Tests played at Gros Islet in June have all ended in draws, and they have all been interrupted at crucial times by rain. St Lucia is heading into its wet season now and, as the Proteas have already discovered, the rain can be pretty intense. There will always be high temperatures and humidity though, and, being an island stuck out practically in the Atlantic ocean, the north-easterly trade winds are strong and consistent. So everything the Proteas do, whether with bat or ball, is going to have to be done with some urgency. They cannot allow the West Indians to settle into their groove.

*Slip in the short ball often: Although the pitch at the Daren Sammy National Cricket Stadium is not as quick as the Wanderers or SuperSport Park, it is not nearly as sleepy as so many of the Caribbean tracks. As Ngidi has noted, there is bounce on offer, so the Proteas fast bowlers must definitely slip in the odd bouncer just to keep the batsmen on their toes.

*Consider swing as a weapon: While bowling coach Charl Langeveldt likened the conditions to England and there will certainly be seam movement, the old Beausejour Stadium is famous for being a venue where swing is on offer. While every paceman will probably allege they are a swing bowler as well, Rabada, Nortje and Ngidi are not known for moving the ball sideways through the air much. Left-armer Beuran Hendricks is probably the best swing bowler in the squad, but playing him would mean leaving out a spinner or batting Keshav Maharaj at seven, neither of which is likely. It’s why Wiaan Mulder is tipped to play as an all-rounder.

*The batsmen must use the friendly amenities: For all the talk about what will assist the bowlers, the Gros Islet pitch also offers friendly amenities for batsmen. The Proteas don’t have to worry about there being much turn, even in the closing stages, although inconsistent bounce could become a feature towards the end of the game. It will certainly be desirable for South Africa to put big runs on the scoreboard in the first innings.

Blackmail never needed to go to the Caribbean, but St Lucia has been winless for the Proteas 0

Posted on May 24, 2021 by Ken

One never needs to blackmail players to go and tour the beautiful Caribbean, but the Proteas’ heads may have just dropped a bit when the schedule for their series in the West Indies starting next month was released on Friday and it revealed that both Test matches will be played on the island of St Lucia.

The tour starts with the two Tests from June 10-14 and June 18-22, and they will both be hosted by the Daren Sammy Cricket Ground at Gros Islet on St Lucia, a venue where South Africa have never managed to win a cricket match.

It was the venue of their infamous 2007 World Cup semi-final when “Brave Cricket” saw them crash to 27 for five against Australia, who cruised to victory by seven wickets with 111 deliveries to spare.

Their other two games at the then Beausejour Stadium in the hilly north-east of the beautiful tropical island were in the 2010 T20 World Cup when the Proteas lost to both India and Pakistan.

They have never played a Test there but the last five-day game at Gros Islet saw a good cricket pitch on which England beat the West Indies by 232 runs, both fast bowlers and spinners doing well as Mark Wood was man of the match with figures of six for 93 and Moeen Ali took seven for 135. The tourists scored 361 for five declared in their second innings.

Contrary to expectations emanating from the Caribbean that Trinidad would be South Africa’s main base for the tour, Grenada will then host the five T20 Internationals between June 26 and July 3 at the National Cricket Stadium at St George’s. The Proteas’ record there is better, winning all three of their ODIs against the West Indies, but being beaten by New Zealand during the 2007 World Cup on a pitch that made batting very difficult with plenty of assistance for the bowlers.

CSA director of cricket Graeme Smith said the change from the big island of Trinidad, that is closer to the South American mainland, to St Lucia and Grenada was for safety reasons in these times of Covid.

“We have been working with the West Indies cricket board weekly and they decided to go to islands that are safer because of Covid, St Lucia and Grenada have had less cases than other venues,” Smith told Saturday Citizen.

South Africa have not played a Test in the West Indies since June 2010, when Smith himself captained them to a 2-0 series win.

South Africa tour to West Indies fixtures:

10 – 14 June1st. TestDSCG10:0016:00
18 – 22 June2nd. TestDSCG10:0016:00
26 June1st. T20IGNCS14:0020:00
27 June2nd. T20IGNCS14:0020:00
29 June3rd. T20IGNCS14:0020:00
01 July4th. T20IGNCS14:0020:00
03 July5th. T20IGNCS14:0020:00
Full Venue Names
DSCGDaren Sammy Cricket Ground, St Lucia
GNCSNational Cricket Stadium, St George’s, Grenada  

Coetzee & Van Zyl on top as Millvale ‘torment’ ends 0

Posted on February 18, 2016 by Ken


George Coetzee and Jaco van Zyl are at the top of the leaderboard after the second round of the Chase to the Investec Cup final, but both are relieved that their torment on the beautiful but treacherous Millvale course is now over as the elite 30-man field relocates to Sun City for the last two rounds on the Lost City course.

Coetzee, who shared the overnight lead with Charl Schwartzel, shot a two-under-par 70 on Friday to go to six-under for the tournament, alone in front and projected to finish first in the Chase to the Investec Cup final standings, which would win him the bonus pool prize of a cool R3.5 million.

Van Zyl, after shooting 73 on the first day, produced Friday’s best round, a five-under-par 67 that lifted him to four-under overall, two shots behind Coetzee.

Both their rounds featured just one bogey, a six on the par-five sixth for Van Zyl and for Coetzee on the seventh, a remarkable effort on a course as tough as Millvale with its slick greens, plenty of water and a tricky wind.

“You’ve just got to try and stick around here, it’s a great test of golf with firm greens, the flags tucked away and a lot of water. If you start on the 10th then you have seven really tough holes on the trot from the 15th to the third and you just try for level-par.

“It should be a bit easier at Lost City on Saturday and Sunday, there’s a bit more scoring opportunities. I’m hitting the ball well, so I look forward to that,” Van Zyl, who was the inaugural Chase to the Investec Cup champion in 2013, said.

“I survived – it was another tough day,” Coetzee said. “I didn’t play as well today, but I scrambled and made pars. I drove the ball better yesterday, but I putted better today. I’m where I want to be, but there’s still a lot of golf to play.”

The Millvale course is hard enough without bad luck playing a part, but Van Zyl’s bogey on six came when a bee landed on his ball on his downswing and he put his second into the water, while Schwartzel, the co-leader after the first round, woke up with a painful shoulder and slipped down the leaderboard after shooting a 74.

It was a good effort by Schwartzel considering every shot had him in pain, but the 2011 Masters champion said he will be forced to withdraw on Saturday if anti-inflammatories can’t get the swelling down.

Schwartzel is four behind Coetzee, alongside Justin Harding, who has produced two sub-par rounds of 71 practically out of nowhere given his recent form.

Darren Fichardt, Dean Burmester and Jean Hugo, all long-time Sunshine Tour pros, are all on one-under-par and in a position to shake up the leaderboard over the weekend.

*Defending champion Lee-Anne Pace, South Africa’s highest-ranked women’s golfer, fired a three-under-par 68 to lead the Investec Cup for Ladies by three strokes over Monique Smit after the first round.



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