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Ken Borland

Rain brings premature end to 2nd day; one supposes SA were not too unhappy 0

Posted on October 26, 2023 by Ken

Rain brought a premature end to the second day of the third Test between South Africa and Australia at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Thursday, which one supposes the Proteas won’t be too unhappy about because the home side had piled up a massive 475/4 in their first innings.

There can surely only be one winner of the match now, following Usman Khawaja’s epic 195 not out and Steven Smith’s impressive 104, and so losing 49 overs across the first two days takes time out of the game and plays into the Proteas’ hands.

Khawaja and Smith feasted on the South African bowling as they added 209 for the third wicket, continuing their phenomenal record of major partnerships. That laid the table, with Australia on 356/3, for Travis Head who came to the crease and added the spices with a punishing 70 off just 59 balls, ensuring a tired bowling attack had no respite.

Khawaja will no doubt be asking for just a few more overs in which to post his maiden Test double-century before Australia declare, and then another wretched battle for survival will begin for the Proteas batsmen.

Their bowling has been put to the sword on the first two days, albeit on a tough pitch for bowling: there is little pace, no sideways movement to speak of and the turn is slow, allowing the batsmen, especially Khawaja, the time to play off the back foot to great effect.

Smith did eventually fall after collecting 11 fours and two sixes in 192 balls, giving Keshav Maharaj a return catch when the left-arm spinner produced a bit more flight.

Maharaj has otherwise been poor, conceding 108 runs in 25 overs, while off-spinner Harmer has been putting more revs on the ball and asking more questions, but without reward. He has borne the heaviest burden on a dry pitch, bowling 31 overs and conceding 109 runs.

Fast bowler Anrich Nortje did not add to his two wickets on the first day, but he was again South Africa’s most impressive bowler. Unfortunately, his fellow pacemen could not follow his lead. Young left-armer Marco Jansen was not quite at his best, but continues to market himself as one of the brightest talents in international cricket, bowling a fine spell with the second new ball. Kagiso Rabada is out-of-sorts and has conceded 119 runs in his 28 overs. He did get the wicket of Head, albeit with a short ball that required a sharp catch by 12th man Rassie van der Dussen at deep square-leg.

Khawaja’s 368-ball innings, with 19 fours and a six, has been a super display of the craft of an opening batsman; he has shown great precision in both the selection and execution of his strokes and has put away the loose deliveries in elegant fashion.

Last season was stocked full of runs for Rickelton … but he still calls it a failure 0

Posted on June 21, 2023 by Ken

The prolific Ryan Rickelton was frustrated by his season at Proteas level.

Ryan Rickelton’s 2022/23 season was stocked full of runs and accolades, and yet the 26-year-old maintains that it was a failure because he did not entirely nail down his place in the Proteas team.

Never mind that the management of the national squad seemed reluctant to choose him due to an ankle injury that their medical staff deemed too much of a risk.

Rickelton showed his determination by ploughing through the season, churning out runs at domestic level for the Central Gauteng Lions as he stubbornly refused to have surgery and his ankle became the most talked-about body part in South African cricket.

The wicketkeeper/batsman scored three centuries in his five four-day innings for the Lions and he was the leading run-scorer in the One-Day Cup with 452 at 64.57, scored at better than a run-a-ball and playing a leading role in his team claiming a third-successive 50-over title. He was named the Lions’ Player of the Season and Players’ Player of the Season recently.

But his opportunities at international level were limited to one Test and two ODIs. Perhaps unsurprisingly given the lack of consistent game time for the Proteas, he scored just 22 and 10 in the second Test against the West Indies at the Wanderers and 14 and three in his two ODIs against the same team.

And that is why Rickelton, because of the passion he brings to the game and the high standards he sets himself, deems the previous summer to have been a failure.

“It was not my best season, if you look at the whole package. I had a couple of successful competitions but there were also failures at international level and in T20. I had four chances for success in the international season, so it’s a failure for me by pure percentages, but I guess I will take it and move forward,” Rickelton said.

“I always have this anxiety that I don’t want to be just a good domestic player. I had no fear in my international debut in March 2022, but now it’s something I need to overcome.

“If I can just make one score at international level then that will settle the nerves and I’m sure I can make a good contribution for the Proteas. It’s hugely different to playing at domestic level, but awesome at the same time, which is why everyone aspires to play there.

“There’s a helluva lot more pressure, shit it’s hard. For the first time in my career, you get dismissed cheaply and you feel like you might not necessarily get runs tomorrow either.

“But it’s more internal pressure from myself. I’ve stuck my foot in the door now and I’ve just got to climb the ladder and get more comfortable as I get more opportunity,” Rickelton said.

The left-hander leaves no doubt that his fiery ambition burns brightest for Test cricket, which is why his mediocre return at the Wanderers was most upsetting. For a naturally free-flowing player, full of strokeplaying talent, efforts of 22 off 49 balls and 10 off 29 deliveries left him “disgusted”. On both occasions he was caught behind, edging a cut in the first innings and then attempting to drive on the up and providing the wicketkeeper with another catch.

But cricketers are not computers and it is difficult to simulate the kind of pressure that burrows its way into the consciousness when a batsmen feels like they are playing for their place. Rickelton should have played in the first Test against the West Indies at Centurion, when South Africa chose an extra bowler (spinner Senuran Muthusamy only delivered eight overs in the match) and their middle-order was badly exposed. One mistake and you’re out, gone, and there could be a long wait for another chance at Test level, particularly given how sparse the Proteas’ schedule is in that format.

“When I got the opportunity for the Proteas, technically I was not batting as well as I had been at the start of the season. But it’s also mental because you desperately want the fairytale.

“I was told two days before the Wanderers Test that I would then play. So I knew I had at least one innings, maybe two. You’re playing on your home turf, your parents are coming to watch, and you start thinking ‘maybe I will get a hundred, that would be cool’. And those thoughts accumulate.

“I felt really good going into the match, but in the end I was disgusted with my Test, I had no idea what was going on. It was like my head and body had no idea what the other one was doing.

“In the first innings I was maybe unlucky but I did not have to play that shot. Now you have one more chance and it gnaws at you.

“It’s the first time I’ve experienced fighting the same battle, making mountains of molehills, and I don’t like it. But I just have to deal with it.

“You so desperately want to prove that you belong, to take that weight off your shoulders and not have to fight for your place. You just want to bat with intent, open up on your own terms, but it’s ferociously difficult at the highest level. You have to earn the right to play like you want to.

“With the Proteas playing just 10 Tests over the next four years, every series you will feel like a new cap again, which doesn’t help. It’s going to be frustrating not to be able to build any momentum. Test cricket is the purest form of the game and I hope that the administrators don’t cripple it,” Rickelton said with searing honesty.

T20 franchises are becoming the main drivers of the game now, and Rickelton is sober-minded enough to know he has to master that format in order to have a long career. He was poor last season, by his own admission, in both the CSA T20 Challenge for the Lions (averaging 15 with a strike-rate of 131) and the SA20 for MI Cape Town (averaging 20, strike-rate 113).

“I have a shit-load of work to do quickly before next season to make sure I progress. Apart from making sure I step up internationally, I also need to rediscover my T20 game, which I lost a bit. I’m going to put a lot of effort into that and make sure I have a very good SA20. T20 is so important nowadays and I’ve neglected it a bit,” Rickelton said.

The ankle has now been operated on and fixed, and Rickelton says it is “loading very nicely”. He has started batting again and was part of the Proteas’ recent camp in Durban.

He hopes to be match-fit in a couple of weeks and able to push for selection for the ODIs against Australia in September.

The feeling of having to fight for a regular place in the team is not a new one for Rickelton. Surprisingly, given his natural talent and a pedigree that included playing for the 2014 SA Schools side, the St Stithians product initially languished in the Gauteng semi-pro team before making his breakthrough.

“I found my feet slowly and had to fight for my life at Gauteng, even though I knew what I could do. I almost had to prove it to myself though and allow myself to be free and have a real crack with the bat.

“It’s an experience every player goes through and I’ve been guilty of wanting things too badly in the past. But I will keep going,” Rickelton stated.

CEO says it’s irrelevant whether BBCo houses Nkosi’s rugby career in future as Bok wing is found 0

Posted on April 13, 2023 by Ken

Whether the Blue Bulls Company houses Sbu Nkosi’s rugby career in future is irrelevant right now, CEO Edgar Rathbone said on Tuesday, because their focus is on making sure the Springbok wing gets the help he needs to solve his personal issues.

Nkosi had been missing from Loftus Versfeld for three weeks, raising fears for his wellbeing and safety, before he was found at his father’s house in Emalahleni (Witbank) on Monday afternoon. Rathbone was among the search party and he had a 40-minute talk with the 26-year-old.

“It was important for me to establish he was okay, safe and unharmed, and to find out where he is at. I was thrilled he was alive but sad to see the state he was in,” Rathbone said on Tuesday.

“We will provide the support he needs, but it’s difficult to put a timeline on his recovery, we need to give him space and get him back to full health. We need to follow the process, for some people it takes one month, for others six months, it depends on the depth they have to go.

“Our goal is to get him back on the rugby field and feeling like the champion he is again. Even if that’s not at the Bulls, it’s our job to get him ready. It’s irrelevant right now whether he plays for the Bulls again or some other team, it’s about Sbu Nkosi the person.

“Our concern is not for Sbu Nkosi the rugby player but for him as a person. He is an employee of the company and being absent without leave for three weeks does have consequences. But at this stage, we’re missing the point if we’re worrying about whether he still has a contract or not,” Rathbone said.

In terms of how the Bulls handled the disappearance of one of their star players, Rathbone said they had to cut their cloth according to the circumstances at the time, but he added “I’m sure mistakes were made along the way, but the player’s reputation also needed to be managed and his safety was a concern as well”.

While both the Bulls and MyPlayers, the players’ organisation to look after their interests, have mental health support measures in place, Rathbone said they would review the overall efficiency of these systems.

The CEO added that he hoped the general public would cotton on to the fact that coarse messaging on social media can lead struggling players into the dumps.

“I would ask everyone to be kind and not to make any remarks that may be harmful to Sbu. If you look at the comments and articles on social media, it’s quite frightening how stones are thrown at people.

“Everyone is going through stuff, no-one is immune to it. I would ask people to have a bit of respect for their fellow human beings.

“Unlike other jobs, our employees win or lose every Saturday and that’s pressure. I know it’s what they signed up for, but if they need help handling it then that support needs to be there,” Rathbone said.

Advisable not to watch Sharks at the moment; ugly win over Ospreys 0

Posted on March 29, 2023 by Ken

It’s probably advisable not to watch the Sharks play rugby at the moment because it’s a bit like watching someone struggle with a serious illness in hospital; their latest display being an ugly 25-10 win over the Ospreys at Kings Park in which they scored 14 points in the last three minutes.

The sacking of head coach Sean Everitt was not the instant panacea some people expected it would be, as the Sharks were still severely lacking in polish, error-ridden in the red zone and disorganised on attack. The fact that they were only leading by one point at home after 76 minutes against a side that had won just one of their previous eight matches says it all.

Of greatest concern was the number of basic errors they made, far too many to be considered serious contenders for any silverware.

That the Sharks had more than enough chances to put the Ospreys away was thanks to the utter dominance of their scrum and their excellent defence leading to several turnovers at the breakdown.

And yet, despite enjoying 60% of possession and territory in the first half, they could only lead 6-0 at the break through two Curwin Bosch penalties. The flyhalf was playing his first URC game of the season after a fractured arm in pre-season, and showed enough glimpses of class to suggest the Sharks should persevere with him in the No.10 jersey.

The Sharks were then rocked soon after the break when Ospreys scored a try of genuine quality. Eighthman Morgan Morris and prop Rhys Henry burst clear from a lineout inside their own half, and then there was great work down the short side by the forwards, leading to scrumhalf Matthew Aubrey being stopped just short of the line by a great Bosch tackle. The ball was recycled though and flyhalf Jack Walsh put in an excellent crosskick for wing Luke Morgan to score.

The Sharks did at least provide a prim and proper response as flank Sikhumbuzo Notshe turned over possession from the restart and then scored from close range after a maul.

Despite their dominance, the Sharks were left with a really nervous finish as the replacement front row conceded a scrum penalty and Morris forced his way between two poor tackles on the tryline to score and close the gap to just one point again with 13 minutes remaining.

The Sharks did at least finish strongly, sealing the win in the 77th minute as Bosch ran around to find a hole in the defence and score after the forwards had bashed away at close range against a stout Ospreys defence. Replacement flank James Venter then added some gravy as he forced his way over for a try.

But there was little for director of rugby and new head coach Neil Powell to feel comfortable about.


SharksTries: Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Curwin Bosch, James Venter. Conversions: Bosch (2). Penalties: Bosch (2).

OspreysTries: Luke Morgan, Morgan Morris.

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    Philemon 1:7 – “Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints.”

    “Every disciple of Jesus has a capacity for love. The most effective way to serve the Master is to share his love with others. Love can comfort, save the lost, and offer hope to those who need it. It can break down barriers, build bridges, establish relationships and heal wounds.” – A Shelter From The Storm, Solly Ozrovech

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