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Ken Borland

A team can’t just be full of Thors, you need the old heads of the domestic game too 0

Posted on October 28, 2022 by Ken

Putting together a successful team is not as simple as just buying the biggest names with the greatest strikepower; even The Avengers had one Thor but also important, more down-to-earth members like the Wasp, Hawkeye and Black Widow.

The same will apply to the SA20 franchises when they put together their final 17-man squads at the player auction in Cape Town on Monday, according to the veteran coaches who participated in a round-table discussion on Thursday.

“Planning is key before the auction, you need to have a clear outline and know exactly what you want,” Joburg Super Kings coach Eric Simons said. “It gets pretty hectic when the paddles start going up, so you need to be very clear about where the player you are bidding for fits into the team, rather than just going for someone because they’re a big name.

“You’re after two or three skills in one player and, from a Super Kings perspective, you also want local players who understand the conditions and the fans can get behind them.

“You need to build a common strategy and synergy, it’s 17 individuals but you have to make a team out of them, choose players who will play for that uniform,” Simons said.

“It’s not just 11 players who will win you the competition, probably 15 will have to get you over the line,” Durban Super Giants coach Lance Klusener said.

“The guys who come into the side as back-up towards the end of the competition become really important cogs.”

So one can expect old heads with intimate knowledge of all the domestic venues like Rassie van der Dussen, Dwaine Pretorius, Reeza Hendricks, Dane Vilas, Wayne Parnell and Jon-Jon Smuts to attract plenty of interest.

While it is a pity that the weakness of the rand means prices of overseas players are over-inflated, Simons, who has been coaching at the IPL for a decade, said the focus of these franchise leagues should always be on the local players.

“A lot of people make the mistake in thinking that the IPL is all about the international players. It’s not, it’s about Indian cricketers and it’s a privilege for us from overseas to be involved.

“The SA20 will be no different, it’s the local players who will make up the strength of the team. Building a very solid local component is a vital part of success.

“A lot of those South African players are very good value, but so far we know only their base prices, who knows where the bidding will end?

“There are certainly some guys who missed out on the pre-auction who I have no doubt there will be great interest in,” Simons said.

150th Open and Masters and U.S. Open all on Potgieter’s diary now 0

Posted on August 03, 2022 by Ken

The 150th Open next month at St Andrew’s and the Masters and the U.S. Open next year are all now on the diary of South Africa’s 17-year-old sensation Aldrich Potgieter after he won amateur golf’s biggest prize – the 127th Amateur Championship at Royal Lytham and St Annes – over the weekend.

Potgieter held off a strong comeback from Englishman Sam Bairstow to seal a 3 & 2 victory in the thrilling 36-hole final at the Lancashire links course. He became just the third South African to lift the prestigious title after Bobby Cole (Carnoustie, 1966) and Jovan Rebula (Royal Aberdeen, 2018), and the second-youngest winner of The Amateur since Matteo Manassero triumphed in 2009 at the age of 16.

“It’s really amazing,” Potgieter said. “I can’t really find the words; there’s no feeling like it and I haven’t felt this good before.

“It will take some time to sink in, because right now the words can’t even come out of my mind to describe how I feel,” the Mossel Bay golfer said.

And for now, all he can think about is teeing it up at one of the most famous venues in sport as the 150th celebration of the Open goes to the home of golf, St Andrews, where massive crowds are expected from July 14-17.

“I’m really excited. I played the Old Course recently during the St Andrews Links Trophy and it was really amazing. I’m really looking forward to the experience and The Open has always been my favourite Major because of all the history it holds.

“I never in my wildest dreams would have thought I’d be playing The Open at this age. It’s a dream come true and it’s going to be a tough few weeks, waiting out the return trip back to St Andrews,.” Potgieter said.

The staff at Pinnacle Point, where Potgieter plays his golf, were quick to celebrate his achievement on social media and it has been a meteoric rise for the big-hitter.

Potgieter and his family had been living in Australia for nine years before they returned to South Africa in December last year. Having been 6 000th on the World Amateur Golf Ranking in 2019, by the time he returned home, he had risen to 2 800th and was West Australia’s No.1 junior and ranked sixth in Australia.

He announced himself in spectacular fashion on the GolfRSA circuit, winning the Nomads SA Boys U19 Strokeplay Championship and backing up that tournament record 20-shot victory at Royal Cape with an 8 & 7 win to lift the SA Boys Matchplay title — becoming only the fifth junior since 1963 to complete that rare double after Richard Sterne (1999), Dylan Frittelli (2008), Zander Gous (2013) and Jayden Schaper (2015).

Ranked 140th in the world before the dream week at Royal Lytham, Potgieter has cemented his spot alongside fellow GolfRSA National Squad members Casey Jarvis and Yurav Premlall in the International Team for the 2022 Junior Presidents Cup in North Carolina in September.

Harmer has become a systematic winner of matches 0

Posted on March 07, 2022 by Ken

Perhaps the biggest change in the Simon Harmer who last played for South Africa in 2015 and the one who is now back in the Test squad in New Zealand is how the off-spinner has become a systematic winner of matches, mostly for Essex but now also for the Northerns Titans in the limited time he has spent with them.

Harmer has collected more first-class wickets than anyone else in the world over the last five years and he has taken 10 wickets in a match seven times in 64 matches for Essex, with 23 five-wicket hauls.

The 32-year-old has already taken 35 wickets in six matches for Northerns, playing key roles in their wins at Newlands (10 wickets) and in Bloemfontein (8 wickets).

“There’s been that perception that off-spinners in general are there to stop the game, go for two runs an over,” Harmer told The Citizen on Tuesday, “but that has shifted to being a wicket-taking option, someone able to win games.

“I have also changed and I now have the realisation that I can win games, I’m able to really influence the outcome. That has been a big change for me over the last few years.

“I’ve relished winning games for Essex and hopefully now even more for the Titans, winning games for them in the second innings in South African conditions.

“At the start of the season, conditions were not conducive to spin so my role was to hold up an end, stop the game, give the team control at one end while the seamers rotate,” Harmer said.

It is very apparent that a major part of Harmer’s development into being one of the world’s best off-spinners has simply been the amount of cricket he has played. The Pretoria-born star has thrived on playing back-to-back seasons in the northern and southern hemispheres. He was a bit more than a budding off-spinner when he signed as a Kolpak player in English county cricket, but he is now certainly in full bloom as a master of his craft.

“Playing back-to-back seasons has really helped me to evolve and develop much quicker,” Harmer said. “And it’s not just the number of games but also the different conditions you experience.

“In England the weather is different, you play with a Dukes ball and there are different pitches. So you learn a lot and you have to do it quickly. You learn about different grips, strategies and which variations work.

“I’ve learnt along the way to sum up what will work very early in a spell and you also need to be able to change things if they are not working, and still be accurate and consistent,” Harmer said.

Keshav Maharaj is almost exactly a year younger than him, having celebrated his 32nd birthday on Monday, while Harmer turns 33 on Thursday, and their experience and adaptability makes one feel the Proteas have their Test spin-bowling bases well covered.

The Europeans are missing, but the SA Open remains the biggest event, the young & old agree 0

Posted on January 06, 2022 by Ken

The Europeans may be largely missing but it does not detract from the tournament as the South African Open remains the biggest event of the year for local golfers, both the young and the old agreed at the Gary Player Country Club on Wednesday.

The hysterical reaction to the Omicron variant has ensured the 111th SA Open (the second oldest national open in golf) is no longer the second event of the new DP World Tour but is just a Sunshine Tour tournament. But the 156-man field will have as much focus on the famous trophy though as the $500 000 prize fund when they tee off on Thursday.

The flagship event remains one of the most cherished weeks in South African golf and being played at the Gary Player Country Club course at Sun City, the host of the Nedbank Golf Challenge that has provided so many historic moments, but has sadly been unable to be held during these times of Covid.

GolfRSA and the South African Golf Association are the custodians of the SA Open and there is always a strong amateur contingent at the event, aiming for the Freddie Tait Cup for the best-placed amateur who makes the cut.

Christiaan Maas is the reigning SA Amateur champion and No.1 in the rankings, and he said the anticipation building into the tournament has been huge.

“It’s such a big tournament and I’ve been looking forward to it since last year after winning the SA Amateur. This week is a very big thing for me because this is the biggest tournament in South Africa,” the 18-year-old Maas said on Wednesday.

At the other end of the scale, James Kingston is a former SA Open champion, having won at Pearl Valley in 2007. Having turned 56 this week, he is delighted to be mixing it with the youngsters once again.

“The thrill of playing in the SA Open never wears off, it is the most treasured event in South African golf. I’m sure it’s the same with other countries and their national open,” Kingston said.

“This is the most sought after title in South African golf and to be able to come to Sun City, having won the tournament before, means the world to me,” Kingston said.

The Gary Player Country Club has been craftily designed to be the ultimate test of stamina, skill and accuracy though, and merely straying into the rough can be devastating. The lengthy 7105m course has caused the cremation of many a top golfer’s hopes.

Long hitters like Shaun Norris, Wilco Nienaber, defending champion Christiaan Bezuidenhout and Danie van Tonder could be favoured, but don’t discount the skilful golfers like Garrick Higgo, Dylan Frittelli or Justin Harding, or those in hot form like Joburg Open winner Thriston Lawrence, European Tour star Dean Burmester or JC Ritchie.

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