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Ken Borland



Zondo able to marry experience with fighting spirit 0

Posted on December 20, 2023 by Ken

Khaya Zondo was able to marry the experience he has in domestic cricket with a fighting spirit as he top-scored for the Proteas on another torrid day in their Test series against Australia on Saturday, and he is confident that he and his team-mates can do it again on Sunday’s final day to save the third Test in Sydney.

Zondo scored a career-best 39 in nearly two hours at the crease as South Africa struggled to 149/6 in the two sessions that were able to be played on the fourth day. That means they are still 127 runs short of avoiding the follow-on; they are likely to have to bat through 98 overs on Sunday, but they do have 14 wickets in hand on a pitch that demands watchfulness but is far from a minefield.

Zondo shared partnerships of 48 with Temba Bavuma (35) and 45 with Kyle Verreynne (19).

“We have one day to bat, we have done it before so I’m sure we can do it again,” Zondo said after stumps on the penultimate day at the Sydney Cricket Ground. The pitch is like the one in Pietermaritzburg, so it’s familiar to me as a Durban player.

“It’s not quick, there’s turn every now and then and it’s not reversing a lot. They are just using the crease and creating angles. The short ball doesn’t get up, so that is the only challenge from the perspective of facing the seamers. You’ve got to watch it and play instead of trying to get under it.

“The conditions dictate how you must play, whether the ball is turning or not, the pitch is quick or slow; and Temba and I felt out there that we needed to be quick on our feet, whether we were coming down the wicket or going back in the crease. Certain shots are better options,” Zondo said.

Although he is 32-years-old, Zondo’s sole real experience of Test cricket has been against the powerful English and Australian attacks, away from home and in often testing conditions for batting. His Test debut against Bangladesh last April came as a Covid substitute on the final day when South Africa had already completed their batting. His seven innings have now brought 120 runs at an average of 20 – figures that suggest he is worth persevering with, especially when compared to the returns of some of his colleagues who have been given more opportunity.

The Westville Boys’ High School product is feeling positive about his prospects, a mood he said is shared by his team-mates in the changeroom despite their miserable time in Australia.

“I’ve only had a short international career, I’ve only played England and Australia at their homes and those are two top attacks,” Zondo said. “But it’s been a good experience.

“It’s comforting to know that I am able to play against the best and hold my own. It’s just about spending more time at this level and then hopefully I can dominate one day.

“If I’m selected more, then I have to make sure I perform to play every game. The last year has been challenging, but if you can get through that then you can play at this level.

“For me it’s about taking every opportunity, playing as much cricket as I can get. If it’s first-class cricket, then I must go there and nail that; if it’s SA A games, then I must nail that,” Zondo said.

Sharks have become hot property in dramatic turnaround 0

Posted on September 26, 2023 by Ken

One of the great characteristics of rugby is how quickly a team’s fortunes can turn around and the Sharks have gone, in the space of a month, from being a beleaguered team on the defensive to hot property that looks capable of challenging for silverware.

At the beginning of December, the Sharks had just axed coach Sean Everitt and were retreating into a laager as director of rugby Neil Powell tried to fend off questions about the decision and even refused to talk about Siya Kolisi apparently being injured.

But they have started January with a thumping over the Bulls, their nemeses for the last couple of years, and they have charged up into the top five of the United Rugby Championship log, with games in hand on everyone above them, as well as winning their opening two Champions Cup matches.

The strong run has coincided with Kolisi finding the sort of rampaging form that he regularly brings to the Springboks, and Eben Etzebeth, Bongi Mbonambi and Makazole Mapimpi have also lived up to their billing as world-class internationals.

The amount of power the Sharks have when at full-strength is enough to make electricians beam with joy and Bulls coach Jake White pinpointed this as the key factor when his side was overwhelmed at Kings Park at the weekend.

But the Sharks’ biggest challenge might well be coming up. Because of the hectic schedule involving two European competitions, Powell is going to have to unplug and recharge some of those Springboks due to their workloads. Can the Sharks still maintain a push for at least one title after shedding their star players?

They have two crucial matches coming up against the Stormers in February and March, and those thrilling encounters will go a long way to deciding who wins the South African Shield in the URC.

It has also been wonderful to see the reception the Sharks’ resurgence has received from their supporters, with especially large crowds at Kings Park over the last two weekends, with around 50 000 spectators in total over the two matches against the Lions and Bulls over the festive season.

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/

Grace & Walters the leading South Africans; can count themselves lucky to be in NGC 0

Posted on February 10, 2023 by Ken

Branden Grace and Justin Walters are the leading South Africans after the first round of the Nedbank Golf Challenge and both can probably count themselves as being fortunate to be in the tournament.

Grace and Walters both shot two-under-par 70s to be in share of 12th place, and six shots off Ryan Fox’s lead, alongside Max Kieffer, Romain Langasque, David Law, Paul Waring, Dale Whitnell, Matthew Jordan and defending champion and highest-ranked golfer, Tommy Fleetwood.

Grace was one-over-par at the turn and picked up three birdies on the back nine to turn his round around, and Walters started his round on the 10th and struggled initially, with a double-bogey and a bogey before his turn, but then he picked up four birdies on the front nine and did not drop another shot.

Grace is one of the golfers who has joined the controversial LIV Tour and is 207th on the DP World Tour rankings, well out of the qualifying spaces, and the last South African winner of the Nedbank Golf Challenge, in 2017, relied on an invitation to be in the tournament.

Walters is 72st on the order of merit and relied on a few top golfers not coming to Sun City for his place.

“It’s very nice to be here and I’m just grateful to the DP World Tour, Nedbank and Sun International for the invite,” Grace said. “I love coming back here. It’s really nice to see your name on the walkway on the ninth and your trophy photo on the 18th. It helps your self-belief.”

Perhaps not coincidentally, Grace’s resurgence began shortly after the turn.

“I was my familiar couple-over-par after the first couple of holes, I don’t know what it is about the front nine here. I always seem to be on the back foot, but I managed to get it together.

“My first goal was to just be level-par after the ninth, and in the end I’m very happy to be two-under. The back nine was an opportunity for me to go after things a bit.

“With my shape and length off the tee, I just have more opportunities on the back nine. But especially on a golf course like this, you are never too far away from falling,” Grace said.

For Walters, his Nedbank Golf Challenge debut is enough of a highlight for the 42-year-old, who has won twice on the Sunshine Tour.

“It’s my first Nedbank Golf Challenge. I’ve been a pro for 20 years, I’ve been around and I always wanted to play in it, so I’m just trying to put my best foot forward.

“When I was 21, I played with my Dad at Country Club Johannesburg and I shot 61. He said if I keep playing like that then I will play in the Nedbank Golf Challenge in a couple of years.

“It’s taken twenty years, but I am here now. Unfortunately I made a pretty bad start, I was rattled a bit. But then I made a few putts, starting with a 30-footer on the third, and I felt the switch of momentum,” Walters said.

“I hit some great shots coming in and golf is all about momentum – you get it going in your direction and then you must just ride the wave.”

Shaun Norris and Richard Sterne were the other South Africans under par, sneaking in with 71s, while Oliver Bekker, JC Ritchie and George Coetzee finished level-par.

It was not such a great day for Christiaan Bezuidenhout (+1) or Thriston Lawrence (+2), who could both only register one birdie, while Zander Lombard shot a 76.

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    “Attempting to serve the Lord without the strength of the Holy Spirit results in frustration and ultimate disaster.

    “If your vision of him grows dim, your service will become powerless and ineffective. This will happen if your spiritual reserves are not regularly replenished through prayer and meditation.

    “You must put him first in all your activities. Your service for him must be the result of your intimate knowledge of him. Only when he enjoys priority in all things, can you understand life from his perspective. Putting Christ first in your life and work makes you a more capable servant of God.” – A Shelter From The Storm, Solly Ozrovech



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