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Ken Borland

England cap SA lead at 161, but under real pressure with the bat 0

Posted on October 07, 2022 by Ken

England were able to cap South Africa’s first-innings lead at 161, but were under real pressure as they lost two early wickets in their second innings, taking lunch on 38/2 on the third day of the first Test at Lord’s on Friday.

Lungi Ngidi and Kagiso Rabada once again produced a top-class display of new-ball bowling, gaining a substantial amount of late movement, as they put openers Alex Lees and Zak Crawley through hell. Rabada should have had a wicket in the third over when Lees, on 4*, edged a loose drive which was heading straight into the hands of Aiden Markram at second slip. But Keegan Petersen at third slip showed a lack of good judgement as he dived one-handed in front of Markram and dropped the catch.

Given how much Crawley and Lees had struggled against the seaming and swinging ball, it was a surprise when Proteas captain Dean Elgar introduced left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj as early as the eighth over.

But Maharaj struck with his third ball, relieving Crawley of his torture as he trapped him lbw for 13 as he missed a sweep.

Maharaj then picked up a second wicket on the stroke of lunch, removing first-innings top-scorer Ollie Pope for just 5, also to an lbw decision, albeit on review. Pope shaped to come forward but then went back to work the ball leg-side, which was a fatal error as the ball zipped straight on into his pads.

South Africa began the day on 289/7, leading by 124, and they were rocked early on as Stuart Broad took a sensational catch at wide midwicket, leaping one-handed to dismiss Rabada for 3 on the third ball of the day, bowled by Matthew Potts.

England’s bowlers were over-reliant on the short ball against Marco Jansen and Anrich Nortje, and the pair added another useful 29 runs for the ninth wicket.

Nortje fought his way through the barrage and then played some plucky strokes as he ended with 28 not out, a great contribution down the order.

Jansen, who batted so well in pushing England back when they were on the front foot on the second evening, battled to be as fluent and eventually fell on a career-best 48, edging Broad into the slips.

South Africa were all out for 326 with Broad finishing with 3/71 in 19.1 overs and the ever-reliable Ben Stokes ending with the same figures off 18 overs.

Harmer returned with not much more than hope … now he’s in NZ 0

Posted on March 02, 2022 by Ken

Simon Harmer returned to South African cricket last year with not much more than hope that he would be able to make an international comeback too and be reunited with the precious green cap that was packed away in his debut Proteas kitbag in the Eastern Cape.

And now he is sitting in Christchurch, New Zealand, back in the Proteas camp for the first time since 2015. The prolific off-spinner had to go to some lengths to make sure the same cap he was given on his debut against the West Indies in Cape Town in January 2015 made the trip too.

“I’ve still got all my caps because my brother and I have a pact that we’ll have a beach-house together one day and all my memorabilia will be for the bar,” Harmer explained on Monday.

“My Test cap was in the bag I was given on my Proteas debut, but I was not sure it would ever see the light of day again. I had to get my mother-in-law to post it to Pretoria from Kenton-on-Sea.

“It was very nostalgic to see it again and it’s always something special when you get your new kit, all with the South African badge on it. I was like a kid on Christmas opening all the bags.

“I always aspired to play for South Africa, but being allowed to play cricket at home again, I was trying to keep my head down and focused on the Titans environment, while trying to get back into international cricket,” Harmer said.

The 32-year-old will probably still have to show the sort of patience that he is famous for with ball-in-hand because that long-awaited return to Test cricket is probably not going to happen on a Hagley Oval pitch that is seamer-friendly unless frontline spinner Keshav Maharaj is ruled out for some reason.

“The Hagley Oval is probably the greenest, quickest, best-bouncing pitch in New Zealand, so the chances of us playing two spinners are low,” Harmer admitted. “But I will just make sure that I am ready.

“I see myself as a supporting act to Kesh, who has done extremely well. So I will keep working hard, supporting the team and just trying to contribute however I can, whether that’s by playing good music in the changeroom, throwing balls or giving encouragement.

“I’m under no illusions, Victor Mpitsang [selection convenor] was transparent about how I fit into the whole structure, but I am here now and I will try and show what I’m about.

“I think I’ve matured a lot and I understand now what I need to do and how to go about things. When I first played for the Proteas I put so much pressure on myself, worrying what people thought and whether I was good enough. I’m a lot more comfortable in my skin now,” Harmer said.

Olivier no toady so we should believe him when he says he is massively honoured to return for SA 0

Posted on January 24, 2022 by Ken

Duanne Olivier is a big mean fast bowler and no toady trying to reingratiate himself with the South African public, so when he says, despite framing his Proteas cap, that he is massively honoured to play for the national team again, we should believe him.

Olivier last played for South Africa in February 2019, after which he declared himself a Kolpak player and therefore unavailable for the Proteas. His was a controversial departure too, because he was in the Test squad and had just negotiated a better contract with CSA.

When the Kolpak system was done away with due to Brexit, there were many who felt those players should not be selected again for the national team, but Olivier’s superb form for the Central Gauteng Lions has won the day.

But the 29-year-old seemed to have made peace with the fact that he might have played his last Test.

“I didn’t expect to play again, so I actually framed my baggy. It’s a massive frame … so I’m going to have to ask for a new cap if I’m selected in the XI or reframe it!” Olivier revealed on Thursday.

“But it’s a special feeling to get the call-up, I was so surprised to get the phone call when I was in Port Elizabeth with my wife, I didn’t expect it at all.

“It’s a massive honour and I’m very happy to be back. Wherever I can contribute, on or off the field, as 12th or 13th man, whatever, that’s what I want to do. I have not been here for nearly three years, so it’s very special to me.

“People will have mixed feelings about me playing, but that’s okay. I will deal with the criticism that comes with it, but I felt very welcome by the team when I came back,” Olivier said.

In Olivier’s first incarnation as a Test player, he was a fearsome fast bowler who worked batsmen over with pace and bounce as he generally dug the ball in short. But the former Free State and Yorkshire player says his bowling now has a few more qualities.

“I feel like a different player, I’m more mature now, a bit more grown-up. From a cricket point of view, the UK helped a lot and I was able to perfect that fuller length every bowler wants.

“Before, I became a bit floaty and wasn’t that consistent when I tried to bowl fuller. But three seasons in the UK have helped immensely with how I approach my bowling.

“I can still go short if I want to, but I feel like there are different elements to my game now and I believe in my strengths and processes.

“But I’m always nervous before I play and if I’m selected for the first Test then I think my nerves will shoot through the roof. The pressure and expectation is high, but it’s okay to feel it – it’s how you handle it that matters,” Olivier said.

Fisher Jnr looking to cap big year 0

Posted on January 30, 2016 by Ken

It’s been a big year for Trevor Fisher Junior and he could cap it all in the Chase to the Investec Cup Final over the weekend as he goes into the defence of his title at number one in the standings and with his eyes set once again on the R3.5 million bonus pool first prize.

Fisher Junior described his victory in last year’s event – winning both the tournament and the bonus pool prize – as life-changing and the 35-year-old then added victory in the Africa Open and a cherished European Tour exemption to his CV two weeks ago.

The Modderfontein golfer has a lead of 111.73 points in the standings and will collect a minimum of 180 points even if he finishes 30th and last in the elite-field event. Victory in the final comes with 1500 points, so that means there are 21 golfers who can catch Fisher Junior.

And Charl Schwartzel, South Africa’s highest-ranked golfer at number 33, is one of those in the field.

Schwartzel is currently at 14th in the Investec Cup standings, 1160.65 points behind Fisher Junior, but his focus is half on the Masters next month at Augusta, where he won in 2011.

George Coetzee, at number 67 in the world rankings, won the Tshwane Open at Pretoria Country Club last weekend in a display of impressive attacking golf and he will clearly be a threat this weekend as well.

The Investec Cup final starts at the Millvale Private Retreat in Koster, outside Rustenburg, on Thursday and, after two rounds there, moves to the Lost City course at Sun City for the finale.

Coetzee led going into the last round at the Lost City last year before being overtaken by Fisher Junior, so he has a score to settle.

The overseas challenge will be led by Morten Orum Madsen, the former SA Open champion, who is 19th in the standings.

The other South Africans who are strongly in the running for the bonus pool are Jacques Blaauw, second in the Tshwane Open last weekend, Danie van Tonder, Jaco Ahlers and the consistent Dean Burmester.

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