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Ken Borland

Faf hopes JSK are over their batting woes after change in the order 0

Posted on February 07, 2024 by Ken

FOCUSED: Joburg Super Kings captain Faf du Plessis returned to form with a quickfire half-century, steering his team’s late charge into the SA20 playoffs at the Wanderers.
Photo: Ron Gaunt.

A change in their batting order has Joburg Super Kings captain Faf du Plessis hopeful that they are over their batting woes as they head into their do-or-die eliminator against the Paarl Royals at the Wanderers on Wednesday.

JSK just snuck into the playoffs courtesy of their rousing victory over then log-leaders Durban Super Giants at the Wanderers last weekend, successfully chasing down a daunting target of 204. Du Plessis himself was man of the match with his 57 off 29 balls, marking a return to form for the former Proteas captain who had averaged just 20.66 in the tournament up till then.

Leus du Plooy opened the batting with Du Plessis and also scored 57, with Wayne Madsen coming in at number three and scoring 44 not out off 29 balls as he partnered big-hitters Moeen Ali and Donovan Ferreira as they took the Super Kings to victory with a ball to spare.

“After we were bowled out for 78 by the Sunrisers here, I felt embarrassed for the sell-out crowd, you’re hurting as a player and as a team. You’re half-expecting them not to turn up for the next game because they think you’re down-and-out, but we are extremely grateful we have such great supporters and we’re really glad we turned things around,” Du Plessis said at the Wanderers on Tuesday.

“I’m really proud of the performance against DSG, we were under a lot of pressure and managed to chase more than 200 against the best team in the tournament so far. So we will take a lot of confidence from that because DSG are a remarkable side with such balance.

“Obviously you need your big players to perform in a competition like this to put you in contention and there’s no doubt me not scoring many runs before that had a huge impact on the confidence of the team.

“You hope a couple of batsmen will have a purple patch and carry the batting line-up, but we were a bit light in that respect. But once we found our rhythm, we had better starts and that flowed through the team. We made a change with Leus moving up front and tactically that was a good change.

“Reeza Hendricks is an unbelievable player, but with the ball gripping in the first six overs like it has here, having two right-handers open the batting made it an uphill battle. To have two different batsmen at the crease [right-hand & left-hand] is important, especially if there’s something in the conditions.

“Wayne Madsen has also been fantastic in the last couple of games. Last season the pitch spun quite a bit here and so we went for Wayne because he’s very experienced and plays spin really well, his game centres around sweeping and reverse-sweeping. He’s been brilliant for us and he’s also one of the reasons our batting is in a better place,” Du Plessis said.

For Paarl Royals captain David Miller, the major change they need is in how they finish innings with the ball, having lost their last four games on the trot.

“It’s not ideal losing the last four, but it would look different if we lost five matches scattered through the tournament and there’s no stress or panic in any way. I was really happy with the way we went about our game at St George’s Park, even though we lost.

“In previous games, the opposition has taken the match away from us in the last four/five overs. You think you’ve restricted them to a good score to chase, but then it becomes a massive total and, as a batsman, chasing 10 or 11 an over from the get-go, you’re under pressure.

“So we’ve been in the game until the 15th or 16th over, playing really good cricket, but we need to stick to our processes, that’s what we’ll look to correct. T20 cricket can switch quickly, we have worked really hard and we still finished third on the log. So we are really positive and we just need to find our mojo again,” Miller said.

Playing at home in the eliminator and also potentially Qualifier 2 should also pump up the tyres of the Joburg Super Kings, but Du Plessis admitted they have struggled to adapt to the vagaries of the Wanderers pitch.

“Being at home will make a difference, it can give you an extra 10%, although we have been a bit frustrated here because we have not been able to produce our best. We’ve been a bit unsure of what the pitch will do. Winning your matches at home means you will generally be near the top at the back end of the tournament.

“But the last game here had a really good cricket wicket and it did not make that much difference whether you batted or bowled first. In the first few matches here, the pitch was very dry in the first innings and that played a bit into the oppositions’ strengths.

“But against DSG it was about playing your best cricket and then the best team would end up on top. It was all about how well you do your skills,” Du Plessis said.

As Miller pointed out though, Paarl Royals have won both their matches on the Highveld this season. Lungi Ngidi took four wickets as they won a thriller against the Pretoria Capitals in Centurion, and then they took advantage of a messy display in the field by the Super Kings to chase down 169 at the Wanderers and beat them by five wickets with an over to spare.

But back-to-back defeats to both the Durban Super Giants and Sunrisers Eastern Cape has punctured the confidence of the Royals; just how deflated they are will be seen on Wednesday evening.

Lawrence did not bargain on the weekend that would change his life, and now his dreams are coming true 0

Posted on April 28, 2023 by Ken

When Thriston Lawrence arrived at Randpark Golf Club on Thursday, November 25, 2021, he did not bargain on it being the weekend that would change his life, and in some of the most chaotic circumstances ever.

It was the co-sanctioned Joburg Open, the first tournament after the European Tour had rebranded itself as the DP World Tour, and Lawrence’s first round was interrupted by an untimely thunderstorm when he was playing his final hole and was tied for the lead.

Mother Nature had an even bigger shock up her sleeve as the discovery of the Omicron variant of Covid by South African experts led to Britain making the drastic decision of imposing a ban on flights from South Africa, shortly followed later that night by many other European nations.

With several golfers withdrawing from the tournament in order to scramble home on the last few flights available, and the organisers cutting the event to three rounds, there was more rain and lightning on the second day, but Lawrence managed to complete his first round and get the full 18 holes in for his second round too, posting 65-65 for a four-shot lead.

So, on the third and now final day, many golfers still needed to finish their second rounds and with thundershowers returning around midday, no-one managed to finish their third round. And so Lawrence was awarded his maiden DP World Tour title.

It was just the second time he had won on the Sunshine Tour, and now he had full European playing privileges and a spot in the 2022 Open Championship at St Andrew’s. Lawrence’s Joburg Open triumph set in motion a staggering year that saw him also win the European Masters in August, as well as finishing tied-42nd in his Major debut.

He became the first South African to win the Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year, replicating the feat of such luminaries as Brooks Koepka, Sergio Garcia, Colin Montgomerie and Nick Faldo.

The 26-year-old Lawrence has made a tremendous start to the new DP World Tour season as well, last weekend winning the South African Open at Blair Atholl to go top of the order of merit.

“Everything I could’ve dreamed of happened this last year, my life changed and that motivates me to achieve even more in my career,” Lawrence said. “To play my first major at St Andrews, the Home of Golf, was incredible. Whatever I could’ve imagined it would be, it was triple that when I experienced it. I had my family with me and it was just incredible.

“Driving into Houghton Golf Club for the Joburg Open this year and seeing the signage with my photo and the trophy, you dream about those things when you’re a young golfer.

“Not much more than a year ago I never thought this would happen, and there’s a lot less pressure with that first win. And then you dream of moments like coming down the stretch at the SA Open, it’s what you strive for, in front of an amazing crowd. Those dreams have come true too, but it’s obviously not all the dreams I want to achieve, but it’s the start.

“It really motivates you because if you do that once you want to be there again. I just try to stay very calm in these situations [when contending]. But of course you do still get nerves and that gets the adrenaline flowing,” Lawrence said.

Born in Nelspruit on December 3, 1996, Lawrence is a bit of an anomaly when it comes to many golfer’s penchant for constantly tinkering with their swing and their game-plan – it sometimes seems like no sooner has a player found consistency with their swing than they bin it and try something new to try and get even better results.

Lawrence is a firm believer in ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’.

“It’s been a great year and hopefully there are many more wins to come. I think the key has been keeping everything the same, including the way I practise and my routine.

“I’ve just kept on doing what I do, sticking to my game-plan. I’m a big believer in not changing what is working. Lots of people do make changes, but this is a game you can’t perfect.”

Constantly seeking perfection can lead to some pretty dysfunctional behaviour and perhaps Lawrence’s greatest asset is his calm demeanour and his ability to take the rough with the smooth. His SA Open triumph was witnessed by many friends and family, and it was clear from the celebrations that the two-time SA Amateur champion (2013 & 2014) has several caring relationships in his life.

After his win at Blair Atholl, he had to spend more than an hour on the 18th green posing for a host of photographs for seemingly every sponsor under the sun and every member of the estate, as well as signing autographs and giving interviews. Lawrence did it all with a gentle smile on his face; no doubt that same patience and fortitude has much to do with his success as a golfer.

It all began when Lawrence was but five years old and his grandfather, who had retired to the Umdoni Park Golf Estate on the South Coast of KZN and had become a keen golfer, gave him a Little Tiger golf set. Lawrence remembers the set was red, colour-coded for the five-to-seven age-group.

Within a handful of years he was competing in junior tournaments – including at Leopard Creek where he is doing well right now in the Alfred Dunhill Championship – and he turned pro in 2014.

Having taken a couple of years to develop his winning nerve, he now has a collection of three DP World Titles, and it is a safe bet that that tally will increase.

Change of coach for Viljoen obviously brings dividends 0

Posted on November 07, 2022 by Ken

PORT EDWARD, KwaZulu-Natal – A change of coach for MJ Viljoen obviously brought dividends on Thursday as the 27-year-old surged to the top of the leaderboard in the SunBet Challenge hosted by Wild Coast Sun, shooting a six-under-par 64 to go into the final round with a one-stroke lead at the Wild Coast Country Club.

Viljoen started his second round on the 10th hole and blazed his way to the turn in just 29 strokes, collecting six birdies, including three in a row from the 16th. Although the strengthening of the wind meant his score of six-under stayed where it was on his inward nine due to one bogey, on the par-three sixth, being cancelled out by a birdie on the par-five seventh, the Serengeti Golf Estate representative had still done enough to hold off the challenge of Keenan Davidse.

Viljoen is on 11-under-par for the tournament, while Davidse had a more up-and-down day, with five birdies, three bogies and an eagle on the par-five 16th, leaving with him an excellent 66 that lifted him to 10-under overall.

“I was solid all day and I didn’t make mistakes. But I enjoyed my front nine a lot today, I was just hitting the ball so nicely and I felt in such control of things,” Viljoen said. “And then I got a bit excited and the wind got up on my back nine and put me on the back foot a bit.

“But I’ve been struggling for a couple of years now and I just had to make a change last week because I was putting myself under so much pressure. So I worked with a different coach in Dougie Wood, just for a different perspective.

“The change obviously paid off today so I will stick with it. How I felt on the golf course was more favourable,” Viljoen said.

Viljoen, who won his only Sunshine Tour title at the Sun Fish River Challenge in 2017, said his approach in Friday’s final round will be to try and replicate his outstanding form on holes 10 to 18 on Thursday.

“I was just focused on not making any mistakes, I hit the ball good and my putting and chipping were good too. So I will go out in the final round and try do what I did on the first two days.

“The big thing is I’m not worried about the outcome because I know I’ve improved, I’ve got something out of the last couple of weeks, and that’s more than enough for me. That gives me a head start, I reckon,” Viljoen said.

Apart from Davidse, Martin Vorster and Jaco Ahlers are also chasing hard on nine-under-par after they both shot 65s on Thursday, and Madalitso Muthiya (68), Heinrich Bruiners (67), Casey Jarvis (66) and Christiaan Burke (65) are just three strokes back on eight-under.

Overnight leader Jacques Blaauw had a tough time on Thursday and just could not get going, 16 pars and two bogies leaving him with a 72 that saw him slip down to six-under-par and a tie for 13th.

Elgar confirms no change to top six despite middle-order batting 0

Posted on October 10, 2022 by Ken

Despite the poor middle-order batting performance in the first Test, Proteas captain Dean Elgar confirmed on Wednesday that there will be no change to their top-six for the second Test against England, which starts at Old Trafford on Thursday.

At Lord’s last week, the top-three did a fine job laying a solid platform that took the Proteas to 160/2. But Aiden Markram (16), Rassie van der Dussen (19) and Kyle Verreynne (11) all missed out as they slipped to 210/6, allowing England back into the game.

It was thanks to the lower-order that South Africa had a lead of 161, enough to win by an innings.

Markram, who has not passed 50 in 13 Test innings, and Van der Dussen, no fifty in his last 11 innings, are under particular pressure for their places, but Elgar said they are safe for Old Trafford.

“We do have extra resources, but when the team is getting results then it becomes extremely important to back the players,” Elgar said. “These are proper batsmen and they are here for a reason.

“Hopefully they get everything right in this Test, and if we start firing in the middle-order then we will be even more difficult to beat. So I don’t see any change there.

“Consistency is key in Test cricket, even in selection. We need to back the horses we’ve been backing for some time. So we have selected the same 12 as Lord’s – that’s the XI there plus Simon Harmer.”

It is the sheer potency of the Proteas attack that will pose the biggest threat to England, and Elgar said he is hoping that his bowlers will be even better in Manchester.

“I reckon our bowlers can get much better. They had a brilliant game at Lord’s, the pitch assisted them so that needs to be taken into account, but they put the ball in the right area.

“They are extremely hungry for success, the competition between them is great to see and they display some of the most professional behaviour I’ve seen.

“They know the past is the past, the first Test is done and they need to start again and bring the intensity and heat again.

“If there is extra pace and bounce then I’m sure our fast bowlers will get it out of the pitch. We’ve got the right resources with two world-class spinners in our armoury and four fast bowlers,” Elgar said.

While the Proteas have become a tight-knit family enjoying each other’s success, Elgar is ensuring he still cracks the whip when necessary to push the team to further heights, like securing the series win.

“We want to create a sense of no-one taking their foot off the gas. We’re not going to change the way we play and we won’t be intimidated by whatever changes England make.

“This is a fresh squad with a lot of hunger, whenever we get into a comfortable position then that’s a bit of a red flag. It’s up to me and the coach to realign the team after every good result,” Elgar said.

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    Surrender yourself unconditionally to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, then you will be able to identify what is of man with the wisdom of the Holy Spirit. Then you will be able to serve – in love! – according to God’s will.

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