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Ken Borland

SA make 311-7 as Wanderers pitch flat like Sharjah & then seaming & turning 0

Posted on March 08, 2023 by Ken

Tony de Zorzi was ruthless through square on the off-side.

The Wanderers pitch went through several character changes on Wednesday, the opening day of the second Test between South Africa and the West Indies: for much of the day it seemed as flat as one of those batting beauties in Sharjah, but it ended with medium-pacer Kyle Mayers toying with the batsmen with movement off the seam, while the pitch had also been spinning.

Through all that, having won an important toss and batted, the Proteas closed on 311 for seven. That solid total was built around an excellent display by the top-order, which took them to 247 for two at tea. The final session belonged to the West Indies as Mayers claimed two late wickets and the South African middle-order again faltered.

The opening hour, under overcast skies, saw the new ball move around, but the West Indies did not bowl particularly well and Dean Elgar and Aiden Markram’s positive approach saw them prosper.

As the skies cleared and the moisture burnt off, Elgar and Markram took control. They added 76 for the first wicket to go with their 141 on the first day of the first Test, and it was totally against the run of play when Elgar was dismissed for 42. It was a fluent rather than a fighting innings by the left-hander, coming off just 54 balls with seven fours.

Elgar’s propensity to get himself out in this series will worry him a little, and on Wednesday he swept a delivery down leg from left-arm spinner Gudakesh Motie to short fine-leg diving forward.

The best batting of the day then followed as Markram, driving and pulling imperiously, and Tony de Zorzi, ruthless through square on the off-side, added 116 for the second wicket in a little more than an hour-and-a-half.

Markram was on the brink of a second successive century midway through the second session and was so dominant he probably felt he could get to three figures with some cute improvisation. Trying to scoop-sweep Motie, he did not connect properly and Jermaine Blackwood ran from slip to the leg-side to take the catch. Markram was out for 96 off only 139 deliveries, having struck 17 fours, another innings of undeniable class as the 28-year-old resurrects his Test career.

De Zorzi, the youngster of the batting line-up, batted for longer than anyone else on the first day: 219 minutes. He saw, and adapted to, all the challenges of the changing pitch. Having scored 85, he was in position to push for a maiden Test century in just his third innings, but Motie obtained some sharp turn to bowl the left-hander through the gate as he looked for an aggressive drive.

It was an innings that showcased defiant defence as well as some fine strokeplay, evidence that this former SA U19 captain has a game that is now maturing.

“Obviously it was a good opportunity to get a hundred, Dean and Aiden having given the innings a nice base,” De Zorzi said after the close of play. “So I was disappointed not to get over the line, I just tried to be too greedy against that particular ball.

“The pitch did change through the day, it was a bit soft in the morning because of the moisture, but after lunch it was harder because of the sun and a bit quicker, and the nicks started carrying. There was also a bit of turn.

“From my SA U19 days, a lot has changed. I may have been the captain but I was not the star of that side and I went back to club cricket afterwards. It’s been a long process and I’ve done a lot of dirty work to get there. Things are starting to happen and I’m just really happy to be here,” De Zorzi said.

From 247 for two, the rest of the day became a bit like hard admin for the Proteas. Temba Bavuma (28) notched the third successive fifty partnership as he put on 56 for the third wicket with De Zorzi.

But Bavuma then suffered a misjudgement, shouldering arms to a Jason Holder delivery that pitched on the large bare patch at the Golf Course End and was trapped lbw.

Ryan Rickelton scored 22 but then tried to cut an Alzarri Joseph delivery that he should have left with the second new ball imminent.

Then Mayers returned to produce two beautiful deliveries and two late wickets that left the West Indies feeling good about the last session in which they claimed five wickets for 64 runs in 27.2 overs.

Wiaan Mulder (12) was bowled through the gate by a ball that zipped back into him, while Simon Harmer (1) received a wobble-seam delivery that nipped away just enough to find his edge and have him caught behind for a single, off what became the last ball of the day.

Heinrich Klaasen will be batting with the tail on Thursday morning, having reached 17 not out.

Rickelton in for Rassie, but Proteas considering other changes too 0

Posted on October 21, 2022 by Ken

South Africa are bringing in Ryan Rickelton for the injured Rassie van der Dussen for the third and decisive Test against England at The Oval from Thursday, but they are considering other changes as well as captain Dean Elgar continued to express his disappointment with the batting.

The 26-year-old Rickelton will win his third Test cap after scoring 114 runs in two Tests against Bangladesh at the end of last summer. He played four first-class matches for Northamptonshire in June/July and collected two centuries and four fifties.

The other changes the Proteas are expected to think long and hard about are whether to continue playing a second frontline spinner in Simon Harmer or recall Marco Jansen, and whether to make a second change to the batting line-up by leaving out the struggling Aiden Markram and bringing in Khaya Zondo or all-rounder Wiaan Mulder.

“Ryan is in and we’re pretty confident about him after he had a decent stint in the UK playing county cricket, it’s his chance to hopefully shine,” Elgar said on Wednesday.

“But we’ve done a lot of thinking and spoken about tough decisions, and I’m sure there might be one or two extra changes. I know how much top-order runs mean to set up victory for a team.

“We’ve spoken at length about that and now it’s time to walk the talk. Our batting at Old Trafford was not our proudest moment, but you’ve got to go through the grief and then crack on and focus on what’s next.

“We’ve had a few rough matches in the past and at the end of the day we have come out okay. I like to think that past experience will play a part and we can stand up and bring our best game,” Elgar said.

Test aficionados will be delighted that the series is coming down to a decider in the last match and Elgar said the third Test would be his biggest game since taking over the captaincy.

“This is the biggest Test so far in my captaincy period, it’s like a World Cup final for us, that’s the way I view it, and the players know and sense that. It’s one of those Tests you play as if it is your last.

“We need to empty the tank and leave everything on the field. It’s going to be huge, it’s a massive game for us. I’ve never experienced a series win against England, so that’s in 10 years.

“So it would be massive for me if we win, but also for the youngsters in the team. We are going in with real confidence. We may be in the World Test Championship final later because we are in a really good spot – if we manage to win this Test then we’ll be back at number one,” Elgar said.

Elgar no longer willing to wait before middle-order clicks 0

Posted on October 14, 2022 by Ken

Having last week given the impression he believed it was only a matter of time before the middle-order clicks, Proteas captain Dean Elgar now seems to have lost patience and said changes were going to happen for the third and decisive Test against England starting at The Oval on September 8.

South Africa will be forced to make at least one change to the batting line-up, with Rassie van der Dussen returning home with a fractured left index finger.

Van der Dussen’s place has been under pressure as he has now gone 13 innings without a Test half-century, although his 41 in the second innings at Old Trafford, spending nearly three hours at the crease when his finger was obviously causing him pain, was a substantial effort. It probably would have saved him, but ironically he now cannot play.

Aiden Markram is still very much in the firing line, having gone 15 innings without reaching fifty. His only chance of survival would seem to be if the Proteas management decide it would be too risky bringing two inexperienced players into the middle-order for the series-decider.

Van der Dussen is likely to be replaced by Ryan Rickelton, who has played two Tests against Bangladesh at home, or Khaya Zondo, whose only Test cap came as a concussion substitute on the final morning of the Gqeberha Test against Bangladesh, and he did not bat.

“There are a few tough decisions coming our way,” Elgar said after the Proteas’ innings defeat in Manchester. “Obviously we have to replace Rassie, so that’s a definite change.

“But whether that’s the only change, we’ll have to see, we’ve got a few days to get ourselves a better combination. The bottom line is that we need runs from the middle-order and they have let us down quite a bit. The guys know it already.”

Markram’s cause is not helped by both his dismissals at Old Trafford making him look like a clot: In the first innings he fell crucially just before lunch, skying a pull at a Ben Stokes long-hop outside off-stump; in the second innings he got a nick to an ambitious drive on the up, outside off-stump, against Stuart Broad.

Proteas environment alienates no-one & now player-driven so players happy – Boucher 0

Posted on July 05, 2021 by Ken

Far from being an environment that alienates anyone, the Proteas camp now has a player-driven culture and everyone has bought into the new captaincy ideas of Dean Elgar, coach Mark Boucher said when asked whether the team looked so happy just because they won the Test series against the West Indies or whether there have been off-field changes that have made a difference.

Boucher said the triumph was the result of “a lot of hard work” off the field and some hard chats the team had sitting around the fire in Pretoria on their pre-tour camp.

“When we sat around the fire in Pretoria, the new captain [Elgar] asked some questions about where we are and where we want to go and there were some tough conversations about the necessity of performing for the Proteas badge again. It’s been quite a tough couple of months for certain guys. But the players are now driving the value system they put on the table in our Skukuza culture camp last year, which is why they’re so happy.

“The team have played really well. We have not won away from home for a long time and the belief taken away from that is important. We asked them to play for each other and we’ve seen that, it was really a team effort and we played the big moments very well.

“The best place to learn is in foreign conditions and we learned a lot of lessons in Pakistan. Different conditions are what develops players. The skills have been executed fairly well and I look forward to seeing how we go when we’re put under pressure because then we can judge whether we are really on track,” Boucher said.

The former captain, Quinton de Kock, was the player of the series for his 237 runs at an average of 118, and far from being angry at his demotion, the wicketkeeper/batsman responded with a flurry of runs and was a breath of fresh air in the changeroom as well.

“Quinny’s been through a tough time of late, not scoring the same amount of runs as he’s used to, but he made such an impact on the whole series. While the other batsmen did well to bat time and force the bowlers to come back for third and fourth spells, Quinny has that x-factor that means he can just take the game away from the opposition.

“I’m very happy that he’s in a very good space and he’s been fantastic off the field, funny and lighthearted. And the way he’s kept wicket has been so good too, he’s been very neat and taken some great catches,” Boucher said.

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