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Ken Borland

After his dozen years of All Blacks rugby, Whitelock knows his job 0

Posted on September 23, 2022 by Ken

Veteran lock Sam Whitelock has been a member of some great All Blacks teams during his dozen years of international rugby, and while New Zealand’s current slump may be confusing for many, the 33-year-old knows his job is to make sure his game is in the best possible condition in Saturday’s crunch Rugby Championship Test against the Springboks at Ellis Park.

Whitelock is a totem for an All Blacks side coach Ian Foster says is still in development, and not just because of his 6’8 stature or his 135 caps. The Crusaders legend has also provided much of the smarts for the 2011 and 2015 World Cup winners, and is a proven leader.

“I’m not used to having this many losses in an All Blacks jersey, but as a senior player, the main thing is to sort myself out first. I go back to what I can control and that is my own game. I look at what I can do better. I make sure I train well so that I can play well,” Whitelock said on Friday.

“There are always things you can improve on, whether that be in terms of skills, discipline or mentality. I’ve played under some great leaders and they all sort themselves out first when things are tough.

“We’ve got to be better, there were some improvements last weekend, but also things we did not nail. There are things we have to nail down as a forward pack.

“Test rugby is all about not getting sick of nailing the basics and there were basics we did not quite get right,” Whitelock said.

Playing in Johannesburg has been kind to Whitelock, who has won four out of five Tests there as well as a Super Rugby quarterfinal and final against the Lions at Ellis Park.

“The atmosphere is electric, it’s an amazing place to play. Both teams have had some great games there, and some really tough ones too,” Whitelock said.

“I immediately think back to 2013 when the Springboks scored a couple of quick tries, but we managed to come back and win 38-27.

“There’s massive history at Ellis Park, you go back to 1995, and we understand as All Blacks what it means for South Africa to play there. But it’s also one of the places we love to play at. “Driving in, it is very loud with fans of both sides banging on the bus and saying a few things. It’s an amazing place and you want to go out there and put your best foot forward,” Whitelock said.

Setting up victory did not come cheap for ‘critical but stable’ Malan 0

Posted on February 17, 2022 by Ken

Helping set up South Africa’s series-clinching victory over India in the second ODI in a sweltering Paarl on Friday did not come cheap for opening batsman Janneman Malan, who described his condition as being “critical but stable”.

On a day when the temperature reached 41°, Malan batted for two-and-a-half hours, scoring 91 off 108 balls, top-scoring as the Proteas chased down 288 with seven wickets and 11 balls to spare to complete remarkable back-to-back series wins over one of the superpowers of world cricket.

Malan put on 132 for the first wicket with Quinton de Kock, who blazed a quickfire 78, before solid 30s by Temba Bavuma, Aiden Markram and Rassie van der Dussen saw South Africa cruise to victory.

“It was way hotter than in the first ODI and it was always going to be a challenge for the body. But that’s what we work on our conditioning for. I feel critical but stable,” Malan, who cuts a rugged figure, said after the game.

His cricket brain was clearly as sharp as ever because he not only played a beautifully-judged innings for the situation, but also identified the two key areas where South Africa have had the edge over India in this series.

When India hammered the Proteas 5-1 in the 2018 ODI series here, spinners Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal took 33 cheap wickets between them. This time it has been Tabraiz Shamsi, Keshav Maharaj and even Markram who have had the wood over the Indian batsmen.

“We’ve handled their total overs of spin better than they have handled our overs of spin, and that has been a big confidence boost for us,” Malan said.

“Our playing and use of spin has been coming along for a couple of years now, we’ve been working really hard to improve and have better plans. Especially when the pitches are slow and its spinning.

“So we are using our sweeps, making sure they are well-executed to get the percentages our way.

“The other key thing has been partnerships. We made them work for every run and our bowlers kept getting wickets. We’re very proud that we had a century partnership and then two fifty-run ones. Those are really good signs,” Malan said.

Some of South Africa’s fielding on Friday was bad enough for their fans to fall of their chairs in front of their TVs, but the key characteristic of this team is their tenacity, which they have shown time and again in shocking the much-fancied Indian team.

As captain Bavuma said after the game: “I think as a team we have a lot of self-belief and confidence in our ability. We go out there and fight for one another. We really try to put in a real team effort.

“We don’t rely on superstars or one or two performances. Coming into this series, no one gave us much of a chance, so that really gave us motivation,” Bavuma said.

Bavuma aiming for a style of play fit for every condition & for every occasion 0

Posted on March 29, 2021 by Ken

New South Africa limited-overs captain Temba Bavuma said on Monday that he hopes to define a style of play for the Proteas that will be fit for every condition and for every occasion.

Bavuma will lead South Africa for the first time in the three ODIs against Pakistan which start at Centurion on April 2, followed by four T20 Internationals.

The Proteas’ failure to win any of the world cups is well-documented and their performances in the global tournaments seem to be getting worse rather than improving, their most recent failure being their dismal showing in England when they failed to advance to the knockout stage. South Africa have not played an ODI since their tremendous 3-0 whitewash of Australia little more than a year ago, but since the 2019 World Cup they have completed just five matches.

“South Africa have always been more than competitive in ODIs, we’ve been No.1 in the world before. As the leader I’m just going to try and define a style of play that we will be able to execute in any conditions and under any occasion. To do that, mentally we need to improve a lot, we need to get stronger. I’ll be trying to inspire and get the guys into a space where they can perform as well as they can.

“We want to be aggressive and able to dominate in all conditions. We definitely want to test ourselves more in conditions that may be ‘unfavourable’ for us, we want to see if we can execute our brand of play at all times. The mood is optimistic and hopefully I can lead the team to a couple of victories as we build to 2023. We really want to define our style of play,” Bavuma said on Monday.

Bavuma’s landmark appointment – he is the first Black African to lead South Africa – comes after he has played just six ODIs, but has scored 335 runs at a strike-rate of 92 in those games. While the 30-year-old has now scaled the Drakensberg in terms of his career, he knows he needs to keep posting performances to add to the rocks already on his cairn on top of the mountain.

“Those conversations about where I’ll bat are still ongoing, but it will probably be in the top three, I would like to think no further down than number four. But being versatile is something I pride myself on, it’s something I’ve always had to do. I’ve got to make sure I’ve got the skills to achieve whatever role I’m in. Obviously I’m excited by the responsibility.

“I’m going to enjoy the journey and this new chapter in my career, and I look forward to adding value with the bat. I have to stamp my mark on the game and I will be the guy on the field who the players will look to for decision-making and plans. It starts with communication off the field and then hopefully we can execute the plans,” Bavuma said.

Cricket South Africa in good health – they tell the players 0

Posted on October 23, 2020 by Ken

Cricket South Africa is in good health and the Board is staying put because of the great job they have been doing; that was the message the organisation conveyed to members of the national squad in a virtual meeting late last week, according to a Protea who spoke to The Citizen on Monday on condition of anonymity.

According to acting CEO Kugandrie Govender, the portrayal of CSA as a sickly, embattled federation is disinformation and she blamed the media for their woes, which include financial worries, a governance crisis that has forced the Minister of Sport to step in, no fixtures confirmed yet for the Proteas this summer and a Board and executive that has been wracked by resignations and dismissals.

Minister of Sport Nathi Mthethwa has been adamant that the Board should step aside and allow Sascoc to set up an interim board, with particular focus on the Fundudzi Forensic Report and implementing the recommendations of the Nicholson Commission from 2012. He has given CSA until October 27 to offer reasons in writing as to why he should not intervene.

CSA have given no response to Mthethwa’s damning statement from last week, but did try to reassure the players in a virtual meeting to which the players’ union were not invited.

“The Board were in on the call to us, and they said they are going nowhere. We were shocked,” the Protea said. “They were quite adamant about it. People like Temba Bavuma asked probing questions but Kugandrie just talked around it and didn’t answer our questions.”

CSA may have made a R50 million profit before taxation for the financial year ended April 30, according to their 2019/20 Annual Integrated Report, but their message to the players that they are in a stable financial position is based on several assumptions.

England may still arrive in South Africa in mid-November for six limited-overs matches which would bring in around R70 million for CSA, but there is no indication yet that government has approved that tour or that the scheduled tours by Sri Lanka and to Pakistan over December/January will happen. Australia are also meant to tour for a Test series at the end of the summer.

But the longer the current Board hangs on to power, and the governance scandals rumble on and on, the more damage is done to CSA’s credibilty and that has already had an effect on the bottom line with broadcasters, sponsors and supporters jumping ship.

It would seem CSA have relied on terrible legal advice from Bowmans – whose ties with CSA company secretary Welsh Gwaza, a former employee, are a concern – to bunker down and try and keep the forensic report they themselves commissioned as secret as possible.

While CSA’s directors may see themselves as corporate bigwigs not compelled to operate transparently, Mthethwa’s intervention is based strongly on CSA being a public entity, custodians of a sport that belongs to the public, and he can rely on broad support for his strong stance.

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    Philemon 1:7 – “Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints.”

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    If there’s a frustrating vacuum in your spiritual life and you fervently desire to serve the Lord but don’t know how you’re meant to do that, then start by loving others in his name.


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