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Ken Borland

Maketa the coach that just refuses to go away; his patience rewarded 0

Posted on January 27, 2023 by Ken

In many ways, Malibongwe Maketa is the coach that just refuses to go away and his patience and consistent excellence has finally seen him rewarded with the post of Proteas interim head coach for their Test tour of Australia.

The three Tests in Australia, between December 17 and January 8, are South Africa’s penultimate series in the ICC World Test Championship, in which they currently lie second, 10 percentage points behind Australia. So if the Proteas win the series 2-1 or 1-0 then they will catch Australia up, but any bigger victory will see South Africa take top spot. Their final series is against the West Indies at home early next year.

The 42-year-old Maketa has long been highly-rated as a coach ever since his work as head coach of the Eastern Cape Warriors team from 2014/15 to the end of 2017, especially in white-ball cricket in which he steered the under-resourced franchise to two finals and a share of the One-Day Cup title.

He then became an assistant coach for the Proteas under Ottis Gibson, unfortunately a poisoned chalice for his career. Not only was he tarnished by the under-performance and eventual collapse of the national team in 2019, but his talents as a head coach were lying dormant.

When he lost his job at the same time as Gibson was let go, it seemed that Maketa would have to go back to the bottom of the coaching pecking order again. Fortunately, former director of cricket Graeme Smith restored Maketa to his rightful place as a head coach, giving him the SA A job that he has held up till now.

After his own unsatisfactory experience as an assistant coach, current director of cricket Enoch Nkwe fully understands Maketa’s struggle, but the fact that he has spent a lot of time around international cricket and is also heavily involved in the growth of the next generation of Proteas will stand him in good stead.

“Malibongwe … is a familiar face to the environment and has worked in the same space previously when he served as assistant coach,” Nkwe said in a CSA statement.

“Mali knows most of the players well, they know him too; and with such a short time between now and the tour, we as Cricket South Africa felt we needed someone who could step in immediately and lead us through what is an important series for the Proteas. We have no doubt he will do South Africans proud in this series.”

CSA chief executive officer Pholetsi Moseki said: “Malibongwe has earned respect and acclaim as a coach and a leader. This interim appointment is in recognition of his ability to integrate himself into any system and assure continuity.

“As no stranger to the Proteas set-up, I am confident that he will acquit himself well and hit the ground running.”

After the Australia series, South Africa’s next international commitment is an ODI series at home against England at the end of January.

Sipamla at the start of the chain, slick & consistent deliveries what he brings 0

Posted on August 25, 2022 by Ken

The Central Gauteng Lions did their bit for Mandela Day this week by packing boxes of food and hygiene products to be distributed by humanitarian aid organisations. A chain of players then relayed them from the field to the stands by throwing the boxes to each other. At the start of this chain was Lutho Sipamla, showing the sort of slick, consistent delivery that is demanded of Springbok scrumhalves.

Consistency is also what the 24-year-old paceman brings in his bowling; in his three Test appearances so far he has taken 11 wickets at an average of just 22.27. But he has also impressed with his ability to bowl regularly in a channel, which Sipamla believes is going to be important re the upcoming Test series against England, who have revitalised their fortunes with an aggressive approach to batting.

“Watching their past few games, whoever the bowlers, England have really come after them,” Sipamla told The Citizen. “Their brand of cricket has been a lot more attacking.

“So line-and-length is going to be really important and controlling your channel for as long as possible. It’s going to be about patience and sticking to simple plans.

“I think if we can do that, with our attack, then we can come out on top. Either way, I know I would have really learnt a lot by the end of the tour,” Sipamla said.

Given his inexperience at international level, there is little doubt England’s aggressive batsmen will target Sipamla, but the Port Elizabeth product says he is happy to carry the fight to the batsmen if they do go after him.

“If the batsmen do show a lot of intent, then you have your zone as a bowler and if the batsman makes a mistake then he gets out; that’s my game-plan,” Sipamla said.

“I like the challenge of it being you against the batsman, that contest in the moment, I want to own and win the battle.”

The other thing Sipamla wants is to enjoy a proper cricket tour to one of the great homes of the game.

“Grey High School went on a tour of England in 2016, my matric year, but this will be my first proper international experience and I’m really looking forward to it,” Sipamla said.

“Just to see England and explore it and the touring side of life, I’m just going to enjoy it because it’s going to be great to be back. There’s a lot to do in England.

“And the Tests are at such historic grounds [Lord’s, Old Trafford and the Oval] and to be at Lord’s is going to be unbelievable. I know our pace attack and what they have in the bag, and what better place to show it,” Sipamla said.

How do the Sharks make sure they do the business against the Bulls? 0

Posted on March 07, 2022 by Ken

Sharks hooker Bongi Mbonambi said not allowing outside influences to affect the inside of the team, and pulling together to make sure there were consistent energy levels between the forwards and backs, were the main things they needed to improve on from their loss to the Stormers if they are to beat the Bulls in their United Rugby Championship match in Pretoria on Saturday.

But are there any other things the Sharks need to do to make sure they do the business against the Bulls?

  1. They need to start much better.

Especially playing away from home, as they were last weekend and will be at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday, they cannot afford to allow the home team to settle and dictate the run of play. But the Sharks seemed somehow distracted and not fully focused on the task at hand against a fired-up Stormers side. The Sharks lacked energy and intensity in the opening exchanges, which perhaps contributed to several handling errors. It meant they struggled to gain any momentum.

  1. They need secure, more consistent set-pieces.

Solid set-piece displays were a feature of the Sharks’ impressive win in Johannesburg a fortnight ago and their scrummaging was outstanding against the Stormers in Durban, although they still allowed their opponents to sneak the draw. But in Cape Town, they gave away crucial scrum penalties and were untidy at key moments in the lineouts. Their woes in Pretoria recently have started up front and they cannot afford to give the Bulls an advantage in the set-pieces.

  1. They need to fix their breakdown work.

You can tell the opposition have enjoyed a field day at the rucks when their openside flank gets man of the match as Deon Fourie did in Cape Town. The Sharks conceded turnovers and penalties at the breakdown at vital moments, which needs to be rectified. Their lack of organisation and/or accuracy at the breakdown is also having a telling effect on their attacking efforts because they are not securing enough quick ball.

  1. They need to sort out their personnel at flyhalf and inside centre.

Although he is a quality player, moving Lukhanyo Am to inside centre seems to have adulterated their backline, with his defensive organisation sorely missed at outside centre. Bringing Marius Louw back into the No.12 jersey would allow Am to have his usual impact at No.13, but flyhalf is also a troubling position for the Sharks. What Tito Bonilla brought on attack was undone by his defensive lapses.

Sharks looking to outlast Bulls, but neither team expect a gentle introduction 0

Posted on September 29, 2021 by Ken

Neither the Bulls nor the Sharks are expecting a gentle introduction into the Currie Cup final at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday, with the defending champions looking to settle the outcome early on, while the visitors are aiming to exert consistent pressure for the whole game.

In the semi-finals last weekend, the Bulls blew Western Province away in the opening 16 minutes by racing into a 24-5 lead; the Sharks had to go the distance in seeing off Griquas 28-24.

“We basically beat Western Province in the first quarter and I expect to start the same way as we did last week, why not? We’ve only made two changes to the team and the Sharks lost two weeks ago at home to the same Western Province team that was on the ropes against us. Last year’s extra-time final is irrelevant, all the Springboks played and now the Sharks are missing seven guys in Australia.

“If it’s going to be a dogfight, finals rugby, whatever; we must just play at our best. Western Province were desperate when they beat the Sharks and so if we are more desperate than them tomorrow then we will be okay. if you look at the trophy and the history, if it’s just another game for us then we’ve lost perspective. We have a massive opportunity to be the first team to win the Currie Cup twice in one year,” fired-up Bulls coach Jake White said on Friday.

The Sharks are expecting to have to weather an early storm and will then be hoping to outlast the Bulls.

“Both teams are going to have to handle the intensity. The Bulls were sublime in the first 20 minutes against Western Province and that will pose a challenge. There will be nerves and the team that settles down first will make a better start, which is really important in a game of this magnitude. You can’t underestimate the influence of scoreboard pressure.

“So we can’t afford to give away early penalties. We want a consistent performance and it has built character for us to play under pressure to qualify for the final, that helps. We have also played quite a few games at altitude and coped very well, we don’t see it as a factor and two weeks ago we beat the Lions by fifty points. We will play what’s in front of us and a full defensive line means there’s space behind,” Sharks coach Sean Everitt said.

Both teams have had halfback issues.

Johan Goosen, who was instrumental in the Bulls’ semifinal win with his skill and vision, has tested positive for Covid and has been replaced at flyhalf by Chris Smith, who came off the bench and kicked the 79th-minute penalty to level the scores in last season’s final between the same two teams at the same venue. There is no specialist flyhalf cover on the bench with wing Ruan Combrinck or rookie utility back David Coetzer bracketed amongst the reserves.

The Sharks have SA A scrumhalf Sanele Nohamba starting, but with Jaden Hendrikse, Grant Williams and Cameron Wright all injured, U20 player Lucky Dlepu, uncapped at senior level, is on the bench.


Bulls: David Kriel, Cornal Hendricks, Lionel Mapoe, Harold Vorster, Madosh Tambwe, Chris Smith, Zak Burger, Elrigh Louw, Arno Botha, Marcell Coetzee, Ruan Nortje, Janko Swanepoel, Mornay Smith, Joe van Zyl, Gerhard Steenekamp. Bench – Jan-Hendrik Wessels, Simphiwe Matanzima, Jacques van Rooyen, Jacques du Plessis, WJ Steenkamp, Keagan Johannes, Ruan Combrinck/David Coetzer, Stravino Jacobs.

Sharks: Curwin Bosch, Yaw Penxe, Werner Kok, Marius Louw, Thaakir Abrahams, Lionel Cronje, Sanele Nohamba, Phepsi Buthelezi (c), Henco Venter, Dylan Richardson, Gerbrandt Grobler, Le Roux Roets, Thomas du Toit, Kerron van Vuuren, Khwezi Mona. Bench – Dan Jooste, Ntuthuko Mchunu, Khutha Mchunu, Thembelani Bholi, Reniel Hugo, Lucky Dlepu, Jeremy Ward, Anthony Volmink.

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