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Ken Borland

Harmer’s performance loans credibility to his long-term Proteas future 0

Posted on April 29, 2022 by Ken

Simon Harmer’s four wickets, as well as his valuable runs, on the second day of the first Test against Bangladesh at Kingsmead on Friday certainly loans credibility to his long-term future with the Proteas side, but it also answered a few of his own questions about whether he was still good enough for international cricket.

After six-and-a-half years and a record 55 Tests missed between appearances for the Proteas, Harmer took all four Bangladesh wickets to fall, for just 42 runs in 20 overs, as the tourists closed on 98/4 in reply to South Africa’s tidy first-innings total of 367.

That the Proteas reached that score after they had been reduced to 298/8 was thanks to Harmer’s determined 38 not out, as he shared important late partnerships with Lizaad Williams and Duanne Olivier.

“Bowling puts bread on my table, but I have worked hard on my batting this season because it hasn’t really gone to plan at domestic level,” Harmer said after play on Friday.

“Taking wickets is my currency though, winning games and trophies, and I have a feeling of vindication today. Although I’ve done it for Essex and now for the Titans, you do still ask yourself ‘Am I good enough for international cricket?’

“To take four wickets certainly answers a few of my own questions and it was a very good day, which I could not really have scripted better. For us to be in this position going into Day 3 is very good.

“We expected the pitch to turn a bit more actually, but we were able to bide our time. We had to bowl double-spin because it was too dark for pace, and Keshav Maharaj and I found some turn with the older ball as the pitch began to wear more,” Harmer said.

Harmer and Maharaj, who was wicketless but bowled well, sent down 39 of the 49 overs Bangladesh have faced. With the Proteas expecting the pitch to turn more and more, they are likely to play the key roles in the South African attack.

Harmer said his time at Essex – he has taken 491 first-class wickets between his last two Test appearances – has given him the confidence that his off-spin can be matchwinning fare.

“Essex gave me the platform to find myself again. I had been dropped by the Proteas and SA A, and I did not know if I would get a franchise contract. So I had a lot of self-doubt.

“But I rediscovered what made me successful, how to be a matchwinner and be more comfortable with that role.

“I now know that I can do it as an orthodox spinner, I have that level of confidence,” Harmer said.

Bulls’ decision loans some credibility to the Currie Cup 0

Posted on February 15, 2022 by Ken

The decision by the Bulls to field top players like Bismarck du Plessis, Marcell Coetzee, Morne Steyn, Harold Vorster and Lionel Mapoe in the Currie Cup loans some credibility to the competition, but truth be told, there can be little doubt that the famous old tournament is now on its last legs.

Of course it helps the Bulls that they have deep pockets thanks to the generous investment of their equity partners. But they should not be criticised for being professional and organised enough to attract those investments and also recognising the need to significantly improve the depth of their squad now that they are playing in two competitions at the same time.

The fact that they have been willing to field a number of players who will feature in Saturday’s URC derby against the Stormers shows that they, at least, are taking the Currie Cup seriously, unlike so many in South African rugby.

The Sharks are probably in an even better position financially, but they made a slow start to the Currie Cup by beating Griquas by just one point in Durban. But conditions – hot and humid and then raining – were definitely a levelling factor and the Sharks were not helped by having to play the final quarter with 14 men due to a red card. But even with all their riches – both in personnel and in finances – the Sharks only fielded one Springbok in 33-year-old prop Lourens Adriaanse.

The Bulls being 40-0 up against archrivals Western Province at Newlands and the Pumas putting fifty past the Lions at Ellis Park does little for the credibility of the Currie Cup.

Little wonder then that the public response has been muted. If SA Rugby is barely interested in the Currie Cup, why should spectators pay good money to support it? The Currie Cup, from being South African rugby’s second biggest brand after the Springboks, is now so devalued and the public are not going to be fooled by all the hype when there is little substance.

Some people do enjoy rugby more from the aesthetic of plenty of tries being scored and this mishmash Currie Cup will probably provide that. But even the Bulls are unlikely to use their top players in it once the United Rugby Championship gets into full swing.

SA Rugby find themselves with a problem because the URC hasn’t captured the public imagination yet like SuperRugby did in the early days. In that regard Covid has obviously not helped, neither have the poor performances of the South African franchises overseas.

But a disjointed, lopsided competition – Jake White made the point that Saturday’s game at Loftus Versfeld is the Bulls’ first at home in the URC, which started on September 24 – now also has its waters further muddied by the Currie Cup taking place at the same time.

I would call it an absolute howler by SA Rugby but there are some extenuating circumstances in their defence.

First of all, it is the provinces who have said they want a double-round of Currie Cup, which then becomes a challenge to fit into an already crowded calendar. Player workload concerns are also a factor, with URC starting in January and running through to June 18, after which there is the Test window.

But the last time a normal Currie Cup season was played in a double round, it began on June 18 and ended on September 11. I would still play the Currie Cup after the URC. Sure, the current Springboks would not play, but when last did they feature in a proper Currie Cup anyway?

At the moment, this most famous of domestic competitions has been reduced to Vodacom Cup status.

Bulls win massive not just for them but for SA rugby as a whole – Jake 0

Posted on November 08, 2021 by Ken

Jake White described his team’s 29-19 victory over the Cardiff Blues in their United Rugby Championship match at the Arms Park on Saturday night as being a huge result for not just the Bulls but for the whole of South African rugby as well as for the credibility of the new competition.

The Bulls result, achieved via a superb second-half comeback that saw them overturn a 3-16 deficit, completed a highly encouraging weekend for the previously beleaguered South African franchises.

It was the Sharks who set the ball rolling with a brilliant second-half comeback of their own against the Ospreys on Friday night, winning 27-13 after they were level 6-6 at the break. And then earlier on Saturday the Lions went down 13-9 to the Glasgow Warriors, who were awarded a try that never should have stood, while the Stormers fought back from 14-0 down after just six minutes to draw 20-20 with Edinburgh.

“It’s massive for us, for South African rugby, for everyone, it brings credibility to the competition,” White said. “We read in the media that viewership is through the roof and we certainly don’t want to lose and lose.

“It was a fantastic game for us, a great comeback after being 13-0 down and losing Johan Goosen to a knee injury. We were so resilient and I’m sure the URC are incredibly happy too because it shows there is healthy competition.

“We’re going to get massive confidence from this result and also from the way we played. I was really happy with the way we changed our attack, using forwards and backs, and we played with a lot of width at times too,” White said.

The Bulls were poor in the first half, unable to keep the ball for more than a couple of phases at a time, and this was largely due to another inept showing at the breakdowns by them.

But this all changed in the second half as they came out with some much-needed fire in the belly, started dominating the gain-line, hanging on to the ball for longer and this led to the pressure – and the wrath of the referee – shifting on to Cardiff at the breakdowns.

Veteran hooker Bismarck du Plessis was prominent in a tough first half for the Bulls, and he set the ball rolling early in the second half with a big carry, winning a penalty for the Bulls. Eighthman Elrigh Louw just tapped and went and was straight over for the try with no problem.

This certainly lifted the Bulls and a fantastic break by replacement flank Arno Botha followed, Marcell Coetzee, who really came to the fore in the second half, then carrying strongly to earn a penalty. This was slotted by Chris Smith, who replaced Goosen at flyhalf with enormous aplomb.

Suddenly the Bulls were just three points behind and then wing Madosh Tambwe scored a tremendous try on the hour mark. Good defensive pressure by centre Harold Vorster led to a poor pass by Cardiff, Tambwe was quickly up to kick the ball through and then showed searing pace to get there first, and then great control to gather the bouncing ball and score.

This gave the Bulls the lead for the first time and the excellent boot of Smith, who succeeded with all seven of his kicks at goal, ensured this advantage was never surrendered.


Cardiff Blues: Try – Matthew Screech. Conversion – Rhys Priestland. Penalties – Priestland (4).

Bulls: Tries – Elrigh Louw, Madosh Tambwe. Conversions – Chris Smith (2). Penalties – Smith (5).

Sascoc intervention a massive irony … but it may introduce top-class people 0

Posted on September 15, 2020 by Ken

There is a massive irony in a body such as Sascoc, wracked by internal strife and lacking credibility, making an intervention in the affairs of Cricket South Africa, a federation that seems to daily provide a new definition of rock-bottom.

But one can only hope this is a rocket (a spark would have little effect on the thick-skinned people sitting on the CSA Board) that leads to a real shift in the mindsets of those arrogant directors that refuse to budge a centimetre from a place at the top table of a sport they have parasitized rather than served.

If Sascoc threatening to take over does not force the CSA Board into standing down and releasing the Fundudzi Forensic Report, then the next option has to be for them to be threatened with being declared delinquent directors. There have been a litany of governance disasters at CSA over the last couple of years and there is no way they can continue to deny their own involvement and culpability.

There is no doubt people like former CEO Thabang Moroe and company secretary Welsh Gwaza have been involved in malfeasance, but who appointed and enabled these self-serving charlatans? The directors did and they have failed in their fiduciary duties, which have a clear legal basis.

The Members Council and the CSA Board of Directors are meeting together in Johannesburg over the weekend and, as one delegate put it, this is “make-or-break” time for the organisation. Will selfish, individualistic priorities prevail and continue the death spiral into chaos and oblivion? Or will there finally be some leadership and accountability shown?

Either way, Sascoc are going to impose a task team inquiring into CSA’s affairs, which is no bad thing. But if leadership and accountability win the day then there are enough top-class people who love cricket who will be able to step into the leadership vacuum and help CSA back to stability.

One of those is Judith February, a lawyer based at the Institute for Security Studies, the former head of IDASA’s governance programme, a Visiting Fellow at the Wits School of Governance, a trustee of the Nelson Mandela Foundation and a massive cricket fan.

“You cannot be on a board and not take responsibility, resigning just before the AGM is too little, too late because they have presided over matters to that point. Directors have left in silence or written letters, but it was because they did not flex their muscles that Thabang Moroe was allowed to operate in that way. CSA’s Memorandum of Incorporation is very clear and they have breached it on every front.

“We can join the dots intelligently and see that there is something deeply wrong with the system and the people who manage it and the people who oversee them. A clean break is the best option and clearly we need to interrogate why someone of such integrity and capability as Jacques Faul could find no space to work in CSA. The players’ statement about the boardroom shenanigans was also really important,” February said this week in a Daily Maverick webinar discussing cricket in South Africa’s fight for survival.

Does February, a governance specialist and former executive director of the HSRC’s Democracy and Governance unit, not just sound like the perfect candidate to be an independent director on a new-look CSA Board?

There are also some brilliant, impressive people on the Members Council – one thinks of Ben Dladla, Craig Nel, Anne Vilas and Tebogo Siko – who are dong their best to restore the credibility of CSA, but their efforts are being stymied by the presence of seven directors of the Board in the 14-strong Members Council itself.

The Nicholson Inquiry, which the CSA Board have now committed to return to eight years after its release, called for change in how the Board was constituted, recommending nine of the 12 directors be independents.

But in 2013 it was the selfsame Sascoc who refused to accept that and pressured CSA (although it probably suited their Board back then too) into going with a 7-5 split in favour of non-independents. And that’s a major reason why CSA are in the mess they are in now.

Directors without the competence, skills or experience to run a billion-and business have been voted in to ensure certain powerful figures enjoy support and can dispense patronage in return. In some cases, these directors have been earning twice as much from Board fees as from their ‘main’ source of income; no wonder they are desperate to keep their noses in the CSA trough.

In the coming weeks, Sascoc have a vital role to play in supporting the efforts of those who want to change this system and put cricket back in the control of people who firstly love and serve the game, and secondly have the expertise to run it properly.

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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.”

    “Every disciple of Jesus has a capacity for love. The most effective way to serve the Master is to share his love with others. Love can comfort, save the lost, and offer hope to those who need it. It can break down barriers, build bridges, establish relationships and heal wounds.” – A Shelter From The Storm, Solly Ozrovech

    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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