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Ken Borland



Nkwe defends schedule as CSA ignore calls for more red-ball cricket 0

Posted on January 31, 2024 by Ken

Calls for increased red-ball cricket for the country’s domestic players have been ignored by Cricket South Africa in the fixtures for the forthcoming season, but director of cricket Enoch Nkwe has defended the schedule, saying there will be opportunity for more four-day cricket when there is more sponsorship for the format.

The coming season will once again see just a single round of matches in the CSA 4-Day Domestic competition, plus a five-day final. The majority of the competition will be played between November 4 and December 30, with two rounds in February and the final scheduled to begin on February 28. A shortage of long format cricket has been blamed for the Proteas’ poor results in recent years, especially in Test cricket.

The SA A team will also play three four-day matches against West Indies A between November 21 and December 8. But the programme will then be overwhelmed by T20 cricket, with not only the SA20 in January but then a T20 Challenge for more than seven weeks from March 8 to April 28. Most of the country’s top players will be unavailable for this tournament, with the IPL starting on March 29. And, at the end of a long season and so close to the SA20, there is bound to be an element of ‘cricket fatigue’ amongst fans and players.

“We did look at a double-round first-class competition, but we decided to put more investment into the SA A team,” Nkwe told Rapport. “Making a very strong Test side is a priority, and we can expose a pool of players in the SA A side, allowing Test coach Shukri Conrad to see them up close.

“We spend close to R300 million on all aspects of domestic cricket, on and off the field, and our members [unions] add to that as well. With more investment in four-day cricket, we will be able to have a double round, but it costs more because of the longer accommodation. We’re still looking to engage the corporate world on assisting with that,” Nkwe said.

In terms of a seven-week T20 competition shorn of its top players at the end of the season being a hard sale, Nkwe said it was an opportunity for fringe players to put forward their credentials.

“Ideally we’d like our T20 to be played before the SA20, but it’s a challenge fitting it all in. It all depends on what is more the priority in each season. This season we are starting with the One-Day Cup this month because of the 50-over World Cup beginning in October. Then with the next T20 World Cup in June 2024, we want to play a lot of T20 leading up to that.

“The T20 Challenge will test our system, it’s what we’re looking to implement – to tap into our depth by providing opportunities and growing it. I’ve seen really good T20 players in Division II and hopefully the competition will bring a different energy.

“Yes, there will be pressure at the back end of the season, but we had a long season in 2019, that was a lot more hectic. Managing players has become our number one priority, and also keeping our domestic cricket strong. But the ICC schedule is a challenge, making us juggle things. It will be red-ball cricket that is the priority in some seasons,” Nkwe said.

The former Proteas coach said they would also be encouraging the teams to transact loan agreements to ensure a high standard of play in domestic cricket.

“The loan system has always been there – you’ll remember I brought Lizaad Williams to the Lions in the 2019 T20 Challenge – it’s just not being used. But we’ll be encouraging the coaches to work together because we can’t have our best talent not playing.

“We’ve hit the reset button for domestic cricket because we recognise that it adds a lot of value, it is impactful in the way it feeds into the Proteas. We’ve introduced a five-day final to mirror what the World Test Championship does, SA A playing the middle of the season is a big investment and we’ve reinstated the Colts competition. It’s about a strong pathway moving forward and we are slowly all getting aligned,” Nkwe said.

CSA need a batting crisis plan that includes current players & coaches 0

Posted on September 04, 2023 by Ken

A dismal year of batting has come to an end for the Proteas, in which they reached previous lows achieved before only by the Bangladesh team as it first made its way in Test cricket, and Cricket South Africa urgently needs to implement some crisis planning that includes current players and coaches, and those who have recently retired.

South Africa were bowled out for less than 200 in seven successive Test innings, that dismal run only coming to an end in the second innings in Melbourne as a last-wicket stand of 27 between Lungi Ngidi and Anrich Nortje saw them stagger to 204 all out.

Only one team has had worse runs: Bangladesh with 12 scores of less than 200 in a row in 2001/02, just a year after they played their first Test, and eight in a row in 2018.

There were other unwanted statistics: South Africa’s batting average of 24.1 runs-per-wicket in the calendar year is the fourth-worst ever and scoring just two centuries and 19 fifties in 2022 is also amongst the top-three of meagre returns.*

The declining quality of domestic cricket has been fingered by many as being to blame for the poor quality of the Proteas batting, but the only people who will really know if this is true or not are those intimately involved with the local game. Coaches like Robin Peterson and Vinnie Barnes, current players like Dean Elgar, Rassie van der Dussen, Temba Bavuma and Aiden Markram, former greats like Faf du Plessis, Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers, even a youngster like Kyle Verreynne who has just come through the domestic system, should all be in the room and canvassed for their opinions.

It is with reluctance that I say the bean counters at CSA will also have to be involved because financial constraints have undoubtedly caused some of the problems.

We also need to have an urgent look at the standard of our pitches. Surfaces that favour pace bowlers have been pretty stock-standard in South African cricket for a long time and traditionally the country has produced some great fast bowlers.

But our depth is not as good as many believe – the pickings are fairly slim once you go past the fabulous foursome currently playing for the Proteas. One of the reasons for this is that our domestic pitches offer too much assistance – whether through excessive seam movement or inconsistent bounce – and our bowlers don’t learn the skills and game-plans required to do well on the better batting surfaces generally found at international level.

Australia have probably the deepest stocks of quality pace bowlers because they grow up learning their trade on good batting wickets, with pace and bounce that reward good bowling.

And that helps their batsmen, because they are always facing quality attacks at home as they come through the system.

The lack of depth in quality in our domestic attacks also affects the development of our batsmen – they are not tested for long enough periods and dodgy technique is not exposed and punished as it should be. Being able to build an innings and withstand pressure bowling from both ends for long periods are weaknesses we are currently seeing at Test level.

Unfortunately, when it comes to systemic issues, there are no quick fixes. The kneejerk reaction of getting an entirely new top six in is unlikely to work because that removes what little experience there is and the Proteas will start at zero again.

Unless CSA really look after, nurture and prioritise the level below the Proteas, then these unusually low batting returns, which are happening in all three international formats, will become the norm.

It is also going to require CSA undoing some of the policy decisions made in recent years that have weakened the domestic game.

*Stats courtesy of Sampath Bandarupalli of CricInfo

CSA’s dictatorial treatment of Magala should receive more attention 0

Posted on February 10, 2023 by Ken

Temba Bavuma and the Proteas will no doubt still receive more than their fair share of flak for the next few weeks following their shock exit at the hands of the Netherlands in the T20 World Cup, but it is only right that Cricket South Africa come under scrutiny too for their handling of the domestic game.

The Proteas are the end result of whatever comes through the domestic system, so that pipeline is of vital importance. The first domestic tournament has already come to an end with the Northerns Titans winning the CSA T20 Challenge in Potchefstroom last weekend.

As provincial cricket so often is these days, it was a low-key event, not helped by it all taking place in one little university town. But CSA’s cost-cutting necessities are understandable.

But what is neither understandable nor acceptable is the way CSA impose so many other agendas, other than performance simply being the be-all and end-all, on the provincial teams.

The fact that CSA issued a directive forbidding the Central Gauteng Lions from choosing their star player, Sisanda Magala, simply because he failed their fitness tests, should cause all the provincial CEOs to rise up and reject such interference in their affairs by the mother body.

Magala is the sort of T20 specialist, with his death-bowling skills and hard-hitting batting, who could have made the Lions genuine contenders for a tournament in which they finished fifth, just two points away from the semi-finals.

The Lions missed out on vital promotion/relegation points because they were severely hamstrung by CSA. A player on the fringes of the national team – many believe he should have been in Australia for the World Cup – was also denied the opportunity to further build on his sizeable reputation.

And Magala’s credentials have not just been praised by great fast bowlers such as Dale Steyn and Shaun Pollock; the most ruthless judges of them all, the Indian IPL team owners, clearly rate the 31-year-old very highly too – he was bought for R5.4 million by the Sunrisers Eastern Cape in the SA20 Auction.

Magala’s ‘crime’ was that he cannot run a two-kilometre time trial in eight minutes, 30 seconds, missing out by a few seconds and that was enough for some jobsworth at CSA to ban him from playing in the CSA T20 Challenge. The big lad is actually pretty athletic in the field and never has a problem bowling his four overs and is quite capable of running quick singles. Where running two kilometres applies to batting and bowling I would love to know.

With so much at stake for the provinces – relegation would be a financial disaster for a team like the Lions – the day is surely coming when they challenge any policies imposed on them that stop them from performing at their best.

This over-emphasis on arbitrary fitness tests is surely something that falls under the ambit of director of cricket Enoch Nkwe and he needs to address it.

Not having Magala, one of our best cricketers, playing is also doing a disservice to transformation. In order to reach their targets, the Lions actually had to rope in a club cricketer to replace their star all-rounder on the morning the tournament started.

Magala’s treatment is just yet another example of South African cricket hurting itself. How did forcing him on to the sidelines serve the game or make it better?

Perhaps the day South Africa finally win a cricket world cup is the day when high performance, winning or getting results (call it what you will) is the only focus for our teams.

CSA question timing of 2018 great ball-tampering scandal allegations 0

Posted on January 16, 2023 by Ken

Cricket South Africa have questioned the timing of former Australian captain Tim Paine’s allegations that the Proteas were also doing illegal work on the ball now that the great ball-tampering scandal of 2018 is back in the news.

Paine inherited the captaincy after Steve Smith was suspended, but stood down in November last year after it was revealed the married cricketer had been sending explicit messages to a Cricket Tasmania employee.

Paine’s autobiography, The Price Paid, was released on Tuesday and his shock accusations will obviously be great publicity for the book. Paine accuses the Proteas of ball-tampering even after Australia’s skulduggery with sandpaper was exposed at Newlands in the third Test, and David Warner, Cameron Bancroft and Smith were sent home in disgrace.

“I saw it happen in the fourth Test of that series. Think about that. After everything that had happened in Cape Town, after all the headlines and bans and carry-on,” Paine writes.

“I was standing at the bowlers’ end in the next Test when a shot came up on the screen of a South African player at mid-off having a huge crack at the ball.

“The television director, who had played an active role in catching out Cam, immediately pulled the shot off the screen.

“We went to the umpires about it, which might seem a bit poor, but we’d been slaughtered and were convinced they’d been up to it since the first Test. But the footage got lost. As it would,” Paine complained.

CSA chief executive Pholetsi Moseki told The Citizen it was upsetting that none of these allegations were made at the time of the numerous investigations that were held, and are now only appearing four-and-a-half years later.

“CSA and Cricket Australia have engaged on this matter and the necessary sanctions levied at the time. Both bodies have reiterated their commitment to a clean game, … above reproach,” Moseki said on Tuesday.

“It is unfortunate that allegations of ball-tampering are emerging at this stage, which information could have been useful had it come out at the time when the rot in the game was being rooted out.

“While CSA respects the rights of individuals to air their opinions, it also calls upon all those who love the game to come forward with any information of misconduct on the field at the appropriate time, and not wait for time to elapse. This will assist the relevant authorities within the system to investigate and institute appropriate relevant sanctions should they be required,” Moseki said.

Without their sandpaper, Australia’s attack in the fourth Test at the Wanderers had as much venom as a granny doing flower-arranging as the Proteas piled up 488 and 344/6 declared. Australia’s batting was equally lame as they crashed to 221 and 119 all out to be thrashed by 492 runs.

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    John 15:16 – “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.”

    Our Christian experience begins when the Holy Spirit starts working in our imperfect lives. An inexplicable restlessness and a feeling that nothing can give you the satisfaction you yearn for, could be the Spirit working in you.

    Even when God calls you and chooses you to serve him, there may be inner conflict and confusion because you are not always willing to do what God is asking of you.

    But this inner struggle is part of spiritual life … Commit yourself to God and open yourself to the inflowing of the Holy Spirit.

    It is by great grace that you were chosen by God to serve him and to live to the honour and glory of his name. Surrender unconditionally to the Lord and you will discover that your life gains new meaning and purpose.



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