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Ken Borland

Bavuma admits notorious chokers tag will now be hung around his Proteas’ necks 0

Posted on February 06, 2023 by Ken

Proteas captain Temba Bavuma did not explicitly say it was another case of South Africa choking at a cricket world cup after their shock loss to the Netherlands saw them eliminated from the T20 showpiece on Sunday, but he did admit that notorious tag would now be hung around their necks, like so many of their predecessors.

Needing to just beat qualifiers the Netherlands to make the semi-finals, the Proteas instead came out flat and uninspired, allowing the Dutch to post a challenging 158/4, and then batting limply to only manage 145/8 in reply.

“That tag will always be there until we get to a final and come out on the right side of it,” Bavuma said in the aftermath. “We have nothing else to blame, everything was in our own hands.

“We had the confidence, the belief and the form behind us, but when it mattered we just couldn’t do the business. There needs to be an element of learning to make sure young guys like Tristan Stubbs and Marco Jansen don’t make the same mistakes in future.

“But we are still going to carry that monkey on our backs, that tag. We knew we had to win the game, but I didn’t feel any different type of pressure personally.

“It’s very hard to say it was different because we knew we had to beat India and we won that game. We had the opportunity to make the semi-finals and we just did not take it,” Bavuma said.

Of his own future in the shortest format, Bavuma said he will park any decision on the captaincy until a new fulltime coach is appointed. The skipper admitted that all the speculation over his own poor batting form had also been unsettling.

“It’s been a tricky time and to consider the captaincy now, a lot of my thinking would be emotional. I probably will think about it and speak to the relevant people.

“We have to see who comes in as coach, generally the new person coming in might want a different leader to execute their vision. But I think I carried myself with dignity through the good and bad times.

“Mentally all the talk does affect you. You try to manage your mental space as much as you can, unfortunately social media and whatever is said about you, always seems to get to you no matter how you try to control it.

“I’ve tried to keep a level head through the good and bad times and stay as close to myself as possible. Not just for myself but for the group, who will now take a lot of flak, and rightfully so,” Bavuma said.

Strydom does the business with ‘most solid’ nine holes of his career 0

Posted on December 11, 2022 by Ken

Ockie Strydom with the Alfred Dunhill Championship trophy after he did the business in highly impressive fashion on the back nine at Leopard Creek.
Photo: Ken Borland

Ockie Strydom had been runner-up 19 times and won just once on the Sunshine Tour, but the 37-year-old did the business in highly impressive fashion on the back nine in the final round to win the Alfred Dunhill Championship by two strokes at Leopard Creek on Sunday.

Remarkably, it was a double-bogey on the par-four ninth that sparked Strydom, as he responded immediately to losing the outright lead with two brilliant approach shots, after crunching drives, to set up back-to-back birdies on the 10th and 11th holes.

Strydom short-sided himself on the ninth with his approach to the left of the flag, the ball spinning back into the water.

But he recovered to produce an impeccably solid back nine, with further birdies on the 13th and 14th holes and seldom looking in any danger of dropping a shot.

“It was probably the most solid nine holes I have played,” Strydom said. “After the double, I said to my caddy Jaris [Kruger, his brother-in-law], that it’s fine, we are still in there and we can pull it back.

“And then we did it in the first two holes of the back nine and just kept the foot on the pedal after that. I’ve been in this situation a lot and I know how to manage it. I was just able to go back to the game I know.

“I’ve put in a lot of hard work on my mental toughness and Jaris is a legend who really helped me. We discussed everything and I didn’t play any silly shots,” Strydom said.

Strydom closed with a three-under 69 to finish on 18-under-par, and while the victory was relatively easy in the end – “having a three-shot lead tends to take the nerves away,” Strydom admitted – the Serengeti Golf and Wildlife Estate representative had numerous challengers to worry about through his round.

Scott Jamieson was tied for the lead with Strydom overnight and it was only after eight holes that the experienced Scotsman slipped behind never to return. Jamieson bogeyed the last three holes to post a 76 and finish in a tie for 11th on 11-under, on a final day in which he just never loosened up.

Dean Burmester, two behind at the start of the day, cut the gap to one when he curled in a 27-foot birdie putt on the 10th, but he immediately dropped a shot on the 11th and could only post a level-par 72 to finish on 13-under, tied for seventh with Louis Oosthuizen, who eagled the 11th and also picked up birdies on the 13th and 15th holes to get to 14-under and provide a brief threat. But the 2005 runner-up finished par-par-bogey.

Spaniard Adrian Otaegui, a four-time European Tour winner, produced the only bogey-free round of the day to put Strydom under the most pressure.

Otaegui, beginning the day on 12-under, moved to within a shot of the lead with birdies on the second and third holes, and picked up another shot on the par-four 11th. But crucially, he could not gather any other birdies coming in, until he scored a four at the par-five closing hole.

His 68 left him on 16-under and alone in second place, one shot ahead of Englishman Laurie Canter, whose 64 was the low round of the day. He started with a bogey, but then fired seven birdies and an eagle at the par-four sixth to claim third place.

South Africans Oliver Bekker (71) and Branden Grace (70) at times applied pressure, but both had crucial misses on the back nine as they finished on 14-under, sharing fourth place with Canadian Aaron Cockerill (69).

South African MJ Daffue and Frenchman David Ravetto rounded out the top-10 on 12-under-par, both closing with 69s.

Strydom, the man of the day, however, now has a DP World Tour exemption for two years, when his goals for 2023 were a bit lower – the Challenge Tour.

“It means everything to me, all the South Africans on the Sunshine Tour dream of winning a co-sanctioned event and I always wanted to do it here,” Strydom said.

“I had planned to play a bit on the Challenge Tour, but it has all just changed in the space of a week. I probably need to do some fresh planning.

“My Dad said he would be satisfied if I win one of these co-sanctioned events, I’ve finally done it and to do it at Leopard Creek feels extra good.

“‘Winner of a co-sanctioned event’ has a nice ring to it, but I’m not sure I’m ready for it,” the perennial bridegroom laughed.

Judging by his performance on Sunday afternoon, Strydom looks ready for anything.

Salute understaffed Internationals for doing Presidents Cup credit 0

Posted on November 16, 2022 by Ken

One can only salute Trevor Immelman’s understaffed International team for their heroic comeback in the Presidents Cup at the weekend, and even though they were eventually beaten 17½-12½, they did themselves and, perhaps most importantly, the event a huge credit.

The United States had won the last eight successive editions of the biennial tournament, so they were overwhelming favourites even before the defections to LIV Golf decimated Immelman’s team. The South African captain was forced to choose eight rookies for the event. His highest-ranked player was Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama, ranked 14th in the world; there were 10 Americans ranked higher.

And then the Internationals suffered a nightmare start as they crashed 8-2, and then 11-4, behind on the first two days.

But the Internationals stood tall on the weekend, winning 10½ of the last 20 points. At one stage on the final day singles, they had closed to within two points of the United States, with several other games in the balance.

For those who love the Presidents Cup and team golf, it was wonderful to see the Internationals fight so hard to prove their competitiveness. They may have lost the match, but they ensured this event will survive for at least a while longer.

Many seasoned observers have marvelled at the number of long-range putts the Americans sank during the event. It almost seemed like whenever they looked at the hole, even from miles away, they would sink the putt.

While one should credit the hosts for their attacking mindset, it’s probably fair to say they also enjoyed some good fortune.

South Africa’s only other member of the team, Christiaan Bezuidenhout, was unbeaten with 1½ points, although he somewhat surprisingly only played two matches.

“We showed a lot of guts to fight back,” Immelman said after the defeat. “At some point this afternoon, I thought there was still a chance.

“When you consider we were 8-2 down, this team is no joke, and I’m sick and tired of it being spoken of as a joke. We love this event, we love our team, and we cannot wait to have another shot.”

Rabada would be your 1st choice of current SA bowlers to get on the Lord’s honours board … & he duly completed his task 0

Posted on October 04, 2022 by Ken

Kagiso Rabada would be your first choice of current South African bowlers to get up on the Lord’s honours board and he duly completed his five-wicket haul before the Proteas openers did their job on the second day of the first Test against England on Thursday.

Rabada bowled superbly in the first hour of the morning session, finishing with five for 52 in 19 overs as England were bowled out for just 165.

Captain Dean Elgar (12*) and Sarel Erwee (13*) then took South Africa through to 27 without loss at lunch.

England had resumed on a struggling 116 for six after the Proteas pacemen had dominated the 32 overs able to be played on the first day before rain washed out play. Ollie Pope was the key man for them on 61 not out, but the determined No.3 was the first batsman to fall on Thursday, in the fifth over of the day.

Erwee’s juggling attempt to catch Pope at first slip at the end of the first over of the day, bowled by Rabada, failed, but the batsman only added six more runs. Rabada kept plugging away with great control and skill just outside the off-stump, and Pope then inside-edged a big drive into his stumps to be bowled for 73.

A beautiful slower ball then accounted for Stuart Broad (15) and Rabada wrapped up his 12th five-wicket haul in his 73rd Test by trapping Jimmy Anderson lbw for a first-ball duck.

In between the dismissals of Broad and Anderson, Marco Jansen chipped in by bowling Jack Leach for 15.

Left-armer Jansen finished with two for 0 in eight overs and Anrich Nortje was also wonderful on the first day, finishing with three for 63 in 13 overs.

Some exquisite swing bowling by Anderson and Broad then created plenty of nervous moments for South Africa, and Elgar was dropped on seven by Zak Crawley at second slip off Matthew Potts, his angled-bat weakness outside off stump again coming to the fore.

But the opener survived the testing 12 overs before lunch.

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