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Ken Borland

You can tell Pink Day was a grave disappointment when … 2

Posted on December 17, 2023 by Ken

Arshdeep Singh was the destroyer of the Proteas batting at the Wanderers on Pink Day.

You can tell Pink Day was a grave disappointment at the Wanderers on Sunday when even India’s bowling hero, Arshdeep Singh, sounded a bit disappointed that no Proteas batsman could pose any serious challenge to him at a venue that used to be famous for spectacular batting exploits.

South Africa, choosing to bat first, were bundled out for just 116 in 27.3 overs, their lowest ever ODI total at home, with Arshdeep doing the bulk of the damage with career-best figures of five for 37 in his 10 overs.

The left-arm quick rocked the Proteas early with back-to-back wickets in his first over, the second of the innings, as he bowled Reeza Hendricks off the inside edge and then trapped Rassie van der Dussen lbw, both batsmen out for ducks on their home ground.

Tony de Zorzi led a slight shift in momentum as he scored 28 off 22 balls before being caught behind off Arshdeep in the eighth over, leaving the home side 42 for three. With Avesh Khan getting in on the action with brilliant figures of 8-3-27-4, South Africa then lost four wickets for 31 runs as they crashed to 73 for eight.

Avesh also took two wickets in two balls when he bowled Aiden Markram (12), also playing on, and then trapped Wiaan Mulder lbw, making it a team hat-trick as Arshdeep had bowled Heinrich Klaasen (6) at the end of the previous over with a lethal delivery that jagged back to hit the top of leg-stump.

That South Africa made it to 116 was thanks to Andile Phehlukwayo, whose defiant 33 came off 49 deliveries and included a couple of sweetly-struck sixes.

A used pitch – the same one that the Proteas batting crumbled on in the midweek T20 match – that offered considerable lateral movement, was not was expected on Pink Day, which is usually a pretty miserable day for bowlers.

Arshdeep sounded a little disappointed that the hype did not live up to expectation.

“I went to dinner last night with Axar Patel and Avesh and we were talking about how brutal the Proteas are on Pink Day, just hitting sixes all the time. We actually spoke about hopefully trying to restrict them to less than 400,” Arshdeep said after his man-of-the-match performance.

“But there was a bit of moisture in the pitch and it was also a bit up-and-down. The plan was really simple, to hit good areas and try and extract that movement, get nicks and lbws.”

There may be some questions over why groundsman Brendon Frost, who served for many years at Benoni’s Willowmoore Park, used a used pitch for the showpiece Pink Day occasion and also why it broke with tradition by being so bowler friendly. But according to the Central Gauteng Lions, the Proteas actually asked for the same pitch used for the T20 game.

But India’s brilliant bowling and South Africa’s meek failure to adapt meant their own attack barely had a chance to defend their meagre total. That became no chance when debutant Sai Sudharsan (55* off 43 balls) and Shreyas Iyer (52 off 45) added 88 for the second wicket.

The Proteas eventually bended the knee with 200 balls remaining in the match, surely their worst ever display on Pink Day and one that left a large but not capacity crowd mostly only halfway through the vats of booze they were hoping to consume.

South Africa batting coach JP Duminy did not exude any bitterness about the conditions and did not want to be drawn into a discussion of whether such pitches are good for ODI cricket, especially on important occasions like Pink Day. He said it was up to a batting line-up that, De Zorzi apart, has plenty of experience, to adapt better.

“In ODI cricket, you want a good competition between bat and ball. In the first phase of the game, the ball did a lot more than expected. We did expect it to do something, we make decisions based on previous information and we know at the Wanderers that if you get through the new ball then batting becomes easier,” Duminy said.

“Yes, conditions played a role today, but that can never be an excuse, we still have to find a way. Credit to the Indian bowlers, they bowled particularly well, but we need to understand the options that are there in those conditions.

“The batting has been pretty consistent for a period of time, but now we need to take accountability, our execution will always be judged and now is a time for reflection,” Duminy said.

With the match all over, done-and-dusted by 2.15pm, the Proteas certainly left themselves plenty of time for post-mortems.

Jake ‘massively disappointed’, but says it’s not the end of the world 0

Posted on December 21, 2022 by Ken

Although Bulls coach Jake White admitted he was “massively disappointed” by their performance and heavy defeat to Glasgow Warriors at the weekend, he said it was not the end of the world, pointing out that at this time last year, the eventual runners-up in the United Rugby Championship had only won one match.

The 35-21 loss was the Bulls’ first in four matches this season, and undoubtedly their most flat, lacklustre performance for a long time.

“Sometimes you just have a bad day at the office, it was difficult today, we had to play catch-up against the pace of the 4G pitch and Glasgow’s accuracy and physicality,” White said.

“We are still a very young group of players, but I told them there are no excuses, sometimes we let teams play well against us. I’m massively disappointed.

“We looked like young boys at times, while they had men, and we missed some tackles. The players know that I am disappointed and they are too. And I can’t fast-forward age or experience.

“But it’s a long tour and season, and one poor game does not mean we can’t still win the competition. This time last year we only had one win and we still made the final. We won’t lie down and die,” White said.

The last time the Bulls came across referee Andrew Brace was in the URC final in June, and White moaned about his performance after their loss to the Stormers. Against Glasgow, it was noticeable how many times the Bulls were penalised at the attacking breakdown inside the Warriors’ 22.

“It’s worrying that Glasgow didn’t concede anything inside our 22, but every time we were in their 22, something would go wrong. There was also Elrigh Louw’s yellow card.

“I can’t understand how every time we were five metres from their line we would make a mistake, but they got everything right in the same position in our half.

“We’ve been very accurate in the 22 with our forwards before, and the players really have no idea what went wrong tonight. And there was cleaning past the ball when you’re not allowed to touch the scrumhalf.

“But those are not the reasons we lost – we played poorly, we weren’t up for it and we looked lethargic – blame that, not two or three calls. It’s the nature of the competition away from home,” White said.

It was also quite a voyage for the Bulls to get to Glasgow in the northern United Kingdom. They had to travel for 24 hours, flying to Doha and then Edinburgh, before catching a bus to Glasgow. But White said that did not excuse their display.

“The travel is not an excuse. The Lions went for 27 hours and they have won all three of their games,” White stated.

All Blacks ‘disappointed and hurt’, focused on being more clinical and efficient – Cane 0

Posted on September 19, 2022 by Ken

All Blacks captain Sam Cane on Tuesday described their squad as being “disappointed and hurt” by their comprehensive defeat in their opening Rugby Championship Test against the Springboks in Nelspruit last weekend, and he says this week has been all about ensuring they are more clinical and efficient.

While the Springboks are buoyant after their 26-10 win, their second biggest ever over their greatest rivals, the All Blacks go to Ellis Park on Saturday having lost three matches in a row this year including the previous two defeats to Ireland.

“As disappointed and hurt as we are, there is nowhere else we would want to be than having another crack at them,” Cane said after New Zealand’s training session in Inanda on Tuesday.

“We are far happier getting back on the horse that sitting on the plane back home not having won a Test. Yesterday [Monday] we had a good look at the opportunities we wasted and where we need to be sharper.

“We have been brutally honest with each other, it’s nothing personal but just trying to get better as a team as a whole. We’re obviously not happy with the results, but there’s been no lack of effort.

“It’s a good camp to be involved in, hand on heart we are tight as a group, but it’s just frustrating that that’s not translating on to the field. There’s a trophy [Freedom Cup] on the line at Ellis Park and we are desperate for a better performance,” Cane said.

While the loose forward praised the Springboks for “knowing their game and executing extremely well”, he said the All Blacks had focused in their training on not just key weak points in Nelspruit like the aerial battle and the breakdown, but also on the unexpected.

“There were 15 contestable kicks last weekend and we only took five of them, so we expect the Springboks to keep going with that, and they also had good success at the breakdown,” Cane said.

“But it would be naïve not to think they will try to exploit us in different areas too. So our focus has been more on what we can control.

“I thought we had good intensity last week, but their pressure in key moments flipped our momentum. In the first half we were hardly able to have a crack at them.

“Our defensive intensity was right up there, we defended the breakdowns really well. So I don’t think we’re far off and there were definitely steps in the right direction,” Cane said.

Sponsors are also disappointed in Currie Cup losing prestige 0

Posted on August 08, 2022 by Ken

Bulls Currie Cup coach Gert Smal has made clear how disappointed he is in how the once-great competition has been “devalued” and it seems sponsors Carling Black Label are also concerned about the “loss of prestige” in what was once one of the strongest brands in South African rugby.

The Bulls, trying to contend in two tournaments at the same time, made it to the semi-finals with their mix-and-match squads, but eventually the URC had to take priority and they went down 30-19 to Griquas last weekend at Loftus Versfeld.

Smal’s point was that unless the top players in the country are involved, the Currie Cup becomes devalued. And next year it is likely to be even worse because the top five franchises will have an extra European competition to contend with.

Arne Rust, the Carling Black Label Brand Director, told The Citizen the situation with the URC and the Currie Cup taking place concurrently was not ideal.

“It’s been hard to manage and it seems the Currie Cup has lost a bit of prestige. We would love to get that back,” Rust said.

“We would like to see the importance of the Currie Cup heightened rather than it becoming a development tournament.

“We’re not worried there aren’t any Springboks, but we would like the premier local players to take part, we want to see the next generation of Springboks in the Currie Cup.

“The possibility of it becoming an U23 competition is a question we’re not sure about, we want the Currie Cup to be a showcase, to still feature the premier players,” Rust said.

With the European season running from September to June, and with 2023 World Cup arrangements also coming into the reckoning, there is a growing groundswell of opinion that perhaps the Currie Cup should be played at a different time.

With the Springboks usually off-limits for the Currie Cup anyway, there should be a way that SA Rugby can fit the famous event into the second half of the year.

“If SA Rugby can create more daylight for the Currie Cup then that is always good for us,” Rust said. “We are going to have some detailed calendar conversations in future.

“We would like to see the Currie Cup come into its own, it has such a rich heritage and history. We would love it to be more esteemed and prestigious,” Rust said.

With Smal using words such as “sacred” to describe the Currie Cup, and suggesting SA rugby should “rather put the famous trophy away in a glass box or a museum unless they restore its respect”, it is clear there is still a strong emotional connection to the tournament.

*Rugby fans wishing to select their team for the Carling Champions Match against Italy A on July 2 in Gqeberha can still do so by buying a 750ml quart or 500ml can of Black Label and follow the instructions on the pack, or go to or use Facebook Messenger.

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