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Ken Borland

No shelter for Proteas from honest, harsh discussions – Bavuma 0

Posted on March 28, 2022 by Ken

The Proteas may have spent the last couple of days off the field in reflection, but Test vice-captain Temba Bavuma said there was no shelter from the honest, harsh discussions they needed to have in the wake of their humiliating innings-and-276-run defeat at the hands of New Zealand in the first Test in Christchurch.

With the second Test against the reigning world champions starting at the same venue at midnight on Thursday evening South African time, the Proteas need to produce a drastically improved showing after their awful batting, bowling and fielding in the first match.

“We had conversations as a team and they were mostly around honesty surrounding our performance,” Bavuma said on Tuesday. “Losing like that in practically a two-day Test match is not good enough.

“We did not produce the standards we pride ourselves on in all three disciplines. We are all very disappointed and we know we have to improve.

“Yes, our energies were down in the first Test, but that’s no excuse. We have to make sure we’re in a better mental and physical state to compete this week.

“And it starts with being honest. The performance was simply not good enough,” Bavuma said.

Although it may seem like the Proteas are buried under an avalanche of soft dismissals, poor deliveries and dropped catches, Bavuma is still confident they can dig themselves out of their predicament and still level the two-match series, maintaining their proud record of having never lost a series to New Zealand.

“We’ve had to remind the guys that over the last while we have overcome a lot and this is not a foreign situation. We know how to come back when our backs are against the wall,” Bavuma said.

“We do have the character and we can take confidence from how we have performed over the last while, as a team we can take a lot of positives from how we have fought before.

“Last week is now gone and it’s important how we come back. We are preparing as best we can to put our best foot forward.

“The sun has come out and the Hagley Oval pitch should be a bit more pleasant to bat on. We expect conditions to be a bit different,” Bavuma said.

Speak freely, but blatant lies and spreading division are not okay 2

Posted on August 08, 2020 by Ken

One of the key features to come out of the discussions around racism in cricket has been the acknowledgement that it has to be okay for stakeholders who feel discriminated against or marginalised to speak out. Without that freedom, the status quo merely continues and we won’t know that the system is broken until there is something akin to an explosion of anger.

And there are certainly a lot of angry people in the cricket community at the moment, many with good reason because the leadership of the game has failed them so thoroughly. Many people are thoroughly disgruntled by how mediocre the returns have been after millions of rand have been spent on transformation over more than 20 years.

It is not okay, however, for people to spread division, blatant lies or push agendas designed to further the interests of only a select few. Unfortunately many of those divisive voices have been given prominence in the last few weeks.

The troubles in South African cricket seem to have given birth to an extreme version of Africanism that threatens to shut everyone else out of the game.

We now have a situation where White members of CSA management, specifically acting CEO Jacques Faul, director of cricket Graeme Smith and head coach Mark Boucher, are being pilloried, not for anything they have or have not done, but simply because they are White. No matter how often they express their support for BLM or for transformation, some people simply cannot get past their skin colour.

The corollary of this is the perception that Black Africans should not be held accountable for their actions. Suddenly suspended CEO Thabang Moroe, who left the game in such crisis last December that Faul and Smith had to be parachuted in, is the darling of certain sections of the media, who are pushing for his return. The irony that they are supporting someone who nine months ago took away the accreditation of journalists who were critical of him is totally lost on them. Are they are in favour of media freedom or do they support someone who has also looked to destroy the players’ trade union – the South African Cricketers Association?

Convicted matchfixers Thami Tsolekile and Ethy Mbhalati have also been given platforms that are far too exalted for the manner in which they betrayed the game. Tsolekile in particular spouted forth on a well-known radio talk show – with very little counter-interrogation – on how the whole matchfixing investigation of the 2015 T20 competition targeted Black players. He and his host conveniently failed to mention that the entire process was presided over by Bernard Ngoepe, one of the country’s most respected judges. Are they saying he is racist? Sounds like the typical protestations of the criminally guilty to me.

Equally appallingly, Tsolekile accused and named two White players of being involved in matchfixing without a shred of evidence. Their rights have been trampled on and I expect them to go to the courts to protect their names. CSA have subsequently released a statement saying the one player was one of their star witnesses because he immediately reported a corrupt approach and the other was just a name bandied about by arch-conspirator Gulam Bodi in order to get other people involved. They were both thoroughly investigated, by the ICC as well, and totally exonerated.

Even the legendary Makhaya Ntini seems to have been allowed to get away with a one-sided narrative. I’m sure in the early years of his international career there were days when he felt isolated and alone. But he has been unfair in his criticism of Cricket South Africa.

If it weren’t for Ali Bacher personally getting involved and organising proper legal representation for him, Ntini would have spent several years languishing in jail after being incorrectly found guilty of rape, and Proteas manager and team doctor Mohammed Moosajee has revealed the felicitations the great fast bowler received from CSA at the end of his career.

“What Makhaya said I think surprised every one of us because he was a beacon for every youngster. He was in the team with me for the last 8 years of his career and I never noticed him sitting alone. Many players ran from the ground back to the hotel. Many times when we went out to dinner, we would stick to our own, but there were also many other times when we would join the other guys.

“Even when his contract ended, he was paid an extra year of salary which had never happened before, and he was given a special benefit game at Moses Mabhida Stadium. He played his last game for South Africa in January 2011 and his CSA contract continued through to the next April and then he received another year after that,” Moosajee told an Ahmed Kathrada Foundation webinar on racism in cricket recently.

“I did not see him on his own, he always had other players around him, but we need to unpack the way he felt, we need like a Truth and Reconciliation Commission for cricket. I’m sure he felt isolated when he first came into the team because he was in the minority, international sport is very difficult and you feel nervous about where you fit in. It was probably the same for Hashim Amla, but once the colour of the team and the administration changed then a lot of that went away,” Moosajee added.

Doc Moosajee, who has been a great servant of the game, went on to slam those for whom power in cricket is like an aphrodisiac.

“It’s important to remember that a number of communities contributed to the struggle but unfortunately some selfish administrators are looking to create divisions now. We need to move away from the idea that you need to be Black African to have a role in transformation; all communities, including Whites, have a role. Driving only an Africanist agenda has become divisive.

“We can’t continue to pay lip-service to transformation after 26 years, we need tangible action. In terms of Affirmative Action, the question we need to ask is whether the policies have benefited us or promoted racism? There is no doubt it has become polarised. Grassroots is where the issue is and there’s no doubt that has not been addressed. The numbers game has created challenges,” Moosajee said.

No chance for someone to bale Proteas out 0

Posted on January 06, 2015 by Ken

It’s been the saddest of weeks for the cricketing world with the tragic passing of Phil Hughes in what can only be described as the freakiest of accidents dominating all discussions.

So many batsmen are hit on the head these days (I’m of the school of thought that says helmets encourage them to take their eye off the ball), but Hughes had the awful misfortune of being struck on the side of the neck, just below his helmet’s grille, flush on the vertebral artery, which split and caused the fatal brain haemorrhage.

South Africans have also been mourning the 25-year-old Australian, not least of all because he greatly impressed everyone on these shores with his grit and unorthodox talent as he averaged 53 against the Proteas in five Tests, scoring two centuries and two half-centuries.

The national team has, of course, just returned from Australia, where their 4-1 ODI series hammering caused much soul-searching and anguish amongst their fans, before being overshadowed by the real tragedy that unfolded in Sydney.

Whatever AB de Villiers so brashly said upon his return home about being the better side and South Africa’s World Cup plans being on track, serious questions have been raised about the Proteas’ ability to seriously contend at the global showpiece tournament starting in 11 weeks’ time.

Most worryingly, there is no further ODI cricket scheduled for them before they have to announce their final 15-man squad for the World Cup on January 7. So the five-match series against the West Indies will not provide the selectors with the opportunity to find someone who can bale them out of their current problems in terms of balance and form, because it starts on January 16. Neither is there any franchise 50-over cricket before then.

The squad that plays against the West Indies will be the World Cup squad and those 15 players will have dress rehearsals on five days in which they have to regain form and convince their fans that they are the strong contenders they perceive themselves to be.

South Africa’s most pressing need would seem to be to fill the number seven position with someone who can genuinely contribute with bat and ball. Ryan McLaren, with his mediocre bowling and his weakness against the short ball when batting, has done little lately to suggest he could be a match-winner in that vital position. Sadly, the schedule has dictated that the selectors are not going to be able to see what David Wiese can do.

I would back the Titans all-rounder because he brings power-hitting and a proven ability at the death, as well as the sort of bowling skills the South African attack desperately needs to master on what should be good batting pitches in Australasia.

In terms of cover, the 15-man squad will need to include two extra pace bowlers – perhaps one containing and one more attacking – an extra batsman who can bowl a bit and either an extra spinner or a top-order batsman.

This means Kyle Abbott must surely have secured his ticket, while I would choose Lonwabo Tsotsobe, in great form since returning from injury, ahead of Wayne Parnell. This would also reduce the pressure on the selectors in terms of Black African representation; although Aaron Phangiso deserves to go to the World Cup, his ill-timed injury and the need for top-order batting cover could count against him.

The selection of both Rilee Rossouw and Farhaan Behardien would facilitate cover for both the top three and the middle-order, with Behardien able to fulfil the crucial role of a sixth bowler that was vital in JP Duminy’s absence.

The presence of a genuine all-rounder like Wiese at seven would enable the Proteas to avoid the problem of either having to go into games a batsman or a bowler short, but the other issue they need to solve is not one of personnel but one of skills.

The bowling in the death overs was generally poor and the failure to consistently execute yorkers, slower-ball bouncers and changes of pace means the South Africans lack the weapons the other top teams enjoy.

My World Cup squad: Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock, Faf du Plessis, AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, David Miller, David Wiese, Vernon Philander, Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel, Imran Tahir, Kyle Abbott, Lonwabo Tsotsobe, Farhaan Behardien, Rilee Rossouw.


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