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Ken Borland

SA batsmen yet again fail to do the business 0

Posted on August 31, 2023 by Ken

South Africa’s batsmen yet again failed to do the business as they were bowled out for just 204 to lose the second Test against Australia by a massive innings and 182 runs and with it the series at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Thursday.

The Proteas barely survived to the final session as a depleted Australian attack wrapped up their second innings in 68.5 overs, one ball longer than their dismal first innings, left-arm quick Mitchell Starc setting the tone as he bowled through the pain of a dislocated finger. It was only some lusty blows at the end of the innings by Lungi Ngidi (19) and a last-wicket stand of 27 with Anrich Nortje (8*) that ended the desperate run of seven successive totals of less than 200.

Temba Bavuma was the one South African batsman to build an innings, scoring 65 in 201 minutes off 144 balls, but he was also complicit in two disastrous run outs which epitomised the slapdash nature of their performances in Australia.

Having lost overnight batsmen Sarel Erwee, trapped lbw for 21 by a searing Starc yorker, and Theunis de Bruyn (28), who was well-taken by Steve Smith at first slip after Scott Boland found the shoulder of his bat with some steepling bounce, South Africa plunged to 65 for four before lunch with the run out of Khaya Zondo for just a single.

Bavuma pushed Pat Cummins straight to cover and ran, with Zondo ball-watching at the non-striker’s end and well-beaten by Travis Head’s direct hit.

The second run out was just as farcical as Bavuma left Keshav Maharaj (13) stranded halfway down the pitch on a third run, Starc collecting the boundary throw from Marnus Labuschagne and throwing down the stumps at the wicketkeeper’s end.

Bavuma and Kyle Verreynne were the brokers of some respite for the Proteas as they added 63 for the fifth wicket. But Boland broke the stand in the third over after lunch as Verreynne (33) erred in playing across the line of an in-ducker and was trapped lbw.

Bavuma eventually lost concentration and was caught off a wild slog-sweep against off-spinner Nathan Lyon, so his wait for a second Test century continues, but he had batted with great determination and played some fine strokes mixed with solid defence.

Shamsi gives prim & proper answer of ‘trying to do my best every game’ 0

Posted on November 16, 2022 by Ken

Proteas wrist-spinner Tabraiz Shamsi gave the prim and proper answer of “trying to do my best every game” when asked on Monday what his approach to South Africa’s T20 series against India will be, but trying to get one over the powerful home batting line-up is clearly also in the back of his mind.

Not just because the Proteas will play India again in Group II at the T20 World Cup in Australia next month, but also to prove to the world’s biggest cricket market that he truly is one of the world’s best white-ball spinners.

Compared to his career stats – 69 wickets in 56 T20 Internationals, economy 7.11, strike-rate 17.70, average 21.02 – Shamsi’s record in India is clearly inferior: In 6 matches he has taken just three wickets at an average of 48, his economy is 8.47 and his strike-rate 34.

“I’m not sure what conditions will be like, but I will prepare exactly the same as my previous times there,” Shamsi said in Thiruvananthapuram on Monday. “I was happy with my performance in England.

“But it’s always challenging against India. I won’t be changing much, previously it’s just been a few balls that I haven’t executed properly. Some days you’re just a bit off the mark and the batsmen do well, you get hit for just a couple of sixes here and there.

“The boundary sizes tend to be smaller here in India and the pitches will be different to Australia. But there are always things to work on, and bowling at these Indian batsmen with them being in our group at the World Cup, it’s an opportunity to observe and maybe pick up one or two things to use later on,” Shamsi said.

Wednesday’s match will only be the third T20 International to have been played at the Greenfield International Stadium in Thiruvananthapuram. The first one was a game shortened to eight overs against New Zealand in 2017, which India won with a total of 67/5. In 2019, India posted 170/7 against the West Indies and lost by eight wickets with nine balls to spare.

The stadium doubles as a football field, so there are bound to be some short boundaries.

But Shamsi said this current Proteas team are unfazed by challenges these days, having come through so much together.

“The mood is really good in the camp, we’re excited to be back together as a group and it’s always a nice challenge against India. This team is all about overcoming challenges.

“Our expectations are the same, but obviously with the World Cup coming up, we will keep one eye on the future as well. Preparing for that is our first priority.

“So the captain and coach might want to play around a bit with the team, and that’s okay,” Shamsi said.

Rassie backing up Temba as a leader, with the best of them as a batsman & raising the bar all round 0

Posted on February 15, 2022 by Ken

Rassie van der Dussen pulls stylishly at the Wanderers. – Photo by Marcel Sigg

Temba Bavuma has made a tremendous start to his tenure as South Africa’s white-ball captain, and Keshav Maharaj was also excellent when standing in for him, but it is heartening to know that if they are unfortunately unavailable for any reason, there is another calm, deep-thinking leader in the team who could do the job with aplomb.

Rassie van der Dussen has cemented his place in the limited-overs teams in spectacular fashion and his heroics in the recently-completed ODI whitewash of India leave him with 1267 runs in 26 innings in the 50-over format, at the extraordinary average of 74.52.

The second oldest of four sports-mad brothers, Van der Dussen was first touted as leadership material during the horrors of the 2019 World Cup in England. Amidst a chaotic campaign, the Pretoria product impressed with his cool head and clear thinking, as well as the three half-centuries he scored in six innings, finishing the tournament with an average of 62.

That same composure and ability to adapt to any situation was clearly evident during the memorable Test and ODI series wins over India. There were times Van der Dussen had to dig in defiantly; on other occasions he turned the momentum through positive strokeplay and no little skill.

“The Test series was definitely the toughest conditions I’ve ever had to bat in and it was high pressure with the Indian bowlers just never letting you go,” Van der Dussen told Saturday Citizen.

“Every session seemed to be more important than the last, every moment things could swing the other way. It was extremely mentally testing. But being mentally strong is something I pride myself on.

“Under pressure I need to be level-headed and to analyse the situation objectively. Throughout my career I’ve believed that I can manage the chase, absorb the pressure when the opposition is bowling well.

“I pride myself on performing in the big moments and matches. It maybe comes from playing club cricket in Pretoria from a young age, playing against men. There was often verbal abuse and you had to deal with it,” Van der Dussen said in typically stoic fashion.

The 32-year-old currently has the highest average in ODI history of all batsmen who have played at least 20 innings and when one looks at some of the other superstars near the top of that list – Virat Kohli (58.77), Babar Azam (56.92), Michael Bevan (53.58) and AB de Villiers (53.50) – one thing characterises them all. They are all expert players of the situation, whether it called for consolidation or acceleration.

Many other just as talented batsmen ended with inferior records because they would only play in one way, arguing that that was their “natural game”.

“A batsman can be labelled with that – ‘that’s just the way he plays,’ people will say. But it can also be a cop-out,” Van der Dussen said.

“Whenever I bat, I try to change the match and there is always a certain amount of responsibility you have to accept. It’s about reading the match situation and working out what is needed.

“That’s always my thing: to put the team in a good position to win the game. At the Wanderers Test, I knew Dean and I had to be in overnight, the runs did not matter at the end of the third day. But then we were able to start well the next day.”

The way Van der Dussen stayed calm and clear-headed under immense pressure from India was in stark contrast to visiting wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant, a great talent who twice got out for ducks at crucial times on tour due to wild forays down the pitch to try and slog the bowler.

Van der Dussen admits he did have a few words with Pant, who ‘caught’ him in the first innings of the Wanderers Test when the ball had clearly bounced, but the phlegmatic Central Gauteng Lions star did raise the bar above petty sledging.

“I like to think I’m a deep thinker and I just asked Pant a few questions, nothing attacking him personally, but I guess they did not sit well with him. I suppose it made him think differently.

“But the Wanderers incident was a massive moment because chasing 280-300 would possibly have been too much for us and he’s a young and exciting player. We did speak about making sure that was a moment India would really regret and capitalising on it,” Van der Dussen said.

It will surprise no-one that someone as pragmatic as Van der Dussen already has a plan for life after cricket and has gone into business with his agent and close friend Chris Cardoso.

“I’m really enjoying delving into the business side and we now have three coffee shops – called Abantu Coffee – in the Centurion area. Our aim is to make good coffee and create as many jobs as we can.

“I really want to scale up my involvement in it and I enjoy being hands-on in the business,” Van der Dussen said.

Something else that the Menlo Park High School and Affies alma mater enjoys immensely, along with wife Lara, is the bush and especially birdwatching.

Even in that hobby, Van der Dussen is trying to make a change for good with his support of the Mabula Ground Hornbill Project, along with Cardoso.

“I go to Mabula about twice a year, Chris owns a unit in Mabula and through our conservation fund African FRDM x Environment we are helping them with the great work they do in trying to secure a good future for these endangered birds.

“We’ve helped them with new tyres and in trying to build suitable nest boxes that are strong enough for these massive birds and their huge beaks.

“I’ve loved the bush from early on because my grandfather had a farm with game and cattle at Springbokvlakte between Modimolle and Marble Hall. Growing up amongst animals I learnt things like tracking.

“Which got me into birdwatching because of the thrill of the chase, you hear the call and you want to track the bird down and see it. For Lara and I, seeing a rare bird gives us the same feeling as seeing a lion or a leopard,” Van der Dussen said.

But for now, dreams of spending more time in the bush have had to take a back seat because Van der Dussen is spotting both the red and the white ball extremely well at the moment.

Bavuma, not Minister of Finance, says SA need to find an extra 5% 0

Posted on December 24, 2021 by Ken

When a South African leader talks about finding an extra 5% it’s normally the Minister of Finance trying to balance the books in a time of constrained fiscus, but Proteas captain Temba Bavuma admitted on Friday that this is what his team will need to do to beat England in Sharjah and maintain their hopes of qualifying for the T20 World Cup semi-finals.

Depending on Australia’s margin of victory or defeat against the West Indies in Saturday’s earlier game in Abu Dhabi, South Africa could advance to the semi-finals even if they lose narrowly to England or could still be knocked out even if they beat the favourites.

Bavuma said the Proteas’ focus was simply on winning, and to do that they needed to be at their best on Saturday.

“We need to play our best cricket tomorrow and our first port of call is the win. Although our cricket has been good so far, we need to find a way to add an extra 5% in all departments,” Bavuma said.

“England have had the better of us lately, so we have to be at our best against them. We can’t leave it to individuals, we can’t rely on individual brilliance, it’s all about us as a team.

“We want to show the same character we have done and fight to the end. Every game we have tailored our strategy according to the opposition and England are obviously a very good team.

“So we will come up with plans that speak to England’s strengths and weaknesses, but mentally our approach should not be any different. The players and management have been through a lot and we have grown as a team,” Bavuma said.

Bavuma may be a playful character out of the spotlight, but he is clearly taking the responsibility of leading the national team at a World Cup most seriously. He is also extremely diligent about fulfilling his batting role, over which there has been much chatter recently. His strike-rate of 108.33 has been a particular focus, as was his run-a-ball innings of 46 against Sri Lanka the last time they played in Sharjah.

“If you look at conditions, they have not been freeflowing and you can’t just come in and hit the first ball out of the middle of the bat. We’ve really had to graft as a batting unit.

“I feel I can do a role up front or in the middle to hold the game and allow the big-hitters to get into the game. We’ve seen that’s worked in this World Cup, we feel it’s what’s best and we back it.

“We really do know now after the Sri Lanka game that the pitch in Sharjah will be on the low side. In terms of our batting, we took the game quite deep and what we have learnt is that we should have pulled the trigger a bit earlier,” Bavuma said.

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    Don’t be so busy – even working for God – that you don’t have regular quiet time. Don’t let your activities become more important than your time with the Father. You can be alive ‘for’ God without experiencing the presence and power of the living Christ.

    “Attempting to serve the Lord without the strength of the Holy Spirit results in frustration and ultimate disaster.

    “If your vision of him grows dim, your service will become powerless and ineffective. This will happen if your spiritual reserves are not regularly replenished through prayer and meditation.

    “You must put him first in all your activities. Your service for him must be the result of your intimate knowledge of him. Only when he enjoys priority in all things, can you understand life from his perspective. Putting Christ first in your life and work makes you a more capable servant of God.” – A Shelter From The Storm, Solly Ozrovech

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