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Ken Borland

Fans’ cellphones were previously full of images of sandpaper & changeroom confrontations, but Elgar hopes for less spiciness in Oz 0

Posted on April 13, 2023 by Ken

The last time South Africa and Australia met in a Test series, cricket fans’ cellphones were full of images of sandpaper and changeroom confrontations with the captain only wearing a towel, but Proteas skipper Dean Elgar is hoping that this time the spiciness stays on the field and does not cross the line into illegality.

The infamous “Sandpapergate” tour of 2017/18 was the last Test series between the two great rivals, with South Africa winning 3-1 as Australian captain Steven Smith and batsmen David Warner and Cameron Bancroft were banned for their ball-tampering shenanigans in the third Test.

“I have no animosity at all for any of the players or Australian cricket,” Elgar said in Brisbane on Monday. “It was a tough time for all of us and obviously they were sad events, it was unfortunate.

“We have moved forward as a group, although we wish things could have happened differently because there is a rich history of cricket between us and we have a similarly competitive nature.

“It was extremely juicy out in the middle, they were interesting times, but hopefully that has all been put to bed. There’s always a bit of spice on the field when we play Australia, but hopefully none of those antics.

“We love playing against Australia, we have heaps of respect for them, and hopefully this series will be a good spectacle,” Elgar said.

With Australia having plenty of depth when it comes to pacemen, the series should be a fast bowling extravaganza. Although he can be a bit of an enigma, notably in the T20 World Cup in Australia a month ago, Kagiso Rabada is still South Africa’s leading Test bowler. And Elgar is excited by the quick bowlers he has to support him – Lungi Ngidi, Anrich Nortje, Marco Jansen, Gerald Coetzee and Lizaad Williams.

“KG’s career and repertoire speaks for itself in terms of what he can bring to the table,” Elgar said. “But it’s good to have options and all our bowlers bring something unique.

“It’s exciting to have raw pace in the changeroom and, facing them in the nets, I’m happy that they are part of our squad. Their skillsets are up there and they can bring the heat as well.

“In Australian conditions, you want a balance of skill and raw pace. You get a lot of value on these pitches if you can execute and hit the right areas,” Elgar said.

South Africa begin their tour with a warm-up match against a Cricket Australia XI at Allan Border Field in Brisbane from Friday to next Monday.

The first Test starts at the Gabba in Brisbane on December 17.

Howling wind not in his control, but Jake won’t risk Goosen on Glasgow artificial pitch 0

Posted on December 19, 2022 by Ken

Facing a tough away match at Scotstoun, Bulls coach Jake White does not know whether the wind will howl or not, but one thing that is within his control is team selection and he revealed on Friday that he will not risk flyhalf Johan Goosen against Glasgow Warriors on their artificial pitch.

Goosen, who will probably be on the Springboks’ end-of-year tour, has started just one game at flyhalf since rupturing his knee three games into last season on the artificial pitch in Cardiff. But even though the 30-year-old needs game time and White has also been robbed of backline stars Canan Moodie and Sbu Nkosi due to injury, Goosen will not feature for the Bulls in their United Rugby Championship match against Glasgow Warriors on Saturday night.

“I’m not going to risk Johan on a 4G pitch. They don’t play any Test rugby on those pitches for a reason, it’s because more players get injured on that surface,” White stated on Friday.

“He has just come back from 11 months out after an horrific injury on that sort of pitch. I took the decision myself, I did not ask him. If you look at the history of those 4G pitches, there have been a lot of injuries and I don’t want to take the risk.

“I have confidence in Chris Smith and Morne Steyn, they have done exceptionally well the times we have called on them,” White said.

While there is expected to be a low chance of rain in Glasgow on Saturday night, and just a gentle breeze, White did say he was concerned about the wind strengthening.

“Scotstoun can be very windy, which can be a massive factor in the way we want to play, sometimes it makes it very difficult to play too much rugby,” White said.

“We will have to see how the weather is, it is very influential here, and we might have to kick more. That’s also a skill and creating pressure points is a part of attack too.

“Rain will not be so much of a problem, but a massive amount of wind will be, whether you’re playing against it or with it. It’s a very open stadium and our stadiums at home are closed in.

“If you’re against the wind at the back end of the match and chasing the game, then it becomes very difficult. We also have to learn to use the wind when it is in our favour,” White said.

Added to the change in conditions from back in Pretoria, White pointed out that Glasgow Warriors are always a formidable challenge at home.

“They only lost once at home last year and their one game at home this season they have won convincingly. Coach Franco Smith has lots of experience and he has done well with the Free State Cheetahs and Italy.

“Plus Glasgow have a couple of injured players coming back, which is going to make their forward pack more staunch. Last week was obviously a rebound result for them, and I have no doubt they will want another,” White said.

Bulls: Kurt-Lee Arendse, Cornal Hendricks, Lionel Mapoe, David Kriel, Stedman Gans, Chris Smith, Zak Burger, Elrigh Louw, Marco Van Staden, Marcell Coetzee (capt), Ruan Nortjé, Walt Steenkamp, Francois Klopper, Jan-Hendrik Wessels, Gerhard Steenekamp. Bench – Bismarck du Plessis, Simphiwe Matanzima, Mornay Smith, Janko Swanepoel, Reinhardt Ludwig, Embrose Papier, Morné Steyn, Wandisile Simelane.

Maharaj: Proteas need to ensure such a terrible batting display does not happen again 0

Posted on November 28, 2022 by Ken

South Africa’s top-order produced a terrible batting display in the first T20 against India in Thiruvananthapuram on Wednesday, crashing to nine for five after being sent in to bat, and top-scorer Keshav Maharaj admitted that they had been caught unawares in the powerplay and needed to look at ways of ensuring such a parlous start does not happen again.

The Proteas eventually made it to 106-8 thanks largely to Maharaj’s greatly determined 41 off 35 balls, while there were also rearguard knocks by Aiden Markram (25) and Wayne Parnell (24). But despite a shaky start they saw them reduced to 17-2 in the seventh over, India cruised to victory by eight wickets with 20 balls to spare, thanks to unbeaten half-centuries by Lokesh Rahul and Suryakumar Yadav.

“We don’t want to dwell too much on the match, but there are things we can address and hopefully rectify,” Maharaj said after the awful start to the tour. “We do need to chat about how we started.

“When you are put under pressure like that then it’s very difficult to come back. But we showed some fight and we can build on that. It showed great character to go from nine for five to 106, we made a game of it and there are a lot of positives from that.

“But we need to adjust better against the new ball, they were getting a lot of swing, so we needed a change of plan and mindset. We didn’t expect the ball to swing so much, and the pitch was also two-paced, there was a lot of tennis ball bounce, so it was not easy.

“We need to find a way to combat the swing up front and our application at the top also needs to be looked at. But the ball was swinging prodigiously and we were just trying to get to the 16th over and not get bowled out,” Maharaj said.

Losing five wickets in the powerplay was the difference between the two sides though, as Rahul dug in and Suryakumar scored an inspired 50 not out in 33 balls.

“With five wickets down in the powerplay, you’ve still got to be focused. We wanted to try and get to 16 overs and not get bowed out, and then unfortunately Wayne got out.

“Our seam bowlers also did really well in the powerplay, KG Rabada and Wayne were exceptional. Small moments went India’s way, but they batted exceptionally well.

“It was always going to be very difficult to come back from five wickets down in the powerplay, maybe it was a bit of rustiness on our part. Hopefully we can execute much better and make the second T20 more exciting.

“Conditions were in the bowlers’ favour, but full credit to Deepak Chahar and Arshdeep Singh for landing the ball in the right areas. They had us under pressure in the powerplay,” Maharaj said.

Bulls have not lost any momentum despite struggling to put away last 2 opponents – Botha 0

Posted on September 13, 2021 by Ken

Since comfortably dispatching the Lions 48-21 at Ellis Park four weeks ago, the Bulls have struggled to put away the other two teams who did not make the Currie Cup semi-finals – the Pumas and the Cheetahs. But Arno Botha, captain for those three matches, says he does not believe his team have lost any momentum ahead of their knockout game against Western Province in Pretoria on Friday night.

The Bulls needed their set-piece prowess to squeeze past an adventurous, passionate Pumas side 33-26 in Nelspruit, and then struggled to an uninspired, messy 39-36 win over the fast-finishing Free State Cheetahs at Loftus Versfeld last weekend.

“I don’t think we have lost any momentum. We need to look at a couple of technical things, we had a few slip-ups, but individuals have put their hands up, myself included, for those. They are small things that are easy to fix, coming from just a momentary lack of effort or concentration. Rugby is never going to be easy every week – we would have lost if we thought that,” Botha said.

“We have a very strong group of leaders who are very relaxed, but we all take responsibility. Being defending champions doesn’t matter, we always want to win every game and our focus is really just on one thing and that’s this weekend’s semifinal. We don’t look too far ahead, but we’re in a good place and looking forward to what’s coming.”

The hero of last year’s Currie Cup final triumph with two tries, Botha has been very much the senior statesman in the pack, which is young and extraordinarily willing. And nothing much damages the confidence of the hugely exciting crop of youngsters currently at Loftus Versfeld.

“When I go back to when I was 21 or 22, we were not where this group of youngsters is now, they are so far in front of where we were back in 2012. They are already comfortable in the system, some of them have played in a Currie Cup final already. You’re no longer young as a rugby player as soon as you lift that trophy and we are all learning so much from each other,” the tough Springbok loose forward said.

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    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.

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