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Ken Borland

It all came down to 2 record stands at SuperSport Park as Paarl pip the Capitals 0

Posted on January 14, 2024 by Ken

Mitchell van Buuren (left) and David Miller of Paarl Royals celebrate another milestone.
Photo by Sportzpics

In the final analysis it all came down to two record partnerships in the SA20 match between the Pretoria Capitals and the Paarl Royals at SuperSport Park on Sunday night: the one unbeaten and the other crucially ended with the loss of both set batsmen in the space of three deliveries.

After the seasoned David Miller (75 not out off 42 balls) and the highly-talented Mitchell van Buuren (72 not out off 40 balls) had added an unbeaten 141 for the fourth wicket to steer Paarl Royals to a strong 210 for three after they had been sent in to bat, Will Jacks (58 off 34) and Rilee Rossouw (82 off 45) put on 147 for the third wicket for Pretoria to put them well on target in the run-chase.

But Rossouw then top-edged a slog-sweep at Lungi Ngidi and Jason Roy took one of those brilliant boundary catches when the fielder tosses the ball back infield, steps over the boundary and then comes back to complete the catch. The left-handed Rossouw had moved beautifully through the gears, collecting 10 fours and four sixes with great skill and timing, as he came to the crease after the Capitals had made a terrible start, losing two wickets in the opening over.

The first ball of the next over saw Jacks bowled by left-arm spinner Bjorn Fortuin, the delivery being too full to be played off the back foot. Englishman Jacks had struck six fours and three sixes and had done a great job up front in ensuring Pretoria did not stagnate after Ngidi had removed Phil Salt (0) and Theunis de Bruyn (4) in the opening over.

With the two set batsmen out, the Capitals needed 58 off 35 balls to win and coach Graham Ford admitted afterwards that he was still hopeful they would have enough batting left to see them home.

Captain Jimmy Neesham scored a promising 20 off 9 balls but once Fabian Allen held on to a steepling catch running in from cow-corner to dismiss him off Andile Phehlukwayo, the other batsmen were all at sea on a pitch which did see the odd delivery ‘stick’ in the surface.

In the end, Paarl Royals won by 10 runs, Obed McCoy showing great guts and composure as he conceded just three runs in the final over, despite suffering from severe cramps that saw him hobbling about after every delivery.

In conditions that were still good for batting, coach Ford also admitted that the home side would have settled for a target of just below 200. But Miller and Van Buuren put them to the sword at the death, plundering 51 runs off the last three overs.

“The odd one did stick a bit, but if you’re going to mix up your pace then you still have to get your length right,” Ford said. “I think everybody in the changeroom would say that we could have limited them to 15 or so runs less.

“It was a fairly high-scoring game, another great T20 pitch here, but we probably could have controlled things a bit better at the end, when you trust the bowlers to back their best disciplines.

“Then again, if Rilee had batted for another three overs then we probably would have won. I can’t say enough of how well he and Will played and we saw how tough it was for the lower-order. But I was hopeful that we would have had some extra batting to see us over the line,” Ford said.

Miller and Van Buuren came together after Paarl Royals had lost two wickets in three overs to slip to 69 for three, and they were quick to settle at the crease, needing just 31 balls to raise their 50 partnership. Their next fifty runs together came in 30 deliveries, and in the end their partnership of 141 came off just 72 balls, with 13 fours and six sixes.

Jacks and Rossouw sent 16 balls to the boundary and seven over it as their stand of 147 came off 82 deliveries.

Both partnerships were the best ever for their respective wickets in SA20 history. The previous third-wicket record was held by Jacks and De Bruyn, who put on 111 against the Sunrisers Eastern Cape at Centurion last season; the previous fourth-wicket record was 75 shared by Matthew Breetzke and Heinrich Klaasen of Durban Super Giants, and Aiden Markram and Tristan Stubbs of the Sunrisers.

It was not a particularly good day to be a bowler, but leg-spinner Adil Rashid was the pick of the Capitals attack with one for 31 in his four overs, while new-ball bowlers Ngidi (4-0-39-4) and McCoy (4-0-30-1) led the way for Paarl Royals, who now go to second place on the log after their back-to-back wins over last season’s losing finalists.

Last season was stocked full of runs for Rickelton … but he still calls it a failure 0

Posted on June 21, 2023 by Ken

The prolific Ryan Rickelton was frustrated by his season at Proteas level.

Ryan Rickelton’s 2022/23 season was stocked full of runs and accolades, and yet the 26-year-old maintains that it was a failure because he did not entirely nail down his place in the Proteas team.

Never mind that the management of the national squad seemed reluctant to choose him due to an ankle injury that their medical staff deemed too much of a risk.

Rickelton showed his determination by ploughing through the season, churning out runs at domestic level for the Central Gauteng Lions as he stubbornly refused to have surgery and his ankle became the most talked-about body part in South African cricket.

The wicketkeeper/batsman scored three centuries in his five four-day innings for the Lions and he was the leading run-scorer in the One-Day Cup with 452 at 64.57, scored at better than a run-a-ball and playing a leading role in his team claiming a third-successive 50-over title. He was named the Lions’ Player of the Season and Players’ Player of the Season recently.

But his opportunities at international level were limited to one Test and two ODIs. Perhaps unsurprisingly given the lack of consistent game time for the Proteas, he scored just 22 and 10 in the second Test against the West Indies at the Wanderers and 14 and three in his two ODIs against the same team.

And that is why Rickelton, because of the passion he brings to the game and the high standards he sets himself, deems the previous summer to have been a failure.

“It was not my best season, if you look at the whole package. I had a couple of successful competitions but there were also failures at international level and in T20. I had four chances for success in the international season, so it’s a failure for me by pure percentages, but I guess I will take it and move forward,” Rickelton said.

“I always have this anxiety that I don’t want to be just a good domestic player. I had no fear in my international debut in March 2022, but now it’s something I need to overcome.

“If I can just make one score at international level then that will settle the nerves and I’m sure I can make a good contribution for the Proteas. It’s hugely different to playing at domestic level, but awesome at the same time, which is why everyone aspires to play there.

“There’s a helluva lot more pressure, shit it’s hard. For the first time in my career, you get dismissed cheaply and you feel like you might not necessarily get runs tomorrow either.

“But it’s more internal pressure from myself. I’ve stuck my foot in the door now and I’ve just got to climb the ladder and get more comfortable as I get more opportunity,” Rickelton said.

The left-hander leaves no doubt that his fiery ambition burns brightest for Test cricket, which is why his mediocre return at the Wanderers was most upsetting. For a naturally free-flowing player, full of strokeplaying talent, efforts of 22 off 49 balls and 10 off 29 deliveries left him “disgusted”. On both occasions he was caught behind, edging a cut in the first innings and then attempting to drive on the up and providing the wicketkeeper with another catch.

But cricketers are not computers and it is difficult to simulate the kind of pressure that burrows its way into the consciousness when a batsmen feels like they are playing for their place. Rickelton should have played in the first Test against the West Indies at Centurion, when South Africa chose an extra bowler (spinner Senuran Muthusamy only delivered eight overs in the match) and their middle-order was badly exposed. One mistake and you’re out, gone, and there could be a long wait for another chance at Test level, particularly given how sparse the Proteas’ schedule is in that format.

“When I got the opportunity for the Proteas, technically I was not batting as well as I had been at the start of the season. But it’s also mental because you desperately want the fairytale.

“I was told two days before the Wanderers Test that I would then play. So I knew I had at least one innings, maybe two. You’re playing on your home turf, your parents are coming to watch, and you start thinking ‘maybe I will get a hundred, that would be cool’. And those thoughts accumulate.

“I felt really good going into the match, but in the end I was disgusted with my Test, I had no idea what was going on. It was like my head and body had no idea what the other one was doing.

“In the first innings I was maybe unlucky but I did not have to play that shot. Now you have one more chance and it gnaws at you.

“It’s the first time I’ve experienced fighting the same battle, making mountains of molehills, and I don’t like it. But I just have to deal with it.

“You so desperately want to prove that you belong, to take that weight off your shoulders and not have to fight for your place. You just want to bat with intent, open up on your own terms, but it’s ferociously difficult at the highest level. You have to earn the right to play like you want to.

“With the Proteas playing just 10 Tests over the next four years, every series you will feel like a new cap again, which doesn’t help. It’s going to be frustrating not to be able to build any momentum. Test cricket is the purest form of the game and I hope that the administrators don’t cripple it,” Rickelton said with searing honesty.

T20 franchises are becoming the main drivers of the game now, and Rickelton is sober-minded enough to know he has to master that format in order to have a long career. He was poor last season, by his own admission, in both the CSA T20 Challenge for the Lions (averaging 15 with a strike-rate of 131) and the SA20 for MI Cape Town (averaging 20, strike-rate 113).

“I have a shit-load of work to do quickly before next season to make sure I progress. Apart from making sure I step up internationally, I also need to rediscover my T20 game, which I lost a bit. I’m going to put a lot of effort into that and make sure I have a very good SA20. T20 is so important nowadays and I’ve neglected it a bit,” Rickelton said.

The ankle has now been operated on and fixed, and Rickelton says it is “loading very nicely”. He has started batting again and was part of the Proteas’ recent camp in Durban.

He hopes to be match-fit in a couple of weeks and able to push for selection for the ODIs against Australia in September.

The feeling of having to fight for a regular place in the team is not a new one for Rickelton. Surprisingly, given his natural talent and a pedigree that included playing for the 2014 SA Schools side, the St Stithians product initially languished in the Gauteng semi-pro team before making his breakthrough.

“I found my feet slowly and had to fight for my life at Gauteng, even though I knew what I could do. I almost had to prove it to myself though and allow myself to be free and have a real crack with the bat.

“It’s an experience every player goes through and I’ve been guilty of wanting things too badly in the past. But I will keep going,” Rickelton stated.

Disappointing results are not main reason for Jake changing half the Bulls’ starting line-up 0

Posted on January 09, 2023 by Ken

The Bulls will be eager to stop their slide down the United Rugby Championship table before the end of October when the competition takes a break, but disappointing results are not the main reason coach Jake White has changed half his starting line-up for their match against Benetton in Treviso on Friday night.

Having been knocked over and physically dominated by the Glasgow Warriors and Munster on successive weekends, the Bulls are now down to sixth on the log. Benetton will definitely be tricky to beat on their home turf, and the high-flying Sharks then come to Loftus Versfeld on October 30.

“It’s not just results that decide selection, I would have changed the team anyway this week,” White said on Thursday. “Every coach has an idea of a certain team he wants to play against certain opposition.

“But then the whole thing changes with injury and I didn’t think I would not have Johan Goosen or Cornal Hendricks. But it’s a long season and the European competition hasn’t even kicked off yet.

“Benetton rested a lot of their main players last week, we know they have targeted this game and everyone understands how tough it will be. It shouldn’t be an ambush here anymore.

“We have not gone from a good team to a poor one overnight, and this is a massive game for us because an away win is like gold. No-one must think we’re going through the motions,” White said.

The ever-improving Benetton side is certainly not going to stand back for anyone on their home ground anymore, and the Bulls can expect a feisty welcome up front, led by loose forward Lorenzo Cannone and his brother, lock Niccolò. Benetton still talk about their famous victory over the Bulls in the Rainbow Cup final last year, when White’s team, rampant at home, were shocked by the intensity of their hosts.

“I hope we are not surprised again. There will be unbelievable passion in the crowd and we are coming from rain and cold every day in Scotland and Ireland to warm weather and sunshine,” White said.

“Benetton still talk a lot about beating us in that final, and that was an opportunity for us to learn some lessons. I hope we are wise enough that we don’t get caught again.

“They are a good team, well-coached, while, for whatever reason, we have not played as well as we can. Sometimes it feels like we are stuck in third gear and we struggle to get into fifth.

“But our saving grace is that it is a long season and we only need to play our best rugby at the back end. But the challenge is for us to get better every week,” White said.

Bulls: Kurt-lee Arendse, David Kriel, Stedman Gans, Harold Vorster, Wandisile Simelane, Chris Smith, Embrose Papier, Elrigh Louw, Marco van Staden, Marcell Coetzee (CAPT), Ruan Nortje, Janko Swanepoel, Francois Klopper, Bismarck du Plessis, Gerhard Steenekamp. Bench – Jan-Hendrik Wessels, Simphiwe Matanzima, Mornay Smith, Walt Steenkamp, WJ Steenkamp, Zak Burger, Morne Steyn, Stravino Jacobs.

Kickoff: 6.30pm.

Sharks decline option to play more upmarket team, leave Boks in Durban 0

Posted on November 30, 2022 by Ken

The Sharks have turned down the option to play a more ‘upmarket’ team and include their returning Springboks in their United Rugby Championship visit to Newport to take on the Dragons on Saturday, instead deciding to leave them in Durban until after their tour is over.

While the Bulls and Stormers are fielding some of the Springboks who were involved in the Rugby Championship, Sharks coach Sean Everitt has made just two injury-enforced changes to the team that opened their campaign with a narrow (in the end) win over Zebre in Parma.

Lock Gerbrandt Grobler injured his bicep in training this week and will be replaced by new signing Justin Basson, with Hyron Andrews moving on to the bench.

And replacement flyhalf Fred Zeilinga has also returned home injured, with Anthony Volmink replacing him amongst the substitutes.

“The Springboks have been given a week off and will integrate themselves back into training next week in Durban,” Everitt said on Thursday. “If we need to call in some of them due to injuries for next week against Leinster, then we will.

“But I would prefer them to get up to date with what we were doing in pre-season and what we have implemented since then. It’s a bit different for us because of the number of Springboks we have.

“Fortunately they are all guys who prepare well. But they did miss part of pre-season and they need to get up to speed. They’re all quality players and we will need to introduce them for a couple of games in October.

“But for now we are leaving them in Durban to prepare for the clash with Glasgow back at home on October 15,” Everitt explained.

Having upset Munster in Newport last weekend, the Dragons are shopping for their second successive home win, having begun the season with a fearful 44-6 hammering away to Edinburgh.

What the Sharks want is a repeat of their first 40 minutes against Zebre last weekend, when they were impressively efficient in garnering a 28-3 lead. They lost focus in the second half though, and had to hang on desperately for a 42-37 triumph.

“The first half was the best rugby we’ve played for a long time and I was very happy with that,” Everitt said. “But in the second half we allowed them to get momentum.

“Zebre and the Dragons are both dangerous out wide and we struggled with our width in defence and allowed them quick ball at the breakdowns.

“Plus we never stuck to our kicking plan. So really we put ourselves under the pump. Having conceded only three penalties in the first half, not many at all, we then gave away seven in the second half when we were feeling the pressure. But those things are all fixable,” Everitt said.

Sharks team: Aphelele Fassi, Werner Kok, Rohan Janse van Rensburg, Ben Tapuai, Thaakir Abrahams, Boeta Chamberlain, Grant Williams, Phepsi Buthelezi, Dylan Richardson, James Venter, Reniel Hugo, Justin Basson, Thomas du Toit (c), Kerron van Vuuren, Ntuthuko Mchunu. BenchDan Jooste, Dian Bleuler, Carlu Sadie, Hyron Andrews, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Cameron Wright, Marnus Potgieter, Anthony Volmink.

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