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Ken Borland



Many cricketers get axed; not many have rebounded as emphatically as Hawken 0

Posted on September 02, 2020 by Ken

Many professional cricketers have suffered the indignity of not having their contracts renewed, but very few have rebounded and proven their former employees made a mistake as rapidly and emphatically as Eldred Hawken.

A year ago, the fast bowler who hails from Limpopo had been let go by the Titans and was contemplating playing club cricket in Johannesburg because at least he had family he could stay with in the city. But at the weekend Hawken was named both the Lions’ Player of the Year and the Players’ Player of the Year after his key role in the franchise defending their four-day title and being their best seamer in the Momentum One-Day Cup.

“It has definitely all caught me by surprise. When I lost my contract last year I felt hard done by and defeated. But my old man took me out to golf and said I should give professional cricket one more year, I had managed to build up some savings and he said he would cover me if I needed more. But I felt my future wasn’t moving forward in cricket,” the 31-year-old told The Citizen on Monday.

“I had tried to find a franchise contract somewhere with my agent, but it’s not easy. But Northerns coach Mark Charlton is a good mate and his opinion was that I should keep going, we did some one-on-one work and he said I should play some club cricket in Johannesburg and you never know where it will go. So I was living out of a suitcase, moving between relations, it was a crazy time,” Hawken said.

Having signed with Old Edwardians, Hawken had yet to play a game for them when North-West coach Monty Jacobs phoned him and asked if he was interested in playing first-class cricket for the Potchefstroom-based team. What followed on October 31 at Senwes Park was a pure sporting miracle as Hawken took nine for 14 against Easterns, who had won the toss and elected to bat. Not many have recorded better bowling figures, in fact they are the fourth best in South African first-class history.

“Monty was great to me, he said when I feel like training I must come through to Potch. I did pretty well but then North-West did not play in December and I was on three weeks holiday in Tzaneen when Lions coach Wandile Gwavu phoned to say they needed bowlers and I must come through for a few training sessions the next week.

“I guess taking those nine wickets in an innings said they must take notice of me, it got me into the mix. And then I took five wickets on debut against the Titans, I was man of the match, we won the game and the Lions just backed me from then on, I played every game,” Hawken said.

The wiry Merensky High School product is a bowler blessed with the ability to swing the ball late and, when he is on song, has wrecked many a batting line-up as a first-class record of 205 wickets in 53 matches at an average of just 21 attests.

“I guess I just get hot at a particular moment, all of a sudden I feel things just snap together and I can create things, you just want to jump on it and ride it when that happens. But I felt like I was also a more consistent bowler last season and I’m trying to focus on that. My economy rate proves I am becoming more consistent. Before I lacked confidence in white-ball cricket.

“For the Titans I never really got into a rhythm of playing week in week out, every game I played you felt under heaps of pressure to impress and you still might not play the next match. My goal is still to play Test cricket for South Africa and I know I can get there; if I lose my belief that I can do it then that’s when I should hang up my boots. In the short-term I just want to be part of another season in which the Lions do well,” Hawken said.

As the last year of Hawken’s life has shown, cricket is a queer old game and, if he can produce another great franchise season, who knows where his journey will end?

Rehabilitated Hawken soaring at Titans & national academy 0

Posted on June 03, 2016 by Ken

 

Up-and-coming Titans fast bowler Eldred Hawken had his promising first season of franchise cricket interrupted by a back injury, but he has managed to rehabilitate himself in time to take up a place at the prestigious national academy at Cricket South Africa’s Centre of Excellence, an indication of what a talent he is.

Hawken only played four of the champion Titans’ Sunfoil Series games, but showed enough in taking nine wickets at an average of 30.44 to suggest he has a bright future. He may be 27 already, but there is something reminiscent of Dale Steyn in him in the way he is able to swing the ball at high pace and in his physique.

“I’m pretty excited moving forward. My back seized up during last season so I was helluva surprised to be called up for the academy. I thought maybe I was past it in terms of age, but it’s nice to know my good work paid off,” Hawken told The Citizen.

“The Titans side made me feel very comfortable, even though my first over went for 14 runs! But I felt comfortable after that [a change of ends helped!] and I got settled in for cricket at that level, although I still have a lot of work to do, especially on my conditioning. I can bowl 20 overs in a day in amateur cricket, but it’s harder to bowl 15 in franchise cricket because there’s more intensity.”

The similarities with Steyn don’t end with just the physical, however, as Hawken is from Tzaneen and also attended Merensky High School. The lithe Titans prospect admits that the great fast bowler was his role-model growing up as a cricketer in the Limpopo province.

“Dale was my hero. My dad, who was president of Limpopo Cricket, coached both of us at the Hornbills club in Tzaneen and when I was 12 or 13 I would go and watch them play. I would bring my whites just in case and often I would be standing at mid-off watching Dale bowl or watching clips of him on TV.

“I was actually an off-spinner until I was 16 and then when I changed, I envisaged in my mind his action as the basis for what I was trying to do. Those days were a big influence for me, I had the structures to flourish. The area has produced quite a few fast bowlers including Dale, Ethy Mbhalati and Marchant de Lange,” Hawken said.

The expert attention Hawken gets at the national academy means he has a good chance of following in the footsteps of those bowlers and becoming the leader of the Titans attack.

 

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