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Ken Borland

Recent instalments of U19 Week had no official winner, but this year Lions undisputed champions 0

Posted on February 21, 2024 by Ken

Recent instalments of the Khaya Majola Week for the country’s best U19 boys cricketers have not seen an official winner declared, but even if that policy had continued this season, there would have been no doubt the Central Gauteng Lions were the undisputed champions of the event in Makhanda at the end of last year.

Our young Lions Pride were the only side that went through the week unbeaten and had three players named in the prestigious SA Schools team, as well as another two in the SA Colts side.

 The Central Gauteng Lions U16 girls also went unbeaten through their national Week in Pietermaritzburg and played some brilliant cricket. 

According to boys U19 coach Ahmed Nawab, excellent preparation was top of the list of reasons for his team finishing first.

“The most important thing was preparation and it was very specific in order to ensure the team played as a unit. It was my third year with the team and it took a couple of years of hard work to get that elusive first title,” Nawab says.

“The boys played really well and they trusted our preparation and plans. We started with a winter group of players, to work on player development, and the U16 national weeks in the last couple of years also helped us to identify potential talent.

“We would have specific days of training where we were building towards the Khaya Majola Week, we prepped through the winter and we also had a trials week. All of that was also very important for me to understand the players better, to build trust and relationships. It has been a very important exercise to show our depth as a union,” Nawab says.

While providing six members of the SA U19 World Cup squad is a source of tremendous pride for the Central Gauteng Lions union, it did make life terribly difficult at times for the coaching staff because it meant our young Pride had to rely on other players to triumph at the Khaya Majola Week.

“A lot of the time our six SA U19 players were not available because they had to go away to national camps. We had them all together for a week-and-a-bit before going to Makhanda and once we were there, they each had to sit out at least one game in the Week,” Nawab explains.

“So the rest of the squad had to understand that they themselves were actually the core of the team and it was up to them to put us in the good position. The key performances during the Khaya Majola Week actually came from those outside the national squad.

“Our two main values as a team were to be resilient because conditions meant you had to grind, and to make sure that all our sticks were in the fire, burning bright,” Nawab says.

While the new-ball bowling of Kwena Maphaka and Esosa Aihevba befitted their status as SA U19 stars, Fayaaz Vawda was also phenomenal up front; Luke Francis played a couple of key innings that dug the side out of tough situations; and Tjaart Mentz was an absolute find for the Lions, coming from one of the smaller cricketing schools in Helpmekaar. He showed he can hit a long ball as well as playing unorthodox strokes, while his wicket-to-wicket bowling was also very useful.

 But the talent in the Central Gauteng Lions U16 girls team is just as exciting. Neo Molefe, who scored back-to-back centuries without losing her wicket in the opening two games, was named both batter and player of the tournament. Fay Cowling was honoured as all-rounder and fielder of the week.

“There’s definitely a lot of talent in Lions cricket and our winning week was testimony to that,” triumphant coach Teboho Ntsukunyane says. “We did lots of hard work in preparation, we began our work earlier in the year so that we could expose the girls to lots of middle time.

“By August I had pretty much identified our squad and we were able to work in groups. I already knew the balance I wanted and the girls really complemented each other. In October we played games against senior Division II teams just to try and expose our players more and see how they expressed themselves under pressure.

“We also had some specific preparation like getting them to bowl at our senior DP World Lions star Sunette Viljoen-Louw, who hits the ball so hard, so they could get used to that. Their mental strength got better and better and all that exposure meant they were able to handle the pressures of the Week in Pietermaritzburg.

“That also enabled us to get our conditioning on-point and hone our game-plan, our role-clarity was very good and we understood what brand of cricket we wanted to play. Then it was just a case of making it easy for the girls to express themselves,” Ntsukunyane says.

The success of the Lions U19 and U16 teams is a clear warning to their rivals that they intend to dominate domestic cricket for a while yet.

“It really is a proud moment for us as Lions cricket to have witnessed the performances of our teams in both our regional and national Weeks hosted in all parts of South Africa. The achievements are testament to the hard work done over a long period of time in preparation of the players. We knew that 2023 was going to be rough with all the changes implemented to the format of the Weeks and the trophies at stake. These changes include the promotion and relegation at both U16 and U18 for boys’ and girls’ sections,” Reuben Mandlazi, the CGL Cricket Services Manager, says.

“One could not be prouder with the achievements of both U16 girls and U18 boys as they were crowned champions and the U16 boys and U18 girls finished third. We could not have achieved such good results without the support and hard work of our schools, as they continue to play a pivotal role through the strong cricket system.

“In addition, we thank everyone who played a role, including parents and selectors who identified these players under pressure. We recognise that selection is not an easy task and we are proud of them. We are also proud of the boys who represented South Africa at the ICC U19 World Cup hosted in South Africa.

“We know that year two of the new era will not be any easier, therefore we need to keep working harder and not be complacent about anything. Well done to all the teams and they continue to be the pride of Jozi,” Mandlazi said.

Central Gauteng Lions umpires also shone during the busy December period with very pleasing results.

Amy Gear stood in the final of the Girls U19 Week, as did Angus Gouws in the final of the Boys U16 week. Gear then went on to officiate as third umpire in the CSA 4-Day Series match between the DP World Lions and the Tuskers at the Wanderers, a remarkable achievement for a 17-year-old.

Davies Radebe stood in the third/fourth place final of the USSA A Week, while Zuber Saleh officiated in the SA Schools vs SA Colts match, the third/fourth place final of USSA A Week and was selected for Cubs week in January.

Mbekezeli ‘Randy’ Nkomo,  Mpumelelo Ngwevela, Nelisiwe Madondo and Roodt Jacobs were also appointed for national Weeks and acquitted themselves well, according to umpires administrator Brian Catt.

There was also good news on the scoring front with Central Gauteng Lions scorers co-ordinator  Kishen Pillay happy with the ratings achieved by the members of the association during an extremely busy festive period.

Natasha Nyoni, who scored at the Khaya Majola Week and was rated at 96%, and Mary Ramphela, who officiated at the U19 Girls Week and notched 99%, both finished in the top 2 of their respective Weeks.

Kagiso Taukobong finished fourth at the U16 Girls Week with 91% and Lebohang Dinake was in the top 10 at the U16 Boys Week with 87%.

“As a scorers association, we are pleased with the feedback and ratings received from the National Weeks, however we will strive to get even better,” Pillay says.

Van Rooyen supports the notion that every game could be your last, so even local derbies should be savoured 0

Posted on April 20, 2021 by Ken

Bulls prop Jacques van Rooyen supports the notion that any opportunity might be your last and, with the Rainbow Cup now in doubt, he said on Tuesday that even if they can only play local derbies, they will savour just being able to get out on the field.

The United Kingdom is reportedly not keen on four South African teams being based in England for three weeks due to Covid concerns, which would scupper the new competition that is meant to usher in the new Pro16 tournament.

“We’re practising as if the competition is going forward and we don’t put too much store in what is said in the newspapers, as far as we’re concerned we’ll be playing in two weeks. We have spoken together as a team that we can’t control what happens in other lands, we can only control what we can. Although we would obviously prefer to go to Europe.

“In terms of the whole rugby experience it would be a bit of a disappointment. But we are still making sure we’re ready for the provincial derbies. We might not be able to play overseas for two or three years, so any match we have we are going to treat as maybe our last. So it doesn’t matter what opposition it is, any time we’re on the field we treat it as something special and give everything,” Van Rooyen said on Tuesday.

The other reason that the Bulls are trying to stay mentally super-sharp is that they are keen to make it three-from-three in the Rainbow Cup, having already clinched Super Rugby Unlocked and the Currie Cup.

“We want to keep the winning culture since Jake White started going . We have to make sure we do what we have to do. We did well in the last two tournaments, but that’s all in the past now and we’re focused on what is coming. We’re just trying to get better,” Van Rooyen said.

Even if CSA vets Sascoc task team, who will pay for it? 0

Posted on September 16, 2020 by Ken

The meeting between Cricket South Africa’s Members Council and Sascoc was not as successful as CSA’s official statement made out on Tuesday, with a major sticking point being even if the Members Council vets the Sascoc independent task team investigating their affairs, who is going to pay for it?

While the Members Council have agreed to a “collaborative approach in the interest of good governance and executive operations” with Sascoc, the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee were apparently not yet able to furnish CSA with the details of who the task team would comprise, how it would function and, crucially, who would take charge of all CSA’s operational functions if the executive management stepped aside as requested by Sascoc.

The mother body, which is also cash-strapped after a series of their own legal disputes, has also stated that CSA should pay for the task team. Figures as high as R40 million for a month’s work have been mentioned.

“We have made some progress and we have agreed to allow Sascoc to investigate what they want to, we are not trying to hide anything. But Sascoc have not been able to tell us how this task team will be structured and if they remove the whole executive team, who is going to run CSA and handle the finances? And the Members Council have said there is no way we are going to pay for the task team,” a Members Council delegate told The Citizen on Tuesday.

“Nobody knows exactly how this task team will happen, but hopefully the follow-up meeting on Thursday will clarify these things,” the Members Council member added.

Another Members Council delegate said it has been amazing to see the growth in unity and purpose within the body, which comprises the 14 provincial presidents and technically has oversight over the Board of Directors, who they appoint.

“It was a fantastic Members Council meeting and we seem to be finally understanding the level of authority that we have,” the cricket administrator said.

Three representatives of the Members Council – Anne Vilas (Central Gauteng), John Mogodi (Limpopo) and Xolani Peter Vonya (Easterns) were meant to hold a press conference on Tuesday afternoon but this was postponed in another indication that CSA and Sascoc are not yet on the same page.

The presence of Vonya on the Members Council, never mind speaking for it, is also a point of conjecture because he has allegedly been suspended by his own union, which should then make him ineligible for the body of union presidents. He is one of several administrators with clouds over their heads who are still there on the Members Council.

Moreeng’s reputation intact but will he stay national women’s coach? 0

Posted on April 24, 2020 by Ken

Hilton Moreeng has completed his second term as national women’s coach with his reputation intact but whether he continues in charge of the Proteas or not will depend on how new Director of Cricket Graeme Smith sees the long-term future of the team. And captain Dane van Niekerk said on Thursday that she has full faith in Smith’s judgement, even if she may not entirely agree with his viewpoint that the women’s game requires specialist input.

Moreeng, who first became South Africa coach in December 2012, has led the team to the semi-finals of both of the most recent T20 and 50-over World Cups, in both cases losing narrowly to the eventual champions, Australia and England respectively. They have also already automatically qualified for the next 50-over World Cup, in New Zealand early next year, after the points from their postponed series with Australia were shared.

Smith said last week that the post of national women’s coach has been advertised and that he saw it as being “different to the men’s game so we need to improve the pipeline to the national side, as we grow, getting more players who have played for that national team”. The 42-year-old Moreeng is believed to have re-applied for the post.

Van Niekerk said, however, in a teleconference on Thursday that she did not believe in treating the men’s and women’s games differently.

“Graeme came to Australia to meet with me and Mignon du Preez during the ICC World T20, to see where the team was at and where we wanted to go. He’s certainly passionate about the game and we are excited to work with him. It’s more CSA’s job to decide on the coach and we will respect their decision, either to keep Hilton or to make a change. Our relationship with CSA is good enough that we can talk about anything.

“But I believe cricket is cricket, the principles stay the same, although in the women’s team you have to deal with different personalities and hormones, of course, while the men tend to be more cool, calm and collected. But I’m a big believer that looking at the men’s and women’s games differently is not the way to go forward, I would like to change that stigma because we train just as hard as the men,” Van Niekerk said.

The Covid-19 pandemic not only caused the series with Australia to be called off but it is playing havoc with South Africa’s planning leading into the World Cup starting on February 6. A tour of the West Indies scheduled for the end of May is almost certainly not going to go ahead, while the tour to England in August/September is also under threat.

“Hopefully we get back on the park sooner rather than later and the next World Cup is very important for us and our sole focus at the moment. We have unbelievable talent and I wouldn’t be captain if I didn’t believe we could win a World Cup, we’ve been very close twice and we just need to stay patient.

“But Covid-19 has affected the momentum we created at the last World Cup, which was so successful for women’s cricket in general, it would have been nice to continue that hype, especially since it was going to be us against the world champions a couple of weeks later. But we have the World Cup next year to create that hype again and I think there are a lot of special things still waiting for this team,” Van Niekerk said.

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