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Ken Borland

SA forever making a mess of 50-over World Cup campaigns 0

Posted on December 29, 2022 by Ken

South Africa are forever making a mess of their 50-over Cricket World Cup campaigns, but they have decided to shake things up a bit for the 2023 event by putting themselves under extra pressure just to qualify.

But scarred and cynical Proteas fans can relax just a little because the situation is not as bad as has been depicted by some pundits on TV and elsewhere.

Yes, the Proteas are currently in a lowly 11th place in the Super League qualifying standings. And given that South Africa have controversially conceded their three scheduled Super League ODIs in Australia in January to instead focus on the new SA20, they have five matches left in which to sneak into the top-eight. Those games are all at home – three against England and two versus the Netherlands. The Proteas already started playing the Netherlands last November, with the first ODI rained out and the next two postponed until next year due to Covid.

West Indies are occupying eighth spot at the moment, on 88 points, but they have completed their roster of 24 matches. South Africa are on 59 points, and with 10 points being awarded for each win, they are three victories away from overhauling the West Indies.

But Sri Lanka and Ireland stand between the Proteas and the West Indies and are also still in the running to finish in the top-eight.

Ireland are on 68 points and have three games left, hosting against Bangladesh next May, so if they sweep that series then they can reach 98 points. In that case, South Africa will need to win four of their last five games to get past them.

Sri Lanka, on 62 points, have six fixtures remaining – three in New Zealand and three at home against Afghanistan. Basically, however many wins they get, South Africa will need one more.

If they fail to finish in the top-eight, then the Proteas will head off to Zimbabwe next June for the final qualifier, the bottom five teams in the Super League joining five other sides, and the top two qualifying for the World Cup.

“It’s not ideal,” outgoing coach Mark Boucher admitted, “but we haven’t always had continuity in the ODI team, what with players going to the IPL and Covid, and that has caused inconsistency.

“But we know what is required against England and the Netherlands next year, and if we don’t make it then we just have to accept that we have to go to the qualifier and man up there.”

The Proteas are now leaving India for another World Cup – the T20 version in Australia. It is a long time and there will be much cricket played before they see ODI action again, and perhaps the mood around the team will be very different, hopefully triumphant.

What is sure though, is that there will be outrage if they don’t find their way back to the sandy pitches of India in a year’s time for the 50-over World Cup.

Markram admits Proteas missed out on extra 15-20 runs 0

Posted on December 23, 2022 by Ken

As well as he batted, Aiden Markram has admitted that the Proteas missed out on an extra 15-20 runs they should have scored as they went down to India by seven wickets in the second ODI at the weekend, and executing their skills in the crucial moments will be their focus going into the decisive third match in Delhi on Tuesday.

Markram scored 79 off 89 balls, an innings filled with plenty of great strokes, but he was just beginning to really dominate after a tough start when he got out, lashing a short delivery from off-spinner Washington Sundar to extra cover. What made his dismissal even worse was that it came just two balls after Heinrich Klaasen got out for a brisk 30 off 26 deliveries.

Markram had set up the innings superbly with Reeza Hendricks (74 off 76) in a run-a-ball third-wicket stand of 129, and he and Klaasen then added 46 off 40 balls to leave the Proteas poised for a score of over 300 as they reached 215 for three in the 38th over.

They subsided to 278 for seven, which India chased down with 25 balls to spare and Markram put his hand up for what happened.

“The pitch was drier than in Lucknow and we thought we had a decent score, even if it was 15-20 runs less than ideal,” Markram said.

“It would have been nice to bat through the last 10 overs and cash in, that’s where the runs left out there are on me. Whenever two wickets fall bang-bang, then the fielding team gets all the momentum back.

“When I got out, maybe that’s where we left the 15-20 runs short. I haven’t played in Delhi before, but lots of the team have, so we’ll have knowledge of the conditions. We will just try and execute our skills on the day, ultimately that’s what matters,” Markram said.

India’s successful chase was also built around a third-wicket stand, although Ishan Kishan (93 off 84) and Shreyas Iyer (113* off 111) took theirs to 161. Although he has been out-of-form lately, South Africa possibly missed the ability of wrist-spinner Tabraiz Shamsi to take wickets in the middle overs. Both he and captain Temba Bavuma missed the second ODI due to illness.

“They were very good, they played excellent knocks and deserve a lot of credit for such a big partnership that killed the game,” Markram said.

“The ball was quite wet, we definitely saw the impact of the dew. I don’t think we bowled badly, they hit some good balls for boundaries and then it becomes tough to slow them down.”

Markram said he was greatly helped by having Hendricks in such good form at the other end, and hopefully the prolific 33-year-old keeps his place for Tuesday’s decider.

“Batting first, the ball did not skid on so much and India bowled into the pitch and the ball just died. David Miller struggling to hit the ball shows you how tough conditions were and how well India bowled.

“I found it tough, it was frustrating. But lots of credit must go to Reeza, he kept the runs flowing at the other end and so the partnership was still doing well,” Markram said.

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.

Uys returns to starting team & his pace will be important for Bulls 0

Posted on November 11, 2021 by Ken

Young loose forward Muller Uys returns to the Bulls starting line-up at eighthman for Saturday’s United Rugby Championship match against Edinburgh, and coach Jake White said his extra pace will be important as South Africa’s champions run out on to another artificial pitch in the Scottish capital.

Elrigh Louw is having a breather and will play off the bench against Edinburgh, but such has been his outstanding form that Uys has not started for the Bulls since August 18, against the Pumas in the penultimate round of Currie Cup fixtures before the semi-finals.

“Elrigh has played lots of rugby, he’s gone 80 minutes three times over here,” White explained on Friday. “Muller has trained well and been a part of our group for a long time. He’s a good athlete and quick, which is what you need on a 4G pitch. You can get stuck a bit in defence if you’re not athletic.

“Hopefully Muller brings energy and a spark to the team. He probably hasn’t played as much as we would have liked, but that’s because of the standard of play our loose forwards have produced, not just Elrigh, but also Marco van Staden, Marcell Coetzee and Arno Botha.

“Edinburgh have changed the way they play a bit, their shackles are off and they try to express themselves, and our ability to adapt again to the pace of the game will be important,” White said.

Edinburgh made a flying start to last weekend’s game against the Stormers, scoring twice in the first six minutes, but thereafter they were strangled by some incredibly physical defence by the visitors.

While White said he wants the Bulls to not just defend but also attack, there is no doubt he will be looking to his big men to dominate the contact points.

“I think our defence will be asked some questions and it was very encouraging last weekend, our tackle success being far below standard in the first two games.

“So we’ve got to be consistent and try and grow from last week. But I don’t want us just to defend the whole time, we want to attack as well. Hopefully we can produce a more balanced 80 minutes and not have all-or-nothing at the beginning or end.

“We started well against Connacht, we were seven points up, but then we lost badly. Last weekend we were behind by 13 points early on, so we had to attack and we came back.

“This week’s challenge is a good side with a lot of South Africans involved, which is unique in itself. They will understand the way we play, so it will be a difficult game,” White said.

Bulls team: David Kriel, Madosh Tambwe, Cornal Hendricks, Harold Vorster, Kurt-Lee Arendse, Chris Smith, Embrose Papier; Muller Uys, Arno Botha, Marcell Coetzee (CAPT), Ruan Nortje, Janko Swanepoel, Mornay Smith, Bismarck du Plessis, Lizo Gqoboka. Bench -Schalk Erasmus, Simphiwe Matanzima, Robert Hunt, Walt Steenkamp, Elrigh Louw, Marco Jansen van Vuren, Morne Steyn, Lionel Mapoe.

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