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Ken Borland



Like snogging a slobber-mouthed dog as Titans set up for win while title slips away 0

Posted on March 14, 2023 by Ken

Young JP King shone with the bat for North-West.

If a tie is like kissing your sister then winning your last game but seeing your trophy hopes disappear could be like snogging a slobber-mouthed dog. The Northerns Titans maybe felt a bit like that as they set themselves up for a comfortable victory over the North-West Dragons at Centurion, but had to accept that they can no longer win the first-class competition.

The KZN Dolphins have assured themselves of the CSA 4-Day Series title and R1.5 million in prizemoney, even if they lose to the Central Gauteng Lions in Potchefstroom, because the 8.58 bonus points they gathered in the first innings push their tally to 118.04, which none of the other teams can overtake.

The Titans also face a battle for second place and the R750 000 prizemoney because if the Eastern Province Warriors bowl Western Province, currently 129 for three, out for less than 339 on Wednesday then they will pip Northerns by 0.5 of a point. There is no prizemoney for finishing third.

Northerns made heavy weather of bowling North-West out for 360 on Tuesday, letting catches slip and bowling messily. That left them with a potentially awkward target of 190 for victory, but openers Neil Brand and Modiri Litheko did a great job of lifting spirits in the home changeroom with a dashing unbeaten stand of 53 before stumps.

The Titans were probably eyeing the spoils of victory before tea when they claimed three early wickets on the third morning to reduce North-West to 90 for four, still 81 behind.

But Senuran Muthusamy and JP King took advantage of the crisis to prove their mettle. Muthusamy showed why new Test coach Shukri Conrad rates him so highly as he made a determined 62 to go with the six wickets he took in the Northerns first innings, while King, playing just his second game at Division I level, defied the Titans for four hours.

King eventually fell to the natural away-swing of Matthew Boast with the second new ball, but his 92 was a great effort, and the 10 fours and a six he struck showed he has the strokes to go with the determination.

Once Muthusamy was dismissed though, bowled by an excellent yorker from Boast, to leave North-West on 207 for five, just 36 ahead, there was a general laxity to the Titans performance. Perhaps the news had reached them that they were no longer playing for the title, but one would hope a R750 000 prize would still be motivation enough.

The Dragons tail wagged with enthusiasm in response and they added another 153 runs to give themselves a chance of winning their first four-day match this season. Duan Jansen was again an obstacle with 30 and then Juan James, the concussion substitute for Khaya Cotani, who was struck on the head first ball by Junior Dala, lashed 37 off 35 balls and put on 39 for the ninth wicket with Lwandiswa Zuma (15).

Boast was the best of the Northerns bowlers, finishing with three for 62 in 19 overs.

The Titans would have been unhappy with having let North-West come back into the match, but Brand was solid as ever at the top of the order as he reached 17 not out at stumps, while Litheko was in a rush, racing to 29 not out as he banished the memory of scoring just four runs in his last three innings.

Lions guts

The Central Gauteng Lions showed plenty of guts on Tuesday as they fought back superbly on the third day of their CSA 4-Day Series match against the KZN Dolphins in Potchefstroom.

The Dolphins had been calling the tune until Tuesday as they scored 329 and then reduced the Lions to 171 for eight. But the Central Gauteng team began their fightback with some brilliant resistance with the bat, led by Malusi Siboto.

Coming to the wicket at a difficult 128 for six, Siboto was involved in important partnerships of 27 with Connor Esterhuizen (36), 16 with Lutho Sipamla (12) and 26 with Codi Yusuf (14). But at 197 for nine, the Lions still faced a deficit of 132.

But Siboto and 19-year-old Liam Alder, making his first-class debut, then added a defiant 62 for the last wicket, making the trophy-hunting Dolphins really fight for the final wicket.

Siboto ended with a marvellous 54 not out off 167 balls, while Alder eventually fell for 23 off 63 deliveries. The last pair had crucially reduced the Lions’ first-innings deficit to just 70.

The bowlers then did a great job maintaining the comeback vibe for the Lions with Siboto having both Tshepang Dithole and Keegan Petersen caught behind, and spinner Alder claiming the wicket of first-innings top-scorer Marques Ackerman for just 10 as the Dolphins slipped to 68 for four.

Khaya Zondo (65) and Jason Smith (59) then added 111 for the fifth wicket, but Evan Jones then showed some proper skills with the old ball as he ripped through the lower-order, taking five for 46 as the Dolphins crashed from 179 for four to 222 all out.

Set a target of 293 for victory, the Lions were in good condition at stumps as they reached 64 for one.

Thando Ntini drew first blood when Josh Richards was unfortunate to be adjudged lbw for just 2, but instead of venting his spleen, captain Dominic Hendricks went about setting a solid foundation with his 32 not out.

Kagiso Rapulana also looked adept at the crease as he went to 30 not out, he and Hendricks adding 49 as the Lions went to stumps on 64 for one.

Needing another 229 runs to win, the Lions have certainly impressed with the way they have stayed professional right until the final day of the season, even though they can no longer win the four-day title, the Dolphins having accrued too many bonus points in the first innings to be overtaken.

Newlands

The Eastern Province Warriors are pushing hard for second place as they set Western Province a target of 339 to win at Newlands, the home side reaching 129 for three at stumps.

Glenton Stuurman had Jonathan Bird caught behind for 5 early on, and then returned to claim the key wicket of Zubayr Hamza, bowling him for 51.

Stuurman had earlier top-scored for the Warriors with his 38 lifting them to 184 all out. Left-arm spinner George Linde was the destroyer-in-chief for Western Province, taking three for 25 in 13 overs.

Knights hammer Rocks

The final round’s other game has already been completed with the relegated Free State Knights hammering the Boland Rocks by nine wickets.

Despite a second-wicket partnership of 146 between Pieter Malan (86) and Clyde Fortuin (133), Boland were bowled out for 319 with 23-year-old slow left-armer Monde Maqunqu taking six for 82 in 26.4 overs.

Thanks to his efforts, the Knights were left needing just 39 for victory, with Pite van Biljon and Raynard van Tonder scoring those runs in half-a-dozen overs.

From being an ant following Ernie around, Bezuidenhout is now the elephant at Sun City 0

Posted on February 08, 2023 by Ken

Christiaan Bezuidenhout must have felt a bit like an ant standing next to an elephant back in the 2000s when he followed Ernie Els around the Gary Player Country Club; now Bezuidenhout has inherited The Big Easy’s mantle as South Africa’s main hope in the Nedbank Golf Challenge that starts at Sun City on Thursday.

The 2000s were an era of dominance for South African golfers in the event, with Els winning in 2000 and 2002, Retief Goosen in 2004 and Trevor Immelman claiming the famous trophy in 2007.

Bezuidenhout, and compatriots like George Coetzee and Zander Lombard, were impressionable youngsters back then and the prestige of Africa’s Major is ingrained in them. The 28-year-old Bezuidenhout is based on the U.S. PGA Tour and is South Africa’s highest-ranked golfer in the field, and he also won the SA Open on the Gary Player CC course in 2020.

“Since 2000, we watched every year until 2012,” Bezuidenhout recalled on Wednesday. “I would watch the practice rounds, the short games, out on the course and inside the ropes.

“It was always my dream to play in this event and I’m very glad it’s back on the schedule. A lot of really good names are on the trophy, like Ernie, Retief, Westwood, Sergio Garcia and Seve Ballesteros.

“As a South African, you really want to put your name on that trophy because it’s a special event for us, there’s a bit more for us South African guys to play for.

“Playing in the United States, I’ve learned a lot. It’s a different style of golf, the grass is different. The strength and depth of fields is so good that you’ve got to try and save every single shot,” Bezuidenhout, who made his NGC debut in 2019, the last time the event was held due to the Covid pandemic, said.

Englishman Tommy Fleetwood has owned the title since then, bringing the daunting Gary Player Country Club course to its knees with a final-round 65 that saw him into the playoff he won against Sweden’s Marcus Kinholt.

“This is a very special event for me. I’m not South African but I grew up watching it with my dad every year. I love the history behind it and the winners,” Fleetwood said.

“When you walk down the ninth hole on the left and you see all the winners from all the years on that walkway, I often thought it would be great to add my name on there.

“To get that win was very cool and we’re all excited to come back. I love the game in this country and how popular golf is over here. I’ve always enjoyed playing out here,” the top—ranked player in the field said.

Although LIV Golf has caused much heartache to the DP World Tour, participants in that breakaway league are teeing it up at Sun City, including South African Branden Grace, the 2017 champion.

Former Protea’s outstanding catch, off Joburg-born bowler, breaks millions of South African hearts 0

Posted on February 06, 2023 by Ken

When former Protea Roelof van der Merwe let out a fervent roar of celebration after his outstanding catch, off the bowling of Johannesburg-born Brandon Glover, to take the key wicket of David Miller, it was unlikely he felt much regret for the millions of hearts that were breaking back in South Africa as the Proteas made a shock exit from the T20 World Cup, losing to qualifiers the Netherlands by 13 runs.

Chasing 159 for victory, South Africa had slipped to 111/4 after 15 overs and their hopes rested on Miller, their finisher supreme. The experienced left-hander had gone to 17 when he top-edged a pull at Glover and Van der Merwe scrambled backwards from short fine leg, and dived to take a superb catch.

Glover, who took 3/9 in his two overs, then had Wayne Parnell caught behind three balls later for a duck and, when Heinrich Klaasen (21) was caught at cow-corner off medium-pacer Bas de Leede in the 18th over, South Africa were all but buried. They limped to 145/8 in the end.

The Netherlands deserve full credit for their amazing victory, bowling and fielding with tremendous tenacity.

South Africa began their chase tentatively as Quinton de Kock (13) and Temba Bavuma (20) both just scored at a run-a-ball and the Proteas could only score 39/2 in the powerplay.

Rilee Rossouw (25 off 19) looked threatening before he pulled Glover straight to deep square-leg and Aiden Markram (17) sent a leading edge, well taken by a diving Stephan Myburgh, to cover off the excellent Fred Klaassen (4-0-20-2).

The dismissal encapsulated what the Netherlands did so well – taking pace off the ball and using variations, which caused the Proteas to really struggle to score freely.

It was something the Proteas attack failed to do and there can be no sympathy for their lack of awareness and adaptability to the conditions, which allowed the Netherlands to post a competitive 158/4 after they had been sent in to bat.

The outstanding Anrich Nortje (4-0-10-1) and Keshav Maharaj (4-0-27-2) apart, the Proteas attack simply lacked intensity and it was the Netherlands who seized the initiative from the start.

Pretoria-born Stephan Myburgh belted 37 off 30 balls, with fellow opener Max O’Dowd providing valuable support with 29 in an opening stand of 58 in eight-and-a-half overs.

Tom Cooper blasted 35 off 19 deliveries and another South African expat, Colin Ackermann, provided the finishing touches to the winning total with his brilliant 41 not out off 26 balls. The former Eastern Cape star also bowled three overs of probing off-spin for just 16 runs, keeping the left-handers quiet.

This time the Proteas could not blame anything outside of their own control – there was no rain, no freakish misfortune – for failing to make the semi-finals.

They defied history by choosing to bat first on a pitch that was only going to slow down and their whole mindset seemed incredibly soft when so much was on the line.

Bailey was like a smooth-running car with all the parts of his game in synch 0

Posted on December 29, 2022 by Ken

SUN CITY, North-West – Like a smooth-running car, American Brooklin Bailey felt that all the different parts of his game were in synch on Thursday as he raced into the lead after the first round of the Blue Label Challenge at the Gary Player Country Club.

Bailey, who began his round on the 10th hole, collected five birdies and an eagle for a bogey-free 65, that translated into 15 points in the modified Stableford scoring system. He was four points ahead of Portugal’s Stephen Ferreira, who had six birdies and a bogey, while the leading players under the South African flag were Ockie Strydom and Jaco van Zyl in third place on 10 points.

“It was nice, hot weather so the body got loose early and I felt super-comfortable after making a great start with birdies on my second and fourth holes,” Bailey said. “I played really well, it just felt fluent in terms of what my swing, my body and the ball were doing.”

Coming from Texas, a typically hot October day in the Pilanesberg, with the temperature reaching 36°, was no bother for the 28-year-old Bailey, who has played the famous Gary Player Country Club layout a couple of times before and embraces the challenge rather than being daunted by it.

“I haven’t gone on very well here before, although I feel like I played good golf but did not get much out of it,” Bailey said. “But it’s a venue I really like, a real test of golf, it tests every facet of your game.

“A lot of credit must go to my caddy George, who made a lot of great decisions and kept me patient. It was a great decision to lay up on 18 and make birdie, and then I holed out from the bunker on the first hole for eagle. Then I hit it to a foot on the next hole for another birdie,” a delighted Bailey said.

Picking up nine points around the turn really knocked the other contenders out of the first-round race, and Bailey is now focused on backing up Thursday’s marvellous score with another low one in Friday’s second round.

“My game has been there this season, just not necessarily full-time,” Bailey admitted. “You’re not going to win or finish top-10 every week, but making cuts is important and in my last seven events I’ve had three top-10s and missed four cuts.

“So I’m really focusing on my consistency. I’m playing well when I’m on form, but there are little parts of my game that need improving, especially in putting and finding the fairways, those are certainly the two key areas.

“I felt like I’ve found my Driver, and after having a putting lesson this week and working on it for three hours one morning, I was really feeling comfortable on the greens as well,” Bailey said.

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