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Ken Borland

Griquas & Pumas have hunger & belief & cannot be taken for granted 0

Posted on September 09, 2021 by Ken

One thing that has become clear in this year’s Carling Currie Cup is that the ‘smaller’ unions, those not playing in Europe, cannot be taken for granted and the belief and hunger now flowing through the veins of the Griquas and Pumas players is going to make them hard to stop in the last three weeks of competition.

Griquas are third on the log and the Pumas fourth, with just the Sharks and Bulls ahead of them. At least one of them is going to make the semi-finals as they play each other in Kimberley on Saturday, but they will both go through if Western Province fail to beat the Sharks in Durban.

For the Pumas, the success of their season has been based on the realisation that they cannot just rely on their forwards to grind opponents down and they have produced some fine attacking rugby with ball-in-hand too.

“Our forwards were our go-to and they are still one of our strong points. But we said that we must play balanced rugby, we can’t just rely on our forwards for 80 minutes. The engine must rest a bit as well! So we have spread the workload, we are also using the kicking game more and overall we are just playing with more ball.

“When we played in SuperRugby Unlocked last year we got exposed to playing against the very best guys, Springboks included. We saw that we can beat them, but we just needed to rectify the small mistakes that were costing us. We spent two months focusing on that in pre-season and now we are starting to really get belief that we can beat the big unions,” ever-dangerous Pumas fullback Devon Williams told The Citizen on Wednesday.

Griquas wing Daniel Kasande also said there was a link between last year’s experiences and all the narrow defeats they suffered and their strong showing in this year’s Currie Cup.

“Not much has changed in terms of our system and structure from last year, but we had a lot of narrow losses then, things would just not go for us at the end of matcheis. So since then we have been fine-tuning our play and getting in sync with each other. Being together now for two seasons, you can see the chemistry in how we play.

“Before, every time we went into a competition we were the new boys and you get a bit of cold feet. But once you are in with the big boys for a while, you grow in confidence. You start to feel that you can dominate and it was very special beating Western Province at Newlands, once you do that sort of thing once, you believe you can do it again and again,” Kasande told The Citizen.

The way Griquas and the Pumas have contributed to the competition, one hopes many of their players are voted into the team for the newly-created Carling Champions Match – an all-star Currie Cup team chosen by the public – on November 6.

Abbott & Phangiso, victims of CSA’s transformation failures 0

Posted on May 31, 2016 by Ken


The tears and recriminations are flowing after yet another premature World Cup exit for South Africa’s cricketers, but spare a thought for Vernon Philander, Kyle Abbott and Aaron Phangiso, who all have good reason to feel angry on top of the brutal disappointment they must be suffering after the semi-final loss to New Zealand.

Nobody selects himself to play for the Proteas, and while it was undeniably a poor decision to play Philander ahead of Abbott, the Cape Cobras man has been a wonderful bowler for South Africa, even if his ODI skills on flat pitches don’t match his Test brilliance, and he certainly deserves way better than to be scornfully dismissed as a “quota” selection.

There were so many good cricketing reasons to play Abbott – his superb form in the quarterfinal against Sri Lanka, the doubts over Philander’s fitness (made worse by Dale Steyn’s own niggles and the ridiculously arrogant decision to only play four frontline bowlers), and the fact that the strategy against Brendon McCullum and some of the other NZ batsmen revolved around digging the ball in short and targeting the ribcage, for which Abbott is suited and Philander, who bowls at a very hittable pace if there is no movement, is not.

There has been speculation that Abbott was left out in order to play another player of colour, with rumours coming from people close to the camp that the Dolphins fast bowler was extremely angry ahead of the semi-final.

Which begs the question – when will Cricket South Africa get transformation right?

For me, it is just as much of a disgrace that Phangiso did not play a single game at the World Cup as it is if Abbott was left out for political reasons.

Will young Black Africans believe CSA when they say the Proteas are for everyone or will they look at Phangiso’s treatment and say his selection in the squad was all just window-dressing of the worst kind?

Instead of bowing to political demands before a semi-final that will now leave fresh scars on the South African psyche, why did CSA not insist Phangiso play at least against the UAE?

South Africa have not bowled skilfully enough in limited-overs cricket for a while now and this is ultimately where the World Cup campaign was lost; the only good all-round bowling performance they produced was against Sri Lanka. And to think they thought going into a semi-final with just five bowlers was a wise move.

All AB de Villiers’ statements about the Proteas being “the best team in the tournament” now sounds like empty chest-beating, designed to cover their own doubts.

If Russell Domingo did not have any misgivings about his side, why did he say they could not play Phangiso against the UAE because it was vital they finish second in their pool? An SA A side should have no trouble beating the UAE!

Yes, the Proteas have given their all and played with tremendous courage in the semi-final. But they also seem to have had an over-inflated opinion of how good they were throughout the World Cup, only for the doubts that have so blighted them in previous tournaments to come back once that bubble was burst.

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