for quality writing

Ken Borland

England bring never-seen-before dash to Test cricket 0

Posted on August 17, 2022 by Ken

The last month in England has produced never-seen-before scenes in Test cricket as the team representing the home of the stiff upper lip and historically often dominated by dour Yorkshiremen and Lancastrians, have pulled off four successive fourth-innings run-chases with all the dash and aggression of a limited-overs game.

England have chased down four targets in excess of 250, the first team in the history of Test cricket to do so in a calendar year, and they have done so extraordinarily quickly. Traditional Test logic is that scoring anything more than 250 in the fourth innings is never easy, but England have won by seven wickets twice and by five wickets twice in beating New Zealand 3-0 and now levelling their postponed series against India 2-2.

Their run-rates in those innings have been 4.93 chasing 378 against the powerful India attack, and 3.53, 5.98 and 5.44 against the New Zealand bowling line-up that won the World Test Championship last year.

These extraordinary achievements have come under the refreshing new positive philosophy of coach Brendan McCullum and captain Ben Stokes. It has been called BazBall in honour of the Kiwi-born coach, but it is also a reflection of how captain Stokes, one of the great all-rounders, has always tried to play the game.

Having seen off the two teams that played in the inaugural World Test Championship final, England are now heading into a series against South Africa, currently second in the standings.

Many critics will be tempted to write off the Proteas as having no chance, but let’s not forget they beat India in a series at the start of the year and then drew with the Black Caps in New Zealand. And South Africa have a history of taming teams that have set out to play ultra-aggressively against them, thanks to their perennially strong bowling attacks.

Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje are amongst the fastest bowlers in the world, and left-armer Marco Jansen is an exciting prospect who could surprise the English.

But it could be an unfamiliar strength that the Proteas turn to: In Keshav Maharaj and Simon Harmer, South Africa have two world-class spinners and, with the pitches in England starting to dry out and take turn in August, their contest with the mighty English batting order should be memorable.

Four remaining matchfixing suspects will be sitting uneasily after Matshikwe sentenced 0

Posted on July 25, 2022 by Ken

The four remaining suspects in the 2015/16 RamSlam T20 Challenge matchfixing case will be sitting uneasily after Pumelela Matshikwe was given a six-year sentence, suspended for five years, for corruption in Pretoria last Friday.

Matshikwe is the second player to be convicted for his role in the matchfixing scandal, and he pleaded guilty to unlawfully entering into a corrupt relationship with Gulam Bodi and two separate bookmakers for fixing matches in the 2015/16 season of the T20 competition.

Bodi was sentenced to five years imprisonment in 2019 on eight charges of corruption for his role as the middleman in the scheme. It was the first time the Corrupt Practices Act had been used in a sporting context.

Fellow Highveld Lions cricketer Jean Symes has also been charged and his case is pending, while Thami Tsolekile, Ethy Mbhalati, Lonwabo Tsotsobe and Alviro Petersen, who have all been banned from cricket, have not yet been charged.

But it is known that the Hawks Anti-Corruption Task Team under the guidance of the National Prosecuting Authority’s senior state advocate Willem van Zyl, is continuing investigations into that quartet of former players.

While Matshikwe, who entered into a plea agreement with the state, and Symes have kept silent over the case, Tsolekile, Mbhalati, Tsotsobe and self-styled whistleblower Petersen have accused Cricket South Africa’s Anti-Corruption Unit of racism and coercion against them. They began their campaign to have the investigation reopened on a well-known radio talk show based in the city and even repeated their accusations in the Social Justice and Nation-Building Hearings.

The SJN ombudsman, Advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza, did not uphold their allegations.

Apart from causing immense pain to the South African cricket family, the four remaining suspects have increased their risk of criminal prosecution, with insiders saying the Hawks are determined to prosecute all the suspects one-by-one.

IPL teams interested in 4 of the 6 CSA T20 pies 0

Posted on May 30, 2022 by Ken

A new T20 league co-owned by Cricket South Africa and SuperSport will be held in January and Indian Premier League teams are believed to be interested in four of the six pies that are up for sale.

According to a statement released by CSA on Friday, the new league will comprise six privately-owned franchises playing each other in a double round, before the top three sides move to the playoff stages.

These six teams will be totally divorced from the existing domestic teams, who will continue to play their own T20 competition. But grounds like the Wanderers, SuperSport Park, Kingsmead and Newlands are bound to be used as venues and will be paid hosting fees.

The previous problems faced by the ill-fated T20 Global League and Mzansi Super League in securing decent broadcast deals for the events are a thing of the past thanks to SuperSport’s investment not only in televising the matches and providing a global feed, but also as actual stakeholders in the tournament. SuperSport CEO Marc Jury told Saturday Citizen on Friday that “shareholding details will be provided later, but we can confirm that SuperSport and CSA are co-owners.”

The new franchise league seems to already have a better foundation than its predecessors and there has apparently been interest from four of the major IPL teams in getting involved. Names such as Chennai Super Kings, Mumbai Indians and Kolkata Knight Riders have been mentioned, but Jury said the ongoing “discussions are confidential and SuperSport are not at liberty to provide more details at this time”.

While some local CEOs were a little gun-shy at the prospect of another T20 franchise league being launched, saying “we have heard and been through all this before”, others said they were “really excited and it’s a great opportunity” for what CSA have marketed as “all-action cricket sportainment”.

January provides a gap in the international calendar such that all the top local players, including the Proteas, should be available, as well as international stars, except for those who are playing in Australia’s Big Bash, which traditionally runs through until the end of January.

CSA chief executive Pholetsi Moseki said “a sustainable business model has been created for both the league and the teams, with a healthy salary bill to attract the very best local and international players.

“The league also represents a fresh injection of funds into the sport in SA, which will help grow the game.”

There will be a player auction and all the teams will be entitled to field up to four overseas players in any starting XI. No transformation targets will apply to the competition.

URC loans some of the predictability of SuperRugby 0

Posted on May 17, 2022 by Ken

The United Rugby Championship is the successor to SuperRugby for the four South African teams involved in it, and it loans from the southern hemisphere competition the excitement of seeing different players and styles of rugby.

It also, however, is running into the same problem that SuperRugby did in terms of how incredibly difficult it is for teams to win overseas; perhaps even more so in the URC.

Excluding the matches involving the two Italian teams, who have won just four of their 27 games combined, there have only been four wins by teams travelling overseas to play, as opposed to 26 losses and one draw, which was when the Stormers held Edinburgh 20-20 in October.

The overseas victories have been by the Sharks over the Ospreys, the Bulls beating the struggling Cardiff Blues, Stormers beating the hapless Dragons and Edinburgh surprising the Sharks at Kings Park.

The best sporting events have a large element of unpredictability about them; the excitement of a 50/50 contest, nobody being quite sure who is going to win. It is partly why a Test match between the Springboks and All Blacks is so exciting.

But so far in the URC, teams hosting an overseas side (excluding matches involving Zebre or Benetton) have won 84% of the time. So the competition has been a little too predictable.

But let’s not detract from the overall excellence of the Celtic teams playing at home or the superb manner in which the South African teams rebounded from tough starts to the competition, being thrown straight into the deep end overseas in the UK autumn.

I am optimistic that the URC will go from strength-to-strength as a thrilling, highly competitive tournament, especially with the announcement this week from CEO Martin Anayi that from next season, the schedule will pause during international weekends.

That means teams like Leinster, Edinburgh, Ospreys, the Sharks and Stormers, will not be deprived from playing their internationals at key times of the tournament. Even Cardiff, who are sitting 13th on the log, have had 10 Welsh internationals ripped from their squad for much of the tournament.

The first year of the new URC has suffered badly from the effects of Covid and the postponements it has forced. But as the pandemic dies down, so we should get a clearer picture of how good this new competition really is.

Refereeing is a constant source of controversy in all rugby these days, and the South African teams certainly struggled to adapt to not only the conditions in the UK but also how the officials interpreted the game. There was a feeling that it would be payback back at home when local referees befuddled the visiting teams.

And then the URC announced that all matches in South Africa would be controlled by neutral referees, which was no doubt a snub for our officials and bad news for those wanting to see overseas teams blown off the park.

But Bulls coach Jake White is a sly old fox, and he recognised early on that having the best referees in control of matches would lead to the best team winning more often. He backed the idea of neutral referees and it certainly seems to have helped the South African teams establish their dominance on home soil.

My feeling is that our local referees allow too much skulduggery at the ruck, which leads to slow ball and a lack of momentum for the attacking team.

Now, with confidence restored, let’s hope a couple of other South African teams can sneak into the top eight and join our Shield champion in the playoffs.

  • Recent Posts

  • Archives

  • Thought of the Day

    Philemon 1:7 – “Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints.”

    “Every disciple of Jesus has a capacity for love. The most effective way to serve the Master is to share his love with others. Love can comfort, save the lost, and offer hope to those who need it. It can break down barriers, build bridges, establish relationships and heal wounds.” – A Shelter From The Storm, Solly Ozrovech

    If there’s a frustrating vacuum in your spiritual life and you fervently desire to serve the Lord but don’t know how you’re meant to do that, then start by loving others in his name.


↑ Top