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Ken Borland

SA have a few injuries, but Euro franchise stars ‘look sharp’ 0

Posted on October 26, 2023 by Ken

South Africa men’s hockey coach Cheslyn Gie (right) and captain Dayaan Cassiem at the launch of the Africa Olympic Qualifier at the University of Pretoria.
Photo: Lee Warren

The South African men’s hockey team will go into their African Hockey Olympic Qualifier in Pretoria from Sunday with a few injury withdrawals but a full complement of their available stars playing for European franchises.

The winners of the eight-team men’s competition, which concludes with the final on Sunday, November 5, will qualify directly for the Paris Olympics next July, so the stakes are high and SA coach Cheslyn Gie is delighted with the squad he has.

“Unfortunately we’ve had a few injuries, but it is still a very good squad and our training camp has gone very well,” Gie said at the University of Pretoria, where the tournament will be held, on Thursday.

“Clayton Saker, Le-Neal Jackson and Connor Beauchamp, who is one of our drag-flickers, are all out with knee injuries. Unfortunately that’s three defenders ruled out, and Chad Futcher and goalkeeper Siya Nolutshungu have both just started new jobs and cannot get leave, our team being an amateur one.

“But everyone else is good to go and our European-based players are in the midst of their season. They’ve all played four-to-six matches and they are looking really sharp, despite having to travel long distances to get here.

“This is a very important tournament for us, it always is, and I’ve never experienced any easy matches in it. It’s a bit of a worry that we haven’t played a Test since the World Cup at the beginning of the year and we will need to adjust quickly to the pace of international hockey and it’s something we’ve tried to simulate in our training camp,” Gie said.

Speaking of drag-flickers, Gie said he was concerned about Nigeria’s arsenal of these penalty corner goal-scoring specialists, but he also warned about the challenge perennial finalists Egypt, Kenya and Ghana will pose, even though South Africa have won every one of these qualifying tournaments. Fortunately those last three teams are all in the other pool, with Namibia, while the hosts will take on Nigeria, Zimbabwe and Uganda and should comfortably finish in the top two of their section, thereby qualifying for the semi-finals.

“Egypt are definitely going to be strong contenders, but Nigeria have three very good drag-flickers and Ghana are always strong. They actually led against Egypt in the semi-finals of the last qualifier, but missed some tap-in goals. Kenya are also very physical and strong, and they’ve been together for a while with their whole U21 squad coming through.

“You can’t underestimate how quickly things change in this tournament. There’s a lot of ebb and flow in the games too, and we have to make sure that when things are going well for us, we score the goals, and when things are not going well, we keep the opposition out,” Gie said.

Celia Seerane (right) and assistant coach Inky Zondi of the SA women’s hockey team.
Photo: Lee Warren

South Africa’s women’s team have also won all four of the previous qualifying tournaments, but experienced star Celia Seerane said although their preparation has been outstanding, thoughts of just pitching up and cleaning up the opposition are far-fetched.

“It’s probably the best prepared we’ve ever been for the Africa Cup, we are ready and focused and enjoying the comforts of playing at home, but we can’t take anything for granted.

“History tells us that Ghana are going to be tough opponents and I remember when we went 1-0 down to them in a final in Kenya,” Seerane said.

Assistant coach Inky Zondi had a similar warning.

“All the teams have their unique style, which makes it very exciting. Nigeria will be very physical, they play quite an exciting brand of hockey and they have the combinations to do well in small spaces. Ghana are always a force, as are Kenya,” Zondi said.

South Africa play Nigeria and Zimbabwe in their pool, while Ghana, Kenya, Namibia and Zambia are in the other group in the seven-team women’s competition.

South Africa’s men open their campaign against Zimbabwe at 6pm on Sunday, while the women play the same country, at 4pm.

CSA seek more clarity on why Bavuma & Phehlukwayo missed out 0

Posted on November 16, 2022 by Ken

It may just amount to papering over the cracks, but Cricket South Africa are looking to meet the six SA20 franchises to discuss the fall-out from last week’s auction and get more clarity on why Proteas regulars Temba Bavuma and Andile Phehlukwayo were not bought by any of the teams.

Their omission, especially that of national T20 captain Bavuma, dominated South African cricket news, detracting from one of the most important events in the establishment of the new league as hopefully something that will enthral local fans.

Franchises like Sunrisers Eastern Cape, who are owned by the Sun Group who operate numerous Indian newspapers, TV and radio stations and so should understand the media fall-out, and Durban Super Giants chose top-order batsmen with inferior domestic records rather than Bavuma.

“It’s quite difficult because we agreed with the franchises that we would allow the bidding process to run independently,” CSA chief executive Pholetsi Moseki told The Citizen.

“But we were hugely disappointed, especially by the omission of Temba and Andile, that was quite a shock. We need to have a post-mortem to see how we can avoid this happening in the future.

“I am part of the SA20 board and I will be proposing a post-mortem with the franchises. It will be a discussion, not an interrogation. We can’t control how they go about picking their teams, but we just want to understand better why it happened.

“We will have earnest discussions with them and inform the public as well. We want the public’s buy-in for this tournament, so they need to be able to read and hear why certain players weren’t chosen,” Moseki said.

The first sign that things were heading south at the auction came when Sunrisers Eastern Cape bought Marques Ackerman in the 12th round of bidding. The KZN Dolphins batsman has a strike-rate of 123.68 and an average of 24.25 in 39 domestic T20s, compared to Bavuma’s strike-rate of 124.67 and an average of 30.52 over 100 matches.

Ackerman’s base price was admittedly just R175 000, while Bavuma’s was R850 000, which was clearly set too high, either by himself or whoever advised him poorly. Moseki confirmed that “the Proteas players could choose their own reserve price, initially they were told to go at R850 000, but if they wanted to go lower then they could do that. It was not possible to lower their price during the auction though”.

“We will ask the franchises whether there was enough local input in their selections. We need a long-term plan to ensure this does not happen again, specifically when it comes to contracted Black players.

“It will be very sad if it happens again next year and we obviously need to plan better,” Moseki said.

CSA and SuperSport could not turn down deep pockets and experience of IPL owners 0

Posted on August 29, 2022 by Ken

With teams like the Chennai Super Kings and the owners of the Mumbai Indians investing in South Africa’s new T20 league, sources say Cricket South Africa and SuperSport could not turn down the millions of dollars they stand to make and have awarded all six franchises to IPL bidders with deep pockets and plenty of experience in operating professional sport franchises.

CSA confirmed that the owners of the six franchises in the new league to start next January would be Mumbai Indians owners Reliance Industries (based at Newlands); RPSG Sports Private Limited, the owners of Lucknow Super Giants (Kingsmead); Sun TV Network Limited, the owners of Hyderabad Sunrisers (St George’s Park); Chennai Super Kings (Wanderers); Royals Sports Group, of Rajasthan (Boland Park) and JSW Sports, the co-owners of Delhi Capitals (SuperSport Park).

And, in keeping with the Indian Premier League being the richest cricket tournament in the world, those six investors’ bids reportedly far outstripped any other of the 20-odd Expressions of Interest CSA received. Sources say the average bid for a franchise amounted to $25 million, and nobody else could compete with those numbers.

The team owners will pay 10% of that figure per year, for 10 years. CSA get roughly half of that annual fee, amounting to $1.25 million per team, per year; and that amounts to $7.5 million per year, which, by today’s exchange rate, is a whopping R128 million per annum.

It is not exaggerating to say domestic cricket will die without that extra income allowing CSA to subsidise their vital pipeline.

Over the 10-year lifespan of these franchise deals, that will be an injection of more than a billion rand into South African cricket.

One South African cricket insider described it as “crazy money” and, with an appealing time zone in terms of the Indian market, the new T20 league should become an international brand in its own right.

It is believed the Chennai Super Kings put in an enormous $40 million bid for the Wanderers franchise, which is probably 10 times more than the leading local bidders could afford.

The compulsory local development initiatives that all bidders had to have as part of their submissions is also an appealing prospect for the domestic game. It is hoped that these IPL owners will allow the provincial structures based at the six venues to play an active role in the league, rather than just flying in and taking over the premises for a couple of months and then jetting off again.

With the Indian teams having made such a massive investment, could the South African league be the first to benefit from an allowance for current Indian players to compete in the tournament in the years to come?

6 IPL teams in shake-up for SA T20 0

Posted on August 08, 2022 by Ken

Six IPL teams are in the shake-up for ownership of the six franchises that will play in Cricket South Africa’s new T20 tournament early next year, CSA chief executive Pholetsi Moseki has confirmed.

The proposed tournament, which is co-owned by CSA, SuperSport and former IPL chief operating officer Sundar Raman, is eager to target the lucrative Indian market.

“There are big things planned for our T20 league and six IPL teams have submitted bids to invest in a franchise, as well as other Indian investors and teams from the Pakistan Super League,” Moseki told Saturday Citizen.

“The global interest has exploded and we’ve had almost 30 Expressions of Interest received. An independent service provider, which is one of the big four global audit firms, will do an evaluation of all the bids.

“This T20 league is quite key to our sustainability going forward and we have a long-term plan along with our partner SuperSport,” Moseki said.

While the unveiling of who the successful bidders are could still take a little while, CSA are expected to announce the appointments of new executive staff like the director of cricket, chief financial officer and chief commercial officer, in the next week or so.

The new T20 competition is scheduled to start on January 12, and CSA are so determined to ensure their Proteas stars are there from the start that they have requested the postponement of the ODI leg of their tour to Australia.

“In terms of the FTP and big tours involving Australia and England, we’ve had to manage some challenges,” Moseki said. “But we’ve cleared our January schedule from 2024 on and want to make the best we can of this tournament.

“When we started our planning in November last year, most of our first meeting was about the scheduling. We considered November and December, and February as well, but January is best.

“There are exams in November and it can’t be December because that would be terrible for our international commitments. It is just the nature of the calendar that you are always competing against someone. Just not the IPL because no-one can compete against them.

“We knew there was talk about the Emirates T20 targeting that January window as well, but we back ourselves. In January, South Africans are still in holiday mode, the varsities haven’t opened yet,” Moseki pointed out.

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