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Ken Borland

Proteas have better chance to gel with domestic action confirmed to start November 2 0

Posted on October 12, 2020 by Ken

As rugby’s return-to-play has shown, getting teams to gel takes time and the Proteas are just relieved that it has finally been confirmed that they will at least have some domestic action starting on November 2 before they are flung back into the international arena.

South Africa last took the field on March 7 when they completed a 3-0 ODI sweep over Australia in Potchefstroom and it seems likely that they will host England in white-ball internationals in November. The 50-over world champions have enjoyed a full northern summer of action, however, while the only play available to the Proteas has been for those in the IPL.

But Cricket South Africa finally confirmed on Friday that domestic cricket will resume from November 2 with the Four-Day Franchise Series. Due to necessary cutbacks, the format has changed with the six teams split into two pools. Within their own pool, a franchise will play each team home and away, and then play the three sides in the other group once each, either home or away. It means the number of four-day games has been cut from 10 per franchise to seven, although there will be a final at the end of it all.

The Momentum One-Day Cup, which runs from January 8 to February 12, will be played under the same format, while the CSA T20 Challenge which ends the season will be played over a single round of five matches per franchise, followed by a final.

Proteas spinner Tabraiz Shamsi said on Friday that he was just happy to be able to get out on to the field and have some match practice before their international commitments resume.

“At least there will be cricket and we now have the fixtures and we won’t just have to rock up and play England or whoever else they have lined up for us. We’re very happy to now have certainty because you can train as much as you want but you can’t gauge where you’re at in the nets and the stakes are low at practice. At least we now know we’ll have some domestic fixtures before any potential international matches.

“There will still be mistakes when we play for the Proteas, but at least we’ll now have time to see what we’re not doing right. We won’t just be practising. I’m just happy that we now have some games because obviously there has been a lot going on with Covid-19, and we can’t be too picky. Any cricket is good and playing seven matches instead of 10 is better than nothing,” Shamsi told Saturday Citizen on Friday.

The Lions start the defence of their four-day title with a match against the fast-improving Dolphins in Durban from November 2-5, while Shamsi’s Titans side travel to Cape Town to take on the Cobras at the same time.

The bookmakers would probably fancy the Titans, last year’s runners-up, to have the slightly easier pool as they play the Cobras and Warriors home and away in the first four rounds. They then play the Dolphins at home before their crunch game against the Lions is at the Wanderers, from December 20-23. That is the penultimate round of fixtures, with the final round starting on February 18.

“In international cricket, you play the same guys all the time, but it will be funny playing just the Cobras and Warriors in the first four rounds. I guess if I’m bowling well then you wouldn’t want to keep playing against them because they could get used to my bowling. But all the teams are probably pretty balanced and there have been so many changes in personnel before this season.

“I can’t remember so many player movements before, so no-one really knows how strong or weak the various teams are. It’s going to be a bit of a lottery and it’s going to take a while to figure out the different match-ups in domestic cricket,” Shamsi said.

Who will shine above the thin pickings as lights go out at Newlands? 0

Posted on October 05, 2020 by Ken

In terms of the national team, the lights will be turned off at Newlands for probably the last time after the Springbok Showdown on Saturday evening, which is what the game between the Green and Gold scratch teams will most likely be remembered for. Apart from getting some much-needed game time into the legs of the Springbok squad for the Rugby Championship, there could be thin pickings for Rassie Erasmus and Jacques Nienaber given the difficulties associated with getting a team to gel after one week together.

Still, there will be some fine talent on display and it will do nobody any harm to shine given the lack of rugby South Africa has suffered this year. For the established Springboks, Saturday will be about saying farewell to Newlands while for the young guns, they will be judged mostly on their character and how much they have picked up off the training field this week.

“Cape Town has always been one of my favourite venues, although it’s unfortunate that there won’t be a crowd, that changes the dynamic. But we all know the history of Newlands and it will be great playing there one more time, even though we know how greasy it can be if the weather is bad. It’s also going to be very nice playing with new people around you,” Springbok Gold captain Lukhanyo Am said on Friday.

“Lots of energy is what the new players bring and it’s been a big week for those youngsters selected for what is basically the Emerging Springboks. They have got to experience what it’s like at Test level in terms of preparation and the environment in camp. We’ve tried to share our knowledge as senior players, they have received a lot of information, we’ve really pushed the learning, clarity and detail and hopefully it will make them better players.”

Part of the education for the youngsters will be in how to deal with combining with players you have never played with before in just a week.

“It’s really exciting to be playing alongside a guy like Rikus Pretorius, who has a lot of energy. And coming up against Wandisile Simelane is going to be challenging because he is very exciting and because of his prowess on attack we will definitely be looking out for him. No-one’s going into the game for a loss, we’re all very competitive athletes.

“We have to play with what we have, but we have a couple of tricks up our sleeves and even though we’ve only had a week to gel, we should all be able to execute whatever plans we have. It’s really nice playing with new guys in a situation where there’s less pressure. But in common with the Sharks environment, here at the Springboks it’s all about taking ownership as players,” Am said.

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

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