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Ken Borland

Elgar might never be a T20 mercenary, but he’s worth his weight in gold 0

Posted on February 07, 2022 by Ken

There is little chance of Dean Elgar leaving the Proteas to become a T20 mercenary because his white-ball ability is, frankly, under-rated, but the nuggety left-hander is surely worth his weight in gold to the South African Test team.

Since making his debut in Perth at the end of 2012, and bagging a pair, Elgar has worked his way into the hearts of Proteas Test fans and is now the captain tasked with rebuilding the team to the sort of former glories they were in when he was first chosen.

For someone with such tenacity and bounce-back-ability – the tougher the situation the better Elgar seems to bat – it was perhaps fitting that his Test career should start with two ducks against the fearsome Mitchell Johnson.

Elgar certainly leads from the front on the field, putting his body on the line and valuing his wicket as greatly as anyone. But it is off the field where it seems he is also having a major impact. Never afraid to speak his mind, the 34-year-old is a no-nonsense cricketer, he plays the game hard and he expects his team-mates to do so too. Soft excuses are not tolerated and he is gradually dragging the best out of a Test team that has been gutted, in the years since he made his debut, by the retirements of Smith, Amla, Kallis, De Villiers, Du Plessis, Philander, Steyn and Morkel.

Test cricket is far from the sanitary, gentlemanly environment of the past and the second Test between South Africa and India at the Wanderers was a spicy affair. Stung by their poor performance in the first Test, it was good to see the Proteas willing to fight fire with fire. There was no standing back against the world’s No.1-ranked side.

That willingness to fight was shown by rookie Marco Jansen not backing off against Jasprit Bumrah; by Rassie van der Dussen, who put a difficult time behind him and also withstood the verbal volleys of wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant, the man who dismissed him in the first innings when he claimed a catch on the bounce. Temba Bavuma was a cool head in the tense closing stages and refused to be rushed at the crease by the Indian bowlers running in before he was ready.

With Elgar fighting so hard at the other end, it was easy to see why his team-mates were inspired.

It has been a disappointing last year for the South African batting line-up as a whole, but there are runs to be had in the third Test starting at Newlands on Tuesday, with the pitch expected to be the best for batting the Proteas would have experienced for a long while.

There are still question marks over Aiden Markram and fans of Kyle Verreynne are expectant that he will soon make a Test score to match the three ODI half-centuries he has already scored.

But Bavuma and Elgar look in fine fettle, Van der Dussen and Keegan Petersen have the confidence of scores to their name, and the bowlers are a potent unit when they fire together.

You can forgive the Proteas misreading the Wanderers pitch and playing Keshav Maharaj, who only ended up bowling two overs in the match. He is bound to have a much greater role in Cape Town and we may even see him bowling alongside another left-arm spinner in George Linde.

Batting at No.7 still seems a slot too high for the talented Jansen and Linde has similar all-round credentials to Wiaan Mulder, so if conditions suit he could be in line for his fourth Test cap and first at home.

For now, a magnificent effort by the Proteas deserves to be celebrated while the anticipation builds for the decider at Newlands.

Malan’s composure & temperament like gold for the Proteas 0

Posted on August 11, 2021 by Ken

Given the scant opportunities Janneman Malan has had to play for the Proteas, one could forgive the 25-year-old opener for being anxious when he did get the chance against Ireland. But the eventual Player of the Series just looked completely calm and in control during his two innings, and to have that sort of composure and temperament is like gold for an international batsman.

Malan top-scored in both ODI innings for South Africa, stroking 84 off 96 balls in the second game and then a magnificent 177 not out off 169 deliveries in the third and decisive match. With the first game washed out, the Proteas won the final ODI by 70 runs to level the series 1-1.

“At this level, you don’t know how many games you’re going to get, so to help myself mentally I just tell myself that if I am going to miss the next match then I must go out on my own terms. I back myself and I don’t want to play out of desperation to keep my spot. I just let go and do my best, and if that’s not good enough then I can deal with that.

“I wasn’t thinking of Gary Kirsten’s record 188 not out, I was just in the zone, in the moment. By then I was in that flow-state, just watching the ball and playing every ball on its merits. And I really enjoyed batting with Quinton de Kock, my Cape Town Blitz partner. He seems to bring out the best in me and if I’m selected going forward then he would be my ideal opening partner,” Malan said after sharing a brilliant first-wicket stand of 225 in 36 overs with the wicketkeeper/batsman.

Coach Mark Boucher agreed that batting with De Kock, who stroked a masterful 120 off 91 deliveries, would finance a great deal of learnings for young Malan, who has played just seven ODIs but has scored a world-record 483 runs in that time.

“Janneman has been waiting on the sidelines for quite some time, but now that he’s got some opportunity and a taste of international cricket, he’s really done well. So our depth pool is getting quite big and he has certainly taken his opportunity. Batting with Quinny, he would have learned a helluva lot, and in the end he was smashing it all over the park.

“He’s given the selectors a good headache, it’s a good thing. It’s tough because all the guys in contention are quality cricketers and ideally we’d want them all to play. We have thought about upskilling someone to bat outside their normal position, something Aiden Markram has done at franchise level. But the competition for places is good,” Boucher said.

SA A like a shadow Bok team because every opportunity to play together is like gold 0

Posted on August 03, 2021 by Ken

Some observers may be wondering why the SA A team to take on the British and Irish Lions in Cape Town on Wednesday night is basically a shadow Springbok Test side – and the reason is simple: every opportunity for the national team to play together is like gold at the moment.

The Springboks have only played the one Test against Georgia in the 20 months since winning the 219 World Cup and even that game only really shook off the rust. The world champions are still a long way off the tight, clinical unit that triumphed in Japan.

With the second Test against Georgia cancelled, the SA A match is the last opportunity to warm up before the first Test against the Lions on July 24, which is why director of rugby Rassie Erasmus named a team with a dozen players who featured in the World Cup final. Of the SA A side. The vast majority of the 23-man squad is expected to line up for the first Test against the tourists.

“We are working towards the first Test, the guys need playing opportunities, they need to get game-time. We have been struggling for that opportunity. The biggest goal is always that first Test and we need the World Cup guys to get good minutes under their belt, especially guys like Lukhanyo Am and Faf de Klerk, who did not play against Georgia.

“We are not where we were at the 2019 World Cup final and we will appreciate any opportunity for any practice game, I see there have even been rumours over us playing against the Bulls on Saturday. It’s no longer about what we have done in the past, it’s time now to write a new script and we couldn’t ask for a better team to do it against than the Lions,” assistant coach Mzwandile Stick said on Tuesday.

While the Springboks have been making sure they train with Test match intensity, it’s the match fitness – the big collisions against opponents who really want to smash you rather than your team-mates; the collisions that cause the bruises that these players wear with honour like the finest jewellery – that needs to be sharpened.

“We will see how we are placed on the physical side tomorrow,” captain Am said on Tuesday afternoon.

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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.”

    “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.


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