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Ken Borland

Commonwealth Games will hopefully see Proteas Women return to their strengths 0

Posted on September 12, 2022 by Ken

The novelty value and excitement of being part of a greater Team South Africa at the Commonwealth Games will hopefully see the Proteas women’s cricket team return to their strengths and bounce back from a torrid run of six straight defeats against England when they play New Zealand in their opening game at Edgbaston on Saturday.

Team unity will seldom be more important for the Proteas as they are without most of their leading individual stars – Lizelle Lee has controversially retired, Marizanne Kapp is back in South Africa attending to a family emergency, Dane van Niekerk is still injured and Trisha Chetty and Tumi Sekhukhune are also unfit to play.

They have also been in England for a long time, suffering regular blows to their morale, and key players like Shabnim Ismail, Sune Luus and Mignon du Preez have been struggling for form.

Coach Hilton Moreeng has tried to bolster the mood.

“It’s very exciting to have this opportunity to be part of the Games, it’s a first for us and you can see the joy in the players, they know they have the opportunity to do something special.

“It’s a very happy camp and we feel blessed to represent Team South Africa. The main thing is we have acclimatised and we can adapt to conditions in Birmingham very well.

“Plus we’ve been playing against a very competitive team like England, who are always in the top two and they have tested us well. We’ve gone back to the drawing board to see how we can improve.

“We’ve learnt a lot playing against England and now we will use that to see how we can get victories in the Commonwealth Games. We will need to fire in all our disciplines,” Moreeng said.

While New Zealand have been inactive since the World Cup in March, it should be remembered that they beat the Proteas 3-1 in their previous meeting back in February 2020, clinching the series by romping to a 69-run victory in Wellington.

England and Sri Lanka are the other teams in Group B, so it is likely whoever wins Saturday’s clash between the Kiwis and the Proteas will make the semi-finals along with the hosts.

But New Zealand have been underachievers in global women’s events and South Africa will hope their greater match-sharpness will allow them to put their opponents under pressure.

Play starts at 12pm.

Emotional return for Leus, but 3 internationals back for Titans could have bigger impact 0

Posted on November 15, 2021 by Ken

Leus du Plooy will make an emotional return to South African cricket as he turns out as the overseas pro for South-Western Districts in their CSA T20 Knockout Cup quarterfinal against Northerns in Kimberley on Tuesday, but it is three returning full internationals for the Titans who will probably have a greater impact.

Du Plooy’s last appearance in South Africa came in April 2019 when he scored a century for Northerns against Eastern Province at St George’s Park. He then joined Derbyshire as a Kolpak player and did well enough to receive a contract until the end of next season, as well as being chosen to play in The Hundred for Welsh Fire.

But Northerns will welcome back an even bigger star of English county cricket in off-spinner Simon Harmer, as well as batsman Theunis de Bruyn and fast bowler Junior Dala.

De Bruyn has had a wretched time with injury lately and will be eager to stamp his mark on the early-season with big runs, while Dala gives the Titans a trio of fearsome fast bowlers as he joins Corbin Bosch and the in-form Okuhle Cele.

With Dean Elgar still injured, left-arm spinner Aaron Phangiso will lead the Titans. He may be 37-years-old, but he showed in the pool stages in Bloemfontein, as he took four for 52 in his 10 overs overall, that there is no mould on his skills and he is still quite capable of keeping batsmen in the dark.

The hard-hitting Donovan Ferreira and opener Jandre Pretorius are two young guys who grew their reputations in Bloemfontein.

The Free State Knights take on Western Province in Tuesday’s other quarterfinal, while Wednesday morning’s clash between the high-flying KZN Dolphins and the aggressive Eastern Province Warriors should be fun.

The Boland Rocks play the last quarterfinal against North-West in a match that will showcase what CSA are hoping are two growth areas of the game.

Elstadt greatly honoured to be part of Bok bomb squad bringing greater intensity 0

Posted on August 17, 2021 by Ken

Utility forward Rynhardt Elstadt says he is greatly honoured to be part of the Springbok ‘Bomb Squad’ and when he comes off the bench in the first Test against the British and Irish Lions in Cape Town on Saturday he and his fellow replacements will be chasing even greater intensity and physicality.

South Africa used their eight substitutes – generally choosing an extra forward reserve and just two backs – to great effect in winning the World Cup in 2019. But with several backline players having question marks over their fitness, coach Jacques Nienaber has gone with a standard five-three split on this occasion. Their instructions will be the same though, according to Elstadt, who narrowly missed out on the squad that triumphed in Japan two years ago.

“It’s an honour for me, it’s called the ‘Bomb Squad’ for a reason and us guys coming off the bench have an important role. We need to raise the intensity of whoever we are replacing left it off and we need to bring more physicality. I hope I live up to the standard and do even more, and I just don’t want to drop my team-mates.

“I like the physicality side of the game, and it’s not just myself in the team who likes that. My role when I come on is to climb in. I’m not a particularly big ball-carrier, but my job is to do the donkey work to make sure we get good ball and also to stop the opposition’s momentum,” Elstadt said.

The 31-year-old Elstadt, who will earn his third cap on Saturday, has the responsibility of covering both loose forward and lock, especially with specialist lock replacement Lood de Jager having not played any rugby since April and having tested positive for Covid at the start of the month.

Other rookies in the Springbok squad who have key roles are Ox Nche and Kwagga Smith.

Nche, who has also just played in two Tests previously, will start at loosehead prop against Tadhg Furlong, the Irishman who many rate as the best tighthead prop in the world. While Nche’s greatest assets are probably in open play, and mobility is also going to be very important against this Lions team, his first job is to ensure a steady scrum for the Springboks.

Smith replaces the injured Duane Vermeulen at eighthman and, as much as Nienaber said the mobile 25-year-old could do the same job in terms of getting and stopping momentum as the World Cup final man of the match, there is little doubt the former Springbok Sevens star has been picked to use his pace and ball-hunting skills to counter the Lions in the wide channels.

10-man rugby might not have totally died at Loftus Versfeld … 0

Posted on May 06, 2021 by Ken

Loftus Versfeld used to be the home of 10-man rugby when Naas Botha was bossing the game in the 1970s/80s, but the intervening years have seen that approach all but die out and Jake White’s arrival in Pretoria has seen the Bulls use their backline with greater effectiveness than has been seen for many years. But against the Lions in the opening round of the Rainbow Cup on Saturday, there is a possibility that the home side will be playing a more conservative brand of rugby.

Not only have the Bulls been training for European conditions up until two weeks ago, but the Lions are also known to favour a more expansive, high-tempo game-plan. So it makes sense for the Bulls to force the Lions into a tight, physical contest that requires them to put their bodies on the line, and to force them back into their own territory with a strong kicking game.

“It’s definitely going to be a physical battle up front, we all know the Lions like to play with a lot of width. We have a great game-plan and if we stick to that then it will all work out, even though the Lions know exactly what we will bring. We kicked a lot on the Lions when we played them before and that’s something we can target because we have big wings that can contest,” scrumhalf Embrose Papier said this week with resonant tones of intimidation.

Having burst on the scene in 2018 as a potentially world-class scrumhalf, Papier’s fortunes took a dip in 2019 as he was left out of the Springbok squad. But the 24-year-old says the presence of Fourie du Preez, a towering presence in both Bulls and Springbok rugby, at Loftus Versfeld has been helping him a lot.

In 2019 he seemed to be at the rear of the Bulls’ No.9 pecking order behind Ivan van Zyl and Andre Warner, but now, especially with Van Zyl heading to Saracens at the end of June, Papier could well be celebrating a return to the Springbok squad given his resurgence in the last year.

“It’s been a dream to work with Fourie and my game-management, passing and kicking have all improved a lot. I’m working very hard and I learn something new every day, and I still dream of playing for the Bokke, that’s definitely a goal. But if I play good rugby through the year then that will be rewarded, so I’m just taking it step by step,” Papier said.

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    “Attempting to serve the Lord without the strength of the Holy Spirit results in frustration and ultimate disaster.

    “If your vision of him grows dim, your service will become powerless and ineffective. This will happen if your spiritual reserves are not regularly replenished through prayer and meditation.

    “You must put him first in all your activities. Your service for him must be the result of your intimate knowledge of him. Only when he enjoys priority in all things, can you understand life from his perspective. Putting Christ first in your life and work makes you a more capable servant of God.” – A Shelter From The Storm, Solly Ozrovech

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