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Ken Borland



Proteas deserve more credit for whitewashing Sri Lanka at home 0

Posted on October 04, 2021 by Ken

The Proteas have enjoyed a superb record-equalling run in T20 cricket of late and will go into next month’s T20 World Cup with their confidence at a high. While Sri Lanka were disappointingly hapless during the 3-0 series whitewash, perhaps more credit should be given to the South Africans for being so clinical in dispatching the home side.

Most critics would probably have backed Sri Lanka to win the series on their home pitches, which were typically sub-continental and designed to favour their strengths and expose the supposed Proteas weaknesses.

Playing in the subcontinent means dealing with spin and South Africa were brilliant in both the progress their batsmen have made on turning pitches and also the sheer quality of their own spin attack, which was relied upon to an extent never seen before in a Proteas team.

The T20 World Cup will be played in what is expected to be similar conditions in the United Arab Emirates.

“It was very pleasing to win the series in the manner we did. We trusted in our process: Sri Lanka have some world-class spinners but our batsmen found a way to handle them and our spinners showed what they can do when they are backed. It’s good that the hierarchy is backing spin more.

“I obviously have my game-plans before the match, but you need to adapt on the field and read the conditions as soon as possible. I try to identify periods when we can go for the kill, and I must give credit to my bowlers for the number of times they came on and took wickets, or even an economical couple of overs. We wanted to really make an impact after the bitter pill of losing the ODI series,” stand-in captain Keshav Maharaj said.

Quinton de Kock may no longer have alpha-male status as the captain, but the wicketkeeper/batsman continued to mark himself out as the Proteas’ key batsman, a real matchwinner in T2 cricket. He was the leading run-scorer in the series with 153 runs, being dismissed just once as he claimed the man of the series award and a career-high eighth place in the ICC T20 rankings.

“Quinny has been in great form after obviously having a tough time in Pakistan. He’s been fantastic in the team environment and you can’t keep a player like that down for too long. He’s obviously in a happy space after a bit of rest, the break was good for him and it rewarded us too.

“He’s going to be a really big player for us at the World Cup and it was good to see him carry his bat through a couple of times, when it would be easy to just score thirty and get out. He’s showing a lot of responsibility and he will be a big name for as at the World Cup,” coach Mark Boucher said.

Bulls kneel in submission to Crusaders at Loftus 0

Posted on May 06, 2017 by Ken

 

The hapless Bulls were forced to kneel in submission to the might of the Crusaders as they were thrashed 62-24, suffering their biggest ever defeat at their Loftus Versfeld fortress, in their SuperRugby match on Saturday night.

It is both the most points the Bulls have conceded at home and the biggest losing margin, worse than their 56-28 defeat at the hands of the Blues in 2003.

As brilliant as the Crusaders were, the Bulls were utterly supine, their defence passive and lacking any of the fire they had spoken of in the week leading up to the match. Their attacks invariably started from so deep that they were seldom any real threat to a Crusaders side that is playing magnificent rugby at present.

There weren’t many lineouts in the game, but scrummaging was once again the bane of the Bulls’ lives, with that set-piece being destroyed with regularity by a Crusaders tight five led by stalwart Wyatt Crockett. Aimless kicking, poor defensive alignment and bad basic skills were some of the other failings to bedevil the Bulls.

As dismal as the Bulls were, the Crusaders deserve huge credit because they are playing proper rugby at the moment – strong in the set-pieces, direct with plenty of pace and power out wide, their execution is immaculate and coach Scott Robertson is clearly getting a new-look side to play with confidence while thoroughly enjoying themselves.

Outside centre Jack Goodhue, a former All Blacks Sevens player and Junior World Cup winner, was the central figure in the Crusaders’ enforcement of their huge dominance of the advantage line. His decision-making was outstanding, knowing exactly when to carry the ball, which he did with pace and great footwork, and when to put through clever grubbers which ripped the Bulls apart. Two tries were just reward for a powerful display.

The soft defence of the Bulls was obvious in the opening minutes when flank Pete Samu, bursting from a scrappy lineout, was tackled but then just let go inside the 22, allowing the Australian to regather the ball and storm over the line for the opening try. The heart of the Bulls has to be called into question because everyone expected them to come out breathing fire, playing with great physicality to at least make the Crusaders’ expected win tough to achieve.

The scrums were a disaster area for the Bulls with the Crusaders employing the tactic of shifting to the left immediately after the hit. Bulls captain Adriaan Strauss admitted after the game that it was a clever strategy and entirely within the law, the home side just not coping with it.

The Bulls attack is running from deep so often that it is always going to be a huge uphill battle for them to get over the advantage line. The Bulls’ backline is certainly a threat on turnover ball but the lack of vision and skill is also so apparent. A key moment in the game came in the 19th minute when the Bulls created space out wide for fullback Warrick Gelant, who raced down the touchline and then fed the ball inside to Piet van Zyl. The scrumhalf had a man on his inside and outside, but held on to the ball too long and the move broke down. Tian Schoeman then missed the resulting penalty. It was the sort of chance that is a certain try for every New Zealand team and it would have made the score 10-14 to the Crusaders.

The bench did at least make some impact for the Bulls, with Jan Serfontein and replacement flyhalf Francois Brummer, in particular, showing that the way forward may well include them in the starting line-up.

 

Points scorers

Bulls – Tries: Jesse Kriel, Jamba Ulengo, Jan Serfontein. Conversions: Francois Brummer (3). Penalty: Tian Schoeman.

Crusaders – Tries: Pete Samu, Tim Bateman, Scott Barrett, Jack Goodhue (2), Seta Tamanivalu, David Havili, Richie Mo’unga, Andrew Makalio, Mitchell Hunt. Conversions: Mo’unga (5), Hunt.

 

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