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Ken Borland



Davids says Boks must take the emotion out while critics say their No.1 reign has gone to the dogs 0

Posted on October 08, 2021 by Ken

The harsher critics of the Springboks are having a field day saying their reign at the top of the rugby world is going to the dogs, but assistant coach Deon Davids said on Monday that the team need to take the emotion out of their review of the back-to-back defeats against Australia as they prepare to face the mighty All Blacks this weekend.

The Springbok game-plan has been the object of much derision from their rivals who could not prevent them winning the World Cup, as well as seeing off the British and Irish Lions. But a strangely flat performance against the Wallabies last weekend, leading to a 30-17 defeat, has raised questions about how keen the Springboks are to keep chasing and tackling themselves into oblivion.

“We will be the first to say our performance has not been up to standard in the last two games and we need to look at the reasons for that. But it’s important to look objectively at our performance, we want to take the emotion out of it as quickly as possible. We need to look at how the plan was executed, did we stay in the task and then move on to the next challenge?

“We can’t dwell on things that are in the past, we have to focus on what we need to improve and what we need to do. And then prepare effectively to make sure we perform the way we need to. Obviously when you lose two consecutive games, it’s natural to get emotional and you can look for reasons that are not actually the case. We need to go back to our strengths,” Davids said on Monday.

The Springboks’ very specific game-plan needs multiple facets of their play to be working like clockwork and Davids is confident they can regain the required cohesion and fervour against the All Blacks for the 100th Test between the two great rivals, in Townsville on Saturday.

“We understand what we want to achieve, what we want to do with the ball where and when. Against New Zealand, we’ve got to be good in all areas, especially technically. But this group of players has been in this position before, they lost the first Test against the Lions and their first game at the World Cup, but they were able to pick themselves up because there’s a lot of experience in the team.

“I’m confident we will be back at the standard we are used to, even though there are physical and mental challenges due to the circumstances caused by Covid, which will have some sort of effect. But we had an idea of the challenges before we started this campaign and we prepared to adapt to circumstances. There is nothing standing in the way of us giving our best in these next two weeks,” Davids said.

What to do with our bunch of U19 losers? 0

Posted on February 15, 2016 by Ken

 

 

Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula will no doubt call them “a bunch of losers”, while many cricket followers, judging by the comments I’ve seen, would want even harsher punishment meted out to the South African U19 team after their dismal display in the ICC junior world cup.

I would normally feel sorry for a group of young men with such expectation heaped on their shoulders to go and perform in a strange land like Bangladesh, especially since their predecessors, the special team led by Ray Jennings, Aiden Markram and Kagiso Rabada, claimed the title in the last tournament two years ago.

But when any South African team loses to Namibia and someone close to the squad slams them for their arrogance and lack of discipline and accuses some of them of just wanting to bolster their CVs before heading overseas, then I begin to wonder whether being charitable is the right response or should they face the music?

Coach Lawrence Mahatlane has come in for brutal criticism, but then he is an easy target. Being Black African, his appointment was immediately greeted with a chorus of “quota appointment”; having not played first-class cricket also counted against him.

I have had many private discussions about cricket with Mahatlane and, in fact, I have played in teams coached by him. Although the level of play and the pressures were obviously vastly different, I can assure sceptics that Mahatlane is as passionate about the game as anyone, including Jennings, and is immensely knowledgeable.

From what I have heard in private from people surrounding the squad, Mahatlane may have been on a hiding to nothing. The health of our U19 cricket always fluctuates, there has been a cycle of great sides and more mediocre ones for decades.

But while one can forgive players for maybe not having as much talent as some of their predecessors, there is absolutely no excuse for a lack of work ethic nor for an attitude that suggests “we have already made it”.

I would describe Mahatlane as someone who cares for his players, but perhaps, behind the scenes, they did not have the necessary respect for their coach, for whatever reason, be it his skin colour or his lack of a playing record.

Jennings was a master of getting such destructive attitudes out in the open and removing them from the set-up, but he also boasted healthy experience as a coach.

With the shocking results of the U19 team coming at the same time as the senior side were struggling against England, alarming questions bordering on panic were asked about the health of the game in South Africa in general.

We should take care not to lose sight of the bigger picture and the context in which these results have occurred. There is an awful amount of negativity feeding into cricket at the moment and this was undoubtedly partly to blame for the disaster in Bangladesh. If players already have it in their heads to emigrate and play for another country, how is the team going to perform, no matter how inspiring the management was?

For those blaming quotas, there was only a pair of Black African players in the loss to Namibia.

To counter-balance that, Namibia played in the CocaCola Khaya Majola Week – the U19 interprovincial – and their performance was underwhelming. They beat Limpopo and North-West on first innings, but lost to Western Province and Northern Cape and were thrashed by 192 runs by Easterns.

Those results perhaps show that there was something seriously wrong with the selection of the national U19 team.

Mahatlane’s position is probably untenable but I hope a place is found for him somewhere else in the pipeline because he has a lot to offer. In the meantime, South Africa have lost a top-class coach in Pierre de Bruyn, who would have been an ideal fit for the Junior Proteas, but is off to take up a lucrative contract in county cricket.

As Mahatlane pointed out, though, one of the key facets of U19 cricket is learning and improving as players, and hopefully the current South African squad has learnt some brutal lessons.

 

 

 

 

 

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