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Ken Borland

Boucher acknowledges worst result of his tenure, implies players to blame 0

Posted on February 06, 2023 by Ken

Mark Boucher finished his tenure as Proteas coach with what he acknowledged was the worst result of his three-year term, but he absolved the coaching staff of any blame in the shock T20 World Cup loss to the Netherlands, implying the fault was squarely with the players.

“As coach, yes, it is the worst of the lot. It’s frustrating because as a player you still have a say, but as coach you leave it up to others to perform. Looking at the coaching staff, we ticked every box and we thought the guys were in a very good space,” Boucher said.

“At the start of the tournament, we would have taken having to beat the Netherlands to get into the semi-finals. We’ve got a good team and we believe on a given day we can beat anyone.

“That’s why the loss is so disappointing and we only have ourselves to blame. We were never really in the game, the Netherlands could come out and play brave cricket and we just weren’t able to get the momentum back on our side.

“We mustn’t look at one or two players, we need to look at the whole squad and they simply were not good enough today. The bottom line is we did not play well enough,” Boucher said.

Many articles have been devoted to why the Proteas consistently under-perform at World Cups, but Boucher said the team had shown their mettle in tight wins before, like over India in their third match of the tournament.

“I believe each world cup exit has been an individual event, although I know there is a lot of history. We have really played some good cricket in the T20 format, but we lost to Pakistan and looked flat today.

“The energy just did not seem to be there and we did not bowl or bat the way we should have. We certainly should have been better, but it just didn’t happen.

“But it’s not the only upset in this tournament, some very good sides have been beaten by so-called ‘lesser’ teams. The more we don’t do well at World Cups, it does start to play on your mind.

“But we’ve played tight games and won. I’m gutted, to be honest. The players really deserved to give themselves a better chance,” Boucher said.

Results, and team-mates, kind to Bavuma 0

Posted on January 24, 2023 by Ken

Despite his own lack of form, results on the field have been kind to Proteas captain Temba Bavuma, and his team-mates have certainly shown their compassion for their skipper’s current struggles.

While Bavuma has scored just 17 runs in his last five innings, South Africa are now top of Group II in the T20 World Cup, and victory over Pakistan in Sydney on Thursday will almost certainly seal their semi-final place. They also have a match against the winless Netherlands, who are already eliminated, in which to qualify for the knockout round.

So the only likely change to the Proteas team for that Pakistan clash will be whether the second frontline spinner, Tabraiz Shamsi, returns to the starting XI.

“Every player goes through slumps and it seems worse when the games are so close together,” Aiden Markram said in support of Bavuma. “We’ve all been there and we all support Temba.

“We all know his important role in the team is not just about his batting. I think his leadership has been very good and he’s made some excellent on-field decisions.

“No one doubts his ability at all, we know he will come right. I’ve been there myself, more than once,” Markram said.

Although the door to the semi-finals has now leaned ajar for the Proteas after their delightful victory over India, Markram said they have learned to not get ahead of themselves.

“Being top of the log is a good thing, but we certainly don’t think we have one foot in the door. It’s going to be a massive game against Pakistan and then the Netherlands.

“We’ve seen in this Super 12 that any side can beat any team on their day. We just have to make sure we get better in each game, and that will give us the best chance of qualifying,” Markram said.

Bavuma is not the only captain under pressure at this World Cup, but his strike-rate this year is 77.22, compared to the 119.90 of Australian skipper Aaron Finch and the 115.59 of Kane Williamson of the Black Caps.

Tristan Stubbs has only scored 7 and 6 in his two innings at this World Cup, but the young man is coming in late in the innings and trying to hit boundaries. Considering his role and inexperience, it would be unfair to expect too much consistency from him at this stage, but if he does come off, then the results could be spectacular.

Jake on the offensive as Cape-based journos feel his ire 0

Posted on January 03, 2023 by Ken

Bulls coach Jake White was on the offensive after his team’s poor display in their 31-17 defeat at the hands of Munster, with a couple of Cape-based journalists feeling his ire in prickly exchanges.

The questions they raised were largely self-evident, but White took exception to his team being described as “outmuscled” and when asked about senior players not standing up, he asked for a list.

There is no doubt that the Bulls were second-best at the gain-line, as shown by Munster scoring three of their four tries from pick-and-goes, while they bashed away at the home team’s line for the last 10 minutes without getting through.

The only Bulls players who emerged with credit from the game were youngsters David Kriel, a second-half substitute, and fullback Kurt-Lee Arendse, who was still full of attacking threat in the wind and rain.

“I don’t think we were outmuscled at all,” White said afterwards. “We leaked a couple of tries from close quarters, but I’m proud of the way we fought back, it was a good learning curve.

“Munster have a lot of internationals and will definitely be near the top at the end of the competition. It was raining, they contested well in the lineouts, where we had a young hooker.

“We are still a long way from where we want to be, but our spine, numbers two, eight, nine and 15 are all youngsters, while theirs are internationals. I’m not happy with the result, but I am a realist.

“We will keep staying positive. If I listened to you guys in the media, I would go stand on top of a building and jump! We have a very young group and last season they exceeded expectations,” White said.

What possession they had, the Bulls often wasted with poorly-directed kicks, but White made it sound like you needed to be the Dean of Science at the University of Limerick on the other side of the River Shannon to understand the wind.

“Conditions did not help us and we kicked inaccurately. But the wind made it very difficult – you were constantly worried that if you kicked short then the ball would come straight back to you, or if you gave it more it would go too long.

“The conditions were in the forwards’ favour and Munster bravely defended their line at the end. Being at home, they obviously played the conditions well and the worst thing was that we gave them a 17-3 start in the first half.

“We have what we have in terms of players and they have got to grow. If we started Bismarck du Plessis, what would Jan-Hendrik Wessels learn?

“It’s not the end of the world, touring is very difficult, we saw that with Ulster almost losing to the Lions. I can’t hide these players, I’ve got to put them in pressure situations and I know they will get better over time,” White said.

Howling wind not in his control, but Jake won’t risk Goosen on Glasgow artificial pitch 0

Posted on December 19, 2022 by Ken

Facing a tough away match at Scotstoun, Bulls coach Jake White does not know whether the wind will howl or not, but one thing that is within his control is team selection and he revealed on Friday that he will not risk flyhalf Johan Goosen against Glasgow Warriors on their artificial pitch.

Goosen, who will probably be on the Springboks’ end-of-year tour, has started just one game at flyhalf since rupturing his knee three games into last season on the artificial pitch in Cardiff. But even though the 30-year-old needs game time and White has also been robbed of backline stars Canan Moodie and Sbu Nkosi due to injury, Goosen will not feature for the Bulls in their United Rugby Championship match against Glasgow Warriors on Saturday night.

“I’m not going to risk Johan on a 4G pitch. They don’t play any Test rugby on those pitches for a reason, it’s because more players get injured on that surface,” White stated on Friday.

“He has just come back from 11 months out after an horrific injury on that sort of pitch. I took the decision myself, I did not ask him. If you look at the history of those 4G pitches, there have been a lot of injuries and I don’t want to take the risk.

“I have confidence in Chris Smith and Morne Steyn, they have done exceptionally well the times we have called on them,” White said.

While there is expected to be a low chance of rain in Glasgow on Saturday night, and just a gentle breeze, White did say he was concerned about the wind strengthening.

“Scotstoun can be very windy, which can be a massive factor in the way we want to play, sometimes it makes it very difficult to play too much rugby,” White said.

“We will have to see how the weather is, it is very influential here, and we might have to kick more. That’s also a skill and creating pressure points is a part of attack too.

“Rain will not be so much of a problem, but a massive amount of wind will be, whether you’re playing against it or with it. It’s a very open stadium and our stadiums at home are closed in.

“If you’re against the wind at the back end of the match and chasing the game, then it becomes very difficult. We also have to learn to use the wind when it is in our favour,” White said.

Added to the change in conditions from back in Pretoria, White pointed out that Glasgow Warriors are always a formidable challenge at home.

“They only lost once at home last year and their one game at home this season they have won convincingly. Coach Franco Smith has lots of experience and he has done well with the Free State Cheetahs and Italy.

“Plus Glasgow have a couple of injured players coming back, which is going to make their forward pack more staunch. Last week was obviously a rebound result for them, and I have no doubt they will want another,” White said.

Bulls: Kurt-Lee Arendse, Cornal Hendricks, Lionel Mapoe, David Kriel, Stedman Gans, Chris Smith, Zak Burger, Elrigh Louw, Marco Van Staden, Marcell Coetzee (capt), Ruan Nortjé, Walt Steenkamp, Francois Klopper, Jan-Hendrik Wessels, Gerhard Steenekamp. Bench – Bismarck du Plessis, Simphiwe Matanzima, Mornay Smith, Janko Swanepoel, Reinhardt Ludwig, Embrose Papier, Morné Steyn, Wandisile Simelane.

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