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Ken Borland

Central Gauteng Lions batsmen show there is light at the end of the batting tunnel 0

Posted on December 30, 2023 by Ken

There has obviously not been too much to get excited about lately in terms of South African batsmanship, but the Central Gauteng Lions are showing that there is perhaps light at the end of the tunnel.

They clinched the One-Day Cup title shortly before the New Year with the most powerful of batting displays in the final at the Wanderers – amassing 358/5 to beat Western Province by 62 runs.

It was no one-off either – the Lions won seven of their eight games in the 50-over competition thanks to their batting. Their top seven all averaged over 40 and the lowest strike-rate was the 78.62 of opening batsman Josh Richards, who generally played the anchor role.

Ryan Rickelton was the leading run-scorer in the tournament with 452, 91 ahead of Tristan Stubbs; while Evan Jones, the finisher, averaged 148 with a strike-rate of 149.

But beyond just the sheer scale of the numbers, what was just as impressive about the Lions’ batting effort was the clear growth that was evident in all of their individual games. It was not that long ago that the Gauteng batting line-up was considered too top-heavy for white-ball cricket, while last season it was their top-order that struggled.

Coach Wandile Gwavu and his assistants deserve great credit, and Gwavu said there was a moment in the final when they were able to ponder and appreciate just how far they have come.

“I was actually having a conversation with Ryan Rickelton and Wiaan Mulder during the game and we were admiring the growth in individual games that we were seeing. We spoke about how much everyone had invested in the growth of their own technical games and as human beings,” Gwavu told The Citizen.

“What’s stood out for me in the last four years has been how the batsmen have learnt to understand their games and their roles.

“And we’ve also mastered how to play at the Wanderers, the majority of our six hundreds were scored there. We’ve got to know our own conditions and how to dominate, the batsmen make sure they stand up and be matchwinners. If it’s difficult to bat there for other people, then we have the inside lane.

“Last season when we won the tournament the bowlers dominated for us, but this year was the opportunity for the batsmen to step up. Last season we were always three down for nothing, so it shows we have adapted.

“Especially batting against spin, which has often been a Lions problem. This season it was a stand-out how we played spin away from home – neutralising the likes of George Linde at Newlands, Prenelan Subrayen at Kingsmead and the Warriors attack in Gqeberha,” Gwavu said.

The bowling effort was also special, however. Spinner Bjorn Fortuin and seamers Malusi Siboto, Wiaan Mulder, Lutho Sipamla and Sisanda Magala were just a relentless unit. Magala, who is almost always bowling in the powerplay, was the most expensive of the quintet, going for 6.30 runs-per-over, but he was the leading wicket-taker with 17 in seven matches.

Fortuin and Siboto, who took 12 wickets along with Sipamla, both conceded less than five runs an over.

“Our attack took every opportunity to put the opposition under pressure,” Gwavu said. “There are a lot of good players in that attack, but they all had very clear bowling roles and responsibilities. We were very particular about which players we used in which conditions.

“The standout for me was how we bowled at the death. I knew we could take wickets, but we were also always very calm in our execution,” Gwavu said.

The coach said another mistake fixed this season was one of his own. Although the Lions had a clear core of first-choice players, other squad members, like Tladi Bokako, Duanne Olivier and Liam Alder, were mixed into that

“I made the mistake in the T20 competition of playing the same team all the time, so that was also one of the learnings,” Gwavu said. “You only know how good players are if you give them more opportunity.

“You’re never going to win a competition with just 11 players because you always have injuries or someone off-form. You need to be able to shift players around.

“Dominic Hendricks [the captain] managed it all very well on the field as well,” Gwavu said.

Proteas advertising their passion for Test cricket in clinical fashion 2

Posted on March 11, 2023 by Ken

The Proteas were able to celebrate a massive 284-run over the West Indies in the second Test at the Wanderers.

The second Test between South Africa and the West Indies may have only lasted three-and-a-half days, but in terms of advertising their self-professed love of Test cricket and their renewed happiness under new leadership, the Proteas produced a compellingly clinical display at the Wanderers on Saturday.

The West Indies were bundled out for just 106 in only 35.1 overs, their third lowest total ever against South Africa, whose 284-run winning margin was their second-biggest against the once-great Caribbean team.

Off-spinner Simon Harmer took the new ball and bowled unchanged from the Golf Course End to take three for 45 in 17.1 overs. Kagiso Rabada, as ever, had set the ball rolling with two wickets in the 11th over, after West Indies openers Kraigg Brathwaite (18) and Tagenarine Chanderpaul (2) had initially done well to put on 21 for the first wicket.

Seven overs later, the West Indies had crashed to 34 for six at lunch, left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj also taking two wickets.

But what happened next to Maharaj was the only negative of the fourth and final day at the Wanderers, with the 33-year-old rupturing his achilles tendon as he tried to celebrate his second wicket, an excellent review leading to Kyle Mayers being given out lbw for 7 on the stroke of lunch.

Not much more than an hour after lunch it was all over, with young fast bowler Gerald Coetzee mopping up the tail with three for 37, once again improving on his career-best figures.

“Today the guys were very clinical in the way they went about their business. Winning is always fun and I did enjoy that,” new Test coach Shukri Conrad said after debuting with a 2-0 series win. “To see smiles on the faces and a happy changeroom is fantastic, because after the Australia tour, things were very dark.

“It was great to see how the guys responded and I feel there has been a little bit of growth already. We now have to find novel ways of keeping that growth going because we don’t play another Test for nine months.

“I can say categorically and emphatically that the boys want to play Test cricket, every single one of them wants to play more Test cricket,” Conrad said.

The 55-year-old coach was especially delighted for his captain, Temba Bavuma, who must have slept well overnight having scored a magnificent 171 not out that led the Proteas from a position where they were in danger of losing the match to a massive lead.

Although Bavuma only added a single to his score on Saturday, swinging Jason Holder straight to deep backward square-leg, he has answered his critics in emphatic fashion, his long-awaited second Test century being not only a biggie, but a matchwinning one on a lively pitch.

Conrad said Bavuma’s epic had roused considerable emotion in the Proteas changeroom.

“Thank goodness the TV cameras didn’t show the changeroom because there were a few wild scenes in there,” Conrad laughed. “Temba is under a lot of pressure, often for no good reason.

“So it was a monumental knock with the Test on a knife-edge. The West Indies have found ways to crawl back into the game in this series, and we have found ways of letting them back in.

“So at eight for two and then losing another two quick wickets, we needed someone to step up and move the momentum of the series. It was both a match and series defining innings.

“It was a helluva knock against a very skilled bowling unit, especially the quicks. Technically, Temba was fantastic.

“We are all so happy for him. After close of play yesterday [Friday], some of the guys stood up and lauded Temba. After all the unnecessary stick he gets, to go out and play like that was fabulous,” Conrad said.

West Indies coach Andre Coley said his team had relaxed at key times on the third day, but he praised Bavuma for “seizing the opportunity and wrestling the game away from us”.

The bowlers then wasted no time in landing the knockout punch on Saturday, securing a win that was as emphatic as some of the big triumphs at the Wanderers in the previous decade when South Africa were one of the leaders in Test cricket.

Jake quick to point out inexperience of Bulls & impressed they managed to pull win out of the fire 0

Posted on November 16, 2022 by Ken

Bulls coach Jake White was quick to point out the relative inexperience of his side compared to Edinburgh and how impressed he was that they managed to pull a 33-31 victory out of the fire in their United Rugby Championship match at Loftus Versfeld, while acknowledging that they are still not where they want to be in terms of performance.

Edinburgh, disrupted by the loss of flyhalf Blair Kinghorn due to a stomach bug on the day of the game, and then his replacement Jaco van der Walt after 15 minutes, as well as substitute back Chris Dean injuring himself in the warm-up, made an error-strewn start to the game that included their captain Grant Gilchrist being yellow-carded.

The Bulls capitalised superbly and raced into a 15-0 lead, but Edinburgh were quick to show their quality and strike back once they had settled. They trailed by just one point at halftime and then led 31-30 going into the last 10 minutes.

Morne Steyn would be the hero for the Bulls with a tricky 78th-minute penalty, although Edinburgh fullback Henry Immelman missed a long-range effort after the final hooter.

“The margins are very small in this competition and that last kick was worth three points on the log,” a relieved White said. “You can’t underestimate how tough Edinburgh are.

“We need to be mindful that in their pack, they have players with more Test caps than we have URC caps. We have one of the youngest teams in the URC.

“We got ourselves 15-0 up, scoring relatively easily, and they’re only human, they maybe thought it would just happen on its own. But you’ve got to work very hard.

“We are far from where we need to be, but to show that composure, to not just accept that maybe it wasn’t our day, that’s a massive confidence boost. I’m very glad we managed to do enough to win,” White said.

The Bulls car ran beautifully smoothly at times, but at other times it spluttered along, leading to a dingdong match that was like a rush-hour taxi ride through central Joburg.

“At times we were outstanding, we would defend for three or four sets and then suddenly miss a tackle,” White admitted. “Or we would keep ball for phase-after-phase, and then give a poor pass or get our timing wrong.

“But we are a young team and we mustn’t get ahead of ourselves. It will do them good to learn and experience this pressure,” White said.

Kau touched by golf’s ability to be an agent for good 0

Posted on October 10, 2022 by Ken

DULLSTROOM, Mpumalanga – The ability of golf to be an agent for good both in terms of communities and individuals is well-known.

The Vodacom Origins of Golf Series is into its 18th season, and in that time it has influenced so many lives and communities for the better. But there is someone playing in the Highland Gate ProAm event this week who has been touched by the game in a special way.

David Kau is known for being one of South Africa’s most popular stand-up comedians and he has been an MC at the ProAm dinner for the Vodacom Origins of Golf Series before.

But the 18-handicapper has never actually played in the event before Tuesday and his excitement was palpable before his round. Mostly because, as he put it, he has “fallen in love” with golf.

A lot of that love comes from the fact that golf helped him through the toughest of times during the Covid pandemic; as an entertainer, he was particularly hard-hit.

“I only started playing golf three years ago, but now I’m like a mad man when it comes to the game,” Kau says. “During Covid I did a lot of social media work with my 1.4 million followers across platforms, and I kind of survived.

“But there was never a live audience, so it’s not the same. I refuse to do stand-up comedy in front of a laptop because you never know what people are doing on the other side – cooking or breastfeeding or just avoiding the boss.

“But golf mentally helped me so much when I was not making any money. Those four-to-five hour walks did a lot of good to me. It’s crazy, I’ve played eight times in the last two weeks because I have fallen in love with golf.

“Mentally it has done a lot for me and I’m also walking seven or eight kilometres so I don’t need gym, unless I go do some weights so my drives can be a bit longer,” Kau laughed.

As a comedian, Kau is aware that the smile on the face is not always indicative of the struggles going on in the interior of a person. Mental health issues are close to his heart, and he recognises the strain that formerly-disadvantaged Black professionals can be under as they try to make it in a highly-competitive industry.

“I’ve done a lot of mental health work and before Covid I started getting involved with online therapists, doing podcasts and things. There is definitely a mental health connection to golf.

“Not many of us play better when we’re worried about something, and for Black professionals it’s even more difficult. And you’re on your own out on the course, your coach or psychologist can’t walk on and help you.

“These are guys who have to use public transport just to train, getting into a taxi with a golf bag. Mentally it’s amazing what sport people go through, but they can get adrenaline from the fans. But some of them play better with a big crowd and others get the jitters,” Kau said.

Although making his Vodacom Origins of Golf Series debut on Tuesday, Kau has played in other ProAms before, and certainly did not have the jitters around the magnificent Highland Gate layout, which provides a stern test nestled inside the Steenkampsberg mountains of Mpumalanga. He and veteran Sunshine Tour pro Jaco van Zyl were four-under-par and inside the top-20 after the first round.

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    Every day offers the opportunity for doing a kind deed or speaking an encouraging word to someone who feels overwhelmed.

    Our exuberant joy about God’s goodness to us should cause us to throw ourselves enthusiastically into serving others.

    But be sensitive to the needs of others, enrich their lives through love and kindness. Giving yourself in love and service to others is the duty of all those who love Christ and serve him with sincere hearts.

    Don’t brood over lost opportunities, instead make a definite decision to do better today and tomorrow. Use every opportunity in his strength!

    You will find God’s purpose for your life as you serve others!

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