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Ken Borland



‘Just add it to my tab,’ Smith can say as India tour is confirmed; but Omicron still a threat so no spectators allowed 0

Posted on January 13, 2022 by Ken

“Just add it to my tab,” Graeme Smith would be justified in saying as India’s tour to South Africa was confirmed and in no small part due to the excellent relationship CSA’s director of cricket enjoys with Sourav Ganguly and Virat Kohli.

Although India will arrive a week later than the scheduled date of December 9, they will still be playing three Tests and three ODIs in December/January. The four T20s that were meant to be played have, however, been postponed, although CSA are confident that they will be played sometime in 2022.

Many in India seemed to be itching to ditch the tour in light of the Omicron variant of Covid now sweeping the world, but those in the know say the respect former Proteas captain Smith is held in by BCCI president Ganguly and India captain Kohli, helped sway the most powerful team in world cricket.

Given that the broadcast rights alone are worth at least $100 million, Smith has saved financially-troubled CSA hundreds of millions of rand.

The first Test will now start on Boxing Day (December 26) and be played at SuperSport Park in Centurion, while the Wanderers will now host the New Years Test, from January 3. Newlands in Cape Town unfortunately again misses out on their traditional New Years Test, but they will stage the third and final Test from January 11/12.

The ODI series is scheduled for the Cape thereafter.

Omicron is still considered a threat to the tour, however, so it is likely that no spectators will be allowed at the games, insiders say. The number of Covid cases in the country has been rising rapidly, so CSA have had to put a lot of planning into ensuring their bio-secure bubbles in Gauteng and Cape Town will be based on the strictest protocols.

2022 is another T20 World Cup year and CSA are confident India will return to complete their tour with four T20 matches, worth around $20 million each, before the global showpiece is held in Australia in October/November.

India are currently playing their second and last Test against New Zealand, which is due to finish on December 7, and the uncertainty surrounding quarantines has led to their departure being delayed by a week.

Faf is a key part of Boucher’s main mandate to win 0

Posted on January 08, 2021 by Ken

It is certainly part of Proteas coach Mark Boucher’s mandate to ensure a steady flow of youngsters come through and perform at international level, but his No.1 priority is for South Africa to have a winning cricket team, hence his decision to stick with veteran former captain Faf du Plessis, a move which was thoroughly justified in the first Test against Sri Lanka.

The 36-year-old Du Plessis scored a magnificent, career-best 199, an innings which began under pressure with South Africa slipping from 200 for two when he came to the crease, to 220 for four. Thanks to the class and skill of Du Plessis, and the help of the lower-middle order, the Proteas were able to post 621, setting up an innings win that seemed most unlikely when Sri Lanka scored 396 batting first. It was the third highest first innings total South Africa have conceded in a Test they have gone on to win.

There is no doubt a rebuilding Proteas team thoroughly enjoy having the cool, calm wisdom of Du Plessis still around. Not least of all the new captain, Quinton de Kock.

“It’s important to have senior guys with experience. People always talk about youngsters coming through but you need a balance. Faf really showed his experience, you need that under pressure, he showed his leadership and how to handle the pressure because he’s been through those situations many times before,” De Kock said after the first Test.

“It helps me too to have good leaders in the team and although I’ve never captained a team before in first-class cricket, I have stood next to Faf for most of my Test career so I very much knew what the captaincy was about.”

Boucher, who has taken a lot of flak in the last year for sticking with his former captain, described the presence of Du Plessis as being like “gold dust”.

“I know what Faf is worth, I understand what he has done for South Africa. He’s a great player who went through a bit of a dip in form but his place was never under pressure for me. You need experience and he showed that in this game. He did very good work over the Covid Lockdown period on his technique and he looks very comfortable at the crease now.

“He really wanted to score big runs and he is gold dust to us. It’s nice to have him in such good form and good spirits. We’re going to need him in the big series coming up,” Boucher said after the Centurion triumph.

After the Test series loss to England at the start of 2020, I wrote a column [https://citizen.co.za/sport/sport-columnists/2236293/dont-savage-faf-yet-he-had-a-lot-of-external-issues-to-deal-with/] asking where Du Plessis fitted in in the future red-ball plans of the Proteas. I said the only question I would ask Faf before selecting him for the team would be “Are you still enjoying your cricket?”

The sheer hunger Du Plessis has shown in getting as fit as he has ever been over Lockdown and continuing to work on improving his game are all the proof one needs to know that South Africa’s ninth highest Test run-getter is still loving the sport.

“The Lockdown really helped, mentally it allowed me to freshen up, but I also knew I could control how fit I was. People say I’m at the end of my career but it depends on how good your body is, how fit you are is much more important than your age. So I really pushed myself, I may be 36 but I feel fitter than ever before, I’m moving better now than when I was 23/24. Now the younger guys must stay with me.

“I’ve definitely scored hundreds against better attacks and in hotter conditions and match situations, so this innings was not close to some of those. But from a timing and statement point of view it showed those who doubt my ability that nothing has changed and I am still trying to improve,” Du Plessis said after his 199.

The last part of that sentence – “I am still trying to improve” – is the clincher: the still-hungry Du Plessis should be part of the Test team for the foreseeable future and the often wonky South African batting line-up will definitely reap the benefits of having the man for all situations there.

Relax people, Hashim Amla is back to his best 0

Posted on May 15, 2017 by Ken

 

Proteas batting coach Neil McKenzie said on Monday that people were justified in feeling some concern over Hashim Amla’s batting form, but that they can all relax now because the Bearded Wonder has shown he is back to his best with two centuries in the Indian Premier League.

Amla slammed an aggressive 104 off just 60 balls for the Punjab Kings XI against the Gujarat Lions at the weekend, having two weeks earlier made the same score off the same number of deliveries in an unbeaten knock against the Mumbai Indians. Amazingly, Amla ended on the losing side in both games, the first player to suffer this fate twice in IPL history, while he is only the third batsman after Chris Gayle (2011) and Virat Kohli (3 in 2016) to score multiple centuries in an IPL season.

“Hashim’s form had dipped, he was only averaging 30 in ODIs and Tests over the last 18 months, his form was a little erratic and people aren’t used to that. But you can’t keep a player of his quality down for long. He sets such high standards for himself but this happens in cricket and his returns have not been what he would have expected and it went on for longer than he would have liked. But to score two hundreds in an IPL season is a serious feat,” McKenzie told The Citizen on Monday.

The Highveld Lions and Proteas stalwart disputed the theory that Amla’s dip in form had anything to do with any weakening of the eyes, but put it down to slight changes in the batsman’s approach.

“I don’t buy that business about the eyes going, Hashim’s only 34. But if you look at how he’s been working on being ultra-positive, his power-hitting and the areas he’s hitting the ball, then it’s like a golfer who changes his swing: you sometimes need to go through that little dip, you just need time to work it all out.

“There hasn’t been any drastic change in Hashim’s batting and it’s just a matter of finding the right balance. In 20/20 cricket he’s looking to play some shots, to take it on, and it’s freed him up. Previously he’s just batted normally and he’s been really good for us in 50-over cricket as our banker, batting aggressively but playing his own game and taking us through 30 or 40 overs. That’s worked well and when he scores hundreds for the Proteas, we normally win,” McKenzie, who was still scoring plenty of first-class runs in his 40s, said.

Most pleasingly, it means Amla will now take great form into the Champions Trophy, which starts in England on June 1.

“He’ll be really happy to be taking runs into the Champions Trophy and you want your huge players like him going into tournaments with a lot of confidence, and it gives the team confidence as well. We have a lot of matchwinners and we just need one or two of them to find some serious form. We know we’ve got the players, and now it’s just a matter of timing, form and some luck,” McKenzie said.

 

 

 

Weddings & golf tournaments – justifying the expense 0

Posted on February 03, 2016 by Ken

 

Golf tournaments are probably second only to weddings when it comes to people questioning whether all the expense is justified, but the City of Tshwane on Tuesday revealed some impressive figures in terms of the return on investment in the Tshwane Open, which was being launched at Pretoria Country Club.

This year’s event will be held from February 11-14 and will be the first of at least two more stagings of the co-sanctioned event in Tshwane, with the city council having renewed their contract and the prizemoney being increased to R18.5 million.

Lee-Anne Bac, a researcher at Grant Thornton who was hired by the City of Tshwane to measure the impact of staging the tournament, said the benefit to the economy over the last two years has been around R140 million, with R39 million direct spend in Tshwane, while Repucom, the sports marketing and sponsorships experts, say the exposure the Tshwane Open received last year was worth more than $8 million.

As Selwyn Nathan, the executive director of the Sunshine Tour, pointed out: “Tshwane haven’t had to pay millions for their name change from Pretoria, like Datsun did when they changed to Nissan, because in the four years of this tournament, hundreds of people every day are asking ‘Where is Tshwane?’ and googling it.”

“The Tshwane Open has exposed our brand to 230 million households around the globe, which can only help grow our economy. People ask why we don’t just spend R30 million on supplying basic services, but the more enduring solution to our socio-economic problems is to grow the economy. Just dishing out social grants won’t work and we need to free people from relying on the state to make them succeed,” Kgosientso Ramokgopa, the executive mayor of the city, said at Tuesday’s launch.

George Coetzee will be back to defend his title on the course he grew up on, while Charl Schwartzel will make a welcome return to action having missed the SA and Joburg Opens due to a virulent stomach virus.

But the new guard of South African golf is making its presence felt and Brandon Stone, Haydn Porteous, Zander Lombard and Christiaan Bezuidenhout will all be teeing it up at Pretoria Country Club.

“I would like to see George win again because he’s been a great ambassador for us, but Zander and Christiaan were runners-up in the two previous co-sanctioned events and Brandon, Charl and Haydn have already been winners this year. If someone new wins, then it provides great opportunity for them with a two-year exemption on the European Tour. It’s a stepping stone to competing internationally and making a name for themselves,” Nathan said.

 

 

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