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Ken Borland

Proteas pace attack highly-motivated to do some damage against Bangladesh team that shocked them last time out 0

Posted on January 16, 2023 by Ken

The last time the Proteas played against Bangladesh in white-ball cricket was earlier this year when Bangladesh shocked them by winning the ODI series in South Africa, so there is a pace attack that is highly-motivated to do some damage when the two teams meet in the T20 World Cup in Sydney on Thursday.

The Proteas and Bangladesh were meant to play a warm-up game before the tournament, but that was washed out, and the rain then also forced South Africa’s opening match against Zimbabwe to be abandoned without a result. Given their experience in last year’s T20 World Cup, where they lost just their opening game but missed out on the semi-finals on nett run-rate, the Proteas know they have to win all four of their remaining matches to make sure they progress.

“Last year we learnt that every game is so important and we’ve wrapped our heads around having to win everything from here on in to give us the best chance of qualifying for the semis,” paceman Lungi Ngidi said on Wednesday.

“We’re definitely hungry to win, but every team is under pressure. The last time we played against Bangladesh, their batsmen came out pretty aggressively against us. So we will definitely target their top-order.

“They have Shakib al-Hasan to control the middle, but if we cut off the head of the snake up front, then hopefully we can restrict them to as low a total as possible.

“We will play towards our strengths and we have seen that pace has been most successful so far in the tournament. So we would like to attack them with our strength and we will see how they handle that tomorrow [Thursday],” Ngidi said.

The skilful 26-year-old also did not want to sell the Proteas bowling line-up short, saying they embraced talk about them possibly being the best pace attack in the world.

“For people to say we have the best attack in the world is an honour and privilege for us, it gives us lots of confidence as well,” Ngidi said. “It means we can walk with our heads held high.

“It also means we really want to showcase what we have. We have three or four seamers and everyone is better at something than someone else

“It makes the job a lot easier because it becomes pretty difficult with two seamers having to do everything.

“That gives the bowlers the sense of calm and confidence that’s needed in a tournament like this,” Ngidi said.

Unfortunately, there is a high probability of a lunchtime thundershower in Sydney putting a dampener on the Proteas’ efforts once again.

Play starts at 5am.

Feelings of nostalgia for last Proteas team to win at Newlands will dissipate if they win series v India 0

Posted on February 09, 2022 by Ken

The last time South Africa won a Test at Newlands was in January 2019 when they beat Pakistan by nine wickets. It’s not that long ago, but there is nevertheless a feeling of nostalgia for a side that included such great names as Steyn, Philander, Amla, Du Plessis and De Kock.

The Proteas need 111 runs with eight wickets in hand on Friday morning to beat India and win the series against the world’s No.1 ranked side, so the current team certainly must have something going for them as well.

A much-criticised batting line-up will have earned themselves massive respect if they chase down targets of more than 200 in the fourth innings two weeks in a row; the new-look Proteas bowling attack has already shown that they are a force to be reckoned with.

Lungi Ngidi has played a key role in that attack in this series and he was at the forefront at Newlands on Thursday as he spearheaded a fightback after lunch that saw South Africa reduce India from 152/4 to 198 all out. Ngidi took 3/12 in a seven-over spell, including the key wicket of Virat Kohli, splendidly caught in the slips by a leaping Aiden Markram, for 29 to set the collapse in motion.

“From the first Test, the team has been using the sort of language that there are going to be moments when someone has to put up their hand,” Ngidi said. “We don’t have superstars but we have good players and cricketing brains.

“This time it was my session and for me the important thing was to make sure I cashed in. I did decently in the West Indies as well, but against this calibre of players this is definitely one of my best series ever.

“I’m also very proud of Marco Jansen [19.3-6-36-4], he just wants to do well for the team. He has taken to Test cricket like a duck to water and he has a very bright future,” Ngidi said.

South Africa’s batting line-up have had many disappointing performances of late, but they are still in position to complete a remarkable series victory on the fourth day. Much will depend on rookie Keegan Petersen, who is on the brink of his third half-century in four innings as he went to stumps on 48 not out.

India’s stellar attack are going to push them all the way though and the pitch is going to offer enough assistance to still make it a fraught run-chase.

“The ball has been doing something this entire Test series and there are patches on this pitch that if the ball hits them, it does something more,” Ngidi said.

“It’s going to require patience, but we’ve seen from Rishabh Pant that you can score a hundred and there have also been a couple of seventies. So with the right application you can score runs.

“But if the bowlers hit the right areas then they can also take wickets. So it’s a good pitch – everyone is in the game and bat and ball are well-matched.

“If we can have a sixty-run partnership early tomorrow [Friday] then that will put us in position, but if they get early wickets then they are back in the game. It is very well poised,” Ngidi said.

Scene-setter: Proteas have lost much of their brawn since beating India on previous tour 0

Posted on January 21, 2022 by Ken

The squads

The Proteas won the series 2-1 the last time India toured South Africa in early 2018, in a hotly-contested series.

But they have lost much of their brawn from that series with the bulk of their attack – Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander and Morne Morkel – having retired and their powerful middle-order of Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers and Faf du Plessis also no longer playing.

From that 2018 series, only six players are still in the Proteas squad – Elgar, Markram, Maharaj, Rabada, De Kock and Ngidi. And there are fitness doubts over Lungi Ngidi, who has only bowled seven competitive overs since July.

India are missing, due to injury, the combative all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja and Rohit Sharma, one of their leading batsmen in recent years. Rohit is their highest-ranked Test batsman at No.5, but India still have plenty of batting muscle with four others from the top-20: Virat Kohli (6th), Mayank Agarwal (12th), Rishabh Pant (14th) and Cheteshwar Pujara (17th).

Jasprit Bumrah (11th) and Mohammad Shami (18th) will be the pace enforcers with the ball for India, but off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, number two on the rankings, is likely to be a major threat in the third and final Test at Newlands.

The venues

The same three grounds used in 2018 will be hosting the Tests again, but this time in a different order: SuperSport Park hosts the opener from Boxing Day, followed by the New Years Test at the Wanderers and then the series ends in Cape Town from January 11.

Batsmen found it hard to dominate in 2018 with Kohli and Dean Elgar the only batsmen to average over 40.

Hopefully the pitches in use this summer will provide a more even battle between bat and ball. Pitches with more even bounce would also be good because in 2018, the team that won the toss and batted first won all three matches, with terribly inconsistent bounce blighting the fourth innings.

Tactical approaches

South Africa could field a fiery trio of out-and-out fast bowlers in Anrich Nortje, Kagiso Rabada and Duanne Olivier, making liberal use of the sort of short-pitched bowling Indian batsmen are generally not as used to facing and which has proven successful at both Centurion and the Wanderers. Lanky left-armer Marco Jansen also has plenty to offer in terms of pace and bounce.

Not that India’s pacemen are going to be at all generous to a South African batting line-up that has struggled to inspire in the last couple of years. If there is any assistance from the conditions, they will find it with the new ball and they are also very effective practitioners of reverse-swing.

From 2016 in Kruger to last week at Zebula, KFC Mini-Cricket has kept the same energy 0

Posted on November 11, 2021 by Ken

The last time I was fortunate enough to attend the KFC Mini-Cricket National Seminar was five years ago in Kruger Park, so it was wonderful to see CSA’s flagship development programme has lost none of its energy or passion when I was invited to this year’s annual gathering, held at Zebula Golf Estate outside BelaBela last week.

This mass participation grassroots programme, which will celebrate its 40th anniversary next year, is operated by the noble crew of 10 500 volunteer coaches, working closely with the sponsors and CSA’s development office.

Some of the bile that has been thrown around in cricket circles over the last couple of years has been difficult to stomach, but being able to share in an environment where everyone is just working for the love of the sport, where egos are put to the side because this is the grassroots game, is gratifying enough to cure the most severe indigestion.

Graeme Smith, as director of cricket, has had to deal with much of that bile, but he was happy and relaxed at Zebula, being asked for plenty of photographs by the delegates after his address on the first morning.

“I basically just gave them an update of where cricket is and then it was great to sit through the sessions with them,” Smith said.

“I feel like I’ve been starved of being on the ground with these sort of cricket-lovers. It’s so exciting to be here, this programme is nearly 40 years old and has been a massive investment in the game at all levels.

“All credit to the volunteer coaches and co-ordinators who grow their communities and are mentors for the youngsters. It’s so important that kids have the opportunity to be touched by the game and I know how important KFC Mini-Cricket is to CSA.

“These coaches are the life-blood of our game and I’ll be surprised if there are any other development programmes in this country that come close in terms of reach,” Smith said.

Unfortunately though, like everything else, the effectiveness of the KFC Mini-Cricket Programme does come down to how many Rand are in the bank for CSA.

The organisation held its AGM last weekend and the financial statements clearly showed the serious effects of Covid and how important it is for the Proteas to be a ‘box-office’ team on the global stage.

CSA still has total assets of R797 million, but they suffered a nett loss of R221 million in 2020/21, having budgeted for just a R177 million deficit.

This was largely due to broadcast revenue plummeting from R534 million to R161 million. Having made up almost half of CSA’s revenue the previous financial year, broadcast rights now only accounted for 31% of profit. Sponsorships also dropped from R186 million to R79 million, 15% of revenue.

Accordingly, in an environment of sometimes brutal cost-cutting (but pleasingly with no employees laid off because of Covid), investment in development dropped from R385 million to R273 million.

So anyone who wants to see the game in this country truly transform has to also acknowledge that the Proteas have to be one of the best teams internationally. That’s the only way the Big Three will want to tour here, generating the lucrative broadcast rights that are by far CSA’s biggest revenue-earner.

And KFC Mini-Cricket has certainly produced its fair share of Proteas – Beuran Hendricks and Sinalo Jafta were two in attendance at Zebula. But the programme also wants to empower the coaches, while bringing an estimated 118 000 kids from diverse schools and communities together this summer, introducing them to cricket and also getting them active.

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