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Ken Borland



Down to serious business now for the Proteas 0

Posted on May 02, 2023 by Ken

The Proteas effectively acclimatised to local conditions in their warm-up match against the Cricket Australia XI in Brisbane, and now it is down to the serious business of completing preparations for the first Test against Australia, starting at the Gabba in the early hours of Saturday morning.

Test series against Australia are always intense and among the most demanding examinations South African cricketers face. And it is seldom just a test of batting or bowling skills, the Australians pride themselves on playing mental games and there is as much off-field pressure as there is in the middle. It was Australia who lost the plot though in the last Test series between these two great rivals, the Sandpapergate affair marring the 2018 rubber in South Africa.

With so much to deal with on and off the field, no Protea will want to go into the series with any question marks over their preparation. Which is why it was most heartening to see captain Dean Elgar lead from the front with a century in the warm-up match, and Kyle Verreynne, Rassie van der Dussen and Theunis de Bruyn get good scores with the bat, while Temba Bavuma spent extended, much-needed time at the crease. With the ball, Lungi Ngidi and Kagiso Rabada looked particularly sharp.

Meanwhile, the West Indians have provided poor preparation for the Australians, being hammered by 164 and 419 runs in the two Tests.

The South African attack will provide a much bigger test for the greedy Aussie batsmen, while the Proteas batsmen will certainly show more fight.

Scoring first-innings totals of 598 for four declared and 511 for seven declared will certainly have provided much confidence though for the home batsmen, led by South African-born Marnus Labuschagne, who had scores of 204, 104 not out, 163 and 31 in the series.

Steven Smith, who stood in as captain for the injured Pat Cummins in the second Test, made an unbeaten double-hundred in the first game, while Travis Head had scores of 99 and 175.

For the cricket aficionado, Australia versus South Africa is always a mouthwatering prospect. Stand by for those all-nighters over the next three weeks.

Surely Hendricks must now keep his place? 0

Posted on December 23, 2022 by Ken

The Proteas play their final game on Tuesday before heading off to Australia for the T20 World Cup, the deciding match in their ODI series in India, and surely Reeza Hendricks must now be a part of every white-ball game for at least the next month?

Hendricks belatedly played his first match in India at the weekend, brought into the XI because regular captain Temba Bavuma was ill, and looked pure class he stroked 74 off 76 balls on a tricky, low-and-slow pitch in Ranchi.

It means Hendricks has now scored 370 runs in his last six innings for South Africa, dating back to July. That is the sort of form that it would be criminal to waste, especially for a batting line-up that has had some horror collapses of late.

Because Hendricks is in the T20 World Cup squad but Janneman Malan is not, one would expect Malan to be the player who makes way on Tuesday if Bavuma is fit to play again. Although Malan’s overall career ODI stats are still superb, in his last 12 innings, he averages just 24.83 at a strike-rate of only 69.95.

Of course, Hendricks should also be in the XI at the T20 World Cup, but he would have to replace captain Bavuma. But if ever there was a good argument for leaving out the appointed skipper, the difference in confidence and output that Hendricks would bring has to be it.

While Bavuma’s position is the major talking point heading into the World Cup, the form of spinner Tabraiz Shamsi is also concerning. Sixteen months ago he was first on the T20 bowling rankings, but his performances have been on the slide in India.

It has never been his favourite place to play, and India’s ruthless aggression towards him has made his life difficult, knocking his confidence.

Hopefully he will be out of this weirdly erratic phase in Australia, because he plays an important role in South Africa’s T20 team. Shamsi was also ill over the weekend and his wicket-taking ability in the middle overs was missed by the Proteas in the second ODI, as Ishan Kishan and Shreyas Iyer belted their way to victory by seven wickets with 25 balls to spare.

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.

Proteas have much to ponder ahead of 2nd T20 v India 0

Posted on December 02, 2022 by Ken

The Proteas have much to ponder ahead of the second T20 against India in Guwahati on Sunday, following their dismal batting performance in the first match that saw their top-order utterly fail, sinking to 9-5.

While the fight shown by Keshav Maharaj, Aiden Markram and Wayne Parnell with the bat was pleasing, setting a target of just 107 for victory was never going to give India much pause for thought, even on a pitch which was made to look like a minefield by the South African top-order.

While there are some injury doubts over wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock after he needed on-field treatment for a blow to the fingers while trying to take a leg-side wide from fast bowler Anrich Nortje, whether the formerly prolific left-hander should be in the team even if fit is also starting to cause debate.

De Kock has scored just 137 runs in his last 12 T20 innings for the Proteas, and is striking at just 103.78.

Amongst all the other worries about the batting, the loss of form of their talismanic opener is the last thing the Proteas need.

While the South Africans were still trying to digest their batting display, Indian spearhead Jasprit Bumrah received the awful news that he probably has a stress fracture of the back and has been withdrawn from the series and is likely to miss the T20 World Cup.

The fact that the Proteas were reduced to 9-5 by India’s second-choice new-ball pairing of Arshdeep Singh and Deepak Chahar, with Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar not even playing, makes their batting effort even more terrible.

With their captain, Temba Bavuma, under immense pressure to score runs, they have now got themselves into a pickle with the skipper getting a duck in the first match. Interestingly, Bavuma has actually scored 237 runs in his last 12 T20 innings for South Africa, at a strike-rate of 111.26.

So De Kock, with a hundred runs less and an inferior run-rate, should certainly be in the conversation when it comes to changes. It would be an awfully big step for the selectors to make, but it is a shocking waste of form to see the prolific Reeza Hendricks not playing.

But bringing in Hendricks for De Kock would necessitate another change with Heinrich Klaasen needing to come in and keep wicket, unless the gloves are entrusted to Tristan Stubbs, who is very much a part-timer.

It’s a dreadful mess the selectors have got themselves into.

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