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Ken Borland



Buccaneering SA20 trio return to 4-day action for Lions 0

Posted on February 21, 2024 by Ken

Ryan Rickelton, Wiaan Mulder and Mitchell van Buuren will all return to four-day action for the DP World Lions on Wednesday, fresh from their buccaneering batting exploits in the SA20, but the Pride will also welcome back two vital backroom members of the triumphant Sunrisers Eastern Cape to the team for their meeting with the Gbets Rocks in Johannesburg.

DP World Lions head coach Russell Domingo played a key role, as batting coach, in the Sunrisers claiming back-to-back SA20 titles at the weekend, and now he is eager for our Pride to seal a place in the four-day final.

Also returning to the DP World Wanderers Stadium is national Test captain Temba Bavuma, who is over his injury problems and, even though he played just the one game for the Sunrisers, scoring 33, he had an important effect on the happy mood and outstanding culture of the champions’ camp.

Bavuma’s addition nicely makes up for the absence of our Lions’ leading run-scorer in the four-day competition this season, Zubayr Hamza, who is with the Proteas in New Zealand.

The Lions’ two strike bowlers, Tshepo Moreki and Duanne Olivier, are also involved in that Test series.

With Rickelton, Mulder and Van Buuren all consistently amongst the runs in the SA20, it is an in-form and confident home batting line-up that will take the field at the DP World Wanderers.

Rickelton was the leading run-scorer in the SA20 with 530 in just 10 innings for MI Cape Town, who were eliminated before the playoffs. The left-hander was at his best as he scored at a phenomenal strike-rate of 173.77.

Mulder was one of the main reasons the Durban Super Giants reached the final, his 297 runs putting him in the top-10. His tally included three half-centuries, while he scored at a blazing strike-rate of 157.14.

Van Buuren had a solid campaign with the Paarl Royals, making 221 runs at 31.57.

The DP World Lions go into the penultimate CSA 4-Day Series match in third place on the log, but they are just 0.12 points behind the second-placed Warriors and 11.48 points adrift of the leaders, the Titans. So a place in the final and even hosting that five-day match is well on the cards for our Pride.

“It was a great time with the Sunrisers and obviously wonderful to win the trophy again, but now my full attention is on the four-day prize,” Domingo said. “There are two big games ahead for the Lions and we’re obviously missing a few players in New Zealand.

“But it’s very lucky for us to have Temba back, he’s fit and ready to play again and very keen to score lots of runs. Wiaan Mulder is also back after he missed our last game. Both he and Ryan Rickelton had fantastic SA20 tournaments, Mitchell van Buuren did really well and Codi Yusuf bowled nicely too.

“Any cricket played ahead of the four-day restart is good and we’re lucky that we have a few players who have been involved in very intense cricket. They will certainly come in match-ready and I’m really pleased that the Lions guys mostly played very well in the SA20,” Domingo said.

Although the Boland team will be without key players in Shaun von Berg, Clyde Fortuin and Keegan Petersen, who are in New Zealand with the Proteas, most of the rest of their squad would have been able to plan with much forethought ahead of their trip to Johannesburg for the return of red-ball cricket. Fast bowler Hardus Viljoen is the only member of their squad who saw much SA20 action.

“The Malan brothers [Janneman and Pieter], Stiaan van Zyl and Hardus Viljoen – those are all players with international experience and we know the Rocks are a tough unit. They would have worked hard on their skills these last few weeks and they have a lot to play for too, it’s a big game for them as well,” Domingo said, referring to their log-position of sixth, which could leave them flirting with the relegation zone.

Paceman Lutho Sipamla, who has not played a four-day game for the Lions this season due to injury, has been named in the squad and seems almost ready to play, pending the outcome of nets and a fitness test on Tuesday.

DP World Lions squad – Dominic Hendricks (capt), Josh Richards, Temba Bavuma, Ryan Rickelton, Wiaan Mulder, Mitchell van Buuren, Wandile Makwetu, Bjorn Fortuin, Delano Potgieter, Malusi Siboto, Codi Yusuf, Muhammad Manack, Connor Esterhuizen, Lutho Sipamla.

Ngidi left out of previous game at SCG, but man-of-the-match in Perth, so who misses out v Pakistan? 0

Posted on January 27, 2023 by Ken

Lungi Ngidi was left out of the Proteas XI for their previous game at the Sydney Cricket Ground, but he is coming off a man-of-the-match performance against India in Perth, so South Africa’s selection team face something of a quandary for their crunch T20 World Cup meeting with Pakistan on Thursday.

The pitch for the comprehensive win over Bangladesh in Sydney was certainly slower than the one in Perth, where Ngidi absolutely revelled with figures of 4/29. But pace was still effective against Bangladesh, with Anrich Nortje taking 4/10. But spinner Tabraiz Shamsi also shone with 3/20, so conditions on the day could be the decider.

Ngidi admitted after his demolition job on India that he was by no means certain he would even be playing the match.

“I was a bit surprised, I’ve not played much in this World Cup, so to come in on the day and perform against India … I couldn’t have asked for a better day,” Ngidi said.

“I’m very happy and it is probably one of my best performances. You could see there was pace in the pitch. The plan was to not give any width and try to keep it as tight as possible. Dig it into the wicket.”

South Africa will also be very happy with the way all-rounder Wayne Parnell is performing, and he also enjoyed himself against India with 3/15 in his four overs.

“It was about hitting good areas. Sometimes you can get carried away with bowling short. Personally, it was just trying to hit the top of the stumps and keep things simple.

“We have a group of bowlers who are all capable of winning games. Each of us believes that and we know someone can step up on any given day,” Parnell said.

South Africa also know that if they beat Pakistan, then their semifinal place is almost certainly secure because they will have seven points and only one of India or Bangladesh, who play each other on Wednesday, can get to eight points if they win both their remaining matches. Zimbabwe would have to beat both the Netherlands and India, and substantially improve their nett run-rate, to finish on seven points and edge out the Proteas.

Sharks will bring pent-up energy after being in home port following three-week tour 0

Posted on January 16, 2023 by Ken

The Sharks, back in home port in Durban after meeting expectations on their three-week overseas tour, will be bringing a lot of pent-up energy to Loftus Versfeld on Sunday when they tackle the Bulls in a massive United Rugby Championship derby.

Victories on the road against Zebre and the Dragons was followed by a superb attacking showing against Leinster, who only pulled away in the final quarter in Dublin. With the Springboks returning to action, the Sharks exploded in the final half-hour of their homecoming match against the Glasgow Warriors, and there was a real sense of momentum building for their big clash with Ulster last weekend.

And then the match was controversially postponed the day before it was scheduled to happen. The one positive to offset the great disappointment felt at Kings Park is that an even fresher, hungrier Sharks side will now travel to Pretoria this weekend.

“It was quite shocking news to get on the Friday,” prop Ntuthuko Mchunu said on Wednesday. “We had had a really good week of preparation coming off a win, we were looking forward to the festivities of the day.

“And of course we were really looking forward to playing the game, having prepped so well and brushed up on a few things. But at least this week it means we are really fresh and looking forward again.

“It’s always a big game up there, two South African sides going at each other. It’s never easy at Loftus and both teams will front up. We have prepared well for a physical battle at set-piece.

“The Bulls have really good players, but what happened there in the past is past, we’re now looking forward to the future. It’s always a great game against the Bulls,” Mchunu said.

The Sharks will be without half-a-dozen of their frontline Springboks, but Mchunu says there is a real unity within the group remaining behind, following their achievements on the fields of Europe and the fun they had doing some urban sightseeing.

“The one thing the Sharks have done is grow the group. We prepared really well together in pre-season when the Springboks were away, and this team has grown.

“We showed a lot of fight and character against Leinster, it was an awesome tour that really grew us. The combinations worked well together and we want to carry that spirit through to this weekend,” Mchunu said.

The Bulls, meanwhile, are perhaps retreating into one of their laagers as they have been playing hard to get with the Fourth Estate from the start of the week.

100th meeting between Boks & All Blacks to happen in unlikely venue of Townsville, deep in the tropics in northern Queensland 0

Posted on September 09, 2021 by Ken

The All Blacks have agreed to base themselves in Queensland in order for the Rugby Championship to be completed, which means the historic 100th meeting between them and their arch-rivals the Springboks will take place in the unlikely venue of Townsville, in the northern reaches of the state and deep in the tropics.

The Springboks will leave for Australia on Thursday and will have to quarantine for two weeks, but in return they will have the benefit of being able to return to normal life thereafter, not needing to stay in a bubble. They can still train while in quarantine, ahead of their next match, against Australia on September 12 on the Gold Coast.

But it is their clash with the All Blacks on September 25 in Townsville that will capture the imagination, even though it is effectively being played as a curtain-raiser to the Australia versus Argentina match that follows.

“The two-week quarantine period means we will be on tour for just under six weeks, but we are looking forward to experiencing normal life after a year-and-a-half of living under several forms of adjusted Covid-19 restrictions in South Africa. This will certainly assist in ensuring that the players are fresh mentally when they take the field, which is essential for them to peak in form.

“We are pleased that the Rugby Championship schedule has been finalised and we are looking forward to continuing our campaign in Australia. We can now continue our planning to ensure that the players are ready for the next four matches from a physical and mental point of view, and we are excited about facing our old foes Australia and New Zealand again after kicking off the tournament well against Argentina,” Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber said in a statement on Tuesday.

For all the bluster about how boring Springbok rugby is and how they are unworthy world champions despite beating the British and Irish Lions recently, the Kiwis are now going to have to put up or shut up on September 25 and then again on October 2 on the Gold Coast, in what, on current form, should be the Rugby Championship decider.

Apart from the Springboks not needing to stay in a bubble after their quarantine, the other good news is that there will be spectators at all the matches. Given the level of aggression between Australian and New Zealand rugby at the moment, the local crowds could well be supporting the Springboks in their matches against the All Blacks.

Australia and New Zealand get the chance to sort out some of their issues on the field when they meet in Perth, as originally scheduled, probably next weekend.

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