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Ken Borland



Recent instalments of U19 Week had no official winner, but this year Lions undisputed champions 0

Posted on February 21, 2024 by Ken

Recent instalments of the Khaya Majola Week for the country’s best U19 boys cricketers have not seen an official winner declared, but even if that policy had continued this season, there would have been no doubt the Central Gauteng Lions were the undisputed champions of the event in Makhanda at the end of last year.

Our young Lions Pride were the only side that went through the week unbeaten and had three players named in the prestigious SA Schools team, as well as another two in the SA Colts side.

 The Central Gauteng Lions U16 girls also went unbeaten through their national Week in Pietermaritzburg and played some brilliant cricket. 

According to boys U19 coach Ahmed Nawab, excellent preparation was top of the list of reasons for his team finishing first.

“The most important thing was preparation and it was very specific in order to ensure the team played as a unit. It was my third year with the team and it took a couple of years of hard work to get that elusive first title,” Nawab says.

“The boys played really well and they trusted our preparation and plans. We started with a winter group of players, to work on player development, and the U16 national weeks in the last couple of years also helped us to identify potential talent.

“We would have specific days of training where we were building towards the Khaya Majola Week, we prepped through the winter and we also had a trials week. All of that was also very important for me to understand the players better, to build trust and relationships. It has been a very important exercise to show our depth as a union,” Nawab says.

While providing six members of the SA U19 World Cup squad is a source of tremendous pride for the Central Gauteng Lions union, it did make life terribly difficult at times for the coaching staff because it meant our young Pride had to rely on other players to triumph at the Khaya Majola Week.

“A lot of the time our six SA U19 players were not available because they had to go away to national camps. We had them all together for a week-and-a-bit before going to Makhanda and once we were there, they each had to sit out at least one game in the Week,” Nawab explains.

“So the rest of the squad had to understand that they themselves were actually the core of the team and it was up to them to put us in the good position. The key performances during the Khaya Majola Week actually came from those outside the national squad.

“Our two main values as a team were to be resilient because conditions meant you had to grind, and to make sure that all our sticks were in the fire, burning bright,” Nawab says.

While the new-ball bowling of Kwena Maphaka and Esosa Aihevba befitted their status as SA U19 stars, Fayaaz Vawda was also phenomenal up front; Luke Francis played a couple of key innings that dug the side out of tough situations; and Tjaart Mentz was an absolute find for the Lions, coming from one of the smaller cricketing schools in Helpmekaar. He showed he can hit a long ball as well as playing unorthodox strokes, while his wicket-to-wicket bowling was also very useful.

 But the talent in the Central Gauteng Lions U16 girls team is just as exciting. Neo Molefe, who scored back-to-back centuries without losing her wicket in the opening two games, was named both batter and player of the tournament. Fay Cowling was honoured as all-rounder and fielder of the week.

“There’s definitely a lot of talent in Lions cricket and our winning week was testimony to that,” triumphant coach Teboho Ntsukunyane says. “We did lots of hard work in preparation, we began our work earlier in the year so that we could expose the girls to lots of middle time.

“By August I had pretty much identified our squad and we were able to work in groups. I already knew the balance I wanted and the girls really complemented each other. In October we played games against senior Division II teams just to try and expose our players more and see how they expressed themselves under pressure.

“We also had some specific preparation like getting them to bowl at our senior DP World Lions star Sunette Viljoen-Louw, who hits the ball so hard, so they could get used to that. Their mental strength got better and better and all that exposure meant they were able to handle the pressures of the Week in Pietermaritzburg.

“That also enabled us to get our conditioning on-point and hone our game-plan, our role-clarity was very good and we understood what brand of cricket we wanted to play. Then it was just a case of making it easy for the girls to express themselves,” Ntsukunyane says.

The success of the Lions U19 and U16 teams is a clear warning to their rivals that they intend to dominate domestic cricket for a while yet.

“It really is a proud moment for us as Lions cricket to have witnessed the performances of our teams in both our regional and national Weeks hosted in all parts of South Africa. The achievements are testament to the hard work done over a long period of time in preparation of the players. We knew that 2023 was going to be rough with all the changes implemented to the format of the Weeks and the trophies at stake. These changes include the promotion and relegation at both U16 and U18 for boys’ and girls’ sections,” Reuben Mandlazi, the CGL Cricket Services Manager, says.

“One could not be prouder with the achievements of both U16 girls and U18 boys as they were crowned champions and the U16 boys and U18 girls finished third. We could not have achieved such good results without the support and hard work of our schools, as they continue to play a pivotal role through the strong cricket system.

“In addition, we thank everyone who played a role, including parents and selectors who identified these players under pressure. We recognise that selection is not an easy task and we are proud of them. We are also proud of the boys who represented South Africa at the ICC U19 World Cup hosted in South Africa.

“We know that year two of the new era will not be any easier, therefore we need to keep working harder and not be complacent about anything. Well done to all the teams and they continue to be the pride of Jozi,” Mandlazi said.

Central Gauteng Lions umpires also shone during the busy December period with very pleasing results.

Amy Gear stood in the final of the Girls U19 Week, as did Angus Gouws in the final of the Boys U16 week. Gear then went on to officiate as third umpire in the CSA 4-Day Series match between the DP World Lions and the Tuskers at the Wanderers, a remarkable achievement for a 17-year-old.

Davies Radebe stood in the third/fourth place final of the USSA A Week, while Zuber Saleh officiated in the SA Schools vs SA Colts match, the third/fourth place final of USSA A Week and was selected for Cubs week in January.

Mbekezeli ‘Randy’ Nkomo,  Mpumelelo Ngwevela, Nelisiwe Madondo and Roodt Jacobs were also appointed for national Weeks and acquitted themselves well, according to umpires administrator Brian Catt.

There was also good news on the scoring front with Central Gauteng Lions scorers co-ordinator  Kishen Pillay happy with the ratings achieved by the members of the association during an extremely busy festive period.

Natasha Nyoni, who scored at the Khaya Majola Week and was rated at 96%, and Mary Ramphela, who officiated at the U19 Girls Week and notched 99%, both finished in the top 2 of their respective Weeks.

Kagiso Taukobong finished fourth at the U16 Girls Week with 91% and Lebohang Dinake was in the top 10 at the U16 Boys Week with 87%.

“As a scorers association, we are pleased with the feedback and ratings received from the National Weeks, however we will strive to get even better,” Pillay says.

General consensus was Blair Atholl was a long, hard walk … but Lagergren had a fun day 0

Posted on November 30, 2023 by Ken

Joakim Lagergren while he was having fun in the first round of the SA Open at Blair Atholl Golf and Equestrian Estate.
(Photo by Carl Fourie/Sunshine Tour)

The general consensus after the first round of the South African Open at Blair Atholl Golf and Equestrian Estate on Thursday was that it was a very long walk indeed, but for leader Joakim Lagergren, it was a fun day, not spoiled at all by the 7.5km length of the course.

Golf being a good walk spoiled is, of course, one of the most famous quotes about the game, erroneously attributed to Mark Twain, one of the most misquoted people of all time. The phrase was first published in 1903, an aphorism that was seemingly used by many but belonged to nobody in particular.

But there was no spoiling Lagergren’s opening round in the second-oldest national open of them all, first played, co-incidentally, back in 1903. The Swede was rampant on Thursday, collecting seven birdies and not dropping a single shot on his way to a commanding 65 that gave him a one-stroke lead.

While others left the Gary Player designed course looking hot and bothered, the 32-year-old fronted the media smiling and looking fresh and buoyant, capable of perhaps doing a quick run around the front nine again.

“Golf was fun today,” Lagergren beamed, “I really enjoyed it. I told my caddy on the sixth that it was one of the longest par-threes I have ever seen at 240 yards and it was very rare to come in with a wedge on any of the par-fours. And there are huge greens, but luckily I putted well. I have been finding something with my putter after struggling for the last few weeks,” Lagergren said.

Andy Sullivan, the 2015 SA Open champion at Glendower, came in just before Lagergren, having also posted an excellent score, a five-under-par 67 that left him two shots behind.

He described it as a “long fucking walk” off camera but his sparkling wit was present as always.

“I’m not one of the longest hitters so the course didn’t particularly suit me, my strategy was just ‘hit the ball as hard as you can!’

“I know he is one of the fittest people alive, but I would love to see Mr Player walk around here, he might rethink his design a bit, it is definitely one of the most physically demanding courses I’ve played.

“There’s no warming down, it’s straight to Nandos and then prepare for tomorrow by resting,” Sullivan said.

The jovial Englishman employed the services of his accurate long-irons to share third place with two South Africans, Jovan Rebula and Louis de Jager, and said he is hoping a return to the Highveld, where he has a superb record, having also won the Joburg Open in 2015, will kickstart a much better season for him after two rough years.

“I got off to a really good start with three birdies in the first four holes and I holed a lot inside 12 feet today. It was actually more about control today, last week my mid to long irons were very good and they helped me out today again.

“I’ve struggled the last two seasons but I’ve managed to keep my card. I’ve tried something new by going back to Jamie Gough as coach and it feels like my game is there or thereabouts.

“I normally don’t play in December that much, but I felt it was important to get off to a good start this season, I have history here in Johannesburg and it’s a great place to start,” a more serious Sullivan said.

Highly-talented young South African Casey Jarvis is sandwiched between Lagergren and Sullivan et al after a wonderful round of 66 in the morning that did not lack for quality at all.

“I don’t hit the ball that long so I’ve got to drive the ball good. I also hit my long-irons pretty well. This course is a big mental challenge, especially the really long par-fours. You just have to try and stay patient,” Jarvis said.

A compatriot who showed quite extraordinary forbearance was Christiaan Bezuidenhout. He played superbly from tee-to-green, but missed a handful of putts from inside 10 feet that could have transformed his impressive 68 into a score of eight-under-par or so. By the back nine, where his only birdie came on the 12th, you could sense that inside he was starting to beg for a putt to just go in!

If that Bezuidenhout putter warms up on the second day, then the smart money might well be on the 2020 SA Open champion.

Springbok quartet no longer waiting in the aisles as Powell brings them all back 0

Posted on September 14, 2023 by Ken

Springboks Ox Nche, Bongi Mbonambi, Eben Etzebeth and Siya Kolisi were waiting in the aisles last weekend, but Sharks director of rugby Neil Powell has brought them all back into the starting XV for Saturday’s United Rugby Championship match against the Bulls at Kings Park as he dares not allow any complacency to creep into his high-flying side.

The Sharks have won four games on the trot across the two European competitions and they face a fired up Bulls side that are coming off a fiercely-contested loss to the Stormers last weekend. Inconsistency has bedevilled the Sharks in the past, and Powell is eager to ensure there is no slip in intensity on Saturday.

“It’s always good to be able to select your best players against the Bulls, who are coming to our house and always bring a big physical challenge, but on Saturday they will bring a bit more because of that loss,” Powell said on Friday.

“They saved their players from the Champions Cup to target these games, so last weekend’s loss will definitely hurt and they will bring a lot of effort and physicality to get at least one win from these games.

“We’re obviously aware of it, and it’s a really good opportunity for us to still build momentum and cohesion. We would like to be more clinical and we know a quality team like the Bulls only gives you so many opportunities.

“It’s mid-season and we feel like we’re moving in the right direction. There’s still a lot we can do better and we want to build on last week’s performance against the Lions.

“We want to take the opportunities that weren’t taken and if we can play with that flow then that will be great. But there’s an awareness of complacency and we can’t let successive wins breed that.

“We can’t just rock up and think things will happen. We need to really get stuck in and make sure we do our various roles,” Powell said.

Nche, Mbonambi and Thomas du Toit combine as an all-Springbok front row, while Kolisi will be joined in the loose trio by Henco Venter and Sikhumbuzo Notshe.

Grant Williams will continue as the starting scrumhalf, with Curwin Bosch going well at flyhalf.

“It’s good to see Curwin slowly but surely getting back to his best form. Credit to the coaches because in pre-season he was in really good form but then unfortunately got injured.

“But the coaches have all been very positive about him. There’s still room for improvement and we will keep chipping away,” Powell said.

Sharks Boeta Chamberlain, Marnus Potgieter, Lukhanyo Am, Rohan Janse van Rensburg, Makazole Mapimpi, Curwin Bosch, Grant Williams, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Henco Venter, Siya Kolisi (c), Gerbrandt Grobler, Eben Etzebeth, Thomas du Toit, Bongi Mbonambi, Ox Nche. Bench: Kerron van Vuuren, Dian Bleuler, Carlu Sadie, Hyron Andrews, Phepsi Buthelezi, Jaden Hendrikse, Lionel Cronje, Yaw Penxe.

Apart from Warner’s historic double-century, Nortje’s effort with the ball should not be forgotten either 0

Posted on August 14, 2023 by Ken

David Warner’s historic unbeaten double-century in his 100th Test will be what is most remembered from the second day of the second Test between Australia and South Africa at the MCG on Tuesday, but Anrich Nortje’s phenomenal effort with the ball should not be forgotten either.

Although Nortje finished with figures of just one for 50 in 16 overs as Australia piled up 386 for three and Warner retired hurt with severe cramp after scoring 200 off just 254 balls, his fiery, indefatigable fast bowling certainly caught the imagination of the 42 000 people at the MCG.

Nortje strung together some of the fastest overs recorded in Test cricket, consistently exceeding 150km/h for lengthy periods, and his endurance on a sweltering day when the temperature touched 40° was incredible. Even the notorious Bay 13 spectators were charmed by Nortje, who signed many autographs on various items, downed a bottle of water for their entertainment and had his warm-up routine mimicked by the crowd, as they used to do most famously for Australian fast bowler Merv Hughes.

Not even being struck to the ground by spidercam could get Nortje down.

“I was just trying to get a breakthrough, be more aggressive and bring out the pace. I wasn’t bowling as quickly as I can, but I did try to speed it up,” Nortje said after a torrid day’s play for the Proteas.

“Bowling the one over on the first day, I felt I needed to adjust to the wicket, which is a good one. There’s a bit of a slope upwards and my focus was on getting my momentum through the crease rather than jumping up.

“It started clicking and then you can push a bit more when you feel you have the momentum, you just ride it and not try to force anything else. I felt I had good rhythm and just tried to come as hard as I can.

“It’s a good wicket for batting, but if you can hit good areas over time then you can get reward, good bumpers can make the batsmen a bit uncomfortable. Unfortunately it just didn’t work out for us today,” Nortje said.

Warner became just the second batsman after England’s Joe Root to score a double century in his 100th Test, and the veteran left-hander became the eighth Australian to score 8000 Test runs. It was his first Test century in nearly three years.

“He batted really well, hats off to him for the energy and fight he showed,” Nortje said.

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    Mark 7:8 – “You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men.”

    Our foundation must be absolute surrender, devotion and obedience to God, rising from pure love for him. Jesus Christ must be central in all things and his will must take precedence over the will of people, regardless of how well-meaning they may be.

    Surrender yourself unconditionally to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, then you will be able to identify what is of man with the wisdom of the Holy Spirit. Then you will be able to serve – in love! – according to God’s will.



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