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Ken Borland



SA20 is about adapting to different types of pitches; Pretoria Capitals show how 0

Posted on January 18, 2024 by Ken

POWERHOUSE: Will Jacks of Pretoria Capitals celebrates the fastest century in SA20 history.
Photo by Sportzpics

One of the joys of the SA20 is that there are different types of pitches that are used in the tournament and teams are often forced to think on their feet and adapt at short notice. The Pretoria Capitals were quicker and better in adapting to the SuperSport Park wicket on Thursday night and duly notched their first win of the season, beating the Durban Super Giants by 17 runs.

When returning captain Wayne Parnell won the toss and elected to bat first, eyebrows were raised because Centurion is traditionally a venue full of runs, where defending any sort of total can be tough at altitude on a pitch full of runs and a smallish, very quick outfield.

But this pitch behaved slightly differently. The best time to bat was up front and batting second was just that little bit harder as the ball gripped on a dry surface once the new-ball shine had gone.

Will Jacks was the man who seized the moment as he plundered the fastest century in SA20 history, needing just 41 balls to get there, and his onslaught up front gave the Pretoria Capitals such a good platform that their deceleration in the second half of their innings and a collapse of five wickets for seven runs at the death did not cost them the match.

A total of 204 for nine was certainly competitive and the Durban Super Giants were unable to replicate Jacks’ aggression up front and finished on 187 for seven.

Junior Dala, the Durban Super Giants strike bowler but usually based at SuperSport Park, said “It was a game that was probably won and lost in the powerplays. We showed fight with both bat and ball at the end, but we probably conceded 15 to 20 runs too many in our bowling powerplay as Will came hard at us.”

With Jacks hammering eight fours and nine sixes, including a straight hit into the media centre that I have never seen before at SuperSport Park, and fellow Englishman Phil Salt also scoring freely with 23 off 13 balls, the Capitals were off to a blazing start.

The opening pair lashed 75 runs off the first five-and-a-half overs, but then crucially, the Super Giants began taking wickets. As the ball became older, so the cutters came out and the visitors kept chipping away at the Pretoria batting line-up.

“With the newer ball, your cutters and slower balls just skidded on more, but by the eighth or ninth over they were beginning to grip more. But you still had to be smart and understand your match-ups,” Dala later explained.

Jacks reached his hundred two balls quicker than Durban’s Heinrich Klaasen had done in his landmark effort in this same fixture last season, the ball whizzing off his bat in a sparkling innings that should attract many, many views on SA20’s various digital platforms.

But when Jacks (101 off 42 balls) cut his next ball after reaching his second T20 century straight to point, Dwaine Pretorius making the breakthrough, the Pretoria Capitals innings rather lost its fizz. The wicket left them 151 for four after 13 overs, and although Colin Ingram scored a busy 43 off 23 deliveries, their momentum petered out.

Marcus Stoinis (4-0-37-1), playing his first SA20 match having just arrived from the Big Bash in Australia, lit the fuse for the bowling comeback as he dismissed Jimmy Neesham and conceded just two runs in the 18th over; Reece Topley (4-1-34-3) then bowled an astonishing double-wicket maiden and Dala (4-0-32-2) also took two wickets in the final over while conceding just seven runs.

Jacks then toyed with the Super Giants with the ball as well. He opened the bowling and conceded just seven runs in the first over, before returning and claiming two wickets – Kyle Mayers bowled for 1 and the massive scalp of Klaasen for just a single. The off-spinner finished with two for 18 in his three overs.

Opener Matthew Breetzke ought to have batted deeper after scoring 33 off 24 balls but he steered Parnell straight to deep cover and the Capitals just kept chipping away with regular wickets.

Quinton de Kock made 25 off 20 before he sent a mistimed pull off Hardus Viljoen straight to deep midwicket, Stoinis hit a couple of big sixes before holing out to Neesham, and Jacks then took a boundary catch to dismiss Keemo Paul (18) off Parnell.

Jon-Jon Smuts scored a defiant 27, but not even a late flurry from Pretorius (19* off 10) and Keshav Maharaj (25* off 12) was enough to take the Super Giants to a win.

Eathan Bosch was the other Pretoria bowler to excel, showing what a top-class talent he is as he adapted beautifully to the pitch, bowling effective cutters and conceding just 18 runs in his three overs.

Maharaj has unenviable task of stepping in with Proteas 1-0 down, but he’s confident they can bounce back 0

Posted on September 17, 2021 by Ken

Taking over as captain at short notice in a three-match series in which you are already 1-0 down may seem like an unenviable task, but Keshav Maharaj is confident that the Proteas can bounce back as he leads them in the second ODI against Sri Lanka at the Premadasa Stadium in Colombo on Saturday.

Team management confirmed on Friday that regular captain Temba Bavuma is out of the tour with a fractured thumb after an unfortunate incident that saw him struck while batting by an errant throw by a Sri Lankan fielder. It not only crucially halted the Proteas’ momentum as they were well-placed in their run-chase, but has also left their backs against the wall following the 14-run defeat in the opening game.

Left-arm spinner Maharaj, who was outstanding with the ball, will now lead South Africa for the first time. The 31-year-old has only recently been a regular in the ODI side, playing just 12 of the 55 games since his debut in 2017, and the elevation to the captaincy is an amazing turn for this remarkable cricketer.

“Losing the first game is not ideal and we were obviously disappointed. But the morale is still high, we came so close, so just one more step and we are pretty much there. There were a lot of positives, we will reassess and hopefully implement the right strategies. There’s been a lot of reflection, which is good because it shows growth and maturity. As a collective there are good signs.

“But it is a process. We have to fight for World Cup qualification points, but more growth is also important. We have to get back to winning ways, but we need to take it one step at a time and take the learnings from our losses,” Maharaj said on Friday.

This new Proteas white-ball outfit is almost unidentifiable from previous national teams because they rely so heavily on spin rather than fiery pace bowling, which has been the undisputed king in the past. But Maharaj has pinpointed better work by the seamers up front, especially in terms of conceding fewer wides and no-balls, as something within their control. Between them, Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje and Andile Phehlukwayo conceded 171 runs in 24 overs.

“It took us a little longer to adapt at the start and we did not limit our extras well enough. Maybe it was a bit of rustiness, but we can be a lot better there. We’ll have to reassess our lines and lengths, but the wides and no-balls we can control. And we also need to make sure we get our fields right for the lines and lengths.

“Spin is generally the way to go in the subcontinent, but the seamers can still do a job and they showed that in their second or third spells. Aiden Markram also did a remarkable job for someone who is not a frontliner, and we are in a good space in terms of bowling resources,” Maharaj said.

Steyn explains why he rates Magala as a ‘very very good bowler’ 0

Posted on April 06, 2021 by Ken

Sisanda Magala is a “very, very good bowler” are words you are likely to hear from time to time, but when they come from one of the greatest bowlers of all time, then it is time to sit up, take notice and put him in the Proteas starting XI.

Magala’s fan is none other than Dale Steyn, indisputably a legend of the game because he has taken over 400 Test wickets at an average lower than all but four of the other 16 bowlers in that club. Steyn has previously tweeted how impressed he is with Magala and on Tuesday he explained to The Citizen why he rates the 30-year-old so highly ahead of what will hopefully be his Proteas debut in the ODI series against Pakistan starting on Friday.

But as Steyn reveals, they did not have a very good start to their relationship …

“The first time I played against him was for the Titans against the Warriors and I had heard amazing things about him. So I gave him so much stick, I basically just abused him, because I wanted to see what he was made of. He was upset, but after the game I spoke to him and told him I just did that because I heard you were really good. I wasn’t sure he liked me much after that though … ” Steyn said.

“Then we played together at the Cape Town Blitz, and as team-mates he just impressed me more and more. He’s really quick, he’s a good fielder, extremely athletic for his size, and just a flippen nice guy. He has that fight in him. He has a bit of a strange action so he’s quicker than you think.

“I always look for things that make someone better than the rest and he has a wicked wrist – it’s really cocked back, whippy, giving him extra pace. With good coaching and as he gets more familiar with how to use that wrist, he could get even quicker.”

There have been whispers that Magala’s size – he is certainly burly – is considered an issue by Proteas management and is why he has not yet taken the field for the national team. But Steyn says his physical dimensions and not passing certain fitness tests should not be a factor in selection.

“The testing is one thing but I don’t mind if a guy looks slightly overweight as long as he is hitting the same numbers or even a bit better over a period of time, it’s only a problem if there’s a massive slump. For some people it’s just very difficult for them to do anything about their weight, but I’ve often seen cricketers lose a couple of kilograms and then they can’t hit the ball as far or bowl as well.

“As professional cricketers, we don’t necessarily have to look like Michael Jordan or Usain Bolt,’ Steyn said.

Pilanesberg National Park 0

Posted on February 15, 2016 by Ken

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Some of the beautiful pride of 10 Lion seen on Tshepe Drive

Pilanesberg National Park has open grasslands and plenty of soothing aquatic habitats, but, driving around the fourth largest conserved area in South Africa, one cannot help but notice the violent, almost cataclysmic events that shaped the spectacular scenery.

Pilanesberg is centred on the crater of an extinct volcano with its mountains being a series of concentric rings of igneous rock i.e. solidified lava. The forces of erosion, operating on cracks and faults, have then created a broad valley running from the south-west of the park to the north-east.

The fascinating geology of Pilanesberg gives rise to diverse vegetation, which in turn produces great birding.

Although much of the park comprises broadleaved woodland and open grassland, which contains fewer birds, there are areas of thornveld and its rich insect life, as well as some of the special birds that call Acacias home.

These thornveld endemics can be tricky to spot, but the Manyane campsite is set in a stand of typical Kalahari Thornveld, dominated by stately Acacias.

So walking around the campsite always provides plenty of birds at close quarters and on this occasion, the highlight was a Burntnecked Eremomela which hung around for a long time in a thorn tree close to our site.

Crested and Swainson’s Francolin, Redbilled Hornbill, Yellowfronted Canary, Goldenbreasted Bunting, Redwinged Starling and Whitebrowed Scrub Robin were also friendly neighbours, along with a Blackbacked Puffback and a Brubru amongst a host of species in a bird party in the tree above our camp.

Arrowmarked Babblers would move determinedly through the camp, grabbing breakfast tidbits, while a business of Banded Mongoose would also come foraging through camp, making their delightful purring noises. Longtailed Shrike was a visitor to the Acacia trees as well, which often also held colourful Southern Tree Agama. Chacma Baboons were less welcome intruders.

The Tlou Drive, pretty much in the centre of the park, goes through classic Acacia thickets in areas of open grassland, both short and long. In other words great bushveld country and ideal habitat for the beautiful Violeteared Waxbill.

Being August, the bush was dry and brown, so a Violeteared Waxbill with its dazzling mixture of blue, violet and red offset against chestnut, really stands out when the bird is strolling around on the ground on an exposed culvert.

In the same area, a Crimsonbreasted Shrike and a Pied Barbet were also hanging around, so there was a sudden, startling burst of colour amongst the otherwise drab winter tones of the Tlou Drive.

A Steenbok was hiding in a little grove of trees and African Elephant were also around.

The Mankwe Dam is the largest water body in Pilanesberg and an ideal place to spot the mammals and birds that are attracted to the water. There were lots of Blue Wildebeest and Giraffe (including, unfortunately, a deceased one) on this occasion, as well as Nile Crocodile.

The Hippo Loop is one of the better roads from which to explore Mankwe Dam, allowing one to get very close to the north-western shore.

There, where the last of the previous summer’s water was draining away, leaving soft mud perfect for waders in its retreat, were some strange long-billed birds.

Heavily marked with brown, black and buff, there were four of them probing deeply and rhythmically into the mud. It took a while to identify them because the only African Snipe I had seen previously were single birds either flying over a wetland, doing their characteristic drumming display, or crouching in thick vegetation.

But apparently they are known for coming out and foraging in the open when water levels recede, exposing the soft mud that contains the worms that are their favourite prey.

A Tawny Eagle and a few Greater Striped Swallow were flying about, while a Chinspot Batis was investigating the bushes.

The other water birds present were Great White Egret, Yellowbilled Duck, Reed Cormorant, Egyptian Goose and African Fish Eagle.

Tlodi Dam is a much smaller water body close to Manyane Camp and Pearlbreasted Swallow is often seen here collecting mud from the water’s edge for its nest.

There are usually Hippopotamus in the dam as well and plenty of Southern Masked Weaver starting to get into breeding plumage.

Heading north from Manyane will bring you to the Malatse Dam, which has an excellent hide that allows you to get close to the action. With the hide facing east, it’s a good place to spend the late afternoon, only about 9km from camp, and the sort of place to spot exciting stuff.

African Spoonbill, African Darter and Dabchick were out on the water, while a Threebanded Plover was dashing about and a Natal Francolin was right below the hide window.

The Tshwene Drive links Manyane camp with the centre of the park and Mankwe Dam, and goes through often tall grassland with thorny and bushy thickets.

This is ideal country for the Browncrowned Tchagra and sure enough one landed on top of a bush, vigorously wagged its tail and then dived into a thicket as we possibly disturbed an imminent flight display.

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Marico Flycatcher are common, friendly inhabitants of the Acacia savanna in Pilanesberg

The area also produced Blackchested Prinia, Marico Flycatcher and Lilacbreasted Roller.

Ntshwe Drive is one of the gateways to the western portion of the park and is rather scenic with trees and koppies.

White Rhinoceros, accompanied by Redbilled Oxpecker, were present as was a solitary Redeyed Bulbul, which was much more secretive than its common cousin, the Blackeyed. Kalahari Robin was also present but inconspicuous.

The Tshepe Drive also heads towards Mankwe Dam, approaching from the south-east of the park and is well-vegetated and full of game. Having spotted Tsessebe and Springbok, we came across a beautiful Lioness and then, shortly after she sauntered towards the road, a nine-strong pride of youthful, virile-looking males followed her.

Sightings list

Helmeted Guineafowl

Crested Francolin

Redbilled Hornbill

Arrowmarked Babbler

Forktailed Drongo

Common Myna

Longtailed Shrike

Longbilled Crombec

Swainson’s Francolin

Whitebrowed Scrub Robin

Burntnecked Eremomela

Impala

Pied Crow

Vervet Monkey

Cape Turtle Dove

Redfaced Mousebird

Warthog

Southern Yellowbilled Hornbill

Southern Masked Weaver

Blackshouldered Kite

Greater Kudu

Marico Flycatcher

Browncrowned Tchagra

Grey Lourie

Blue Wildebeest

Blackeyed Bulbul

Giraffe

Chinspot Batis

White Rhinoceros

Redbilled Oxpecker

Redeyed Bulbul

Kalahari Robin

Crimsonbreasted Shrike

Sabota Lark

Southern Boubou

Slender Mongoose

Pied Barbet

Chestnutvented Tit Babbler

Fiscal Flycatcher

Violeteared Waxbill

African Elephant

Speckled Mousebird

Steenbok

Groundscraper Thrush

Glossy Starling

Blackchested Prinia

Rock Pigeon

Blackbacked Puffback

Brubru

Pearlbreasted Swallow

Hippopotamus

Blacksmith Plover

Blue Waxbill

Tsessebe

Lion

Springbok

Crested Barbet

Whitebreasted Cormorant

Grey Heron

Greater Striped Swallow

Tawny Eagle

Laughing Dove

Banded Mongoose

Yellowfronted Canary

Chacma Baboon

African Spoonbill

African Darter

Dabchick

Natal Francolin

Threebanded Plover

Familiar Chat

Kurrichane Thrush

Neddicky

Grey Hornbill

Lilacbreasted Roller

Nile Crocodile

Great White Egret

Yellowbilled Duck

Reed Cormorant

Serrated Hinged Terrapin

Egyptian Goose

African Snipe

African Fish Eagle

Goldenbreasted Bunting

Southern Tree Agama

Redwinged Starling

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