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Ken Borland

SA make 311-7 as Wanderers pitch flat like Sharjah & then seaming & turning 0

Posted on March 08, 2023 by Ken

Tony de Zorzi was ruthless through square on the off-side.

The Wanderers pitch went through several character changes on Wednesday, the opening day of the second Test between South Africa and the West Indies: for much of the day it seemed as flat as one of those batting beauties in Sharjah, but it ended with medium-pacer Kyle Mayers toying with the batsmen with movement off the seam, while the pitch had also been spinning.

Through all that, having won an important toss and batted, the Proteas closed on 311 for seven. That solid total was built around an excellent display by the top-order, which took them to 247 for two at tea. The final session belonged to the West Indies as Mayers claimed two late wickets and the South African middle-order again faltered.

The opening hour, under overcast skies, saw the new ball move around, but the West Indies did not bowl particularly well and Dean Elgar and Aiden Markram’s positive approach saw them prosper.

As the skies cleared and the moisture burnt off, Elgar and Markram took control. They added 76 for the first wicket to go with their 141 on the first day of the first Test, and it was totally against the run of play when Elgar was dismissed for 42. It was a fluent rather than a fighting innings by the left-hander, coming off just 54 balls with seven fours.

Elgar’s propensity to get himself out in this series will worry him a little, and on Wednesday he swept a delivery down leg from left-arm spinner Gudakesh Motie to short fine-leg diving forward.

The best batting of the day then followed as Markram, driving and pulling imperiously, and Tony de Zorzi, ruthless through square on the off-side, added 116 for the second wicket in a little more than an hour-and-a-half.

Markram was on the brink of a second successive century midway through the second session and was so dominant he probably felt he could get to three figures with some cute improvisation. Trying to scoop-sweep Motie, he did not connect properly and Jermaine Blackwood ran from slip to the leg-side to take the catch. Markram was out for 96 off only 139 deliveries, having struck 17 fours, another innings of undeniable class as the 28-year-old resurrects his Test career.

De Zorzi, the youngster of the batting line-up, batted for longer than anyone else on the first day: 219 minutes. He saw, and adapted to, all the challenges of the changing pitch. Having scored 85, he was in position to push for a maiden Test century in just his third innings, but Motie obtained some sharp turn to bowl the left-hander through the gate as he looked for an aggressive drive.

It was an innings that showcased defiant defence as well as some fine strokeplay, evidence that this former SA U19 captain has a game that is now maturing.

“Obviously it was a good opportunity to get a hundred, Dean and Aiden having given the innings a nice base,” De Zorzi said after the close of play. “So I was disappointed not to get over the line, I just tried to be too greedy against that particular ball.

“The pitch did change through the day, it was a bit soft in the morning because of the moisture, but after lunch it was harder because of the sun and a bit quicker, and the nicks started carrying. There was also a bit of turn.

“From my SA U19 days, a lot has changed. I may have been the captain but I was not the star of that side and I went back to club cricket afterwards. It’s been a long process and I’ve done a lot of dirty work to get there. Things are starting to happen and I’m just really happy to be here,” De Zorzi said.

From 247 for two, the rest of the day became a bit like hard admin for the Proteas. Temba Bavuma (28) notched the third successive fifty partnership as he put on 56 for the third wicket with De Zorzi.

But Bavuma then suffered a misjudgement, shouldering arms to a Jason Holder delivery that pitched on the large bare patch at the Golf Course End and was trapped lbw.

Ryan Rickelton scored 22 but then tried to cut an Alzarri Joseph delivery that he should have left with the second new ball imminent.

Then Mayers returned to produce two beautiful deliveries and two late wickets that left the West Indies feeling good about the last session in which they claimed five wickets for 64 runs in 27.2 overs.

Wiaan Mulder (12) was bowled through the gate by a ball that zipped back into him, while Simon Harmer (1) received a wobble-seam delivery that nipped away just enough to find his edge and have him caught behind for a single, off what became the last ball of the day.

Heinrich Klaasen will be batting with the tail on Thursday morning, having reached 17 not out.

Fringe Reeza says he has missed some opportunities by trying too hard 0

Posted on July 04, 2022 by Ken

Reeza Hendricks has been one of those perennial fringe Proteas batsmen, often chosen in squads but seldom getting a lengthy run of games, and he feels that he has missed out on some opportunities through his international career simply because he tried too hard.

For a sportsman to make it at international level, they need to have a massive hunger to play in that high-stakes arena, so one can understand someone on the fringes being desperate to grab whatever opportunities they get to play and impress. But that desperation can sometimes be counter-productive, like someone who is drowning frantically trying to grab their rescuer and pulling them both down into the depths.

Having made his Proteas debut in 2014, in a T20 series in Australia, Hendricks has played 24 ODIs and 40 T20s since then. So an average of eight matches a year, which neatly captures his status as a nearly-man for South Africa – a regular pick but not really a regular starter.

Now 32, Hendricks is no longer fazed, he is used to having to make the most of limited chances.

“It’s just how my career has gone,” Hendricks told Saturday Citizen this week. “You just have to find a way of dealing with it. I’m in a good space now, whatever happens, I will just always be ready.

“My attitude has changed from a couple of years ago though. When I was younger, I was trying my hardest to break into the team and nail down a spot. But the more you think about it, the more pressure you put on yourself and you don’t do as well because of it.

“I obviously want more opportunity, but I don’t feel more pressure now when I get it. I just try and take every opportunity I get and my mindset is to try and be the best I can be on that day.

“And if things go good or bad, such is the game,” Hendricks said.

The Central Gauteng Lions star played just one ODI last season, scoring 6 against the Netherlands at Centurion, but he was amidships in the T20 World Cup in the UAE, sadly struggling as he scored just 17 runs off 25 balls in the three matches he played.

It is probably fair to say that Hendricks took a while to get going last summer. At domestic level, he was solid, if not spectacular.

In four-day cricket, he averaged 42 for the Lions with 294 runs in seven innings, but there was only one century and one half-century. In the T20 Cup he averaged 28 at a strike-rate of 122, but only passed fifty once.

But the top-order batsman ripped it up at the end of the summer.

His return to his best came in the One-Day Cup final. Going into that match against the Northerns Titans at Centurion, Hendricks had made just 110 runs in six innings.

But he spearheaded an extraordinary victory for the underdogs, lashing a magnificent 157 off just 136 balls as the Lions recovered from 214/6 to chase down 319. It was one of the greatest innings in South African domestic 50-over cricket and a timely reminder of his class.

Suddenly, the selectors’ decision to keep him on the national contracted list made perfect sense, and Hendricks then went on to stroke two more centuries for SA A in Zimbabwe. Shortly thereafter, he was named in the Proteas squad for next month’s T20 series in India.

“I wasn’t focused on making a statement,” Hendricks assured despite there definitely being whispers around South African cricket that maybe his international days were over. “I just wanted to go about my business and try contribute to the team.

“In the One-Day Cup final, we needed someone to stand up. In the build-up, I felt that there was one big knock just around the corner, but I didn’t know it would be a really big one. I just tried to stay in the present moment and then cash in.

“So I was in a good space and then able to capitalise on my form, having a good run for SA A. That tour obviously helped when it came to selection. I always want to keep knocking on the door, put my name in the hat.

“Before that, it was not a bad season, I felt I had been fairly decent. I went about my job quietly, although I didn’t score as many runs as I would have liked. But then the last bit was really good,” Hendricks said.

Back on-song and eager to show the Proteas they can rely on him whenever they need him, Hendricks will call on his experience to keep reminding the South African public of just how classy a batsman he remains.

“I think my understanding of my game is a lot better now and I’m quite comfortable with how to approach situations and different conditions, the different game-plans that are required,” Hendricks said.

The Kimberley product will be out to show he is not on the slippery slope down towards the twilight of his career, but rather at his prime as a batsman, with much to offer the Proteas.

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