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Ken Borland

It all came down to 2 record stands at SuperSport Park as Paarl pip the Capitals 0

Posted on January 14, 2024 by Ken

Mitchell van Buuren (left) and David Miller of Paarl Royals celebrate another milestone.
Photo by Sportzpics

In the final analysis it all came down to two record partnerships in the SA20 match between the Pretoria Capitals and the Paarl Royals at SuperSport Park on Sunday night: the one unbeaten and the other crucially ended with the loss of both set batsmen in the space of three deliveries.

After the seasoned David Miller (75 not out off 42 balls) and the highly-talented Mitchell van Buuren (72 not out off 40 balls) had added an unbeaten 141 for the fourth wicket to steer Paarl Royals to a strong 210 for three after they had been sent in to bat, Will Jacks (58 off 34) and Rilee Rossouw (82 off 45) put on 147 for the third wicket for Pretoria to put them well on target in the run-chase.

But Rossouw then top-edged a slog-sweep at Lungi Ngidi and Jason Roy took one of those brilliant boundary catches when the fielder tosses the ball back infield, steps over the boundary and then comes back to complete the catch. The left-handed Rossouw had moved beautifully through the gears, collecting 10 fours and four sixes with great skill and timing, as he came to the crease after the Capitals had made a terrible start, losing two wickets in the opening over.

The first ball of the next over saw Jacks bowled by left-arm spinner Bjorn Fortuin, the delivery being too full to be played off the back foot. Englishman Jacks had struck six fours and three sixes and had done a great job up front in ensuring Pretoria did not stagnate after Ngidi had removed Phil Salt (0) and Theunis de Bruyn (4) in the opening over.

With the two set batsmen out, the Capitals needed 58 off 35 balls to win and coach Graham Ford admitted afterwards that he was still hopeful they would have enough batting left to see them home.

Captain Jimmy Neesham scored a promising 20 off 9 balls but once Fabian Allen held on to a steepling catch running in from cow-corner to dismiss him off Andile Phehlukwayo, the other batsmen were all at sea on a pitch which did see the odd delivery ‘stick’ in the surface.

In the end, Paarl Royals won by 10 runs, Obed McCoy showing great guts and composure as he conceded just three runs in the final over, despite suffering from severe cramps that saw him hobbling about after every delivery.

In conditions that were still good for batting, coach Ford also admitted that the home side would have settled for a target of just below 200. But Miller and Van Buuren put them to the sword at the death, plundering 51 runs off the last three overs.

“The odd one did stick a bit, but if you’re going to mix up your pace then you still have to get your length right,” Ford said. “I think everybody in the changeroom would say that we could have limited them to 15 or so runs less.

“It was a fairly high-scoring game, another great T20 pitch here, but we probably could have controlled things a bit better at the end, when you trust the bowlers to back their best disciplines.

“Then again, if Rilee had batted for another three overs then we probably would have won. I can’t say enough of how well he and Will played and we saw how tough it was for the lower-order. But I was hopeful that we would have had some extra batting to see us over the line,” Ford said.

Miller and Van Buuren came together after Paarl Royals had lost two wickets in three overs to slip to 69 for three, and they were quick to settle at the crease, needing just 31 balls to raise their 50 partnership. Their next fifty runs together came in 30 deliveries, and in the end their partnership of 141 came off just 72 balls, with 13 fours and six sixes.

Jacks and Rossouw sent 16 balls to the boundary and seven over it as their stand of 147 came off 82 deliveries.

Both partnerships were the best ever for their respective wickets in SA20 history. The previous third-wicket record was held by Jacks and De Bruyn, who put on 111 against the Sunrisers Eastern Cape at Centurion last season; the previous fourth-wicket record was 75 shared by Matthew Breetzke and Heinrich Klaasen of Durban Super Giants, and Aiden Markram and Tristan Stubbs of the Sunrisers.

It was not a particularly good day to be a bowler, but leg-spinner Adil Rashid was the pick of the Capitals attack with one for 31 in his four overs, while new-ball bowlers Ngidi (4-0-39-4) and McCoy (4-0-30-1) led the way for Paarl Royals, who now go to second place on the log after their back-to-back wins over last season’s losing finalists.

Proteas secure draw to avoid last round of smarmy remarks 0

Posted on December 30, 2023 by Ken

The Proteas at least spared themselves one last round of smarmy remarks about their abilities as they secured a draw in the third and final Test against Australia at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Sunday.

Having already lost the series 2-0, South Africa needed to bat through the final day with 14 wickets in hand. Simon Harmer and Keshav Maharaj showed some stout resistance in the lower-order as the Proteas made 255 in their first innings.

It was just 21 runs shy of avoiding the follow-on, but it did at least mean there were only 47 overs left for them to survive in the final day’s play, and they comfortably batted themselves to safety on 106/2.

Captain Dean Elgar’s torrid tour continued as he was once again caught down the leg-side, sparring at a lifter, from opposite number Pat Cummins, having struggled to 10.

But his opening partner, Sarel Erwee, was looking solid, and Heinrich Klaasen, in the unaccustomed position of No.3, batted with a lot more positivity than in the first innings as they added 48 for the second wicket.

Klaasen was eventually bowled for 35 as Josh Hazlewood, making an impressive return from injury, snuck a superb reverse-swinger through his defences.

But Erwee fought through to 42 not out in 125 balls at the crease, Temba Bavuma being with him on 17 not out when the captains agreed to call it a draw with five overs remaining.

Earlier, the effort of Harmer and Maharaj, adding 85 for the eighth wicket either side of lunch showed that the fighting spirit in the Proteas side is probably still kosher.

Harmer was well-equipped for a long stay at the crease, deserving great praise for his defiant 47 in three-and-a-half hours, while Maharaj did his utmost to see South Africa past the follow-on score with his 53 off 81 balls. He got himself in first, and then backed his attacking game as he struck six fours and a six, pulling especially well.

South Africa had begun the final day on 149/6 and Marco Jansen extended his tenacious stay at the crease, batting for more than an hour-and-a-half in scoring 11 off 78 balls before edging part-time off-spinner Travis Head to the wicketkeeper.

Hazlewood eventually broke South Africa’s resistance in an excellent spell after lunch. Using a hint of reverse-swing, he trapped Maharaj lbw and then bowled Harmer off the inside-edge, to finish with 4/48 in 23 overs.

Rain brings premature end to 2nd day; one supposes SA were not too unhappy 0

Posted on October 26, 2023 by Ken

Rain brought a premature end to the second day of the third Test between South Africa and Australia at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Thursday, which one supposes the Proteas won’t be too unhappy about because the home side had piled up a massive 475/4 in their first innings.

There can surely only be one winner of the match now, following Usman Khawaja’s epic 195 not out and Steven Smith’s impressive 104, and so losing 49 overs across the first two days takes time out of the game and plays into the Proteas’ hands.

Khawaja and Smith feasted on the South African bowling as they added 209 for the third wicket, continuing their phenomenal record of major partnerships. That laid the table, with Australia on 356/3, for Travis Head who came to the crease and added the spices with a punishing 70 off just 59 balls, ensuring a tired bowling attack had no respite.

Khawaja will no doubt be asking for just a few more overs in which to post his maiden Test double-century before Australia declare, and then another wretched battle for survival will begin for the Proteas batsmen.

Their bowling has been put to the sword on the first two days, albeit on a tough pitch for bowling: there is little pace, no sideways movement to speak of and the turn is slow, allowing the batsmen, especially Khawaja, the time to play off the back foot to great effect.

Smith did eventually fall after collecting 11 fours and two sixes in 192 balls, giving Keshav Maharaj a return catch when the left-arm spinner produced a bit more flight.

Maharaj has otherwise been poor, conceding 108 runs in 25 overs, while off-spinner Harmer has been putting more revs on the ball and asking more questions, but without reward. He has borne the heaviest burden on a dry pitch, bowling 31 overs and conceding 109 runs.

Fast bowler Anrich Nortje did not add to his two wickets on the first day, but he was again South Africa’s most impressive bowler. Unfortunately, his fellow pacemen could not follow his lead. Young left-armer Marco Jansen was not quite at his best, but continues to market himself as one of the brightest talents in international cricket, bowling a fine spell with the second new ball. Kagiso Rabada is out-of-sorts and has conceded 119 runs in his 28 overs. He did get the wicket of Head, albeit with a short ball that required a sharp catch by 12th man Rassie van der Dussen at deep square-leg.

Khawaja’s 368-ball innings, with 19 fours and a six, has been a super display of the craft of an opening batsman; he has shown great precision in both the selection and execution of his strokes and has put away the loose deliveries in elegant fashion.

A 50% winning record that hit all the targets 0

Posted on March 14, 2023 by Ken

It is not often that one can say a tour of Europe with a 50% winning record is a resounding success, but it is a fair evaluation that the Springboks have ended up hitting their targets for 2022.

It was after the Rugby Championship that I wrote a column saying we still did not know whether the Springboks would be genuine World Cup contenders next year as they were simply not clinical nor ruthless enough in finishing second to the All Blacks in a southern hemisphere competition that is no longer the gold standard for the global game.

There also did not seem to be much growth to their game and I ended with the hope that they would express themselves more in Europe.

It is with delight that I can now write that the Springboks have answered my questions in the affirmative.

That is despite losing to both Ireland and France. But both those defeats were by desperately narrow margins and it is fair to say that Ireland would have been beaten if South Africa had fielded a proper goalkicker, and France would surely have been seen off if Pieter-Steph du Toit had not received his unfortunate red card.

The Springboks played superbly in Marseille to dominate the World Cup favourites, and it was great to see the same ambition bear fruit the following weekend when they hammered Italy.

Last weekend’s win over England at Fortress Twickenham must rank somewhere on the hit parade of top Springbok wins, such was the all-round quality and sheer authority of their performance.

While the Springboks’ strength still undoubtedly lies in their magnificent pack – how incredible were they in the scrums? – perhaps the biggest surprise was the wonderful attacking intent shown by a backline missing their chief offensive organiser in Lukhanyo Am and playing with a relatively new, untested flyhalf in Damian Willemse.

While opposition teams might find a way to get around the physicality, defensive steel and aerial prowess of the Springboks, having that extra string to their bow in terms of the brilliant counter-attacking ability they have shown, makes them very tough to beat.

The Springboks now seem able to not only strangle or batter their opposition into submission, but also make the sharpest, most precise of surgical incisions into the heart.

Jacques Nienaber has done all this while still ensuring that he now has quality cover in all positions.

Perhaps the only negative from the end-of-year tour was the director of rugby, Rassie Erasmus, copping another ban for attacking the officiating at international level.

The Springboks’ relationship with the referees is at the lowest ebb since the dark days of the early 2000s, when they had a reputation for being the dirtiest, most ill-disciplined team in the game.

When Jake White took over the coaching reins in 2004, he knew the Springboks could only start getting fair treatment from the referees if they fixed that perception. The World Cup would never have been won in 2007 were it not for the hard work captain John Smit put in to win the referees over. Nowadays, charming the referee is considered one of the staple jobs of the captain.

The smart-arse in Erasmus may be entertaining the social media hordes and he is probably enjoying the cult status he is growing there. But the continual haranguing of the referees is hurting his team.

The saying goes that nobody ever ended a war by lifting up a sword. The talk of there being a conspiracy against the Springboks may or may not be justified, but railing against the officials is only going to make it worse.

As director of rugby, Erasmus needs to put personal desires aside and make sure the Springboks take the high road. The World Cup defence could depend on it.

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