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Ken Borland



Only human for Maphaka to feel pressure of expectation, but instead he flourished 0

Posted on April 05, 2024 by Ken

Expectation can be an unkind burden for young cricketers and it would only have been human for Kwena Maphaka to feel the pressure during the ICC U19 World Cup hosted by South Africa. But instead the DP World Lions rising star showed his mettle by flourishing and enjoying a spectacular tournament.

The St Stithians pupil was named the Player of the Tournament for his 21 wickets, just one short of the all-time record at the event. Bangladesh spinner Enamul Haque took 22 wickets in 2004, but one record Maphaka did claim for himself was for three five-wicket hauls in a single edition of the U19 World Cup, which no-one had managed before.

He is the fourth South African to receive the honour, the first being current DP World Lions men’s captain Dominic Hendricks in 2010. Aiden Markram (2014) and Dewald Brevis (2022) are the others to bring the individual title back to Mzansi.

Left-arm fast bowler Maphaka is a prodigy, of that there is no doubt, and the 17-year-old was playing in his second junior world cup. He first played for the St Stithians first XI in Grade IX, so he has had to deal with expectation from a very young age.

“I’ve learnt how to deal with it quite well, there is always expectation. It’s getting higher as I get older, but I’m just trying to grow as a cricketer at the same pace,” Maphaka says.

“On a personal level I was quite happy with the tournament, but it was unfortunate that we did not go through from the semifinals and win as a team. But that’s cricket.

“I guess I just hit a run of form and when you’re in that purple patch you feel confident and that there’s not much that can stop you. The games were all so close together and I was in good mental places, so I just ran with it,” Maphaka says.

Having fulfilled his considerable potential at junior level, the matric student will be prioritising his academics in 2024, but he is already part of the DP World Lions men’s squad. He made his debut for them on November 30 at St George’s Park, taking four wickets in the match against the Warriors. He had already made his first-class debut back in June last year when he was fast-tracked into the SA A team in Sri Lanka by Test coach Shukri Conrad.

Maphaka is sure to still pop up from time-to-time this year as he begins to transition into senior cricket.

“This year my first priority is to pass matric, so my focus will be on school, that’s my main goal. From next year onwards I can focus on domestic cricket and I hope to make my name with the DP World Lions. Then maybe in a couple of years I will be fortunate enough to represent the Proteas,” Maphaka says.

By then he could quite possibly be running the joint, just like his predecessor at St Stithians and the DP World Lions, the great Kagiso Rabada.

DP World Lions bowling coach Allan Donald sees some similarities between Maphaka and Rabada, who he coached in his first few months at international level with the Proteas.

“You get these youngsters who you just absolutely know have got it and they’ve got the jewels to go the whole way, like KG. The first time I saw Kwena I could see he had everything – he’s fit, strong and athletic; he has a good action and a magnificent wrist.

“We saw in the U19 World Cup that he was bowling late-inswinging full balls to the right-handers, knocking over the stumps at pace. He has all the credentials to be a wonderful prospect. Every now and then you get a freakish cricketer and Kwena is one of those.

“It’s a privilege to be involved with him and I look forward to him joining us full-time when he’s finished school. He is just a gem and the world is at his feet,” Donald said.

Dawson has good reason to feel delighted after day of very bad weather at Fancourt 0

Posted on March 11, 2024 by Ken

GEORGE, Western Cape – After a day of very bad weather at Fancourt, with strong gales and torrential downpours, Ana Dawson was the only golfer to finish under-par after the first round of the Dimension Data Ladies Pro-Am and she had good reason to feel delighted.

Dawson, who hails from the Isle of Man, played the Outeniqua course in one-under-par 71 and so ended the opening day one stroke ahead of another three international golfers who finished on level-par: Germany’s Carolin Kauffmann, Scotland’s Kylie Henry and Englishwoman Lauren Taylor.

If the vile weather did not dampen Dawson’s mood then even a three-putt for bogey at the par-four last hole was not going to do it either.

“It was really hard weather and with all the delays, keeping your round going was probably the trickiest bit. It’s always a shame to three-putt the last, it leaves a bit of a sour taste, but I’m still very happy,” the 22-year-old Dawson said.

“If someone had offered me one-under today at the start of the round I would definitely have taken it. I had a nice draw because Outeniqua is a bit shorter and a bit more forgiving, but you still have to play well. I honestly hit just one bad shot today, but I struggled on the greens.”

Dawson enjoyed a fast start with a birdie on the par-four first hole, but she had to stay very patient thereafter as three pars were followed by a bogey on the par-four fifth. She birdied the sixth and eighth holes, but then dropped a shot at the ninth to turn in one-under.

The back nine was more grind with birdies on the 10th and 14th holes, but another bogey on the par-three 12th.

Dawson said the tough conditions actually suited her because it allowed her to take her time.

“It was quite slow out there, but in a way that was nice because it meant I didn’t have to try and rush, which has happened to me in the past. I felt I didn’t need to hurry at all today and that helped me. I really took my time and made sure everything was ready and right before I played,” Dawson said.

Henry and Taylor both took on the Montague course that is rated as being more difficult.

Henry was excellent on the front nine, going out in two-under, but the back nine bit back as she bogeyed three of the first four holes. A birdie on the par-five 18th was a great way to end though, restoring her to level-par.

Taylor recovered brilliantly from a disastrous front nine. After three pars, a double-bogey seven at the fourth would have knocked the wind out of her sails. She also dropped shots on the sixth and ninth holes, partially offset by a birdie on the par-three eighth, but the 29-year-old was three-over at the turn.

But Taylor stormed to three birdies in the first five holes of the back nine, not dropping any more shots on her way back to the clubhouse.

Kiera Floyd and Lejan Lewthwaite are the leading South Africans, tied in fifth place on one-over-par with Alexandra Swayne of the U.S. Virgin Islands.

TV networks’ bias under scrutiny as Marnus slips from the net 0

Posted on November 07, 2023 by Ken

The incident on the opening day of the third Test between the Proteas and Australia where South Africa were convinced they had caught Marnus Labuschagne in the slips, only for the batsman to slip from the net, thankfully has not had a major bearing on the game, but it did highlight an area of cricket – and many other sports – where the authorities need to consider the role of host broadcasters.

Labuschagne enjoyed a huge slice of luck when he was on 70 and he edged left-armer Marco Jansen low to first slip, where Simon Harmer seemed to have scooped up a fine catch.

Neither Labuschagne nor the umpires were 100% convinced though, with third umpire Richard Kettleborough being called into play, the soft signal being out. Having watched numerous replays, the Englishman felt the ball had touched the ground, but a conclusive replay, zoomed in from the front, was strangely absent.

Labuschagne survived, and five minutes later, the crucial replay suddenly emerged and showed that Harmer did get his fingers under the ball. Fortunately, the South African-born batsman could only add nine more runs before the heroic Anrich Nortje got him caught behind.

The incident raised suspicions about the role of host broadcasters in the officiating of the game, and it later emerged that the third umpire only had access to the world feed camera shots and the front-on slow-mo replay was exclusively a Seven Network shot. But how that footage then appeared on the SuperSport feed was not explained.

One must credit Cricket Australia for their rapid response to the incident, with CEO Nick Hockley saying they will conduct a review on whether the third umpire should have access to footage from both broadcast rights holders.

“The broadcasting of cricket is probably the most complicated of any of the major sports,” Hockley said. “We have a huge number of cameras. It was really, really fine margins. The match referees and umpires are making the best calls they can with the information they have available.”

Indeed, Kettleborough and the onfield umpires, Chris Gaffaney and Paul Reiffel, should not be blamed for this controversy. It was an exceptionally tough decision for Kettleborough to make based on the incomplete picture he was given.

The International Cricket Council has been pretty good at removing the frustration of clearly wrong decisions from the game, and I would say the DRS is a roaring success. They will surely now be contemplating the perceptions of bias among host broadcasters.

As South Africans, we need to acknowledge the anger Australians felt when SuperSport targeted their cameras on them in 2018/19, while who can forget Indian captain Virat Kohli’s furious outburst (strangely unpunished) into the stump mics a year ago at Newlands.

And this is not just a cricket problem. Rugby has been particularly under the spotlight, with South African fans, already feeling there is a vendetta against them, infuriated by the number of times there has been incomplete footage of a TV referral that seemed to be going the way of their team. Like what happened with France’s matchwinning try against the Springboks a couple of months ago.

It’s a bit like an arms race, with broadcasters doing nefarious things on a tit-for-tat basis because they feel ‘their’ team were on the receiving end when they went overseas. But moulding the outcome of key decisions is clearly unsporting and we don’t want the match officials to become merely ornamental in nature.

If the current trend continues, the legitimacy of the sport we watch could end up having a wound that a mere plaster won’t fix.

Would an association of sports broadcasters which has a clear code of conduct be the answer? Any broadcaster who has been found to engage in favouritism could be stripped of their membership and not allowed to bid for TV rights.

There are bound to be all sorts of contractual, legal and practical obstacles to overcome, but would neutral executive producers/directors be the answer?

Both the ICC and WorldRugby managed to phase in neutral officials a long time back, which seemed unlikely to be possible at one stage, so where there is a will (and there needs to be one!) there is a way.

CSA need a batting crisis plan that includes current players & coaches 0

Posted on September 04, 2023 by Ken

A dismal year of batting has come to an end for the Proteas, in which they reached previous lows achieved before only by the Bangladesh team as it first made its way in Test cricket, and Cricket South Africa urgently needs to implement some crisis planning that includes current players and coaches, and those who have recently retired.

South Africa were bowled out for less than 200 in seven successive Test innings, that dismal run only coming to an end in the second innings in Melbourne as a last-wicket stand of 27 between Lungi Ngidi and Anrich Nortje saw them stagger to 204 all out.

Only one team has had worse runs: Bangladesh with 12 scores of less than 200 in a row in 2001/02, just a year after they played their first Test, and eight in a row in 2018.

There were other unwanted statistics: South Africa’s batting average of 24.1 runs-per-wicket in the calendar year is the fourth-worst ever and scoring just two centuries and 19 fifties in 2022 is also amongst the top-three of meagre returns.*

The declining quality of domestic cricket has been fingered by many as being to blame for the poor quality of the Proteas batting, but the only people who will really know if this is true or not are those intimately involved with the local game. Coaches like Robin Peterson and Vinnie Barnes, current players like Dean Elgar, Rassie van der Dussen, Temba Bavuma and Aiden Markram, former greats like Faf du Plessis, Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers, even a youngster like Kyle Verreynne who has just come through the domestic system, should all be in the room and canvassed for their opinions.

It is with reluctance that I say the bean counters at CSA will also have to be involved because financial constraints have undoubtedly caused some of the problems.

We also need to have an urgent look at the standard of our pitches. Surfaces that favour pace bowlers have been pretty stock-standard in South African cricket for a long time and traditionally the country has produced some great fast bowlers.

But our depth is not as good as many believe – the pickings are fairly slim once you go past the fabulous foursome currently playing for the Proteas. One of the reasons for this is that our domestic pitches offer too much assistance – whether through excessive seam movement or inconsistent bounce – and our bowlers don’t learn the skills and game-plans required to do well on the better batting surfaces generally found at international level.

Australia have probably the deepest stocks of quality pace bowlers because they grow up learning their trade on good batting wickets, with pace and bounce that reward good bowling.

And that helps their batsmen, because they are always facing quality attacks at home as they come through the system.

The lack of depth in quality in our domestic attacks also affects the development of our batsmen – they are not tested for long enough periods and dodgy technique is not exposed and punished as it should be. Being able to build an innings and withstand pressure bowling from both ends for long periods are weaknesses we are currently seeing at Test level.

Unfortunately, when it comes to systemic issues, there are no quick fixes. The kneejerk reaction of getting an entirely new top six in is unlikely to work because that removes what little experience there is and the Proteas will start at zero again.

Unless CSA really look after, nurture and prioritise the level below the Proteas, then these unusually low batting returns, which are happening in all three international formats, will become the norm.

It is also going to require CSA undoing some of the policy decisions made in recent years that have weakened the domestic game.

*Stats courtesy of Sampath Bandarupalli of CricInfo

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    John 15:16 – “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.”

    Our Christian experience begins when the Holy Spirit starts working in our imperfect lives. An inexplicable restlessness and a feeling that nothing can give you the satisfaction you yearn for, could be the Spirit working in you.

    Even when God calls you and chooses you to serve him, there may be inner conflict and confusion because you are not always willing to do what God is asking of you.

    But this inner struggle is part of spiritual life … Commit yourself to God and open yourself to the inflowing of the Holy Spirit.

    It is by great grace that you were chosen by God to serve him and to live to the honour and glory of his name. Surrender unconditionally to the Lord and you will discover that your life gains new meaning and purpose.



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