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Ken Borland



Learning life lessons from golf 0

Posted on July 04, 2022 by Ken

One can learn so many life lessons from sport and I am convinced that more can be learned from golf than most other codes. My own golf is certainly a lesson in dealing with frustration and how to extricate oneself from seemingly unreachable positions.

But professional golf, especially the Majors, provides such human drama and, as in life, disaster or glorious success seem just as likely to occur on the next hole.

Last weekend in the PGA Championship at Southern Hills, Mito Pereira was one hole away from one of the most astounding Major triumphs. He had seemingly beaten off numerous, way more experienced and storied challengers, on a chaotic final day to stand on the 18th tee clinging to a one-stroke lead. All he needed was a par to become one of the rare rookies, playing just his second Major championship, to win on one of golf’s grandest stages.

The 27-year-old from Santiago, Chile, decided to go the aggressive route, and hit Driver. Except he made an awful swing and deposited his ball in the creek down the right, leading to a double-bogey. Not only was Pereira no longer at the top of the leaderboard, he wasn’t even in the playoff that would decide the fate of the Wanamaker Trophy, Justin Thomas eventually emerging as the champion.

When Pereira decided to take the risky route on the last, you could almost hear Sir Nick Faldo tearing his hair out in the commentary box. The man who famously made 18 pars to win the first of his six Major championships in the 1987 Open at Muirfield, could not fathom why the leader had not just played it safe.

It was a most frustrating end to what would have been a fairytale win. I have no doubt Pereira just went with Driver because it had worked before.

While sympathy for his cruel fate was the over-riding emotion, it does anger me when highly-talented sportspeople justify poor decision-making by saying things like “that’s just the way I play, that’s my game.”

Just as the rest of us have to adapt to the various challenges and frustrations of life, so sports stars have to adapt to their circumstances. Play the situation!

If you’re roaring to victory by four shots, or your team is 370/3 or 30-7 up, by all means be aggressive. But the truly great sports heroes are able to tailor their game to whatever the situation, or their team, requires in order to win.

For now, Pereira will be walking the Boulevard of Broken Dreams, but he certainly showed he has game and I will be surprised if he does not win on the PGA Tour, once he gets over this heartbreak. Most importantly, how he handled the devastating blow has been widely acclaimed and he fronted up to the media after his round when all he would have wanted was to go and hide away somewhere. Dealing with failure is another life lesson, of course.

Long-form sports, where the tension is gradually ramped up before it reaches a tremendous crescendo on the final day, are right up my street. Golf’s Majors, and especially the Ryder Cup, are still such compelling viewing even in an age where the cancer of instant gratification seems to reign supreme.

Golf can be just as slow as Test cricket, but the feeling of that tension building as you reach the final round is a bit like a Hitchcock horror movie – a masterful building of suspense.

Sport needs to have good stories, as well as the best players in the world in the limelight. How good was it to have an unknown like Pereira challenging for what would have been an incredible win in the PGA Championship?

Even though he was pipped in the end by one of the world’s best in Thomas, it was still wonderfully dramatic.

Test cricket can perhaps learn its own life lessons from golf. It can provide just as much drama, but it needs to be properly packaged, marketed and looked after by the ICC.

All change for the Sharks in both halfback positions 0

Posted on October 08, 2021 by Ken

It will be all change for the Sharks in both halfback positions as they begin their United Rugby Championship campaign overseas, following the announcement on Friday of their touring squad that is without Lionel Cronje but includes two scrumhalves on loan from the Free State.

The 32-year-old Cronje was on a short-term loan to the Sharks from Toyota Verblitz in Japan for the duration of the Currie Cup and his arrival saw coach Sean Everitt shift Curwin Bosch from flyhalf to fullback.

But Cronje’s departure means Bosch is likely to return to the number 10 jersey in which Everitt backed him so strongly before the Currie Cup. Boeta Chamberlain is the only other specialist flyhalf in the squad.

Veteran Springbok Ruan Pienaar has returned to the Sharks on loan from the Cheetahs and has moved to flyhalf quite often during games for Free State, but with the Sharks suffering an injury crisis at scrumhalf, Pienaar is likely to be backing up Sanele Nohamba. Tian Meyer has also made the trip from Bloemfontein to Durban on loan.

Everitt will be pleased to have locks Hyron Andrews and Ruben van Heerden back from injury, which will add depth to a crucial position that already features Gerbrandt Grobler, Le Roux Roets and Reniel Hugo.

Eighthman Phepsi Buthelezi will lead a squad that will relish taking on some fresh opposition, having butted heads many times back home with the Bulls and taking a severe beating in the Currie Cup final last weekend.

“The boys are up for the challenge, we have some experienced players who have played in the Pro16 before and have had a taste of European conditions, and we have coaching staff who have coached at the highest level. We’re all confident that we can do well overseas, we’ve taken a young squad mixed with some older heads with experience.
“It will be exciting to see what these guys can deliver against opposition that we don’t see too often, nor play against. The boys are excited about experiencing a new competition, the URC is a tough tournament that brings in new challenges and different opposition, but the guys are up for the challenge after a very good Currie Cup and a good year,” Everitt said.

Squad: Anthony Volmink, Yaw Penxe, Thaakir Abrahams, Marnus Potgieter, Werner Kok, Marius Louw, Jeremy Ward, Murray Koster, Rynhardt Jonker, Curwin Bosch, Boeta Chamberlain, Sanele Nohamba, Ruan Pienaar, Tian Meyer, Phepsi Buthelezi, Henco Venter, Thembelani Bholi, Celimpilo Gumede, Dylan Richardson, James Venter, Gerbrandt Grobler, Hyron Andrews, Le Roux Roets, Reniel Hugo, Ruben van Heerden, Thomas du Toit, Khutha Mchunu, Lourens Adriaanse, Ntuthuko Mchunu, Wiehahn Herbst, Khwezi Mona, Kerron van Vurren, Fez Mbatha, Dan Jooste.

CSA independent directors have not always furthered interests of the game; Interim Board hopes to change this 0

Posted on February 27, 2021 by Ken

The independent directors on Cricket South Africa’s board have not always furthered the best interests of the game in this country, but hopefully this time it will be different as nominations for those positions close on Friday.

The Interim Board currently in place is trying its utmost to ensure that the governance scandals that have rocked Cricket South Africa in recent years never happen again and those efforts centre around the independent directors. The Memorandum of Incorporation they are developing for CSA has two non-negotiable aspects that will empower those independent directors, according to one of the Interim Board members.

Firstly, the new board that will come into place in mid-April will comprise a majority of independent directors and, secondly, the chairman of the board must be an independent director as well. There will now be a clear split between the board and the Members Council, which comprises the provincial presidents.

The Members Council will elect a president who may sit on the board, but they will not be the chairman.

While the Interim Board are looking for “people of integrity and substance who are also cricket people”, the quality of the new independent directors will only be as good as the nominations received. Which is why the current board are anxiously awaiting Friday and hoping their advert on CSA’s website [https://cricket.co.za/item/336/Careers] draws some standout applicants.

What is also crucial is the quality of the nominations committee that will sift through the candidates and this has apparently been another area in which the Interim Board are ensuring they get the right people.

While acting CEO Pholetsi Moseki is doing a good job, the new board will also have to find a permanent CEO who can drive CSA’s renaissance as well as having standing at International Cricket Council level. The independent directors will drive that process.

Concerns through the team for Meyer ahead of quadrangular 0

Posted on May 04, 2016 by Ken

 

Fullback and flyhalf are the positions the public is talking about the most, but Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer will be equally concerned about lock, scrumhalf, centre and wing when he announces his squad on Saturday for the quadrangular series with Italy, Scotland and Samoa next month.

Flyhalf is actually one of the positions Meyer can rest easy over, with Morné Steyn making himself a certainty in the number 10 jersey with his great run for the in-form Bulls team.

South Africa are fortunate to have someone as talented as Pat Lambie as back-up, but a host of injuries have robbed Meyer of some key backline players. JP Pietersen, Jaco Taute and Frans Steyn are definitely out for at least the next month, while Juan de Jongh and Zane Kirchner have not played SuperRugby for some time.

That leaves some conundrums when it comes to the midfield combination and who will play fullback.

When Meyer first took over as Springbok coach, he chose Jean de Villiers as an outside centre and, given his polished display in the number 13 jersey in the Stormers’ return to winning ways last weekend, the national captain is likely to play there in the quadrangular series.

The Springbok management have given a big hint that 20-year-old Jan Serfontein is being lined up to make his Test debut inside the skipper as he has been withdrawn from the SA U20 team leaving today for the Junior World Championship in France. Robert Ebersohn has done much to make the Cheetahs serious SuperRugby contenders this year and is also an option but, despite his propensity to tackle way above his weight, he has still missed 31 tackles this season, the joint worst with Blues flyhalf Chris Noakes, according to rugbystats.com.au.

The other option is for De Villiers to play in the number 12 jersey he wore in the second half of 2012 and for JJ Engelbrecht to play 13. The Bulls youngster is almost certain to be in the squad, however, as he can also cover wing.

The back three is also a big problem for Meyer given the injuries to Pietersen, Taute, Frans Steyn and Kirchner. Bryan Habana, whose work rate and pace continue to impress, is the only certainty, while the coach might decide to move Francois Hougaard back to wing, given that the Bulls man has only recently returned from injury and has looked messy and off the pace at scrumhalf.

The other candidates for wing are Bjorn Basson, who could be favoured because of his tremendous ability in the air, Raymond Rhule, Lwazi Mvovo, Gio Aplon and Willie le Roux.

The latter two are also in the mix to be fullback. Meyer would be foolish to risk playing his regular number 15, Kirchner, given that he has not played any rugby in 10 weeks since having a finger operation.

But he could still pick an experienced international there by moving Lambie from flyhalf to fullback. Hopefully Meyer will also have the courage to consider playing Cheetahs magician Willie le Roux there, even if it is off the bench.

The Ulster-based Ruan Pienaar is likely to be the starting scrumhalf, with the pace on attack provided by Jano Vermaak a useful complementary attribute on the bench.

The second row is also going to be an interesting dilemma for Meyer. The great Bakkies Botha will be available, but the coach has already hinted that Pienaar and flank Francois Louw will be the only overseas-based players he will be calling on for the quadrangular.

The inconsistent Andries Bekker is not willing to play for the Springboks once he leaves for Japan – and is injured anyway – but Juandré Kruger will be available and is the obvious choice in the number five jersey, providing he is over the niggling injury that kept him from the field in the Springboks’ training camp this week.

Eben Etzebeth showed in his outstanding display for the Stormers last weekend that he will be able to fulfil the lineout general’s role as well, but if Bakkies is not going to be called up, the team might be stronger with Etzebeth at four.

Franco van der Merwe, so reliable for the Sharks this year, will then be the back-up number five.

The loose forward selection will inevitably be coloured by Meyer’s decision to once again ignore Heinrich Brüssow.

The Cheetahs openside flank has managed to con many critics that he is still as potent a fetcher as he was in 2009, but all the stats providers involved in SuperRugby show otherwise. He isn’t in the top 20 for pilfers on any of the stats sites, but where he does feature is in the top 10 for tackles made.

Meyer is right to be wary of unleashing Brüssow with northern hemisphere referees officiating and the rules of his trade much stricter these days, but contesting rucks is not the honey badger’s only skill. Brüssow is exceptionally strong for his size, has a great work rate and good ball skills and is hopefully not entirely out of Meyer’s plans, if even as an impact player.

It seems inevitable that the starting loose trio on June 8 against Italy in Durban will be Pierre Spies, Willem Alberts and Louw, with the bench spots contested between Marcell Coetzee, Arno Botha and new star Lappies Labuschagne.

Jannie du Plessis, Adriaan Strauss and Coenie Oosthuizen are bound to be the starting front row and Wiehahn Herbst is in line for his Test debut as reserve tighthead, with Chiliboy Ralepelle and Tendai Mtawarira the other reserves now that teams are compelled to have two props on the bench.

Bismarck du Plessis is in a similar position to Kirchner and should not be risked as he has not played a SuperRugby match the entire season. A run of three games for the Sharks after the June international window and Du Plessis should be ready to explode into Rugby Championship action having recovered properly from a serious knee injury.

Ralepelle will certainly not let the side down in the meantime, having shown accuracy at the lineout, great work rate and presence at the breakdowns for the Bulls this season.

What Meyer is not going to be conned into doing is playing flavours-of-the-month that may not be contenders for the next World Cup that is just 840 days away, no matter how vigorously their brilliance is debated in your local bar.

No more than a pair of new caps in Serfontein and Le Roux are worth betting on, but it should make fans happy that the Springbok coach can afford not to choose some of the other great talent laying around.

Probable squad – Pat Lambie, Willie le Roux, Bryan Habana, Lwazi Mvovo, Jean de Villiers, JJ Engelbrecht, Jan Serfontein, Robert Ebersohn, Francois Hougaard, Bjorn Basson, Morné Steyn, Ruan Pienaar, Jano Vermaak, Pierre Spies, Arno Botha, Willem Alberts, Lappies Labuschagne, Francois Louw, Marcell Coetzee, Juandré Kruger, Franco van der Merwe, Eben Etzebeth, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Flip van der Merwe, Jannie du Plessis, Wiehahn Herbst, Adriaan Strauss, Chiliboy Ralepelle, Coenie Oosthuizen, Tendai Mtawarira.

http://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2013-05-30-springbok-squad-preview-a-few-headaches-but-no-migraine-for-meyer#.Vys00IR97IU

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