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Ken Borland

Jansen scores precious runs & takes vital wickets 0

Posted on October 24, 2022 by Ken

Marco Jansen scored precious runs and took vital wickets to keep South Africa with a fingerhold on the game on the third day of the third Test against England at The Oval on Saturday.

Jansen top-scored with 30 in a dismal South African first innings of just 118 after they lost the toss and were sent in to bat on the first morning, but never got to the crease thanks to rain washing out the entire first day’s play and then the second day being cancelled as a mark of respect for the passing of the United Kingdom’s beloved Queen Elizabeth II.

The beanpole 22-year-old then bowled superbly to take 4/34 in 11 overs as England went to stumps on 154/7, leading by 36 runs. They were 84/2 at tea though, and Jansen’s left-arm pace, with handy late swing, inspired the Proteas to bowl themselves back into the contest.

He had earlier batted with defiant assurance after coming to the crease at a parlous 36/6. The fact that South Africa reached three figures was almost entirely due to the seventh-wicket partnership of 36 between Jansen and Khaya Zondo, who also resisted stoutly with 23 in more than an hour-and-a-half in his debut Test innings.

It was a crucial toss for England to win when play eventually got underway on the third morning under heavily overcast skies, with the England seamers getting precious movement off the pitch. But they bowled superbly, with outstanding accuracy, to get the most out of the conditions.

Ollie Robinson, consistently zeroing in on off-stump and moving the ball both ways, led the way with 5/49 in 14 overs, while Stuart Broad wrapped up the last bits of resistance with 4/41 in a superb display by the England pacemen.

Ollie Pope, one of The Oval’s favourite sons when playing for Surrey, batted with great positivity to score 67 off 77 balls and led England into a first-innings lead as, Jansen apart, the South African bowlers were poor at the start, bowling too short, too straight and too wide too often. But in the clatter of wickets after tea, Pope should have changed gear and tried to stick around, ensuring the Proteas were batted properly out of the game.

England captain Ben Stokes was even more at fault, falling for just 6 to Anrich Nortje as he played several wildly attacking strokes in the nine deliveries he faced.

Ben Foakes is the last remaining recognised batsman on 11 not out.

South Africa will still pay for their failure to bat for more than just 36.2 overs, but they will hope to limit the first-innings deficit to something around 50. They will also be hoping they come out to bat for the second innings with the sun shining.

Harmer returned with not much more than hope … now he’s in NZ 0

Posted on March 02, 2022 by Ken

Simon Harmer returned to South African cricket last year with not much more than hope that he would be able to make an international comeback too and be reunited with the precious green cap that was packed away in his debut Proteas kitbag in the Eastern Cape.

And now he is sitting in Christchurch, New Zealand, back in the Proteas camp for the first time since 2015. The prolific off-spinner had to go to some lengths to make sure the same cap he was given on his debut against the West Indies in Cape Town in January 2015 made the trip too.

“I’ve still got all my caps because my brother and I have a pact that we’ll have a beach-house together one day and all my memorabilia will be for the bar,” Harmer explained on Monday.

“My Test cap was in the bag I was given on my Proteas debut, but I was not sure it would ever see the light of day again. I had to get my mother-in-law to post it to Pretoria from Kenton-on-Sea.

“It was very nostalgic to see it again and it’s always something special when you get your new kit, all with the South African badge on it. I was like a kid on Christmas opening all the bags.

“I always aspired to play for South Africa, but being allowed to play cricket at home again, I was trying to keep my head down and focused on the Titans environment, while trying to get back into international cricket,” Harmer said.

The 32-year-old will probably still have to show the sort of patience that he is famous for with ball-in-hand because that long-awaited return to Test cricket is probably not going to happen on a Hagley Oval pitch that is seamer-friendly unless frontline spinner Keshav Maharaj is ruled out for some reason.

“The Hagley Oval is probably the greenest, quickest, best-bouncing pitch in New Zealand, so the chances of us playing two spinners are low,” Harmer admitted. “But I will just make sure that I am ready.

“I see myself as a supporting act to Kesh, who has done extremely well. So I will keep working hard, supporting the team and just trying to contribute however I can, whether that’s by playing good music in the changeroom, throwing balls or giving encouragement.

“I’m under no illusions, Victor Mpitsang [selection convenor] was transparent about how I fit into the whole structure, but I am here now and I will try and show what I’m about.

“I think I’ve matured a lot and I understand now what I need to do and how to go about things. When I first played for the Proteas I put so much pressure on myself, worrying what people thought and whether I was good enough. I’m a lot more comfortable in my skin now,” Harmer said.

The lack of interest in the Olympic golf competition is palpable 0

Posted on June 13, 2016 by Ken


The announcement of South Africa’s team for the golf component of the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro is now a month away and the lack of major interest is palpable for a sport that should give the country a chance of a precious medal.

The legendary Gary Player is the captain of South Africa’s team but the two-man outfit will be chosen purely on the basis of the world rankings on July 11. Because Branden Grace is the only available South African in the top-15, we will only be able to send two players.

The great pity is that Louis Oosthuizen, currently 14th, has withdrawn from Olympic contention, so the prospect of sending a third player in Charl Schwartzel and maybe even a fourth in Jaco van Zyl, falls away. Only countries with more than two players in the top-15 are allowed to send bigger teams.

Schwartzel has also made himself unavailable, joining the Australian Adam Scott in snubbing the Olympics.

Golf was always going to be a tough fit for an event based on such classical ideals as amateurism. Today’s top golfers care mostly about the paycheque and winning Majors, that’s what really counts for them.

But instead of harping on about why the sport shouldn’t be at the Olympic Games, here are a couple of suggestions that could make a gold medal more attractive to golfers.

Firstly, it’s going to take time.

Tennis only returned to the Olympics in 1988 and initially there seemed to be similar problems to what golf is experiencing. But now Novak Djokovic is going all out to win that gold medal and a small thing like the Zika Virus is not going to keep him away.

Roger Federer is going to play singles, doubles and mixed doubles for Switzerland, while Rafael Nadal has been given the honour of carrying Spain’s flag into the Maracana Stadium.

Secondly, to make it more enticing for golfers, why not make it into a team competition, rather than an individual strokeplay? We’ve seen what the Ryder Cup does to them, it’s one of the highlights of any European or American golfer’s career.

How about bringing an amateur component into the competition, teaming a country’s top two amateurs with their top two pros?

Or what about making the golf a mixed team competition?

One gets the feeling that the Olympic Games might be struggling to remain as one of the most important sporting events, hence their decision to extend invitations to global sports like golf and rugby, but they have to get the format right if these events are going to add to the spectacle and not detract from it.

Gauteng’s treasures mirror what SA cricket could look like 0

Posted on May 16, 2016 by Ken


It may take a long time for the whole procession of winners to come up for their trophies and certificates, but they are like precious treasure for them,  and the fact that awards dinners usually focus on the club levels that are so crucial to any sport means I like them.

One of my favourites is the Gauteng Cricket Board awards banquet, which was held this week at the Wanderers Club, because, for me, it mirrors what I imagine transformed cricket in South Africa should look like.

This is a union that, a few years ago, was suffering from such internal strife and mistrust that the different clubs across the colour divides could barely sit in the same room together. And yet, there they all were, clubs from Soweto, Greenside, Lenasia, Riverlea, Jeppe, Azaadville, Thokoza and Florida, all enjoying a festive, celebratory evening together, all driven by MC Joey Rasdien’s wonderful mix of wicked humour and stern admonitions to keep focused on the prizegiving.

The current leadership of the GCB, from president Thabang Moroe, to the board, CEO Greg Fredericks and the staff, deserve credit for how they have dug Gauteng cricket out of their off-field hole.

Their professional teams, the Gauteng Strikers and the Highveld Lions, continue to win trophies on the field, and the Lions’ victory in the Momentum One-Day Cup means they have now won all the domestic trophies (four in total) in the four seasons that Geoff Toyana has been coach.

I would like to pay special tribute to Toyana (and senior players like Stephen Cook and Neil McKenzie) because it would have been easy for the Lions to find themselves in a hole on the playing field.

Toyana has managed to keep an often fractious dressing room – the outer veneer of a happy team is misleading because there are some difficult personalities that rub each other up in the changeroom – focused and winning, which is no mean feat and speaks volumes for his man-management.

The awful cloud of matchfixing has also hung heavily over the team and seeing a handful of his players being investigated for corruption has been like a kick in the solar plexus for Toyana.

National call-ups and SA A duties have also taken key players in and out of the team, but Toyana has handled this as well and the Lions have remained a force to be reckoned with.

In roughly the same time period Russell Domingo has taken the Proteas from the top two in all three formats to sixth in Tests, third in ODIs and fourth in T20s.

Steps have to be taken to arrest this slide. I certainly believe South Africa has the players to return to the heights of 2012, so the issue has to be related to the leadership and management of the side.

Cricket South Africa could do worse than to think seriously about elevating Toyana to the national coaching job. I believe he is one of those rare coaches able to both groom young talent – think of how Temba Bavuma, Aaron Phangiso, Eddie Leie, Hardus Viljoen, Chris Morris and Kagiso Rabada have all made it into the national squad – and also to get the best out of wise old experienced players such as Cook, who is batting better and better, Alviro Petersen and McKenzie before he retired.

A player like Dwaine Pretorius has also blossomed under Toyana and the all-rounder, named the most valuable domestic player of last season by the SA Cricketers’ Association, is going to be knocking on the door for national honours as well.

A promotion for Toyana would allow Gauteng cricket to reflect on great success at both the upper and lower levels of the game, and they are certainly going to continue pushing the Titans hard for the honour of being South Africa’s premier franchise.

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