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Ken Borland



One could tell Venter was poised for big things … and she delivers with Royal Cape win 0

Posted on June 07, 2024 by Ken

CAPE TOWN – Judging by her two previous appearances on the Sunshine Ladies Tour, one could tell young Gabrielle Venter was poised for big things and the 19-year-old duly delivered on Friday when she won the Standard Bank Ladies Open in a thrilling battle with the experienced Kylie Henry at Royal Cape Golf Club.

Venter had finished tied-fifth in the Dimension Data Ladies Pro-Am and second in the SuperSport Ladies Challenge earlier this season, and on Friday she showed her enormous talent and mettle by shooting a superb four-under-par 70 to finish on nine-under-par.

It was enough to overtake 37-year-old Henry, a two-time Ladies European Tour winner, who had led after the first two rounds but could only post a level-par 74 on the final day, finishing on eight-under.

While the victory might not have been a big surprise for followers of the Sunshine Ladies Tour, Venter said afterwards she had no inkling her maiden professional win was on the cards until she was on the 18th green.

“Honestly I was not focusing on the win at all because if you do that too much then you lose focus on the actual golf,” Venter said. “So I didn’t know what the scores were at all, I was just focused on my own game. I felt my game was in place to win, but if it didn’t happen then I would just wait for the next time.

“The first time I saw a scoreboard was when I was putting on 18, I missed the birdie putt and then you expect the best from your opponent and I was ready for a playoff with Kylie.”

While Henry had the misfortune to bogey the last two holes, she had played a full part in cultivating an exceptional final day in the R600 000 event. The Scotswoman recovered from a a double-bogey on the par-four first hole, while Venter made birdie to immediately catch up with the leader; Henry regained the sole lead with a birdie on the third hole and she matched Venter’s four on the par-five fifth.

The lead switched on the sixth hole, however, as Venter birdied the par-four and Henry dropped a shot. Both golfers birdied the par-five seventh, but they were level again when the Bloemfontein Golf Club representative three-putted the par-three eighth.

But she regained the lead with a birdie on the ninth, before Henry pulled level again with a birdie on the par-five 11th. Venter struck back with a birdie on the 12th, but another three-putt on a par-three followed as both golfers left the 13th green on nine-under-par.

Henry birdied the par-five 14th to lead again, but Venter’s birdie-bogey-par finish was enough to pip the Investec Order of Merit leader, who closed par-bogey-bogey.

While Venter’s pure ball-striking off the tee deserted her a bit in the closing stages, she made a lot of key putts and her short game was amazing. While the back nine was a little unkind to her, she showed impressive patience to pull off the win.

“It was quite a struggle on the back nine, but for the entire season my all-round game has been good. This win really means a lot to me because it puts me into a position to win the order of merit, which I really want to do.

“I will also take a lot of confidence into the co-sanctioned events – the SA Open and the Joburg Open – and I’ve learnt that every shot counts at this level. Now I know I can win here. This tour is a great tool to do well enough to be invited overseas and play against the best,” Venter said.

Emie Peronnin of France shared second with Henry after shooting a fantastic 70 that kept the pressure on the two leaders to not slip up.

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

Ngidi left out of previous game at SCG, but man-of-the-match in Perth, so who misses out v Pakistan? 0

Posted on January 27, 2023 by Ken

Lungi Ngidi was left out of the Proteas XI for their previous game at the Sydney Cricket Ground, but he is coming off a man-of-the-match performance against India in Perth, so South Africa’s selection team face something of a quandary for their crunch T20 World Cup meeting with Pakistan on Thursday.

The pitch for the comprehensive win over Bangladesh in Sydney was certainly slower than the one in Perth, where Ngidi absolutely revelled with figures of 4/29. But pace was still effective against Bangladesh, with Anrich Nortje taking 4/10. But spinner Tabraiz Shamsi also shone with 3/20, so conditions on the day could be the decider.

Ngidi admitted after his demolition job on India that he was by no means certain he would even be playing the match.

“I was a bit surprised, I’ve not played much in this World Cup, so to come in on the day and perform against India … I couldn’t have asked for a better day,” Ngidi said.

“I’m very happy and it is probably one of my best performances. You could see there was pace in the pitch. The plan was to not give any width and try to keep it as tight as possible. Dig it into the wicket.”

South Africa will also be very happy with the way all-rounder Wayne Parnell is performing, and he also enjoyed himself against India with 3/15 in his four overs.

“It was about hitting good areas. Sometimes you can get carried away with bowling short. Personally, it was just trying to hit the top of the stumps and keep things simple.

“We have a group of bowlers who are all capable of winning games. Each of us believes that and we know someone can step up on any given day,” Parnell said.

South Africa also know that if they beat Pakistan, then their semifinal place is almost certainly secure because they will have seven points and only one of India or Bangladesh, who play each other on Wednesday, can get to eight points if they win both their remaining matches. Zimbabwe would have to beat both the Netherlands and India, and substantially improve their nett run-rate, to finish on seven points and edge out the Proteas.

Boks keep their wits about them in 1st half, but not for long enough 0

Posted on September 26, 2022 by Ken

The Springboks showed that a week is a long time in rugby as they lacked the sharpness and nous of the previous weekend and were well-beaten 35-23 by the All Blacks at Ellis Park on Saturday.

Here are four key talking points.

Keeping their wits about them in the first half

As one wag pointed out, on a wild night at Ellis Park, there had already been one fight in the main grandstand before any points were scored. But plenty happened in the opening 20 minutes. The Springboks had to weather an early storm with 14 men as Damian Willemse was yellow-carded after eighthman Ardie Savea broke into the 22 after a clever crosskick by Richie Mounga.

Jesse Kriel, who always has to fight so hard for a starting berth these days, lasted just 10 minutes before knocking himself senseless trying to tackle Caleb Clarke, stumbling around like a new-born antelope before quickly being taken off the field. Pieter-Steph du Toit broke clear but was stopped just short and Lukhanyo Am was held up over the line by tremendous All Blacks defence.

The Springboks kicked a penalty to set up a lineout deep inside the New Zealand 22, but Joseph Dweba’s throw was skew.

By the 33rd minute, though, the All Blacks were 15-0 up and South Africa showed great composure to go into halftime only 10-15 behind thanks to Lukhanyo Am’s brilliant try and a 54m penalty by Handre Pollard.

Scrums and lineouts shaky and kicking game absent

The things that worked so well for the Springboks in Nelspruit last weekend, did not feature strongly in their game at Ellis Park, which is mostly why they lost.

It started with shaky set-piece execution, with New Zealand awarded a couple of free kicks at scrums and the Springbok lineout losing a couple of balls.

The kicking game which had put the All Blacks under so much pressure at Mbombela was strangely not utilised as much or as effectively on Saturday. It allowed the All Blacks to settle into a much better rhythm and for long periods they imposed their expansive game-plan on the Springboks.

It was little surprise when Malcolm Marx replaced Joseph Dweba at hooker on the half-hour and Steven Kitshoff came on for Ox Nche five minutes later.

The wisdom and wonder of Lukhanyo Am

South Africa’s outside centre was magnificent. He crossed the tryline three times himself, only one of his scores being allowed, and his break to put Makazole Mapimpi away in the second half was majestic. The try was controversially disallowed due to obstruction around the halfway line by Marx, but he seemed to be far away from where Am actually cut the line. It would have allowed the Springboks to level the scores at 18-18 on the hour mark, but instead New Zealand pulled 21-13 ahead.

Am, the defensive organiser of the backline, consistently made great decisions with ball-in-hand and his stepping, vision and acceleration were superb to behold.

Rieko Ioane shows he is class too

Ironically, given how well Am played, it was his opposite number Rieko Ioane who took the man of the match honours.

He was outstanding too, being the main cog in the All Blacks’ attacking efforts that saw them get the ball wide to great effect. They found plenty of space and reward out there, and Ioane sparked an excellent backline effort with his incisive running, especially from deep, and great hands.

He made Ian Foster’s team look like the All Blacks of old at times.

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