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Ken Borland



Buccaneering SA20 trio return to 4-day action for Lions 0

Posted on February 21, 2024 by Ken

Ryan Rickelton, Wiaan Mulder and Mitchell van Buuren will all return to four-day action for the DP World Lions on Wednesday, fresh from their buccaneering batting exploits in the SA20, but the Pride will also welcome back two vital backroom members of the triumphant Sunrisers Eastern Cape to the team for their meeting with the Gbets Rocks in Johannesburg.

DP World Lions head coach Russell Domingo played a key role, as batting coach, in the Sunrisers claiming back-to-back SA20 titles at the weekend, and now he is eager for our Pride to seal a place in the four-day final.

Also returning to the DP World Wanderers Stadium is national Test captain Temba Bavuma, who is over his injury problems and, even though he played just the one game for the Sunrisers, scoring 33, he had an important effect on the happy mood and outstanding culture of the champions’ camp.

Bavuma’s addition nicely makes up for the absence of our Lions’ leading run-scorer in the four-day competition this season, Zubayr Hamza, who is with the Proteas in New Zealand.

The Lions’ two strike bowlers, Tshepo Moreki and Duanne Olivier, are also involved in that Test series.

With Rickelton, Mulder and Van Buuren all consistently amongst the runs in the SA20, it is an in-form and confident home batting line-up that will take the field at the DP World Wanderers.

Rickelton was the leading run-scorer in the SA20 with 530 in just 10 innings for MI Cape Town, who were eliminated before the playoffs. The left-hander was at his best as he scored at a phenomenal strike-rate of 173.77.

Mulder was one of the main reasons the Durban Super Giants reached the final, his 297 runs putting him in the top-10. His tally included three half-centuries, while he scored at a blazing strike-rate of 157.14.

Van Buuren had a solid campaign with the Paarl Royals, making 221 runs at 31.57.

The DP World Lions go into the penultimate CSA 4-Day Series match in third place on the log, but they are just 0.12 points behind the second-placed Warriors and 11.48 points adrift of the leaders, the Titans. So a place in the final and even hosting that five-day match is well on the cards for our Pride.

“It was a great time with the Sunrisers and obviously wonderful to win the trophy again, but now my full attention is on the four-day prize,” Domingo said. “There are two big games ahead for the Lions and we’re obviously missing a few players in New Zealand.

“But it’s very lucky for us to have Temba back, he’s fit and ready to play again and very keen to score lots of runs. Wiaan Mulder is also back after he missed our last game. Both he and Ryan Rickelton had fantastic SA20 tournaments, Mitchell van Buuren did really well and Codi Yusuf bowled nicely too.

“Any cricket played ahead of the four-day restart is good and we’re lucky that we have a few players who have been involved in very intense cricket. They will certainly come in match-ready and I’m really pleased that the Lions guys mostly played very well in the SA20,” Domingo said.

Although the Boland team will be without key players in Shaun von Berg, Clyde Fortuin and Keegan Petersen, who are in New Zealand with the Proteas, most of the rest of their squad would have been able to plan with much forethought ahead of their trip to Johannesburg for the return of red-ball cricket. Fast bowler Hardus Viljoen is the only member of their squad who saw much SA20 action.

“The Malan brothers [Janneman and Pieter], Stiaan van Zyl and Hardus Viljoen – those are all players with international experience and we know the Rocks are a tough unit. They would have worked hard on their skills these last few weeks and they have a lot to play for too, it’s a big game for them as well,” Domingo said, referring to their log-position of sixth, which could leave them flirting with the relegation zone.

Paceman Lutho Sipamla, who has not played a four-day game for the Lions this season due to injury, has been named in the squad and seems almost ready to play, pending the outcome of nets and a fitness test on Tuesday.

DP World Lions squad – Dominic Hendricks (capt), Josh Richards, Temba Bavuma, Ryan Rickelton, Wiaan Mulder, Mitchell van Buuren, Wandile Makwetu, Bjorn Fortuin, Delano Potgieter, Malusi Siboto, Codi Yusuf, Muhammad Manack, Connor Esterhuizen, Lutho Sipamla.

Boks finally home, while franchises learn some home truths in Europe 0

Posted on November 04, 2021 by Ken

The Springboks are finally home after spending 14 weeks in a bio-secure bubble, having restored their pride with their epic win over the All Blacks in the last Rugby Championship Test, having pushed them to the brink in the previous match.

The world champions are also back at number one in the WorldRugby rankings, a quite remarkable achievement when one considers that, having not played since winning the World Cup in November 2019, they had to play the might of the British and Irish Lions and four Tests away from home against top three sides New Zealand and Australia.

The Springboks certainly deserve their rest now, until the end-of-year tour to the United Kingdom at the end of the month. Of course, half the team that beat New Zealand last weekend will already be heading off to the Northern Hemisphere, because they play for overseas clubs.

There are also, of course, four South African teams currently in Wales and Scotland, playing in the United Rugby Championship. Starting that tough new challenge away from home has been a bridge too far for the South African franchises with just one win from eight matches so far.

The struggles in the URC have further justified Springbok director of rugby Rassie Erasmus’s decision to look to the Northern Hemisphere for the bulk of the national squad, due to the poor state of the local game. For those who have been involved in South African rugby for a while, there are definite parallels with when we returned from isolation in 1992.

It took a while for the Springboks to adapt to where the game had moved on to, and the input of two overseas-educated coaches in Ian McIntosh and Kitch Christie.

We can blame Covid for the recent isolation that meant no international competition for our domestic teams for nearly 20 months.

This has been exacerbated by the talent-drain from these shores to those self-same European teams that has been going on for several years now. This means we are currently trying to find our feet in a new competition, overseas, against some of the leading clubs in the world, with weakened teams who have been denied international competition for more than a year-and-a-half.

The damage done by the talent-drain and Covid to our game seems to have been underestimated in many quarters, and this is reason enough to be a little patient when it comes to expecting our four franchises to contend with the top URC teams.

The size of the fight in the dog is going to have to come to the fore over the next fortnight, because matching the skills that the European teams are executing at high tempo is not just going to happen overnight.

Tempo and skill-set are two factors that have dogged our local rugby players for a while, which explains why the Springboks choose so many overseas-based players, and even then use something of a dumbed-down game-plan to ensure success.

This is not to say we don’t have skilful players. Just think of Lukhanyo Am and his ridiculous behind-the-back, reverse-flip pass to set up the first try last weekend, or Cheslin Kolbe and how we missed his dazzling feet. Elton Jantjies stamped his mark on the final minutes against the All Blacks by showcasing his excellent skills as well, and Lood de Jager is a lineout practitioner of great expertise.

But they are the outliers and one can only praise Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber for his pragmatism in recognising not just the strengths of his team, but also their weaknesses, and building his strategy around that.

Improvement needed if today’s pride & joy is to remain 0

Posted on December 06, 2016 by Ken

 

The Standard Bank Proteas need to continue improving if the sense of pride and joy that surrounds the team today is to remain in the long-term, coach Russell Domingo said upon the squad’s victorious return from their Test series triumph in Australia.

The Proteas not only became only the second team in over a hundred years to win three successive Test series in Australia, but they also completed an amazing turnaround in fortunes from last season’s woes, beginning with the series win over New Zealand and then the historic 5-0 whitewash of the Aussies in the limited-overs series. But Domingo, who has come through a tough time personally with many calling for his head, wants the Proteas to keep pushing on.
“The team is in a good space at the moment and we have to treasure and nurture that because things can change very quickly in this game. The belief is slowly coming back into the team, but we are not yet where I feel we could be, although we’re heading in the right direction,” Domingo said.
Chief among the coach’s concerns is the inconsistency of the batting. Although South Africa’s batsmen scored five centuries and five half-centuries during the three-match series, only Quinton de Kock and Faf du Plessis averaged over 40.
“The batting, in particular, is an area we need to improve. We were 40 for three a lot and even 150 for six in the last game. Players are putting in big performances, but not consistently. A guy would score a hundred and then have a couple of Tests with no runs. Quinton was the one guy to find a rich vein of form, but for the rest there was no follow-up after they scored big runs. We’ve identified that and will work hard at it,” Domingo said.
Australia scored just one century in the series, by the impressive Usman Khawaja in the final Test in Adelaide, which Australia won by seven wickets. But that defeat was more about the Proteas having just run out of legs and intensity, having given their absolute all in winning the first two Tests.
Although the chance of an historic double-whitewash passed the Proteas by, captain Du Plessis said he was more than satisfied with a 2-1 series win.
“We set high standards and obviously we wanted a 3-0 win, but I’m exceptionally happy with a 2-1 win. If you had offered me 2-1 at the start of the series, I would have bitten your whole arm off for that result. If there was one specific incident that was more important than any others in winning us the series, it was the turnaround in Perth.
“The belief that the team took from that session, sparked by resilience, was out of this world and it took the team to a new level of confidence. It’s probably the best session I’ve been part of on a cricket field, the way everyone stood up after losing Dale Steyn, which was incredibly hard, the whole team felt it, but somehow they just made it possible to bounce back.
“After Dale’s injury, everyone thought we were out of the contest and I think we shocked Australia by playing some scarily good cricket,” Du Plessis said.
Despite the magnitude of the triumph, South Africa are still only fifth in the Test rankings, with Australia third, and the Proteas are going to have to keep winning if they are to return to the number one spot, preferably starting with a 3-0 victory over Sri Lanka in December/January.
“Going up the rankings is a goal of ours but it won’t just happen, we need to take really small steps to get back to number one. But all the signs are there that we can get back there; Sri Lanka are a good team, they’re playing well, but if we beat them then I reckon we’ll be close to number two,” Du Plessis said.
When Domingo and Du Plessis were asked to come up with reasons for the remarkable resurgence in the Proteas’ fortunes, the coach came up with “unity” and “resilience”, while the skipper mentioned “energy” and “vision”.
“It’s been a combination of things and getting a few players back that we have missed a lot, like Vernon Philander and Dale Steyn, has made a massive difference. But the unity amongst the guys and the realisation of how important it is to play for your country has been very important. A few players have also come back into form, the team as a whole has got their confidence back. This team prides itself on their resilience,” Domingo said.
For Du Plessis, it goes back to the culture camp the squad had in August.
“We made some obvious goals because we weren’t happy with where we were as a team. We had that weekend away and we took a hard look at ourselves with brutal honesty. Ninety percent of our success is due to the rebirth in energy and vision from that camp and the results speak for themselves. We wanted to make sure our team culture was strong, that all of us were on the same boat and making sure we are going in the right direction,” Du Plessis said.
The Proteas captain will now await the date for his appeal hearing for ball-tampering, which is expected to be confirmed this week, but Du Plessis maintained his strong stance that he is innocent of any wrongdoing.
Whatever the outcome of that hearing, at which Du Plessis will now have proper South African legal representation, it will not detract from the fact that he led South Africa to one of their greatest triumphs – beating Australia in Australia is the stuff childhood dreams are made of.

http://sponsorships.standardbank.com/groupsponsorship/News-and-Media/Proteas:-Improvement-needed-if-today’s-pride-&-joy-is-to-remain

Bursting with pride over Faf 0

Posted on December 01, 2016 by Ken

 

I think it’s fair to say most South African cricket fans almost burst with pride when Proteas captain Faf du Plessis produced the most magnificent riposte to all his detractors with his century on the first day of the third Test against Australia in Adelaide.

Under huge pressure for a week – hounded by the International Cricket Council’s desire for a scapegoat and persecuted by the Australian media, who even went so far as to launch a physical assault through the pushing-and-shoving goon with a microphone, Will Crouch – Du Plessis played an innings of immense mental strength, skill and determination as he rescued the South African innings from total collapse in tough conditions.

The Adelaide airport incident was undoubtedly a set-up because there were go-pro cameras stationed ahead of time on the walkway and all media were well aware that Du Plessis was not allowed to comment anyway as per ICC rules.

The South African camp believes the original ball-tampering video was placed in the media’s hands by Cricket Australia and, desperate for something to deflect from the massive problems in their cricket, the media pushed it to the limit.

At which point the ICC stepped into the fray and the song-and-dance about the Proteas captain doing two entirely legal things at the same time – eating a sweet and using his saliva to shine the ball – and something the Australian team themselves have sportingly admitted they do as well, turned into a full-scale operetta.

The ICC’s behaviour in this matter has been truly pathetic and to hear CEO David Richardson whingeing on Friday about how disappointed he is that Du Plessis is appealing, as is his right, his guilty verdict astonished me.

Richardson is a trained lawyer and yet he thinks Du Plessis has been fairly treated when the ICC laid the charge and appointed one of their own employees, match referee Andy Pycroft, as the judge, with other employees, the umpires, as the star witnesses. To make matters worse, because the ICC wanted to rush the whole process to completion before the start of the Adelaide Test, Du Plessis was denied the right to have the legal representation he wanted, being unable to fly them in from South Africa in time.

I know this all happened in Australia, but to make it an absolute kangaroo court was taking things too far.

If Du Plessis is guilty of an offence, what about all those cricketers who put sunscreen on and then wipe their sweat on the ball? The infused mixture is a wonderful ball-shiner.

What about the ubiquitous practice of chewing gum and then using your saliva to polish the ball?

If Richardson really wants to uphold the integrity of the game then perhaps he should be applying his mind to the blatant shortcomings in the laws of cricket.

Du Plessis’ tremendous performance in adversity has had even more people wondering if he should not continue as captain even once AB de Villiers returns.

Personally, I rate Du Plessis as the more natural captain and probably someone who wants the job more. But you cannot just ditch De Villiers as he has done little wrong as captain and also has a wonderful cricket brain. Convenor of selectors Linda Zondi has said all the right things in this regard.

I believe you have to leave that sort of decision to De Villiers himself and, with his workload issues, he may well decide to hand over the reins to Du Plessis.

The only other issue is that Du Plessis might have been the batsman earmarked to make way for De Villiers, but you surely cannot leave him out after his Adelaide masterpiece?

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    Persevere in your service as Christ did – through obstacles, disappointment and adversity, and never give up hope.

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