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Ken Borland



Critics that jeer the Proteas from their TV chairs must not be distracted 0

Posted on December 30, 2023 by Ken

Now that the painful Test series in Australia is over, the critics no longer need to sit in their chairs in front of the TV in the early hours of the morning and jeer the Proteas, and the anticipated extravaganza that the SA20 will be should distract attention anyway.

But one hopes what transpired in Australia is not forgotten, lost in the hurly-burly of the new T20 league and just the sheer volume of cricket and sport that constantly competes for attention. Let’s not forget that the Proteas also spent October and November in Australia, playing in the T20 World Cup, where they bowed out at the hands of minnows the Netherlands. The anger over that fiasco may have died down a bit, but the promise of a full review by Cricket South Africa has not been forgotten. The outcome of that review and the rebuilding strategies decided upon are now overdue.

The responsibility for making sure lessons are learnt from the 2-0 hiding (it surely would have been 3-0 but for rain) lies with the administrators, who now have the opportunity to ensure something good comes out of the ruins.

The current team and their coaches, plus the former players working as commentators in Australia, have all pinpointed the amount of domestic first-class cricket, as well as the standard, as being the main cause of the woeful performances of the Proteas lately. So that is surely where CSA need to start their autopsy.

CSA’s current executives inherited a house that was in drastic need of renovation and Proteas fans need to realise that there are no quick fixes at international level. But that is no excuse for inaction and CSA need to come up with definite plans that have the health of the Proteas – still by far their greatest source of income – as the greatest priority.

It is all very well if the next month is spent admiring the dazzling front garden of the house that is the SA20, but the fire that is raging in the kitchen needs some attention too.

Elgar looking forward to home & a juicy steak on the braai 0

Posted on December 30, 2023 by Ken

Proteas captain Dean Elgar says he is looking forward to getting home and enjoying a juicy steak on the braai following his team’s 2-0 hiding in the Test series against Australia, but at least some of the hurt and embarrassment was eased by the draw they managed to secure on the final day of the third Test in Sydney on Sunday.

South Africa came through the flames on Sunday, managing to stretch their first innings from 149/6 to 255, and then making 106/2 in their follow-on innings to deny the sizzling hot Australians a 3-0 sweep. They are not scores that would usually prompt satisfied celebrations, but this Proteas team needs small victories at the moment.

“We had a conversation last night where we said we could either lie down today and let Australia roll us, creating more embarrassment, or we could fight it out for the full final day,” Elgar said.

“It was really great to see how the team responded and there were a lot of learnings today. Being hurt and embarrassed probably go hand-in-hand, but maybe we feel that a bit less now. We showed a lot of fight and there were positive signs.”

Elgar must have felt like he was a piece of meat being braaied in the flames as he endured a miserable series, scoring just 56 runs in six innings.

“I could never get going in this series and the one time I did, I managed to run myself out. I can accept being caught down the leg-side twice, but three or four times highly irritates me. That’s something different. Generally there is a way you get out, and bowlers target that.

“Ten years into my Test career and now there’s something new. I’ll have to look at it. There have been a few conversations between me and the batting coach about some extra work.

“But for now I just want to get on a plane, go home, chill out, braai, go to the bush and play some golf. Taking as much time off as I want is what I need,” Elgar said.

The 35-year-old said he still has big ambitions, however, around the whole tricky business of fixing South Africa’s Test fortunes.

“There are four-day games in February before the two Tests against the West Indies. I still have the hunger and drive, no doubt. And I really believe there’s space for CSA to entertain motivating the players more who play this format.

“There’s room for discussion around compensation for the purest format, and we also need to play more games. At the moment the number of Tests is being stripped back and we are behind the pack,” Elgar pointed out.

Proteas secure draw to avoid last round of smarmy remarks 0

Posted on December 30, 2023 by Ken

The Proteas at least spared themselves one last round of smarmy remarks about their abilities as they secured a draw in the third and final Test against Australia at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Sunday.

Having already lost the series 2-0, South Africa needed to bat through the final day with 14 wickets in hand. Simon Harmer and Keshav Maharaj showed some stout resistance in the lower-order as the Proteas made 255 in their first innings.

It was just 21 runs shy of avoiding the follow-on, but it did at least mean there were only 47 overs left for them to survive in the final day’s play, and they comfortably batted themselves to safety on 106/2.

Captain Dean Elgar’s torrid tour continued as he was once again caught down the leg-side, sparring at a lifter, from opposite number Pat Cummins, having struggled to 10.

But his opening partner, Sarel Erwee, was looking solid, and Heinrich Klaasen, in the unaccustomed position of No.3, batted with a lot more positivity than in the first innings as they added 48 for the second wicket.

Klaasen was eventually bowled for 35 as Josh Hazlewood, making an impressive return from injury, snuck a superb reverse-swinger through his defences.

But Erwee fought through to 42 not out in 125 balls at the crease, Temba Bavuma being with him on 17 not out when the captains agreed to call it a draw with five overs remaining.

Earlier, the effort of Harmer and Maharaj, adding 85 for the eighth wicket either side of lunch showed that the fighting spirit in the Proteas side is probably still kosher.

Harmer was well-equipped for a long stay at the crease, deserving great praise for his defiant 47 in three-and-a-half hours, while Maharaj did his utmost to see South Africa past the follow-on score with his 53 off 81 balls. He got himself in first, and then backed his attacking game as he struck six fours and a six, pulling especially well.

South Africa had begun the final day on 149/6 and Marco Jansen extended his tenacious stay at the crease, batting for more than an hour-and-a-half in scoring 11 off 78 balls before edging part-time off-spinner Travis Head to the wicketkeeper.

Hazlewood eventually broke South Africa’s resistance in an excellent spell after lunch. Using a hint of reverse-swing, he trapped Maharaj lbw and then bowled Harmer off the inside-edge, to finish with 4/48 in 23 overs.

Proteas mend some of the holes in their leaky batting bucket 0

Posted on December 20, 2023 by Ken

The Proteas have managed to mend some of the holes in their leaky batting bucket and will go into the final session of the third Test against Australia with nine wickets in hand at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

Sarel Erwee (44 balls) and Heinrich Klaasen (21 deliveries) are both on 18 not out at tea as they took Souithy Africa to 46-1 at tea. A minimum of 32 overs are scheduled to be bowled after the break, with the deficit still 174 runs.

Captain Dean Elgar was once again caught sparring down the leg side, off opposite number Pat Cummins, for 10, bringing an end to another struggle at the crease.

Earlier, South Africa had narrowly failed to avoid the follow-on as they were bowled out for 255, 21 short, at 2pm in Sydney.

That they came so close was largely thanks to Simon Harmer and Keshav Maharaj in the lower-order, who showed tremendous resistance as they added 85 for the eigjth wicket.

Their stout effort provided a glimpse of what was possible on a reasonably good pitch if the top-order played with application and positivity, trusting their own games.

Harmer was well-equipped for a long stay at the crease, deserving great praise for his defiant 47 in three-and-a-half hours, while Maharaj did his utmost to see South Africa past the follow-on score with his 53 off 81 balls. He got himself in first, and then backed his attacking game as he struck six fours and a six, pulling especially well.

Although they ultimately failed to get to 276 to avoid the follow-on, it was just as important that Harmer and Maharaj took time out of the game, leaving Australia with just a small window of opportunity to bowl the Proteas out in their second innings.

South Africa had begun the final day on 149/6 and Marco Jansen continued his tenacious stay at the crease, batting for more than an hour-and-a-half in scoring 11 off 78 balls before edging part-time off-spinner Travis Head to the wicketkeeper.

The impressive Josh Hazlewood eventually broke South Africa’s resistance in an impressive spell after lunch. Using a hint of reverse-swing, he trapped Maharaj lbw and then bowled Harmer off the inside-edge, to finish with four for 48 in 23 overs, a superb comeback from injury.

Off-spinner Nathan Lyon then caught-and-bowled Kagiso Rabada (3) to end the innings.

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