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Ken Borland



Boucher confirmed as new Mumbai Indians coach, a most suitable next step 0

Posted on October 28, 2022 by Ken

When one leaves the job of national cricket coach “to pursue other opportunities in line with his future career and personal objectives”, then the IPL would be a most suitable next step and Proteas coach Mark Boucher was duly confirmed as the Mumbai Indians new head coach on Friday.

Boucher announced earlier this week that he would step down as the Proteas coach after the T20 World Cup next month in Australia, and the “pursue other opportunities” reason was attributed to Cricket South Africa CEO Pholetsi Moseki in their statement.

“It’s a pleasure to welcome Mark Boucher to Mumbai Indians. With his proven expertise on the field and off it as a coach, guiding his team to numerous victories, Mark will add immense value to MI and take forward its legacy,” Akash M. Ambani, the chairman of Reliance Jio Infocomm, the owners of the franchise, said.

Boucher has overseen a steady growth in the Proteas T20 team, such that they are now ranked third in the world and are considered dark horses for the World Cup crown in Australia.

For Boucher, taking the coaching reins at a franchise as powerful as Mumbai Indians, the most successful IPL team in history with five titles since 2013, can almost be considered a step-up, especially in terms of salary.

But the last couple of years have been rough for Mumbai and there will be pressure for Boucher to turn around their fortunes as quickly as possible, because they missed the playoffs in 2021 and finished last this year.

“It is an honour and privilege for me to be appointed as head coach of Mumbai Indians,” Boucher said. “Their history and achievements as a franchise clearly put them up there as one of the most successful franchises in all of world sport.

“I look forward to the challenge and respect the need for results. It’s a strong unit with great leadership and players, and I look forward to adding value to this dynamic unit.”

Reports had suggested Boucher was being lined up for the MI Cape Town coaching gig in the inaugural SA20 early next year, but Australian Simon Katich has been appointed to head that sub-franchise, with Hashim Amla as the batting coach.

Boucher replaces Mahela Jayawardena as IPL coach, with the Sri Lankan great now looking after all three sub-franchises in the IPL, SA20 and Emirates T20 for Reliance as global head of performance.

From a workaday batsman in SA to top-class star angling for NZ place – the Devon Conway story 0

Posted on April 07, 2020 by Ken

The number of South Africans playing or coaching in New Zealand has been an interesting angle for critics of the local system to pursue in recent years, and former Highveld Lions batsman Devon Conway looks set to become the latest immigrant to don the Black Cap.

Conway has transformed himself since his move to New Zealand in 2017, from a workaday batsman who just could not nail down a regular place in South African franchise cricket, to a prolific run-scorer for Wellington.

And according to former Titans and current Otago coach Rob Walter, another former South African who moved to New Zealand, the dramatic change in Conway’s fortunes is because he now gets to routinely test himself at the top level of domestic cricket.

Born in Johannesburg and educated at St John’s College, Conway played for Gauteng Schools for three years from 2007. He made his first-class debut for Gauteng aged just 17 years old. Clearly he was considered a top-class talent.

The following season he averaged 59 for Gauteng, but made a move to Pietermaritzburg for the 2010/11 season. He was quickly moved into the Dolphins franchise team, but in nine games only scored two half-centuries and averaged just 21.28.

He was back in Johannesburg for the 2012/13 season and became a prolific run-scorer for the Gauteng Strikers side – averaging 53.57 as he scored 12 centuries in 52 matches.

But he had to wait until February 2014 to be promoted to the Highveld Lions team. He was given five matches that season, but only averaged 22.85 with a highest score of 38 in 10 innings.

He could only score 54 runs in five innings in 2014/15 and his appearances were sporadic thereafter. When he emigrated, Conway had made 12 appearances in all for the Highveld Lions, averaging just 21.29 with only one half-century.

It seemed he was one of those cricketers who were brilliant at the level below but just couldn’t make the step up when given decent opportunity in franchise cricket.

But it has been all change since he moved to Wellington.

Conway was the leading run-scorer in both the first-class and T20 competitions in 2018/19 and was named New Zealand’s men’s domestic player of the year.

Last season he fared even better, being the leading run-scorer in all three formats. His spectacular exploits included an epic 327 not out against Canterbury, just the ninth triple-century in NZ history, and a 49-ball century in the Super Smash.

So how did he go from being a struggling journeyman in South Africa to a star who New Zealand can’t wait to rush into their national team?

“He’s played unbelievably well and has ridiculous stats in all three formats. He’s unstoppable at the moment, he’s made a double-hundred and hundreds against us, so even though I didn’t see much of him in South Africa, I’ve seen enough of him now!

“The difference is he’s found his game a bit and he got regular opportunity. Now he’s playing consistently, week in, week out, every game for Wellington. It’s what some guys just need and I hope to see him do as well at the next level,” Walter, who left the Titans in 2016 after winning four trophies in three seasons, told kenborland.com

If New Zealand do go to Bangladesh in August then Conway, who will be 29, looks certain to go with them, having been cleared to play for his adopted country by the ICC last week. He will join fellow South African-born cricketer Neil Wagner, the left-arm fast bowler who has won the hearts of his new country with his determined displays. Other Saffer emigrants to play for New Zealand have been Grant Elliott and current Tuks coach Kruger van Wyk.

Conway has already been part of Black Caps training squads but will be competing with the likes of Tom Latham, Martin Guptill, Colin Munro, Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor for a place in the NZ batting line-up.

But Wellington coach Glenn Pocknall said he would certainly co-sign Conway’s selection.

“He’s consistently out-performed all the players he’s competing with for the next level, and in some cases he’s out-performed guys who are incumbents in the Black Caps team. It’s pretty hard to ignore his sheer weight of runs.

“He’s pretty experienced for a guy who’s 28; he’s played 100 first-class games in New Zealand and South Africa. He’s played a heap of cricket and he’s such a cool customer regardless of the scenario.

“We played a final the other day and he produced again. He consistently steps up in those big matches and scores runs against very good bowlers. Going into an international set-up he wouldn’t be changing anything, he’d take it all in his stride and perform really well,” Pocknall told the stuff.co.nz website.

Good things have happened recently as well … 0

Posted on December 19, 2015 by Ken

 

Some awful things have happened in South Africa over the last 10 days, reflecting themselves in a depressing pall of negativity over a land that seems to have forgotten the miracle of the Rainbow Nation. Even us sports writers, fortunate as we are to pursue a career in something we love, are affected by the politics of the day.

Of course the results of our sporting heroes – and let’s be honest it’s been a poor year for South Africa – do affect us as well, although I always try to remember that it’s only a game. It’s far more important what sport can achieve in terms of bringing people together and changing lives.

So I’m delighted to report some good news in these tough times, a few encouraging things that have happened.

It is not easy to achieve complete transformation and equality because change is usually met with resistance and there is centuries of injustice to correct. It is difficult to come up with the right answers when one is trying to ensure representivity but also endeavouring to maintain standards and also do the right thing by the people you are trying to uplift.

It was most encouraging then to see our Springbok Sevens team triumph in the Cape Town stage of the World Series and do it with a fully transformed side. Following the blows to rugby’s transformation record at the 15-man World Cup, it was a timely reminder that there is plenty of black talent out there, it just needs to be nurtured.

Cricket had its own transformation scandal during their World Cup earlier in the year but it still seemed a low blow when Mark Nicholas, a former English county cricketer now commentating on Australian TV, suggested that South Africa will be the next international team to be “severely threatened” by the same disintegration that has afflicted West Indian cricket.

The financial situation outside of the Big Three is obviously a concern for Cricket South Africa, although it is ironic that the plummeting of the rand probably helps them (due to the sale of television rights in dollars) while it spells grave danger for rugby. But CEO Haroon Lorgat, a qualified chartered accountant, is a forward-thinking man and the organisation is running in a much leaner, efficient fashion than before.

Whatever White South Africans might think, the future of this country’s sport is Black – it’s simple economics and obvious when one considers the population.

The RamSlam T20 Challenge final at Centurion was a top-class evening, boasting great cricket, a sell-out crowd – one of the best I’ve seen for a domestic match since the days of isolation – and even the hero of the game was a Black player – Mangaliso Mosehle.

For me, the final offered a glimpse of what the future of South African cricket could be – and it took a lot of effort on the part of Cricket South Africa, the Titans and their marketing partners.

A thoroughly New South Africa crowd was entertained by Black Coffee and Euphonik; whereas Steve Hofmeyr would have been favoured by previous administrations.

I can only presume that Nicholas has been spending too much time with some of the expats in Australia who are notorious for broadcasting their opinion that everything is a nightmare in South Africa.

The day after the final, I spent the morning at Killarney Country Club where their Mandela Day fundraising is being put to good use coaching traumatised children in golf and tennis as part of their therapy. The sheer joy of the children and how apparent it was that they loved what they are doing, once again showed how much opportunity there is for sports bodies to tap into the raw talent that is there and hungry to be found.

The RamSlam T20 Challenge final,the Springbok Sevens’ success and the kids at Killarney Country Club showed what can be built when there is a will to be inclusive and a desire to spread the game and utilise the talent present in all communities.

 

 

 

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