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Ken Borland

SA top-order dying slow deaths before Markram & Miller switch gears 0

Posted on January 20, 2023 by Ken

South Africa’s top-order were dying slow deaths as they went in pursuit of a mediocre target of 134, before Aiden Markram and David Miller switched gears in the second half of the innings to carry the Proteas to a thrilling five-wicket victory with two balls to spare in their T20 World Cup match against India at the Perth Stadium on Sunday.

After a superb bowling display led by Lungi Ngidi and Wayne Parnell had restricted India to just 133/9, South Africa’s top-order was blown away by brilliant swing bowling up front. Whereas the Proteas had used pace and bounce to unsettle the batsmen, India showed tremendous skill up front with the new ball.

Outstanding young left-arm paceman Arshdeep Singh swung the ball away from Quinton de Kock (1), to have him well-caught by Lokesh Rahul at second slip, and two balls later he swung the ball into another left-hander, Rilee Rossouw, to trap him lbw for a duck.

Temba Bavuma’s lack of form meant he was unable to get a bat on many of the magnificent deliveries bowled to him by Arshdeep and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, and then attempted an ambitious scoop shot against Mohammed Shami and was neatly caught behind by Dinesh Karthik for 10.

South Africa were teetering on 24/3 and Markram and Miller almost looked like condemned men as they tried to weather the storm. They did well to stay in, but after 10 overs the score was just 40/3, meaning another 94 needed to be scored off the last 60 balls.

Markram decided to go for broke and, in a brave innings of 52 off 41 balls, he swung hard and shifted the momentum of the game, beating back the Indian bowlers. He should have been caught twice and Rohit Sharma also missed an easy run out chance, as he and Miller added 76 for the fourth wicket in 10 overs.

Miller was then left with the last 34 runs to score off 26 balls, and he once again showed his sheer class and skill at the death, steering the Proteas home with 59 not out off 46 balls.

India had chosen to bat first, and on a pitch offering steep bounce and plenty of pace, Ngidi set the cats amongst the pigeons as he reduced them to 49/5 in eight-and-a-half overs. The tall paceman used the bounce superbly, taking 4/29 in his four overs, and all four wickets came off shortish deliveries. But his line, just outside off stump with the occasional straighter delivery, was also outstanding.

Ngidi struck with just his second ball as Rohit (15) spliced a pull shot and the bowler took a return catch; Ngidi then ended his first over with the wicket of the other opener, Rahul (9) trying to steer the ball to third man but being caught at slip as the delivery got too big for him. Markram was practically standing on the fielding circle when he took the catch.

Virat Kohli counterpunched in scoring 12, but Ngidi then dismissed him, top-edging a hook to fine leg, where Kagiso Rabada took a good catch running around the boundary.

Rabada then took an absolute screamer, sprinting in from the fine leg boundary and diving forward to catch Hardik Pandya (2) off Ngidi.

With Anrich Nortje blasting out Deepak Hooda for a duck, India were crashing, but Suryakumar Yadav pulled the blue aeroplane out of its dive with a great innings, his 68 off 40 balls piloting them to a total that kept them in the match because of the strength of their own pace attack.

Left-arm seamer Parnell had done a fine job for the Proteas up front with the new ball, and he soared in the closing stages, taking 3/15 in his four overs, which included a maiden in the first over of the match.

Nortje (4-0-23-1) and Rabada (4-0-26-0) maintained the relentless pace pressure.

Proteas kicking themselves for a few more runs & vital no-balls 0

Posted on April 23, 2021 by Ken

South Africa will be kicking themselves that they didn’t just score a handful more runs or solve their no-ball problem as they made Pakistan sweat in pursuit of a target of just 145, the tourists eventually winning by three wickets with just a ball to spare in the fourth and final T20 at Centurion on Friday evening.

Following a dismal batting display that saw the Proteas bowled out inside their 20 overs for the first time in more than a year, Pakistan made a fast start courtesy of Babar Azam and Fakhar Zaman (the Proteas will be having nightmares over those two) adding 91 in nine overs.

Fast bowler Lizaad Williams removed both in the 10th over, Fakhar having blazed his way to 60 off 34 balls, while Babar’s contribution was a mere run-a-ball 24.

Much like in the South African innings, the collapse from there was rapid as Pakistan crashed from 92 for one to 129 for seven.

Pacemen Sisanda Magala (4-0-33-2), Andile Phehlukwayo (2-0-11-1) and Williams (3.5-0-39-2) backed up another excellent spell from wrist-spinner Tabraiz Shamsi (4-0-21-1), and suddenly South Africa were back in the game with Pakistan needing 25 from three overs.

The 18th over by Phehlukawayo went for nine but Magala made a magnificent start to the penultimate over, with three dot balls and a wicket bringing the equation to 16 needed off eight balls. And then he bowled successive no-balls for the second time in the series, the second free hit seeing Mohammad Nawaz (25* off 21) hammer a six that meant only a run-a-ball was needed in the last over.

The Proteas, needing to win the match in order to share the series, started well enough after being sent in to bat as they reached 109 for two in the 13th over. But outstanding seam bowling saw them lose seven wickets for only 35 runs as they were skittled for a meagre 144, posting their lowest all-out total since Australia shot them out for just 96 at Newlands in February 2020.

Aiden Markram again looked in prolific touch, hitting Nawaz’s first four balls for 11 runs, but he was then trapped lbw by the left-arm spinner’s arm ball, a bit unluckily as the batsman’s review showed it was umpire’s call for both height and hitting leg-stump. Janneman Malan scored 33 off 28 deliveries as he put on 57 for the second wicket with Rassie van der Dussen.

The ever-reliable Van der Dussen went on to score 52 off 36 balls, but he had just reached the milestone when things again fell apart for the Proteas around the 13th over, he and captain Heinrich Klaasen (9) being dismissed in successive overs.

Malan and Van der Dussen were the only batsmen to reach double figures as Pakistan’s pacemen, keeping to a good, full length on a pitch that was slower than two days ago, ripped through the rest of the batting.

Faheem was outstanding, taking three for 17 in his four overs, Haris took two for 18 in three-and-a-half overs and Shaheen Shah Afridi also bowled extremely well to concede just 19 runs in his four overs and take a wicket.

SA goalkeeper Phumelela Mbande: master of the balancing act 0

Posted on September 06, 2018 by Ken


Hockey being a largely amateur pursuit in South Africa has led to the implementation of delicate balancing acts by our national teams, but if one player stands out for their ability to juggle the demands of work and playing international sport then it is women’s goalkeeper Phumelela Mbande.

Mbande was the star of South Africa’s World Cup campaign in London last week, and was named player of the match for her sensational display in salvaging a 1-1 draw with world number three Argentina. But like Wonder Woman changing into the work clothes of Diana Prince, her civilian identity, Mbande takes off her pads, glove and chest protection and, when she returns to South Africa, will continue slogging away at her ‘real job’.

The 25-year-old is a qualified chartered accountant and is busy doing her articles with Price Waterhouse Coopers, a daunting enough task on its own without having the added ‘burden’ of ensuring she remains South Africa’s first-choice goalkeeper.

“It’s definitely not easy doing both, but there have been so many people willing to help, especially my varsity coaches at Tuks and PWC, I always say how lucky I am that everyone is willing to meet halfway. It’s been very tough and it has been a huge learning curve for me as a person, but I’m grateful for all the help I’ve had to make it easier,” Mbande says.

Hailing from Pietermaritzburg, Mbande started playing hockey in Grade V at Lynford Primary School and the challenge of being the goalkeeper and having a hard object fired at you from close range was appealing from the outset. Mbande agrees that it takes a special type of person to want to be a hockey goalkeeper.

“In all the teams you see, the goalkeeper is usually a standout character, you certainly won’t miss us!” Mbande laughs. “The position definitely suits me personality-wise, I’m a typical first-born, I like to get my way and I’m pretty independent. Goalkeepers are part of the team but we think of ourselves as a team within the team. Being goalkeeper has definitely allowed my personality to bloom.”

Mbande then went to Carter High School and she singles out the arrival of Marie-Laure Johnson as a teacher there when she was in Grade VII as being pivotal in her development.

“If there’s one person who has been a major influence then it’s Marie-Laure, who basically adopted me. During the World Cup now I went to visit her mother who lives in Stratford and that just shows the great relationship we have. She encouraged me to go and play at Collegians, where I was by far the youngest at the club, but I was able to be coached by Brian Edwards [former national captain who coached both the men’s and women’s national teams].

“Marie-Laure would give me lifts to the airport, bought me my first own kit and, outside of hockey, played a huge role in my life. She was definitely more than a coach to me, she’s a mentor and a friend.”

Mbande’s academic excellence earned her a PWC bursary to the University of Pretoria, where she also received a sports bursary, and she made her debut for South Africa in 2013. Initially she was playing in the considerable shadow of Sanani Mangisa, one of the country’s greatest goalkeepers, a double Olympian capped 112 times between 2006 and 2016.

“It felt like a great achievement to start out under Sanani because she was the first hockey personality I really looked up to, after she coached me in Grade VIII. She noticed one of my strengths was how hard I can kick the ball and it was awesome to come into the national team with her still there.

“But it was also very disappointing not to make the squads for the 2014 Commonwealth Games and World Cup. But I’ve learned quite a bit since then and I’m definitely a better goalkeeper now, I manage pressure better. But I still wish I had more time in the national team with Sanani,” Mbande says.

With the continued support of her mother, the shoulder she has cried on the most, Mbande says, and her two younger brothers, the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo are the next big sporting goal for one of the new stars of South African hockey.

“This was the first World Cup I’ve played in, so I was pretty excited to play so well and end on a high after we did not start so well. Considering everything that’s available to South African hockey teams, the Olympics are definitely top of the food chain and I would love to make it to Tokyo.

“But it’s one step at a time and God willing and if my employers allow it, then the Olympics will be my next big thing. Maybe one or two of the players will retire before then, but we still have a good group of players and massive talent, and two years is a good period in which to build.”

Mbande will be at the forefront of those plans and the excellence and determination she brings to all her endeavours can only be good for the game.

Hockey is far from dying 0

Posted on May 08, 2016 by Ken


We are constantly being told that hockey is a dying game in South Africa, unloved by the politicians that run sport in this country and struggling to stay afloat as an amateur pursuit in this professional day and age.

But when I spent last week at the Senior Interprovincial Nationals – the most prestigious interprovincial tournament – in Randburg, I was delighted to be reacquainted with a vibrant sport that has passionate followers and a festive culture of its own.

At the top level, where our best hockey players continue to be denied opportunities to play on the biggest stages like the Olympics, there are obvious frustrations, but hockey is the epitome of a mass-participation sport at school, university and club level.

I was told stories of how traditional rugby schools are now finding greater numbers of children wanting to play hockey rather than the oval-ball game.

And in terms of transformation, the South African Hockey Association (Saha) have a good story to tell with numerous players of colour involved at IPT, including several Black coaches. The SA U21 team that made the men’s final included eight players of colour, including six Black Africans.

Saha’s wise policy of humouring and engaging with Sascoc and the minister of sport has paid off with Fikile Mbalula announcing a R10 million injection into hockey’s coffers two weeks ago.

Hockey has been operating on shoestring budgets ever since I began reporting on it back in the early 1990s, so any financial input is most welcome. It’s a well-known fact that our top players have been paying their own way to compete and represent South Africa, something Tubby Reddy and Gideon Sam of Sascoc should choke on the next time they sit down for their sumptuous dinner on their next first-class flight to their next jaunt.

Due to these financial constraints, hockey, at top level, has been forced to become a sport for the young. Once the stars leave their places of tertiary education, the demands of work make it just about impossible for them to dedicate the time they need to remaining in peak shape for the game. It was noticeable how young most of the teams at IPT looked, to such an extent that it reminded me of an U21 interprovincial.

A handful of internationals have been able to become professional players in Europe.

Like cricket, it’s probably fair to say that hockey had its stronghold in English-speaking areas like Natal, Cape Town and Johannesburg, but this has changed dramatically. Northerns, with many Tuks students in their ranks, won the women’s IPT and Afrikaans schools have taken to the game with gusto, as they have to cricket. There is already an explosion of interest amongst the Coloured and Black communities.

In terms of marketing, hockey has much going for it. It has a strong youth flavour (which is always attractive) but it is a sport entire families can participate in, with leagues running from the youngsters through to the Masters, from highly-competitive to social. It is also a game that is evolving into a high-speed, highly entertaining spectacle thanks to the work of the FIH, the international body, in tinkering with the rules.

Saha president Mike du Plessis was telling me about the exciting plans they have for festivals of five-a-side hockey in which the whole family can be involved at the same venue.

Hockey should not be embarrassed that it needs money, sometimes the local game suffers under the impression that they are the ugly step-child of South African sport.

I say they should be bold about their needs, because they have much to offer and there are certainly exciting plans in the pipeline.

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