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Ken Borland

Only human for Maphaka to feel pressure of expectation, but instead he flourished 0

Posted on April 05, 2024 by Ken

Expectation can be an unkind burden for young cricketers and it would only have been human for Kwena Maphaka to feel the pressure during the ICC U19 World Cup hosted by South Africa. But instead the DP World Lions rising star showed his mettle by flourishing and enjoying a spectacular tournament.

The St Stithians pupil was named the Player of the Tournament for his 21 wickets, just one short of the all-time record at the event. Bangladesh spinner Enamul Haque took 22 wickets in 2004, but one record Maphaka did claim for himself was for three five-wicket hauls in a single edition of the U19 World Cup, which no-one had managed before.

He is the fourth South African to receive the honour, the first being current DP World Lions men’s captain Dominic Hendricks in 2010. Aiden Markram (2014) and Dewald Brevis (2022) are the others to bring the individual title back to Mzansi.

Left-arm fast bowler Maphaka is a prodigy, of that there is no doubt, and the 17-year-old was playing in his second junior world cup. He first played for the St Stithians first XI in Grade IX, so he has had to deal with expectation from a very young age.

“I’ve learnt how to deal with it quite well, there is always expectation. It’s getting higher as I get older, but I’m just trying to grow as a cricketer at the same pace,” Maphaka says.

“On a personal level I was quite happy with the tournament, but it was unfortunate that we did not go through from the semifinals and win as a team. But that’s cricket.

“I guess I just hit a run of form and when you’re in that purple patch you feel confident and that there’s not much that can stop you. The games were all so close together and I was in good mental places, so I just ran with it,” Maphaka says.

Having fulfilled his considerable potential at junior level, the matric student will be prioritising his academics in 2024, but he is already part of the DP World Lions men’s squad. He made his debut for them on November 30 at St George’s Park, taking four wickets in the match against the Warriors. He had already made his first-class debut back in June last year when he was fast-tracked into the SA A team in Sri Lanka by Test coach Shukri Conrad.

Maphaka is sure to still pop up from time-to-time this year as he begins to transition into senior cricket.

“This year my first priority is to pass matric, so my focus will be on school, that’s my main goal. From next year onwards I can focus on domestic cricket and I hope to make my name with the DP World Lions. Then maybe in a couple of years I will be fortunate enough to represent the Proteas,” Maphaka says.

By then he could quite possibly be running the joint, just like his predecessor at St Stithians and the DP World Lions, the great Kagiso Rabada.

DP World Lions bowling coach Allan Donald sees some similarities between Maphaka and Rabada, who he coached in his first few months at international level with the Proteas.

“You get these youngsters who you just absolutely know have got it and they’ve got the jewels to go the whole way, like KG. The first time I saw Kwena I could see he had everything – he’s fit, strong and athletic; he has a good action and a magnificent wrist.

“We saw in the U19 World Cup that he was bowling late-inswinging full balls to the right-handers, knocking over the stumps at pace. He has all the credentials to be a wonderful prospect. Every now and then you get a freakish cricketer and Kwena is one of those.

“It’s a privilege to be involved with him and I look forward to him joining us full-time when he’s finished school. He is just a gem and the world is at his feet,” Donald said.

Jarvis is doing what the DJs say: ‘Keep your feet on the ground & reach for the stars’ 0

Posted on January 03, 2024 by Ken

Casey Jarvis

“Keep your feet on the ground and reach for the stars” was the catchphrase of famous American radio DJ Casey Kasem, also used by renown South African disc-jockey David Gresham, and although it comes from a time well before Casey Jarvis was born, it aptly describes what the rising star is doing on golf courses around the world at the moment.

Jarvis, who turned 20 in July, is currently firmly in the mix for the South African Open title at Blair Atholl Golf and Equestrian Estate and, at the end of a breakthrough year for one of the most decorated amateurs in local history it is his mature, measured approach that has caught the eye.

It was noticeable from the second round when the SA Open organisers began using devilishly tricky pin-placements and an inconsistent, shifting wind picked up, how adept Jarvis was at not taking on the ‘sucker-flags’ and finding the best places on the greens.

Jarvis has game, of that there can be no doubt given his stellar CV, but he also has the priceless attribute of a level head. It is that strong mentality that saw him notch his first overseas win as a professional in Austria in his last couple of weeks as a teenager, as part of his dominance of the Challenge Tour that led to him winning his DP World Tour card for the coming season.

The State Mines Country Club representative was in touching distance of the lead going into the 2022 Joburg Open at Houghton Golf Club, before fading on the weekend, but he says he is a different player to the one who left South Africa to take on Europe, and those changes were apparent as he soared up the leaderboard at Blair Atholl.

“Playing overseas is so difficult, the courses in Europe are so different to back home here in SA and you’ve got to really learn how to manage your game. I’ve learnt so much since last year’s Joburg Open,” Jarvis said.

“The Challenge Tour taught me not to be as aggressive. I learnt patience – I don’t need to hit it to five feet on every hole, which I used to want to, because my putting is good enough. I don’t need to attack all the flags, I don’t need to go for every par-five in two, I must just make sure I am straight off the tee-box.

“You’ve got to manage your game and I think I’m doing that really well this week. I can still be aggressive when I need to be and I’m happy that it all seems to be coming together,” Jarvis said.

Born in Boksburg on July 28, 2003, Casey David Jarvis has a biography that makes for riveting reading.

In 2020 he won both the South African Strokeplay Championship and the South African Amateur Championship before claiming the Freddie Tait Cup for the leading amateur at that year’s South African Open. It was a treble only achieved twice before, by the legendary Bobby Locke in 1935 and by Neville Clarke, who beat Ernie Els to those amateur crowns in 1989 but only turned pro in his senior years because he had a successful career as an electrical engineer.

If Jarvis now goes on to win the SA Open at Blair Atholl, he will join Locke, an eight-time champion who also won four British Open Championships, in rarefied air.

Jarvis’s amateur career also included winning the Junior World Cup with the South African team in 2019 as well as the African Amateur Championship back-to-back in 2021 and 2022. In 2020 he was named the America-based Men’s Player of the Year despite not playing College golf.

Jarvis was last season’s Sunshine Tour Rookie of the Year following a season in which he also became the second-youngest golfer globally to shoot a 59 on a major tour, which he achieved at the prestigious Players Championship at Dainfern.

For such a seasoned winner, triumphing on the Challenge Tour did not come easy for Jarvis, but he showed his character with his win in Austria because it came after back-to-back runners-up finishes just a month earlier in the Czech Republic and Copenhagen.

But there is a cautionary tale in flesh at Blair Atholl of young superstars burning themselves out, in Matteo Manassero, also strongly contending for the title. The Italian won three times on the European Tour as a teenager before losing his card in 2019. Now aged 30, he is back on the DP World Tour.

“There are many things that led to my struggles, but one of the most important is that I definitely became focused on results and forgot about the process and what worked for me,” Manassero told Rapport.

“Once you start going down that spiral of needing results week after week, it gets in your head and you neither improve your game nor your results. If your game is good enough week in, week out, then your results will come.

“But expectations can mean you are only focused on results and it is easy to fall into that trap. ‘Am I improving?’ should be your only focus, not making cuts, not keeping your card, not being top-50 in the world. Those are important goals but they are not the most important thing,” Manassero warned.

Fortunately, even though Jarvis admitted the Austrian win did buck him up after the two close misses, he said winning the SA Open on Sunday will not be his be-all and end-all.

“I’m just going to stick to what I’m doing, my golf feels good and I’m very comfortable and relaxed on the course, like a social round. I will just try to stay patient.

“It’s a big mental thing. I forced it for those second-place finishes, I really wanted to win and I just put more pressure on myself when there’s already enough pressure on you.

“I took a step back in Austria and just tried to go out and see what happened. I’ve learnt not to put so much pressure on myself because then I don’t play the way I want to. After finishing second so many times, to get it done was a good feeling. But I really did not expect to be doing these things when I was still so young.

“If I don’t win the SA Open, I would have learnt a lot,” Jarvis said.

Rabada aims to guide the young pups with his own management agency 0

Posted on September 06, 2021 by Ken

Kagiso Rabada is hardly a veteran of the cricket scene at just 26 years old, but he has been around for a while and, with an extremely wise and mature head on his shoulders, he is already finding ways to give back to the young pups rising not only in his chosen sport but in all spheres of athletic and artistic endeavour.
Rabada will lanch his own talent management agency on Saturday – KGR Sports and Entertainment, a combined effort with Ashley Kotzin, the CEO of ForwardZone, a 22-year-old company also in the field of talent management in the sports and arts.
“KGR is all about collaborations and networks, both locally and globally. With Ashley, who has more than 20 years experience in this field, we have access to lots of networks and it’s about building and leveraging those. Managing sports people is about much more than just signing a contract, it’s about leveraging the off-the-field opportunities as much as possible.
“We want to combine the on-field and off-field product and make it great for any athlete or artist. A lot of pieces need to come together for that and it has always been an interest of mine to be involved in the corporate space, this is something I’ve always wanted to explore. I think I can do it from a different perspective,” Rabada told Saturday Citizen on Friday.
Rabada not only has the pace and skill to stun opposition batsmen but also the business nous to impress someone with the expertise of Kotzin.
“What is true of KG as a person – and as a brand – is that he is multi-dimensional, multi-talented and so much more than just an on-field hero. He is also a leader and creator off of it. We are excited about being a part of all of the ways in which KG expresses himself – as an athlete, as a leader, as a creative, as a savvy businessman and community builder.
“His competitive edge, drive to succeed and his profile in the international sports arena are key elements to the growth and success of KGR. We are proud to have KG as a partner in this business, and look forward to walking a special journey with him. The confident and competitive athlete you see on the field is the same in business,” Kotzin said.

Readers will find the connection between Player’s life story & Higgo’s 0

Posted on July 07, 2021 by Ken

Readers of Gary Player’s life story will know how much South Africa’s greatest golfer was affected by losing his mother at a young age, but ironically it has been the tragedy that connects him to one of this country’s best rising talents – Garrick Higgo.

Player’s mother Muriel succumbed to cancer in 1943, when he was just eight years old. The last time he saw her was on Christmas Day, two days later she died. Player has said that something broke in him that day and he has been trying to fix it ever since, which partly explains the remarkable passion and tenacity of one of the hardest-working sports stars there has ever been.

Higgo was introduced to golf by his father Guillermo, but in 2008, when he was just nine, the family, which includes two siblings, were involved in a car crash, hit by another vehicle, and his Dad was fatally injured.

“I met Gary Player just after that because we both had a holiday home at Plettenberg Bay and we used to play and practise a lot together, play nine holes in the afternoon. His Mom died when he was eight, which was around the age I was when I lost my Dad. So we connected, it is a real and amazing connection, and it’s been there since before all the good things happened to me.

“It was only when I was around 12 or 13 that I totally understood who Gary Player is. I would be watching the Majors and I would see Gary’s name always popping up. He calls me a lot and he has really helped my game and especially the mental aspects of it,” Higgo says of his remarkable friendship with someone more than sixty years his senior.

It is Higgo who is now playing in the Majors and the lessons Player, who won nine times on golf’s biggest stages, has imparted should stand him in very good stead. The 22-year-old made his Major debut in May at the PGA Championship and made the cut, before really getting to grips with the brutal Kiawah Island course with a 69 in the final round that saw him rise into a tie for 64th.

In last weekend’s U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, Higgo missed the cut by two strokes, but one should take into account the hectic build-up the Paul Roos Gymnasium product had to that tournament. In a way, Higgo was the victim of his own success as he won the Palmetto Championship the week before, in just his second PGA Tour start.

And with a clearly emotional and overjoyed Player giving Higgo a phone call at the winner’s press conference, the U.S. media understandably had a new sensation to focus on, especially given his three wins in the last year on the European Tour.

“It had an impact because I was very tired mentally, each one of my wins has changed my life and the one on the U.S. PGA Tour the most significantly. My caddy, who is also my best friend, also had to fly back before the U.S. Open because his wife went into labour. So I wasn’t exactly fresh going in, but I played alright and just had a couple of bad bounces.

“I’m learning from each week I play and it made it tough winning the week before the U.S. Open. I didn’t play my best, I was mentally drained, I had a different caddy and I just missed the cut. And I’ve learnt so far in the Majors that you’ve got to have everything working, you have to do everything well. You can’t lose focus, if you are slightly off-line you will be punished.

“But the more I play in the Majors, the better I’ll get. I need to tighten up on my misses and just get more comfortable with everything going on,” Higgo said this week.

Naturally, he knows there is still plenty of room for improvement in his game as well.

“A couple of things in my swing were a bit off so I went back to a draw, that’s the way I like to hit it, I’ve gone back to what is comfortable for me. I’ve also had to work on my short-game technique because the pins are always tucked here in America; I needed to figure out how to get a lot more spin on my chips and get them shorter.

“I wold say my strengths are my mental game, putting and the short game, those are definitely my strongest suits, and my iron play has always been solid. I’m a little streaky off the tee though, I’m generally straight and can hit it a decent distance, but I would like to hit a lot more fairways,” Higgo said.

With arguably the best mental mentor one could have in Player, Higgo certainly seems equipped with the right stuff to keep making waves in world golf. And armed with a simple philosophy, it is understandable why the left-hander has been able to win so quickly at every new rung of the golfing ladder he has climbed.

“I treat every event the same, I don’t make them into big things, whether it’s a Big Easy Tour event or a PGA tournament, and I think that helps mentally. The other guys in a PGA event are obviously going to be better than those in a Big Easy tournament, but I don’t worry about them really, I’m just focused on my own game.”

With the sort of start to his international career Higgo has made, it is the opposition who are surely going to be worrying about him more and more.

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    Don’t be so busy – even working for God – that you don’t have regular quiet time. Don’t let your activities become more important than your time with the Father. You can be alive ‘for’ God without experiencing the presence and power of the living Christ.

    “Attempting to serve the Lord without the strength of the Holy Spirit results in frustration and ultimate disaster.

    “If your vision of him grows dim, your service will become powerless and ineffective. This will happen if your spiritual reserves are not regularly replenished through prayer and meditation.

    “You must put him first in all your activities. Your service for him must be the result of your intimate knowledge of him. Only when he enjoys priority in all things, can you understand life from his perspective. Putting Christ first in your life and work makes you a more capable servant of God.” – A Shelter From The Storm, Solly Ozrovech

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