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Ken Borland

Powerhouse Lions field top-class outfit for T20 opener 0

Posted on May 10, 2024 by Ken

A “powerhouse” DP World Lions men’s team are determined to claim a second trophy this season as they start their CSA T20 Challenge campaign against the GBets Rocks in Johannesburg on Friday night, and they will be fielding a top-class outfit.

The #PrideOfJozi boast a couple of players named in the Betway SA20 Team of the Tournament in Ryan Rickelton and Wiaan Mulder, there is a thrilling prospect of Kagiso Rabada and his protégé Kwena Maphaka sharing the new ball, and a wonderful batting line-up with other Proteas stars in Reeza Hendricks, Rassie van der Dussen and Temba Bavuma.

Apart from Rickelton and Mulder blazing a trail in the SA20, the DP World Lions are guided by a coach in Russell Domingo who has played a key role in the Sunrisers Eastern Cape winning back-to-back titles as their batting coach. The experienced Domingo will know exactly how to play winning T20 cricket in South Africa.

Rickelton, who was the leading run-scorer in the SA20 with 530 runs at an average of 58.89 and a strike-rate of 173.77, is setting a confident tone right up front.

“We will have a full squad, barring KG when he goes to the IPL, so we have a powerhouse team, obviously we’re going to put our names up for the overall win. We would be upset if we don’t get that far and we’re really looking forward to it after winning the four-day title, which was a big incentive for us because we haven’t won that in a while,” Rickelton said.

“While the tournament was obviously a major let-down for us at MI Cape Town, I have clarity about my batting. Coach Robbie [Peterson] was quite decisive about what he wanted us to do and we really strived to win the powerplay. So I had to execute my role as well as I can with Rassie, because of the power we had to come behind.

“The opportunity was there to really take the game on there up front, to really maximise the powerplay. I had the freedom to fail and I just tried to keep it simple, while training specifics. Now I want to make sure I make an impact for the Lions, that is hugely important for me,” Rickelton said.

All-rounder Mulder earned a spot in the SA20 Team of the Tournament mostly for his batting, where he averaged a healthy 37.13 and scored at a dynamic 157.14, continuing what has been a top-class summer with the bat. Mulder shone as a finisher, but also as a safeguard who could come in during the powerplay and lay a platform for the spectacular hitting of Heinrich Klaasen.

Mulder said he went into the competition with confidence, thanks to, again, the freedom given him by the DP World Lions coaches, and a clear job description from Durban Super Giants coach Lance Klusener.

“Russell Domingo and Hashim Amla have been incredible for my game, they have really motivated me and allowed me to just go and play, to break the shackles. Because of them I took a lot of confidence into the SA20.

“I discovered a couple of new things about my game during the tournament. I worked really hard on playing spin and finishing, which is a part of the game Mark Boucher told me he didn’t think I had when he was Proteas coach. I spent quite a lot of time working with Heinrich and Dwaine Pretorius, but I’m never going to be that type of batter, having a perfect swing and getting carried away hitting sixes.

“But I can hit space and I can score different sorts of boundaries, I can still score 50 off 25 balls. Lance backs me quite a lot, my technique gave me the opportunity to bat in the top five and my role was to face quite a lot of balls and protect Heinrich. You can get some real jaffas in the powerplay, but you can play with a lot of freedom afterwards,” Mulder said.

With the players that the Lions have, playing at a fast-action venue like the DP World Wanderers Stadium, and with so many of them knowing exactly what to do to win T20 games, there is no reason why our Pride should not back themselves to bring home another trophy.

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.

Last season was stocked full of runs for Rickelton … but he still calls it a failure 0

Posted on June 21, 2023 by Ken

The prolific Ryan Rickelton was frustrated by his season at Proteas level.

Ryan Rickelton’s 2022/23 season was stocked full of runs and accolades, and yet the 26-year-old maintains that it was a failure because he did not entirely nail down his place in the Proteas team.

Never mind that the management of the national squad seemed reluctant to choose him due to an ankle injury that their medical staff deemed too much of a risk.

Rickelton showed his determination by ploughing through the season, churning out runs at domestic level for the Central Gauteng Lions as he stubbornly refused to have surgery and his ankle became the most talked-about body part in South African cricket.

The wicketkeeper/batsman scored three centuries in his five four-day innings for the Lions and he was the leading run-scorer in the One-Day Cup with 452 at 64.57, scored at better than a run-a-ball and playing a leading role in his team claiming a third-successive 50-over title. He was named the Lions’ Player of the Season and Players’ Player of the Season recently.

But his opportunities at international level were limited to one Test and two ODIs. Perhaps unsurprisingly given the lack of consistent game time for the Proteas, he scored just 22 and 10 in the second Test against the West Indies at the Wanderers and 14 and three in his two ODIs against the same team.

And that is why Rickelton, because of the passion he brings to the game and the high standards he sets himself, deems the previous summer to have been a failure.

“It was not my best season, if you look at the whole package. I had a couple of successful competitions but there were also failures at international level and in T20. I had four chances for success in the international season, so it’s a failure for me by pure percentages, but I guess I will take it and move forward,” Rickelton said.

“I always have this anxiety that I don’t want to be just a good domestic player. I had no fear in my international debut in March 2022, but now it’s something I need to overcome.

“If I can just make one score at international level then that will settle the nerves and I’m sure I can make a good contribution for the Proteas. It’s hugely different to playing at domestic level, but awesome at the same time, which is why everyone aspires to play there.

“There’s a helluva lot more pressure, shit it’s hard. For the first time in my career, you get dismissed cheaply and you feel like you might not necessarily get runs tomorrow either.

“But it’s more internal pressure from myself. I’ve stuck my foot in the door now and I’ve just got to climb the ladder and get more comfortable as I get more opportunity,” Rickelton said.

The left-hander leaves no doubt that his fiery ambition burns brightest for Test cricket, which is why his mediocre return at the Wanderers was most upsetting. For a naturally free-flowing player, full of strokeplaying talent, efforts of 22 off 49 balls and 10 off 29 deliveries left him “disgusted”. On both occasions he was caught behind, edging a cut in the first innings and then attempting to drive on the up and providing the wicketkeeper with another catch.

But cricketers are not computers and it is difficult to simulate the kind of pressure that burrows its way into the consciousness when a batsmen feels like they are playing for their place. Rickelton should have played in the first Test against the West Indies at Centurion, when South Africa chose an extra bowler (spinner Senuran Muthusamy only delivered eight overs in the match) and their middle-order was badly exposed. One mistake and you’re out, gone, and there could be a long wait for another chance at Test level, particularly given how sparse the Proteas’ schedule is in that format.

“When I got the opportunity for the Proteas, technically I was not batting as well as I had been at the start of the season. But it’s also mental because you desperately want the fairytale.

“I was told two days before the Wanderers Test that I would then play. So I knew I had at least one innings, maybe two. You’re playing on your home turf, your parents are coming to watch, and you start thinking ‘maybe I will get a hundred, that would be cool’. And those thoughts accumulate.

“I felt really good going into the match, but in the end I was disgusted with my Test, I had no idea what was going on. It was like my head and body had no idea what the other one was doing.

“In the first innings I was maybe unlucky but I did not have to play that shot. Now you have one more chance and it gnaws at you.

“It’s the first time I’ve experienced fighting the same battle, making mountains of molehills, and I don’t like it. But I just have to deal with it.

“You so desperately want to prove that you belong, to take that weight off your shoulders and not have to fight for your place. You just want to bat with intent, open up on your own terms, but it’s ferociously difficult at the highest level. You have to earn the right to play like you want to.

“With the Proteas playing just 10 Tests over the next four years, every series you will feel like a new cap again, which doesn’t help. It’s going to be frustrating not to be able to build any momentum. Test cricket is the purest form of the game and I hope that the administrators don’t cripple it,” Rickelton said with searing honesty.

T20 franchises are becoming the main drivers of the game now, and Rickelton is sober-minded enough to know he has to master that format in order to have a long career. He was poor last season, by his own admission, in both the CSA T20 Challenge for the Lions (averaging 15 with a strike-rate of 131) and the SA20 for MI Cape Town (averaging 20, strike-rate 113).

“I have a shit-load of work to do quickly before next season to make sure I progress. Apart from making sure I step up internationally, I also need to rediscover my T20 game, which I lost a bit. I’m going to put a lot of effort into that and make sure I have a very good SA20. T20 is so important nowadays and I’ve neglected it a bit,” Rickelton said.

The ankle has now been operated on and fixed, and Rickelton says it is “loading very nicely”. He has started batting again and was part of the Proteas’ recent camp in Durban.

He hopes to be match-fit in a couple of weeks and able to push for selection for the ODIs against Australia in September.

The feeling of having to fight for a regular place in the team is not a new one for Rickelton. Surprisingly, given his natural talent and a pedigree that included playing for the 2014 SA Schools side, the St Stithians product initially languished in the Gauteng semi-pro team before making his breakthrough.

“I found my feet slowly and had to fight for my life at Gauteng, even though I knew what I could do. I almost had to prove it to myself though and allow myself to be free and have a real crack with the bat.

“It’s an experience every player goes through and I’ve been guilty of wanting things too badly in the past. But I will keep going,” Rickelton stated.

Rickelton’s tremendous century takes Lions to almost certain safety 0

Posted on February 21, 2023 by Ken

Ryan Rickelton’s magnificent century took the DP World Lions to almost certain safety on the third day of their CSA 4-Day Series match against the Dafabet Warriors at the DP World Wanderers Stadium on Tuesday.

The wicketkeeper and Proteas Test squad member blazed a fiery 125 off just 112 deliveries to take the Lions to 433 all out, a first-innings deficit of just five runs. The Warriors then batted for 18 minutes before stumps, getting to five for one. They will take a 10-run lead into the final day and the home side will be going all out to dismiss them cheaply on a pitch that is showing some signs of inconsistent bounce with occasional deliveries keeping low.

Rickelton came to the crease with the Lions in control on 187 for three on a glorious sunny day without a cloud in the sky. That handsome position was thanks to an impressive top-order display by the Central Gauteng side.

Openers Josh Richards and Dom Hendricks, who resumed on their overnight score of 19 without loss, took their first-wicket stand to a hefty 123 before Richards was bowled for 60 trying to hit left-arm spinner Tsepo Ndwandwa over the covers.

Captain Hendricks fell for 62 as he was caught behind off Beyers Swanepoel, who found the left-hander’s edge with a fine delivery that moved away late. Wiaan Mulder, who took 28 balls to get off the mark, was most unfortunate to be run out for 4 when a powerful straight drive by Temba Bavuma was deflected into the non-striker’s stumps by bowler Mthiwekhaya Nabe.

But Bavuma was in commanding form and he and Rickelton added 54 for the fourth wicket before the Warriors began making inroads with the ball.

Bavuma was also caught behind the wicket off Swanepoel (22-7-74-3), having scored a fine, free-scoring 67 with 12 fours and a six. Mitchell van Buuren was caught behind for 2 off part-time medium-pacer Matthew Breetzke just before tea, and 241 for three became 320 for eight as Glenton Stuurman (22-4-73-3) struck three times with the second new ball.

At that stage, the Lions were still 118 runs behind and could have left themselves with an anxious final day, but Rickelton, who had looked firmly in control at the crease, then took his innings deep and played some imperious strokes as he belted 11 fours and seven sixes in his third century in five innings in the four-day campaign.

He found an able ally in Lutho Sipamla, who scored a polished career-best 36 as they added a rollicking 84 for the ninth wicket in an hour, all but taking the Lions to parity.

After such batting heroics, Kagiso Rabada could not let the day go by without making a mark of his own, and his second delivery, Jordan Hermann’s first, was the perfect ball to a left-hander, forcing him to play and then just nipping away to find the edge and have him caught behind for a duck.

Kyle Jacobs and Diego Rosier then survived another four overs before the umpires let the batsmen retire to the changeroom due to bad light, shadows moving over the pitch.

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