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Ken Borland

Hamza & Van Buuren star as ensemble effort gives Lions pleasing lead 0

Posted on December 22, 2023 by Ken

Mitchell van Buuren celebrating his century for the Lions.

Tremendous centuries by Zubayr Hamza and Mitchell van Buuren, and an ensemble effort in terms of support saw the Central Gauteng Lions grab a 90-run first-innings lead over the KwaZulu-Natal Inland Tuskers on the third day of their CSA 4-Day Domestic Series match at the Wanderers on Friday.

Having posted an impressive 435 all out, the Lions then reduced the Tuskers to 45 for two at stumps, the visitors still trailing by 45 runs and certainly the stage is set for an exciting final day.

The Lions were in some difficulty at the start of their first innings, slipping to 43 for three before Hamza and Van Buuren provided some stability late on the second evening.

The pair of former junior provincial hockey stars resumed their partnership on 125 for three on Friday and that stand grew to considerable proportions as they went on to add 183 for the fourth wicket.

Hamza reached his third first-class century this season off 150 balls when he pounced on a quick single from a misfield at square-leg, and anyone who viewed the four-hour innings would have been thoroughly entertained as he stroked 13 stylish boundaries along the way.

He eventually fell for 101 though when he edged an attempted cut off spinner Michael Erlank to wicketkeeper Cameron Shekleton.

Having removed Hamza, the visitors then found getting rid of Van Buuren to be a whole different challenge. The promising 25-year-old marched on to 132 off 262 deliveries, batting for six hours and 20 minutes as he took the Lions into the lead.

Van Buuren scored all around the wicket, but was particularly strong square, collecting 13 fours and a six in his determined innings, which was his second century of the season.

The lower-order as a group did very well for the Lions, the last six wickets adding 209 runs.

Wandile Makwetu made 34 as he added 60 for the fifth wicket with Van Buuren, and Malusi Siboto scored 34 as he put on 75 for the seventh wicket with the centurion.

Left-arm spinner Malcolm Nofal, the most successful of the Tuskers bowlers with three for 86 in 25 overs, then took a couple of quick wickets to reduce the Lions to 396 for nine. But the visitors’ toil was not over yet as Codi Yusuf smacked 37 off 43 balls and Duanne Olivier made 19 not out as they added 39 for the last wicket, giving the Lions a pleasing lead.

Yusuf was then a successful performer with the new ball as he produced a superb delivery, bouncing and seaming away, to have Inland opener Yaseen Valli caught behind for 3.

Tshepo Moreki then struck in his first over, moving the ball sharply both ways to confuse Thamsanqa Khumalo, who was then bowled shouldering arms for 1.

The other opening batsman, Ben Compton, stood firm as he reached 27 not out at stumps.

Gabba pitch aside, years since SA batting was so weak 0

Posted on June 09, 2023 by Ken

The consensus among former Australian players in Brisbane was that they had never seen a Gabba Test pitch that was so green as what was prepared for the first Test against the Proteas this weekend; it has also probably been years since they saw such a weak South African batting line-up.

Those two factors, plus the sheer quality of both bowling attacks, were the reasons behind the astonishing two-day Test match in Brisbane, the second-shortest ever in Australia and the second-shortest anywhere since 1935.

The Proteas batting was already at a low ebb when they arrived in Australia. Their entire squad boasts just 17 Test centuries and captain Dean Elgar has scored 13 of them. It is a far, far cry from previous South African touring teams Down Under which saw batsmen like Faf du Plessis, Jacques Kallis, Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers boast great individual performances. Previously, stars like Eddie Barlow, Aubrey Faulkner, Graeme Pollock and Colin Bland wowed Australian crowds.

There will be many different opinions as to why South African batting is at such a nadir; mine is the lack of top-quality first-class cricket played by the batsmen, yours may be different.

Elgar seems reluctant to make changes for the vital second Test in Melbourne from Boxing Day, but the Proteas have to bring something different to stay in the series. Selection does not seem to be a strong point of their’s at the moment and in Brisbane, in the most bowler-friendly conditions imaginable, they went in with five frontline bowlers instead of playing the extra batsman. Between them, Lungi Ngidi and Keshav Maharaj bowled just 11 overs.

Rassie van der Dussen has scored just 295 runs in his last eight Tests at an average of only 21.07, having not reached fifty in that time, and would appear to be most in danger of losing his place. Theunis de Bruyn and Heinrich Klaasen, both in-form domestically before going on tour, are next in line.

Meanwhile Ryan Rickelton is back in South Africa and looking invincible whatever is going on in his ankle.

Venter’s excellent day with the putter leads him to maiden Sunshine Tour title 0

Posted on June 27, 2022 by Ken

HARARE, Zimbabwe – An excellent day with the putter saw Albert Venter to a superb final-round 66 and a playoff for the FBC Zimbabwe Open at Royal Harare Golf Club, with the 26-year-old then sinking a 16-foot birdie putt on the second playoff hole to claim his maiden Sunshine Tour title on Sunday.

Venter had to hold off Stefan Wears-Taylor, who also shot 66 in the final round, and Louis Albertse (67) in the playoff after the trio all finished the R2 million tournament on 10-under-par.

They all parred the 18th in the first playoff hole, but on their next attempt, Venter spun a sand-wedge from the fairway back to 16 feet from the pin and then nailed the birdie putt, with Albertse and Wears-Taylor unable to make their shorter putts.

Venter’s success with the putter was unexpected because the Silver Lakes golfer struggled with the short stick in the third round.

“I knew I needed to just keep grinding today, follow my processes, and my goal was to just get in contention on the back nine,” Venter, who began the final round five shots off the lead, said.

“I was playing with the American, Dan Erickson, and he was off to a flyer – six-under after seven holes. So he was the guy to catch and I just tried to stay in touching distance of him.

“Then I caught fire on the back nine and I just kept following my processes, just keeping the ball in play, hit the greens and make the putts.

“Yesterday [Saturday] was a really bad putting day – 31 putts – so last night I spent an hour or two on the green and I found something. The putter paid off today with the prize,” Venter said.

Venter finished runner-up (his best finish on tour) in last September’s Sunshine Tour Invitational at Centurion Country Club, but two missed cuts in October probably cost him a top-50 finish in the final 2021/22 order of merit.

His victory on Sunday means none of that matters now and he said his big breakthrough felt surreal.

“At the moment, it’s still kind of surreal. To get to this professional level is hard enough, but then to win is a whole another level.

“It’s about belief and I can only thank my supporters, my coaching staff and family, who felt I was good enough. I would not be in this position without them,” Venter said.

Erickson was still in the lead when he birdied the par-three 15th, which Venter bogeyed, but the American was knocked out of contention by a bogey-bogey finish.

Wears-Taylor birdied 16 and 17 to claim the outright lead, but then bogeyed the last to force him into a playoff, with Albertse staying alive as he birdied 18.

Venter’s round was built around three successive birdies from the seventh hole, and he then burnt up the back nine with a run of four straight birdies from the 11th hole. Despite dropping a shot at 15, he stuck around to the bitter end.

Overnight leader Luca Filippi faded into seventh position after shooting a 75, while Louis de Jager and Jaco Ahlers joined Erickson in fourth place, two shots behind, after they both made 70s on Sunday.

Steyn’s red card was always going to cause tears for the Bulls, but their poor finishing cost them in the end 0

Posted on March 24, 2022 by Ken

Morne Steyn’s red card in the 11th minute of the game was always going to cause some bitter tears for the Bulls, but their own poor finishing ability cost them in the end as a storming comeback saw them fall just short, losing 29-22 to the Sharks in their United Rugby Championship match at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

The veteran Springbok flyhalf was sent off permanently for a late, high swinging arm on Lukhanyo Am, which definitely made contact with the centre’s neck area. But the Sharks did not dominate the flow of the game thereafter as much as they would have liked.

Flank Henco Venter bustled over for the opening try from the resulting penalty, and the Sharks went 14-0 up as hooker Bongi Mbonambi bolted over from a maul. It was an unfortunate blow for the Bulls as the Sharks were given a lineout just outside their 22 when fullback David Kriel’s massive relieving kick just landed on the line inside the Sharks’ 22.

But the Bulls settled into life with only 14 men and dominated territory for the rest of the half. Players worth their salt would have converted a couple of chances that came their way, but reward finally came in the 39th minute when Venter was yellow-carded and then Cornal Hendricks went over in the corner.

But Am scored a sensational try from the restart to make sure the Sharks went into the break 19-5 up. Two Bulls players thought the restart was going directly into touch, but Am snuck in, jumping to catch the ball and then darting down the touchline, regathering his own deft grubber to score a crucial try.

The Bulls scored first in the second half though, superb build-up play, keeping ball-in-hand, taking them into Sharks territory. The maul was again defended well by the visitors, but the Bulls kept bashing away and flank Marcell Coetzee forced his way over for the try.

The Sharks responded though in the 58th minute as they finally made use of the extra man with replacement scrumhalf Grant Williams producing a wonderful long, flat pass out wide to Makazole Mapimpi, who was able to stroll over for the try (26-12).

But just four minutes later, it was Williams who was crying big briney tears as he was red-carded for going in high on Bulls replacement flyhalf Chris Smith, smashing head-first into his cheekbone. Smith had to be stretchered off and it left the Bulls without a regular goalkicker, Kriel being forced to take over.

The Sharks’ defensive resolve did not dissolve though when they were down to 14 men, but the Bulls still scored two more tries but also wasted another couple of opportunities.

Several short passes close to the line went down and there was a three-man overlap wasted by Coetzee when he threw an awful, massive forward pass which myopic referee AJ Jacobs somehow missed, but the TMO did not.

Replacement prop Simphiwe Matanzima dived over to score with five minutes remaining, but Kriel missed the crucial conversion.

Three minutes later, replacement scrumhalf Embrose Papier made a searing break and wing Madosh Tambwe produced a stunning finish through two defenders. Kriel could not make the touchline conversion, so the Bulls, 22-26 down, had to try and score again with just two minutes left.

They won the restart and ran from deep, but the ever-alert Am produced the crucial turnover, replacement flyhalf Curwin Bosch kicking the resulting penalty.


Sharks – Tries: Henco Venter, Bongi Mbonambi, Lukhanyo Am, Makazole Mapimpi. Conversions: Tito Bonilla (2), Curwin Bosch. Penalty: Bosch.

Bulls – Tries: Cornal Hendricks, Marcell Coetzee, Simphiwe Matanzima, Madosh Tambwe. Conversion: Chris Smith.

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