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Ken Borland



‘Pretty weak performance’ – Elgar’s prim & proper criticism of Proteas 0

Posted on August 31, 2023 by Ken

Proteas captain Dean Elgar admitted to having to bite his tongue at times after the second Test capitulation against Australia, as well as believing in positive affirmation for his team, but when he described their innings-and-182-run thrashing at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Thursday as a “pretty weak performance”, it was prim and proper criticism.

South Africa struggled to 204 all out in 68.5 overs on Friday, Australia having piled up 575 for eight declared in response to the tourists’ inadequate 189 in the first innings, to lose the series 2-0, and their lack of fight with the bat was not befitting a team with their legacy in Australia, where they have won their last three Test rubbers.

“It was a pretty weak performance in conditions that were in favour of really good Test cricket,” Elgar said. “It’s pretty disappointing how we ended up when I wanted to see us really give the Aussies a fight, really value our wickets.

“We showed a lot more character with ball in hand, even though they batted us into the ground. There was not as much character in our batting and it is tough to digest.

“But we need to keep going, I still believe in positive affirmation for my team and the guys that are here are talented cricketers and hardened first-class players, just not at international level.

“You’ve got to believe that you are just one knock away from finding form and I keep reminding them that they are not crap cricketers. We’ll be playing for the badge and the pride of the team in the third Test,” Elgar said.

Temba Bavuma, who provided most of the resistance on Friday with a 201-minute innings of 65, told SuperSport after the game that the hunger David Warner had shown in scoring 200 before retiring with severe cramps was the sort of example the Proteas batsmen needed to follow.

“The batting is a worry, it was not good enough on probably one of the better pitches we’ve played on recently. Australia showed it, with Warner really making it count, but unfortunately we could not put anything of substance together,” Bavuma said.

“Australia have done things right, while we have not done it for long periods. Warner started with good intensity, he put the bowlers under pressure, scored at every opportunity and, most importantly, made it count to the point of almost putting himself in hospital. He showed what is required,” Bavuma said.

SA batsmen yet again fail to do the business 0

Posted on August 31, 2023 by Ken

South Africa’s batsmen yet again failed to do the business as they were bowled out for just 204 to lose the second Test against Australia by a massive innings and 182 runs and with it the series at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Thursday.

The Proteas barely survived to the final session as a depleted Australian attack wrapped up their second innings in 68.5 overs, one ball longer than their dismal first innings, left-arm quick Mitchell Starc setting the tone as he bowled through the pain of a dislocated finger. It was only some lusty blows at the end of the innings by Lungi Ngidi (19) and a last-wicket stand of 27 with Anrich Nortje (8*) that ended the desperate run of seven successive totals of less than 200.

Temba Bavuma was the one South African batsman to build an innings, scoring 65 in 201 minutes off 144 balls, but he was also complicit in two disastrous run outs which epitomised the slapdash nature of their performances in Australia.

Having lost overnight batsmen Sarel Erwee, trapped lbw for 21 by a searing Starc yorker, and Theunis de Bruyn (28), who was well-taken by Steve Smith at first slip after Scott Boland found the shoulder of his bat with some steepling bounce, South Africa plunged to 65 for four before lunch with the run out of Khaya Zondo for just a single.

Bavuma pushed Pat Cummins straight to cover and ran, with Zondo ball-watching at the non-striker’s end and well-beaten by Travis Head’s direct hit.

The second run out was just as farcical as Bavuma left Keshav Maharaj (13) stranded halfway down the pitch on a third run, Starc collecting the boundary throw from Marnus Labuschagne and throwing down the stumps at the wicketkeeper’s end.

Bavuma and Kyle Verreynne were the brokers of some respite for the Proteas as they added 63 for the fifth wicket. But Boland broke the stand in the third over after lunch as Verreynne (33) erred in playing across the line of an in-ducker and was trapped lbw.

Bavuma eventually lost concentration and was caught off a wild slog-sweep against off-spinner Nathan Lyon, so his wait for a second Test century continues, but he had batted with great determination and played some fine strokes mixed with solid defence.

Too many amorphous deliveries lead to tough times for SA attack 0

Posted on August 21, 2023 by Ken

The second and third days of the second Test against Australia at the MCG have been tough times for the South African attack, a good batting pitch meaning too many of their balls were amorphous, non-shaping deliveries that did not threaten a powerful batting line-up that racked up a massive 575 for eight declared.

That gave Australia a huge first-innings lead of 386 and the Proteas struggled to 15 for one in their second innings at stumps.

Bowling coach Charl Langeveldt said on Wednesday that although the attack could be proud of their effort, they needed better control when the ball was not doing much.

“It’s been a tough three days in general for us, but we did not start well with the ball on Day One. On the second day we put in the effort, Anrich Nortje brought a lot of heat,” Langeveldt said.

“Control is something we need to speak about, that can improve. It’s a young bowling attack, but they need to control the run-rate for longer periods.

“Stringing together 18 consecutive good balls is one of our KPIs and we could not achieve that, which is a bit of a red flag going forward. But this is a good pitch and we have played a lot of Tests lately on more bowler-friendly wickets.

“I’m happy with the enthusiasm, that was brilliant and I cannot fault it. We need to stay patient and I think reward is going to be around the corner,” Langeveldt said.

While Kagiso Rabada is currently the year’s leading wicket-taker in global Test matches with 47 in just nine matches, Langeveldt admitted that their spearhead has been out of sorts in Melbourne and that the other bowlers have not bowled well enough in partnerships.

“KG has not been on song and the others have only been in periods. We haven’t bowled well as a unit, those bowling partnerships are important and they have just not been there,” Langeveldt said.

“So we need to address that, but we have not played much on good cricket wickets lately and this is a good one. Sometimes you just need to bowl a few dot balls and use the bumper as a surprise ball.

“KG always takes wickets, but the challenge for him at the moment is control. Someone like Pat Cummins also leaked runs when he was at the beginning of his career, now he takes wickets and has control.

“That’s the challenge for KG going forward, especially on flatter pitches. We always need to assess the conditions and we always talk about adapting,” Langeveldt said.

But blaming these shortcomings on inexperience does not seem right. Rabada has already been playing Test cricket for seven years and has 267 wickets. Cummins debuted 11 years ago but has played 11 Tests fewer than Rabada due to injuries.

Anrich Nortje and Lungi Ngidi are both playing in their 17th Test match, while Marco Jansen has only just completed his first year of Test cricket.

Spinner Keshav Maharaj, playing his 47th Test, was also not at his best as he conceded 135 runs in 41.5 overs and went wicketless.

Odds against SA as they try to avoid ‘4-day franchise game’ in 2nd Test 0

Posted on August 21, 2023 by Ken

The odds are stacked high against South Africa as their batsmen face trying to avoid turning the second Test versus Australia at the Melbourne Cricket Ground into something akin to a four-day franchise game, ending the third day still needing 371 runs to avoid an innings defeat.

The Proteas batted for just seven overs in their second innings on Wednesday, but in that time they lost captain Dean Elgar, caught down the leg-side for a duck. Sarel Erwee (7*) and Theunis de Bruyn (6*) then took them to 15 for one when rain stopped play at 4.21pm local time.

Mitchell Starc, bleeding from the finger he dislocated in the field on the first day, swung the ball prodigiously, but it was captain Pat Cummins who grabbed the wicket as he bowled three successive maidens.

The bowlers have been through one of their toughest tests as Australia piled on 575 for eight declared, their biggest total against South Africa since they smashed 652 for seven declared at the Wanderers in 2002. It meant the Proteas conceded a monstrous 386-run first-innings lead.

Anrich Nortje produced a thrilling double-strike in his second over of the day as he bowled Travis Head for a dashing 51, shaping the ball back into the left-hander. That brought second-day hero David Warner back to the crease, the left-hander celebrating his 100th Test having retired hurt with severe cramps upon reaching his epic 200*.

But Nortje, whose tremendous fast bowling the previous day had thrilled the MCG crowd almost as much as Warner’s innings, bowled the veteran opener first ball back with an excellent yorker.

Cummins survived the hat-trick ball but was then caught behind off Kagiso Rabada for 4. With Cameron Green and Starc both nursing hand injuries, South Africa may have expected to wrap the innings up quickly as Nathan Lyon came to the crease with Australia on 400 for six, leading by 211.

But Lyon batted brightly to score 25 off 17 balls as he and Alex Carey put on a quickfire 40, and the wicketkeeper/batsman carried on in exhilarating fashion to an exciting maiden Test century, one that ensured Australia enjoyed an insurmountable lead.

With Green surprisingly returning to the crease with a fractured finger and defending stoutly, Carey feasted on the tired bowling on a flat pitch, scoring a superb 111 off 149 balls before offering a return catch to Marco Jansen as he tried to withdraw his bat from a steepling, tennis-ball bounce lifter from the left-arm quick.

Green became more fluent the longer he was at the crease, but his 51 not out was still a grind, albeit a brave one, coming off 177 deliveries in 224 minutes.

Having bowled themselves into the ground, South Africa’s bowlers eventually received some respite when Australia declared shortly before tea, having batted for 145 overs. Nortje earned immense respect for his effort as he finished with three for 92 in 25 overs.

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