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Ken Borland

Central Gauteng Lions batsmen show there is light at the end of the batting tunnel 0

Posted on December 30, 2023 by Ken

There has obviously not been too much to get excited about lately in terms of South African batsmanship, but the Central Gauteng Lions are showing that there is perhaps light at the end of the tunnel.

They clinched the One-Day Cup title shortly before the New Year with the most powerful of batting displays in the final at the Wanderers – amassing 358/5 to beat Western Province by 62 runs.

It was no one-off either – the Lions won seven of their eight games in the 50-over competition thanks to their batting. Their top seven all averaged over 40 and the lowest strike-rate was the 78.62 of opening batsman Josh Richards, who generally played the anchor role.

Ryan Rickelton was the leading run-scorer in the tournament with 452, 91 ahead of Tristan Stubbs; while Evan Jones, the finisher, averaged 148 with a strike-rate of 149.

But beyond just the sheer scale of the numbers, what was just as impressive about the Lions’ batting effort was the clear growth that was evident in all of their individual games. It was not that long ago that the Gauteng batting line-up was considered too top-heavy for white-ball cricket, while last season it was their top-order that struggled.

Coach Wandile Gwavu and his assistants deserve great credit, and Gwavu said there was a moment in the final when they were able to ponder and appreciate just how far they have come.

“I was actually having a conversation with Ryan Rickelton and Wiaan Mulder during the game and we were admiring the growth in individual games that we were seeing. We spoke about how much everyone had invested in the growth of their own technical games and as human beings,” Gwavu told The Citizen.

“What’s stood out for me in the last four years has been how the batsmen have learnt to understand their games and their roles.

“And we’ve also mastered how to play at the Wanderers, the majority of our six hundreds were scored there. We’ve got to know our own conditions and how to dominate, the batsmen make sure they stand up and be matchwinners. If it’s difficult to bat there for other people, then we have the inside lane.

“Last season when we won the tournament the bowlers dominated for us, but this year was the opportunity for the batsmen to step up. Last season we were always three down for nothing, so it shows we have adapted.

“Especially batting against spin, which has often been a Lions problem. This season it was a stand-out how we played spin away from home – neutralising the likes of George Linde at Newlands, Prenelan Subrayen at Kingsmead and the Warriors attack in Gqeberha,” Gwavu said.

The bowling effort was also special, however. Spinner Bjorn Fortuin and seamers Malusi Siboto, Wiaan Mulder, Lutho Sipamla and Sisanda Magala were just a relentless unit. Magala, who is almost always bowling in the powerplay, was the most expensive of the quintet, going for 6.30 runs-per-over, but he was the leading wicket-taker with 17 in seven matches.

Fortuin and Siboto, who took 12 wickets along with Sipamla, both conceded less than five runs an over.

“Our attack took every opportunity to put the opposition under pressure,” Gwavu said. “There are a lot of good players in that attack, but they all had very clear bowling roles and responsibilities. We were very particular about which players we used in which conditions.

“The standout for me was how we bowled at the death. I knew we could take wickets, but we were also always very calm in our execution,” Gwavu said.

The coach said another mistake fixed this season was one of his own. Although the Lions had a clear core of first-choice players, other squad members, like Tladi Bokako, Duanne Olivier and Liam Alder, were mixed into that

“I made the mistake in the T20 competition of playing the same team all the time, so that was also one of the learnings,” Gwavu said. “You only know how good players are if you give them more opportunity.

“You’re never going to win a competition with just 11 players because you always have injuries or someone off-form. You need to be able to shift players around.

“Dominic Hendricks [the captain] managed it all very well on the field as well,” Gwavu said.

Elgar like an older brother showing his younger siblings the ropes 0

Posted on September 28, 2022 by Ken

Like an older brother showing his younger siblings the ropes, Proteas captain Dean Elgar says he knows what it feels like to be the No.1 Test side in the world and he wants the rest of his team to experience the same joy.

South Africa are currently leading the ICC World Test Championship with five wins from seven matches, but in terms of the Test rankings they are third behind Australia and India. England are 10 points behind them in fourth and are languishing in seventh in the Championship, out of the running for the final.

But regardless of that, beating England in a Test series in England is one of the toughest things to do and Elgar, a veteran of 76 Tests,  knows if they are to be acknowledged as the best side in the longest format then they need to stand up and be counted when the first Test starts at Lord’s on Wednesday.

“I didn’t take the job as captain thinking about just being a mid-table team,” Elgar said on Tuesday. “It was always my goal for us to play our best cricket.

“I’ve been part of a No.1-ranked side twice and I know how great a feeling it is and how much work it takes and what a journey it is.

“I want the younger guys to experience that and I want to experience it again as well before my next chapter. It’s a massive goal of mine, the biggest, and I wouldn’t be doing this job if I didn’t think we were capable of being number one.

“I think we’ve created a lot more confidence over the last 15 months and it has rubbed off on my own game as well. I’m not dissing the opposition, but purely from the South African point of view, we tick all the boxes,” Elgar said.

While rain meant Kagiso Rabada would have to bowl in the indoor nets at Lord’s if he needed to top-up after his ankle injury, there will be at least four changes in the starting XI compared to the team that thrashed Bangladesh in Gqeberha in South Africa’s previous Test, in April.

The injured duo of Temba Bavuma and Duanne Olivier are both back in South Africa, while Wiaan Mulder and Lizaad Williams are not in the touring squad.

Rabada, Lungi Ngidi, Anrich Nortje and Marco Jansen are all back in the squad, but whether there is enough in the conditions to warrant playing Simon Harmer as a second spinner will determine whether the pace quartet return like the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

Who comes in for Bavuma is the big question.

“We’ve lost Temba’s experience factor in the middle-order and I would be more inclined to go for experience,” Elgar said, suggesting Rassie van der Dussen or Aiden Markram are the frontrunners to bat No.4.

Play starts at 12pm SA time.

Brace yourself Pommies! 0

Posted on August 26, 2022 by Ken

Brace yourself Pommies! The Proteas began their tour of England with an emphatic all-round performance as they beat the world champions by 62 runs in the first ODI at Chester-le-Street on Tuesday, a powerful batting display being backed by a dominant showing by the spinners and some skilful, impressive fast bowling.

South Africa had won the toss and elected to bat first in a heatwave that had the ground authorities put precautionary measures in place for spectators and extra drinks breaks allotted for the players.

A sensible start by Janneman Malan and Quinton de Kock (19) saw the Proteas reach 35 in the first six-and-a-half overs, after which Rassie van der Dussen came in and produced one of his greatest innings.

The 33-year-old got going from the outset of his innings, but seemingly without extending himself too greatly as he cruised to his half-century off just 45 balls.

Malan went to a composed half-century himself, but then struggled a bit with his pacing in the middle overs, ending with 57 off 77 balls.

Aiden Markram backed himself and was attacking from the start, but struggled to get the right tempo to his innings as he perhaps went a bit too hard at the ball early on. But as soon as he went back to his natural classy game he flourished, smashing 77 off 61 balls as he and Van der Dussen added 151 for the third wicket off just 123 balls.

Van der Dussen went to the most unflustered of centuries, needing just 90 balls to do it, as he pushed himself hard in the sweltering heat, placing the ball brilliantly, and running hard because he only hit nine fours as he posted a career-best 134 off 117 balls.

Both he and Markram fell in the 46th over bowled by Liam Livingstone, which left new batsmen in David Miller (24* off 14) and Heinrich Klaasen (12) to bat out the last four overs, and they got South Africa to 333/5 when 350 was probably on the cards.

The Proteas might have been a little concerned at the break, but their attack did superbly.

Although England openers Jason Roy (43) and Jonny Bairstow (63) added 102 for the first wicket, they were limited to just 47 in the powerplay as Lungi Ngidi and captain Keshav Maharaj were excellent up front.

South Africa suffered a blow when seamer Andile Phehlukwayo collided with Maharaj in the field and left the field for stitches after bowling just three overs. It meant Markram had to come into the attack but far from leaving the attack deficient, it only strengthened the Proteas’ hand. Markram (4-0-25-2) claimed the key wickets of Bairstow (63) and Ben Stokes (5) in his last ODI, both lbw as they missed sweeps.

Fellow spinners Maharaj (10-1-42-1) and Tabraiz Shamsi (9-0-53-2) then strangled the middle-order, but Joe Root kept England’s hopes alive with a sweetly-struck 86 off 76 balls.

But fast bowler Anrich Nortje (8.5-0-53-4) bowled Root and claimed two other wickets in the 45th over to seal the impressive victory as England were bowled out for 271 in the 47th over.

Sipamla at the start of the chain, slick & consistent deliveries what he brings 0

Posted on August 25, 2022 by Ken

The Central Gauteng Lions did their bit for Mandela Day this week by packing boxes of food and hygiene products to be distributed by humanitarian aid organisations. A chain of players then relayed them from the field to the stands by throwing the boxes to each other. At the start of this chain was Lutho Sipamla, showing the sort of slick, consistent delivery that is demanded of Springbok scrumhalves.

Consistency is also what the 24-year-old paceman brings in his bowling; in his three Test appearances so far he has taken 11 wickets at an average of just 22.27. But he has also impressed with his ability to bowl regularly in a channel, which Sipamla believes is going to be important re the upcoming Test series against England, who have revitalised their fortunes with an aggressive approach to batting.

“Watching their past few games, whoever the bowlers, England have really come after them,” Sipamla told The Citizen. “Their brand of cricket has been a lot more attacking.

“So line-and-length is going to be really important and controlling your channel for as long as possible. It’s going to be about patience and sticking to simple plans.

“I think if we can do that, with our attack, then we can come out on top. Either way, I know I would have really learnt a lot by the end of the tour,” Sipamla said.

Given his inexperience at international level, there is little doubt England’s aggressive batsmen will target Sipamla, but the Port Elizabeth product says he is happy to carry the fight to the batsmen if they do go after him.

“If the batsmen do show a lot of intent, then you have your zone as a bowler and if the batsman makes a mistake then he gets out; that’s my game-plan,” Sipamla said.

“I like the challenge of it being you against the batsman, that contest in the moment, I want to own and win the battle.”

The other thing Sipamla wants is to enjoy a proper cricket tour to one of the great homes of the game.

“Grey High School went on a tour of England in 2016, my matric year, but this will be my first proper international experience and I’m really looking forward to it,” Sipamla said.

“Just to see England and explore it and the touring side of life, I’m just going to enjoy it because it’s going to be great to be back. There’s a lot to do in England.

“And the Tests are at such historic grounds [Lord’s, Old Trafford and the Oval] and to be at Lord’s is going to be unbelievable. I know our pace attack and what they have in the bag, and what better place to show it,” Sipamla said.

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    “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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