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Ken Borland

Bregman eager to mount strong defence of title 0

Posted on May 31, 2024 by Ken

The Sunshine Ladies Tour returns to the Western Cape this week with the Standard Bank Ladies Open at Royal Cape Golf Club and stalwart Stacy Bregman is eager to continue the steady improvement she has shown this season and mount a strong defence of her title.

Bregman claimed her sixth Sunshine Ladies Tour title in April last year when she won the tournament at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington’s West Course, beating Lee-Anne Pace in a playoff. She began this year’s campaign by missing the cut in the Dimension Data Pro-Am at Fancourt, but then finished tied-38th in the SuperSport Ladies Challenge at Lost City and then tied-19th in last week’s Fidelity ADT Ladies Challenge at Blue Valley Golf Estate, where she was in contention for the title before shooting 75 in the final round.

The 37-year-old Bregman says her game is really starting to come together.

“I do feel like I’m starting to find the keys to my game again, even though I wasn’t playing that well at first. But I’ve felt it coming together and my results have been getting better and better,” Bregman said.

“I’m in a good space, my game is trending in the right direction and I’m feeling good. I’ve been putting really well this year, but I could be a bit better off the tees.

“And you’ve got to be good off the tees at Royal Cape, because it’s quite tight and old-school. It’s about positioning yourself and putting well, but it gets really tricky, especially if there are winds, if you’re not in the right positions,” Bregman said.

Royal Cape is the oldest golf course in South Africa and much restoration work has been done in recent years with the original design of Charles Murray and the indigenous landscape at front of mind. The course is built on sandy fynbos plains, but hectares of the endemic Cape Flats vegetation has been lost to the pressures of urbanisation, so Royal Cape have embarked on a program of bolstering the endangered locally-adapted flora.

Although relatively flat, Royal Cape is a challenging course that has 58 bunkers and six holes that feature water. The parklands layout, with Table Mountain looming over it, is exposed to the famous Cape Doctor, the south-easterly wind which is a near-constant obstacle when it comes to finding the tree-lined fairways. It has hosted the South African Open for men 10 times.

The Sunshine Ladies Tour has seen strong competition this season with three different winners thus far – Kylie Henry, Tvesa Malik and Helen Kreuzer – and all three of them are in the field again this week.

The trio come from Scotland, India and Germany respectively, showing the greater interest from overseas that the tour is generating. But South Africa also has some amazing talents to keep an eye on and Kiera Floyd, Gabrielle Venter, Nicole Garcia, Cara Gorlei, Tandi McCallum, Nadia van der Westhuizen and Bregman herself are all capable of winning the R600 000 Standard Bank Ladies Open.

Results, and team-mates, kind to Bavuma 0

Posted on January 24, 2023 by Ken

Despite his own lack of form, results on the field have been kind to Proteas captain Temba Bavuma, and his team-mates have certainly shown their compassion for their skipper’s current struggles.

While Bavuma has scored just 17 runs in his last five innings, South Africa are now top of Group II in the T20 World Cup, and victory over Pakistan in Sydney on Thursday will almost certainly seal their semi-final place. They also have a match against the winless Netherlands, who are already eliminated, in which to qualify for the knockout round.

So the only likely change to the Proteas team for that Pakistan clash will be whether the second frontline spinner, Tabraiz Shamsi, returns to the starting XI.

“Every player goes through slumps and it seems worse when the games are so close together,” Aiden Markram said in support of Bavuma. “We’ve all been there and we all support Temba.

“We all know his important role in the team is not just about his batting. I think his leadership has been very good and he’s made some excellent on-field decisions.

“No one doubts his ability at all, we know he will come right. I’ve been there myself, more than once,” Markram said.

Although the door to the semi-finals has now leaned ajar for the Proteas after their delightful victory over India, Markram said they have learned to not get ahead of themselves.

“Being top of the log is a good thing, but we certainly don’t think we have one foot in the door. It’s going to be a massive game against Pakistan and then the Netherlands.

“We’ve seen in this Super 12 that any side can beat any team on their day. We just have to make sure we get better in each game, and that will give us the best chance of qualifying,” Markram said.

Bavuma is not the only captain under pressure at this World Cup, but his strike-rate this year is 77.22, compared to the 119.90 of Australian skipper Aaron Finch and the 115.59 of Kane Williamson of the Black Caps.

Tristan Stubbs has only scored 7 and 6 in his two innings at this World Cup, but the young man is coming in late in the innings and trying to hit boundaries. Considering his role and inexperience, it would be unfair to expect too much consistency from him at this stage, but if he does come off, then the results could be spectacular.

Confidence in their skills holds Proteas in good stead – Shamsi 0

Posted on September 12, 2022 by Ken

The confidence the Proteas have in their skills was shown in their inspiring T20 series win over England at the weekend and will hold them in good stead in the World Cup on the big fields in Australia, according to star spinner Tabraiz Shamsi.

After being walloped on the tiny Bristol county ground, South Africa produced two comprehensive, compelling victories at Sophia Gardens in Cardiff, where there was at least one long boundary, and at the massive Rose Bowl in Southampton. Shamsi was at the forefront of the turnaround: after being belted for 49 runs in three overs in the first match, he was superb thereafter taking 3/27 and a career-best 5/24 in the two victories.

The triumph over one of the favourites for the T20 World Cup in October, where the Proteas will play in Hobart, Sydney, Perth and Adelaide in the group stage, suggests South Africa will be dangerous in Australia.

“Australia has big fields and that brings the skills of batting and bowling more into it,” Shamsi said. “There’s no issue for us playing on fields with big boundaries, we have a different game-plan to a team like England.

“So we are very confident with the way we are playing and how that will work on the fields in Australia. Bristol was a very small ground while Cardiff at least had one big side.

“England are still an amazing team, but this definitely puts us in a good space knowing that we have beaten them. And maybe they will respect us a bit more too.

“We’re very happy with the way we performed and the series win, we’ll put it in the bank and try and improve in our next series,” Shamsi said ahead of two T20s against Ireland, back in Bristol, on Wednesday and Friday.

While what happened in the first T20 might have knocked the confidence of a lesser player, Shamsi said he was quickly at peace with the hammering he took in Bristol.

“The first game obviously didn’t go according to plan by any stretch of the imagination. But you have to give credit to the management and the players for treating it as an anomaly, not a harsh word was spoken about it.

“When you’re up against world-class players, sometimes that can happen. I didn’t give it too much thought although there was a lot that wasn’t great about it. I just focused on what I know I can do.

“The last match was brilliant – it started with the batsmen, then the fielders and the bowlers, the guys coming on before me did a great job.

“We’ve been on a journey since last year and we have good confidence. We’re finding different matchwinners, different guys are producing the game-changing spell or innings,” Shamsi said.

Happy balance in the Springbok squad 0

Posted on July 29, 2022 by Ken

Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber deserves credit for striking a happy balance between retaining the core of the 2019 World Cup winning squad and rewarding some of the outstanding individual form shown in the United Rugby Championship when he announced his squad last weekend for the next few months of international action.

Personally, I am particularly happy to see the return of Marcell Coetzee, who must surely be the designated back-up to the No.6 jersey should something unfortunate happen to Siya Kolisi, and a first call-up for Elrigh Louw. The pair of loose forwards have done so much of the donkey work that has led the Bulls to the URC final.

Evan Roos also fully deserves his place in the squad and, with Pieter-Steph du Toit also back in the mix after his serious shoulder injury in the series against the British and Irish Lions last year, South Africa are truly blessed with exceptional loose forwards to choose from. Jasper Wiese and Kwagga Smith have also previously met expectations in the Springbok jersey.

Warrick Gelant and Aphelele Fassi will provide pleasing competition for the fullback jersey, but don’t be surprised if Nienaber sticks with Willie le Roux, whose experience and performances in high-level games is highly valued by the Springbok management.

Andre Esterhuizen is also deservedly brought in, providing depth in the inside centre position after his superb performances in England, and Ruan Nortje seems the ideal successor to Franco Mostert and can learn much in his first exposure to international rugby.

It’s important to note that Duane Vermeulen, who is two weeks away from his 36th birthday, and Frans Steyn, who turned 35 a month ago, are both absent from the squad because they are unavailable. Vermeulen has had knee surgery, figuring he would rather have it now than in a World Cup year (2023), while Steyn is currently in rehab from a hamstring strain. Nienaber this week gave the impression that he is counting the days until their return to the Springbok squad.

In terms of the front row, there is plenty of depth with Steven Kitshoff, Frans Malherbe, Trevor Nyakane, Ox Nche, Vincent Koch and Thomas du Toit all being quality props. New face Ntuthuko Mchunu is inexperienced but has the talent to make the starting front row in the future.

Bulls hooker Johan Grobbelaar, a member of the Springbok squad last year, has been incredible in the URC and was inspired in the epic semi-final win over Leinster in Dublin. It is a stiff ask for him to displace Bongi Mbonambi and Malcolm Marx in the pecking order, but I would have had him in the squad ahead of Joseph Dweba. Deon Fourie, who has considerably strengthened the Stormers’ challenge this season, can also cover hooker, of course.

Areas of concern in the squad, in terms of where Nienaber perhaps needs to rustle up some extra back-up, are flyhalf, scrumhalf and outside centre.

Handre Pollard’s flyhalf cover is Elton Jantjies, who has legal and injury problems in the background, and Damian Willemse, who has been a commanding presence at inside centre for the Stormers but there have been murmurs of discontent whenever he has worn the No.10 jersey. The obvious contender, Johan Goosen, is in the squad but will not be able to play until September/October after knee surgery.

Faf de Klerk is the obvious starting scrumhalf, but with Cobus Reinach injured, who sits on the bench? Herschel Jantjies needs to work on providing consistent quick service, while Jaden Hendrikse has had some flaky moments. For me, it is his Sharks team-mate, Grant Williams, who may win a reserves spot, given the injection of pace he can bring and the fact that he can also cover wing, useful if the Boks go for a 6/2 split on the bench again.

Lukhanyo Am and Jesse Kriel, whose current form from Japan we know little about, are the only specialist outside centres in the squad.

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