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Ken Borland

Proteas advertising their passion for Test cricket in clinical fashion 2

Posted on March 11, 2023 by Ken

The Proteas were able to celebrate a massive 284-run over the West Indies in the second Test at the Wanderers.

The second Test between South Africa and the West Indies may have only lasted three-and-a-half days, but in terms of advertising their self-professed love of Test cricket and their renewed happiness under new leadership, the Proteas produced a compellingly clinical display at the Wanderers on Saturday.

The West Indies were bundled out for just 106 in only 35.1 overs, their third lowest total ever against South Africa, whose 284-run winning margin was their second-biggest against the once-great Caribbean team.

Off-spinner Simon Harmer took the new ball and bowled unchanged from the Golf Course End to take three for 45 in 17.1 overs. Kagiso Rabada, as ever, had set the ball rolling with two wickets in the 11th over, after West Indies openers Kraigg Brathwaite (18) and Tagenarine Chanderpaul (2) had initially done well to put on 21 for the first wicket.

Seven overs later, the West Indies had crashed to 34 for six at lunch, left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj also taking two wickets.

But what happened next to Maharaj was the only negative of the fourth and final day at the Wanderers, with the 33-year-old rupturing his achilles tendon as he tried to celebrate his second wicket, an excellent review leading to Kyle Mayers being given out lbw for 7 on the stroke of lunch.

Not much more than an hour after lunch it was all over, with young fast bowler Gerald Coetzee mopping up the tail with three for 37, once again improving on his career-best figures.

“Today the guys were very clinical in the way they went about their business. Winning is always fun and I did enjoy that,” new Test coach Shukri Conrad said after debuting with a 2-0 series win. “To see smiles on the faces and a happy changeroom is fantastic, because after the Australia tour, things were very dark.

“It was great to see how the guys responded and I feel there has been a little bit of growth already. We now have to find novel ways of keeping that growth going because we don’t play another Test for nine months.

“I can say categorically and emphatically that the boys want to play Test cricket, every single one of them wants to play more Test cricket,” Conrad said.

The 55-year-old coach was especially delighted for his captain, Temba Bavuma, who must have slept well overnight having scored a magnificent 171 not out that led the Proteas from a position where they were in danger of losing the match to a massive lead.

Although Bavuma only added a single to his score on Saturday, swinging Jason Holder straight to deep backward square-leg, he has answered his critics in emphatic fashion, his long-awaited second Test century being not only a biggie, but a matchwinning one on a lively pitch.

Conrad said Bavuma’s epic had roused considerable emotion in the Proteas changeroom.

“Thank goodness the TV cameras didn’t show the changeroom because there were a few wild scenes in there,” Conrad laughed. “Temba is under a lot of pressure, often for no good reason.

“So it was a monumental knock with the Test on a knife-edge. The West Indies have found ways to crawl back into the game in this series, and we have found ways of letting them back in.

“So at eight for two and then losing another two quick wickets, we needed someone to step up and move the momentum of the series. It was both a match and series defining innings.

“It was a helluva knock against a very skilled bowling unit, especially the quicks. Technically, Temba was fantastic.

“We are all so happy for him. After close of play yesterday [Friday], some of the guys stood up and lauded Temba. After all the unnecessary stick he gets, to go out and play like that was fabulous,” Conrad said.

West Indies coach Andre Coley said his team had relaxed at key times on the third day, but he praised Bavuma for “seizing the opportunity and wrestling the game away from us”.

The bowlers then wasted no time in landing the knockout punch on Saturday, securing a win that was as emphatic as some of the big triumphs at the Wanderers in the previous decade when South Africa were one of the leaders in Test cricket.

Proteas play 2 spinners thanks to all their IP on Wanderers payroll 0

Posted on March 08, 2023 by Ken

Proteas coach Shukri Conrad made another big call for the Wanderers Test

New Proteas Test coach Shukri Conrad, captain Temba Bavuma, bowling spearhead Kagiso Rabada and batting consultant Neil McKenzie have all been or are currrently on the payroll at the Wanderers for many years, and Conrad said on Tuesday that it was that home ground knowledge that led South Africa to make the shock decision to play two spinners in the second Test against the West Indies, which starts in Johannesburg on Wednesday.

The first question Conrad was asked during Tuesday’s pre-match press conference was whether the hosts had settled on a starting XI, and the transparent coach surprised many when he began reciting the team. That surprise turned to shock when the names Simon Harmer and Keshav Maharaj were called out consecutively at numbers eight and nine.

The debate at the Wanderers is usually whether the Proteas will play even one frontline spinner, but from a pace-heavy attack for the first Test at Centurion, Conrad and the brains trust have now switched to fielding both off-spinner Harmer and left-arm orthodox Maharaj. It is the first time since the 1965 Test (37 matches ago) against England, when orthodox left-armer Atholl McKinnon and offie Harry Bromfield both played, that South Africa have selected two frontline spinners for a Wanderers Test.

But those who have watched much cricket at the Wanderers this year will know that the pitch has been unusually helpful to spinners, offering both turn and bounce. Conrad said they know the Wanderers pitch well enough to know this week’s track is different to what has been in use for Test matches there for several years.

“Frostie [new groundsman Brendon Frost, formerly of Willowmoore Park] has done a good job covering the massive bare patch so that it looks okay. But we have lots of cricket IP [intellectual property] in our squad when it comes to cricket here – myself, Temba, KG, Neil Mac have all been involved with Lions cricket for a long time,” Conrad pointed out.

“In the last year, we’ve seen that spinners do come into play more here. A Test doesn’t have to end on Day Three, and if we go to the fourth and fifth day then spin will definitely come into play.

“The pitch looks a bit abrasive and we think one end is going to be a lot more seamer-friendly. So we’re not just making the change for change’s sake,” Conrad said.

Local knowledge has also led to Ryan Rickelton getting a place in the starting XI, replacing the struggling Keegan Petersen. Since the hero of last summer’s epic series win over India tore his hamstring in the CSA T20 Challenge final in November, he has scored just 85 runs in six innings.

Rickelton, on the other hand, has been in tremendous nick, stroking three centuries in his five four-day innings. His absence from the Proteas team this summer has been perplexing; even his much-debated ankle injury has not been able to justify his omission.

“Ryan deserves a crack, he’s been churning out runs and probably deserves a chance more than anyone,” Conrad admitted. “Ryan is definitely going to be a big part of the side going forward.

“Knowing his character and the way he has performed at domestic level, we can start building a future team around him. I think he’s going to have a long and successful run.

“Keegan was the incumbent and I still think his best position may be number five going forward, looking at the way he plays. The batting unit is still a work in progress, but I think he will have a bigger role to play in the middle-order,” Conrad said.

South Africa: Dean Elgar, Aiden Markram, Tony de Zorzi, Temba Bavuma, Ryan Rickelton, Heinrich Klaasen, Wiaan Mulder, Simon Harmer, Keshav Maharaj, Gerald Coetzee, Kagiso Rabada.

Conrad not the manufacturer of a dramatic new way, but has made brave calls 0

Posted on February 28, 2023 by Ken

New Proteas Test coach Shukri Conrad has made some brave calls for his first series in charge, against the West Indies.

New Proteas Test coach Shukri Conrad is not aiming to be the manufacturer of some dramatic new way of playing five-day cricket, but he has nevertheless made some brave calls as South Africa head into a new era in what most players still consider the pinnacle of the game as they take on the West Indies in the first of a two-match series in Centurion from Tuesday.

Conrad has not only installed a new Test captain in Temba Bavuma, whose predecessor Dean Elgar remains in the team but needs to regain his ability to make tough runs, but also cut a trio of players who would probably have expected to still be involved.

Dropping two of the three leading run-scorers in the series in Australia over the festive season is certainly a tough call if you are Kyle Verreynne, who scored two half-centuries in the three Tests, or Sarel Erwee, whose last Test innings was the dogged 42 not out he scored to help South Africa save the third Test in Sydney.

Lungi Ngidi has also been a regular in the Test team, playing 11 of the 18 Tests in the last two years. He has taken 33 wickets in that time, at an excellent average of just 21.63. Ngidi has also conceded only 3.06 runs-per-over in that time, all of which suggests he plays an important role in the Proteas attack, but Conrad has seemingly gone the bold route of wanting the express pace of uncapped Gerald Coetzee instead.

Heinrich Klaasen and Aiden Markram are the batsmen to benefit from the axing of Verreynne and Erwee. There is no doubting that both are amongst the most talented strokeplayers in the country, but Klaasen has scored just 48 runs in four Test innings, and Markram makes yet another return based on just how damn good he looks whenever he picks up a bat, except when it comes to actually scoring runs at Test level.

Typically of Conrad, who is never afraid to back his big calls, he has already stated that Markram will return to opening the batting alongside Elgar. The new coach is not reinventing how the Proteas play Test cricket, but he is certainly aiming for a more aggressive, positive approach.

Conrad was walking around the SuperSport Park field on Monday morning during the Proteas’ final preparations like a sergeant major, but he is not all bark and bite; he found time to give the no-doubt hurting Elgar an arm around the shoulder and a rub of the neck.

If the 55-year-old Conrad is the equivalent of the Proteas’ chairman of the board, then Bavuma is the new CEO tasked with getting the best out of the staff.

Bavuma is no stranger to international captaincy, of course, having led the Proteas in 17 ODIs and 25 T20s. He is highly-respected by his team-mates for his tactical acumen, technical ability and tenacity.

Bavuma has been no stranger to tough times recently, and he was stressing the need for his team to embrace a fresh start against the West Indies.

“These are exciting times, it’s the start of a new journey and I would like us to start with a clean slate and play the way we want to play,” Bavuma said at Centurion on Monday.

“We have got enough resources in the 15-man squad to adapt to conditions and back up whatever tactics we want to employ. And there are other leaders within the team, guys who have been around for a while, who I can definitely lean on. We just need to ensure we are all speaking the same language.

“The brand of cricket we play is how we want to measure ourselves, but we still need to man up. We know as a batting unit that we need to score the runs, we need to go out and do what we need to do.

“A lot of these guys have won a series against India not long ago when no-one really backed us to do that. I always preach playing together as a team and we don’t want to lose that,” Bavuma said.

Fresh starts almost always involve a positive approach to things, and it seems the Proteas are as concerned with how they go about playing as what they produce. Conrad will have to live or die by his brave choices, and perhaps he will discover that sometimes producing the goods is all that matters, no matter how you look doing it.

McKenzie back & Maketa & Conrad appointed as chief breeders of talent 0

Posted on September 11, 2020 by Ken

While Neil McKenzie will return to South African cricket as a batting coach, the appointment of Malibongwe Maketa and Shukri Conrad as the chief breeders of talent for the Proteas will arguably have an even greater effect as director of cricket Graeme Smith announced his high performance management team on Thursday.

McKenzie, who played 58 Tests and 64 ODIs for the Proteas, is the new batting lead and while this means he will replace Jacques Kallis as the batting consultant for the national team, his appointment is a full-time one and he will work with batsmen at all levels of the pipeline.

Conrad, as the new SA U19 men’s lead, and Maketa, who is now the full-time South Africa A and National Academy lead, have been given key roles in that pipeline.

Maketa was a Proteas assistant coach from 2017-2019 as well as enjoying a successful time in charge of the Eastern Cape Warriors, so the 39-year-old knows exactly what is required for talented cricketers to progress through the system. He told The Citizen on Thursday that he sees himself as the go-between for the Proteas management and the franchise coaches.

“They are two very important roles and fortunately I’ll have a lot of highly qualified coaches around me as we try to prepare cricketers for both the franchises and the Proteas. The Academy is there to empower the players with skills and I will be assisting them with their game-plans and execution. It’s great to be back in a full-time role with Cricket South Africa.

“I’ll be looking to assist Mark Boucher and Enoch Nkwe in creating a bigger base for the Proteas and my contract runs concurrently with their’s. It’s also about monitoring and identifying talent and lending a hand to the franchise coaches, making sure we are all speaking the same language, from Graeme, Mark and Enoch to the franchises. I intend to get my hands dirty and throw lots of balls,” Maketa said.

Conrad, a vastly-experienced coach who has been heading up the National Academy, will now take over the crucial U19 programme.

“I’ve loved every minute of it at the academy and I know what is required to get to those levels as I now get involved earlier in the pipeline. The U19s are a great challenge because it is such an important stage in development and South African cricket as a whole. The challenge is to ensure we give every young cricketer every opportunity to play and perform.

“Excellence in coaching is critical at provincial and school level, and schools have a massive role to play. I would like to work together with them, private coaches and the Hubs and RPC coaches because we have been in our silos for far too long. Plus we have a scouting system and a wonderful database run by John Bailey and Niels Momberg to ensure nobody falls through the cracks,” Conrad said.

Other appointments confirmed on Thursday were those of Eddie Khoza as the Acting Head of Cricket Pathways, Vincent Barnes as the High-Performance Bowling Lead, Dinesha Devnarain as the Women’s SA U19 and National Academy Head Coach, and Dr Shuaib Manjra as the Chief Medical Officer. Follwing the rather dilly stink created over the appointment of certain consultants, these announcements should be sweet-smelling for the majority of SA cricket fans. They all have considerable amounts to add to the high performance programme.

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