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Ken Borland

A history of T20’s adverse effects on CSA; is another calamitous mistake in the offing? 0

Posted on August 22, 2022 by Ken

South Africa’s bombshell decision to pull out of their ODIs in Australia next January, thereby harming their chances of qualifying automatically for the World Cup, have exposed not only the adverse financial situation CSA find themselves in, but also their obsession and the massive gamble they are taking in trying to get a T20 franchise league off the ground.

By forfeiting three ODIs against Australia, the Proteas will miss out on a possible 30 points that could have lifted them from their lowly current position of 11th on the World Cup Super League qualifying table into the top eight and an automatic place in the showpiece 50-over tournament.

The reason CSA have given for taking such a drastic step is that their new T20 franchise league they are launching next January is their priority and they feel they have to have their Proteas available for the new tournament.

Not many people realise, but it was South Africa who first played T20 cricket at a senior, interprovincial level. Back in 2002, SuperSport and Discovery combined for a knockout 20-over tournament featuring Western Province, Northerns and KZN, and one other invited team, that sent the winners on a trip to an exotic destination as a prize.

South Africa were also amongst the first to stage a formal domestic T20 tournament, in 2004 as part of the switch to the franchise system.

While T20 was not initially taken very seriously at international level, after South Africa hosted the first T20 World Cup in 2007, the format’s popularity quickly spread through all levels of the cricketing world.

India won that inaugural World Cup, beating Pakistan in a thrilling final at the Wanderers, and the most cricket-mad country in the world’s love affair with T20 began. The Indian Premier League, the most lucrative of all cricket events, began in 2008.

The 2009 IPL was hosted by South Africa due to security concerns surrounding India’s general election. And that is when the adverse effects T20 has had on the running of cricket in this country began to rear their ugly head.

For CSA, T20 has been a bit like The One Ring in J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic, The Lord of the Rings. The ring forged by the dark lord Sauron has the ability to provide great power, but it also corrupts even the most well-intentioned.

Following their hosting of the IPL, CSA became embroiled in the Bonus Scandal that cost CEO Gerald Majola and several high-ranking administrators their jobs.

The T20 Global League, the brainchild of Haroon Lorgat, who succeeded Majola as CSA’s chief executive, was meant to get off the ground in 2017 and then in 2018, but it was embroiled in controversy over broadcast rights. Lorgat was fired by the Cricket Capturers who then plunged CSA into its biggest ever crisis, and the reason why the organisation was, six months ago, apparently a year away from Day Zero – when they could no longer pay the players.

The engineers of that ‘coup’ then launched the Mzansi Super League, which was played in 2018 and 2019 but was never financially sustainable because the broadcast rights – where most of the income should be derived – were given to the SABC for free.

And now CSA have a new Precious. There is another T20 domestic franchise league on the table, waiting to be launched. Whether this will be another poisoned chalice or a belated success story remains to be seen.

On the positive side, what toppled the previous attempts – the lack of broadcast income – has been resolved by SuperSport coming on board and being a 30% stakeholder in the event.

As far as the Proteas are concerned, there is disappointment that they won’t be playing the ODIs in Australia and they are upset over the 30 qualifying points lost. But unlike last October when CSA made a unilateral decision that the players must take a knee for Black Lives Matter, this time the team were consulted and they understand the financial priorities at play.

Apart from having all our own stars involved, big-name overseas players such as Jos Buttler and Liam Livingstone are being courted to play in the league. But it’s not as if there’s no competition for their signatures: The Big Bash League starts in Australia in December and the Emirates Cricket Board are launching their own new T20 league in January 2023 as well.

CSA are reportedly allowing each of the six teams in their league a U.S.$1.5 million salary bill, but the UAE are apparently going to match that and their players will only have to pay 2% tax, compared to the 15% withholding tax in South Africa.

CSA have three main income streams: broadcast rights, sponsorships and ICC disbursements.

While not qualifying for the 50-over World Cup would mean missing out on a substantial amount of U.S. dollars, broadcast rights only really bring in the millions CSA require when they host one of the Big Three, especially India.

And, thanks to the aforementioned CSA ‘coup’ in 2018, sponsors have also largely fled the coop.

So one can understand CSA’s desperation to find some way to keep the lights on at their Melrose Estate offices. And by extension the 15 provinces, which cost CSA R250 million a year to look after.

More countries are likely to pull out of bilateral commitments, and even risk their participation in ICC events, because of cricket’s skewed financial model.

It is time the International Cricket Council, as the mother body of the game, took serious steps to look after all their children and not just India, England and Australia. A failure to ensure a level playing field will lead to the demise of international cricket.

Rassie backing up Temba as a leader, with the best of them as a batsman & raising the bar all round 0

Posted on February 15, 2022 by Ken

Rassie van der Dussen pulls stylishly at the Wanderers. – Photo by Marcel Sigg

Temba Bavuma has made a tremendous start to his tenure as South Africa’s white-ball captain, and Keshav Maharaj was also excellent when standing in for him, but it is heartening to know that if they are unfortunately unavailable for any reason, there is another calm, deep-thinking leader in the team who could do the job with aplomb.

Rassie van der Dussen has cemented his place in the limited-overs teams in spectacular fashion and his heroics in the recently-completed ODI whitewash of India leave him with 1267 runs in 26 innings in the 50-over format, at the extraordinary average of 74.52.

The second oldest of four sports-mad brothers, Van der Dussen was first touted as leadership material during the horrors of the 2019 World Cup in England. Amidst a chaotic campaign, the Pretoria product impressed with his cool head and clear thinking, as well as the three half-centuries he scored in six innings, finishing the tournament with an average of 62.

That same composure and ability to adapt to any situation was clearly evident during the memorable Test and ODI series wins over India. There were times Van der Dussen had to dig in defiantly; on other occasions he turned the momentum through positive strokeplay and no little skill.

“The Test series was definitely the toughest conditions I’ve ever had to bat in and it was high pressure with the Indian bowlers just never letting you go,” Van der Dussen told Saturday Citizen.

“Every session seemed to be more important than the last, every moment things could swing the other way. It was extremely mentally testing. But being mentally strong is something I pride myself on.

“Under pressure I need to be level-headed and to analyse the situation objectively. Throughout my career I’ve believed that I can manage the chase, absorb the pressure when the opposition is bowling well.

“I pride myself on performing in the big moments and matches. It maybe comes from playing club cricket in Pretoria from a young age, playing against men. There was often verbal abuse and you had to deal with it,” Van der Dussen said in typically stoic fashion.

The 32-year-old currently has the highest average in ODI history of all batsmen who have played at least 20 innings and when one looks at some of the other superstars near the top of that list – Virat Kohli (58.77), Babar Azam (56.92), Michael Bevan (53.58) and AB de Villiers (53.50) – one thing characterises them all. They are all expert players of the situation, whether it called for consolidation or acceleration.

Many other just as talented batsmen ended with inferior records because they would only play in one way, arguing that that was their “natural game”.

“A batsman can be labelled with that – ‘that’s just the way he plays,’ people will say. But it can also be a cop-out,” Van der Dussen said.

“Whenever I bat, I try to change the match and there is always a certain amount of responsibility you have to accept. It’s about reading the match situation and working out what is needed.

“That’s always my thing: to put the team in a good position to win the game. At the Wanderers Test, I knew Dean and I had to be in overnight, the runs did not matter at the end of the third day. But then we were able to start well the next day.”

The way Van der Dussen stayed calm and clear-headed under immense pressure from India was in stark contrast to visiting wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant, a great talent who twice got out for ducks at crucial times on tour due to wild forays down the pitch to try and slog the bowler.

Van der Dussen admits he did have a few words with Pant, who ‘caught’ him in the first innings of the Wanderers Test when the ball had clearly bounced, but the phlegmatic Central Gauteng Lions star did raise the bar above petty sledging.

“I like to think I’m a deep thinker and I just asked Pant a few questions, nothing attacking him personally, but I guess they did not sit well with him. I suppose it made him think differently.

“But the Wanderers incident was a massive moment because chasing 280-300 would possibly have been too much for us and he’s a young and exciting player. We did speak about making sure that was a moment India would really regret and capitalising on it,” Van der Dussen said.

It will surprise no-one that someone as pragmatic as Van der Dussen already has a plan for life after cricket and has gone into business with his agent and close friend Chris Cardoso.

“I’m really enjoying delving into the business side and we now have three coffee shops – called Abantu Coffee – in the Centurion area. Our aim is to make good coffee and create as many jobs as we can.

“I really want to scale up my involvement in it and I enjoy being hands-on in the business,” Van der Dussen said.

Something else that the Menlo Park High School and Affies alma mater enjoys immensely, along with wife Lara, is the bush and especially birdwatching.

Even in that hobby, Van der Dussen is trying to make a change for good with his support of the Mabula Ground Hornbill Project, along with Cardoso.

“I go to Mabula about twice a year, Chris owns a unit in Mabula and through our conservation fund African FRDM x Environment we are helping them with the great work they do in trying to secure a good future for these endangered birds.

“We’ve helped them with new tyres and in trying to build suitable nest boxes that are strong enough for these massive birds and their huge beaks.

“I’ve loved the bush from early on because my grandfather had a farm with game and cattle at Springbokvlakte between Modimolle and Marble Hall. Growing up amongst animals I learnt things like tracking.

“Which got me into birdwatching because of the thrill of the chase, you hear the call and you want to track the bird down and see it. For Lara and I, seeing a rare bird gives us the same feeling as seeing a lion or a leopard,” Van der Dussen said.

But for now, dreams of spending more time in the bush have had to take a back seat because Van der Dussen is spotting both the red and the white ball extremely well at the moment.

Every innings a new instalment of his career & a new situation to adapt to for Rassie 0

Posted on February 14, 2022 by Ken

For Rassie van der Dussen, every innings is a new instalment of his career, a new situation to adapt to, and he did it to perfection at Boland Park in Paarl on Wednesday as his unbeaten century led South Africa to an impressive 31-run win over India in the first ODI.

Van der Dussen came to the crease in the 18th over when the Proteas were struggling on 68/3. Together with his captain Temba Bavuma, who was busy getting himself in and would go big in scoring a brilliant century of his own, they added a magnificent 204 off just 190 deliveries, the best ever fourth-wicket stand for South Africa against India.

Van der Dussen’s commanding 129 not out off just 96 balls means he has now scored 1178 runs in his 30 ODIs at an extraordinary average of 73.62. What marked this innings out was how fluently he played right from the start of his innings, on a slow and tricky pitch that made scoring difficult.

“The pitch was taking a bit of turn and I knew I would have to go to my sweeps and reverse-sweeps fairly early,” Van der Dussen said after his career-best ODI score. “If I let the spinners settle on a slow pitch then it would not be easy to go down the ground.

“I tried to put the pressure back on them, and Temba and I were constantly reminding each other to keep the intensity high. Always as a batsman, especially in the middle-order, I try and read the situation.

“I’m trying to make a good score that will win the match, I have no other reference. I appreciate it may look like something else for those outside. Today I knew that if I allowed the spinners to settle then they would get into a good rhythm and it would be very difficult to win.

“So I tried to reverse the pressure with low-risk boundary options. You have to be able to go to those skills whether it’s your first ball or 100th ball,” Van der Dussen said.

South African teams have historically struggled against the turning ball and both Indian spinners, Ravichandran Ashwin and Yuzvendra Chahal, have prospered against them in the past. But the way Van der Dussen and Bavuma played them on Wednesday suggests all is okay now on that front.

“Conditions in Paarl generally suit the spinners because there’s not a lot of pace,” Van der Dussen added. “But the way we’ve upskilled ourselves has allowed us to use these game-plans against spin.

“It started in the West Indies last year and then in Sri Lanka, while we knew spin would play a big role at the T20 World Cup. So it’s been a process that has been going on for more than a year.

“In the past we came short against spin, but we identified it as a weakness and credit to Mark Boucher and Justin Sammons [batting consultant] for giving us the skills to apply out there and execute in the middle,” Van der Dussen said.

Bavuma in touch with his female side 0

Posted on December 31, 2021 by Ken

Temba Bavuma said on Tuesday that putting aside the emotion and focusing on the situation in the present helped him cope with the heavy pressures of leading the Proteas at the T20 World Cup.

The relatively new South African white-ball captain has drawn widespread praise for his handling of the usual off-field issues that plagued the team as well as his deft hand on the field as the Proteas exceeded expectations by just missing out on the semifinals on nett run-rate, despite winning four of their five group games.

“There’s always some type of pressure around me and I’ve learnt ways to deal with it. I put aside the emotion and deal with the issue at hand,” Bavuma said.

“The Quinton de Kock situation all happened quite quickly and there wasn’t really any time to consult anyone. I had to weigh up both sides and express an opinion.

“Sometimes it’s best when you don’t have too much time to think about things, you just speak to the merits of the matter at hand and that means you’ll be more authentic.

“It was always going to be a big responsibility to be captain and the pressure and expectation at a World Cup comes from all angles. But I have seen a shift in the energy and I sense that the backing and support for me is now there,” Bavuma said.

The skipper acknowledged that all the off-field noise surrounding the Proteas does eat the players up inside, but in a classic case of make-or-break, he said it strengthened the bond between the players, which was expressed in their never-say-die performances on the field.

“Matters off the field have put us under pressure, they have been challenging times but we have been able to get through them as a team. There were moments that could have broken us or pulled us together, and it turned out being more of the latter.

“I was put in a situation that was very hard to prepare for and I’m grateful that I got out of there. I now have a lot more confidence with the team in terms of trust and backing.

“I do believe we are in a better space as a team. We found a way to get together as a team and really fought for each other. That gave us the ability to play in those pressure moments, we did exceptionally well in those.

“There have been massive positives from this World Cup, even though we are now sitting at home watching on our screens, and we need to make sure we grow from strength-to-strength,” Bavuma said.

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    John 15:16 – “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.”

    Our Christian experience begins when the Holy Spirit starts working in our imperfect lives. An inexplicable restlessness and a feeling that nothing can give you the satisfaction you yearn for, could be the Spirit working in you.

    Even when God calls you and chooses you to serve him, there may be inner conflict and confusion because you are not always willing to do what God is asking of you.

    But this inner struggle is part of spiritual life … Commit yourself to God and open yourself to the inflowing of the Holy Spirit.

    It is by great grace that you were chosen by God to serve him and to live to the honour and glory of his name. Surrender unconditionally to the Lord and you will discover that your life gains new meaning and purpose.

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