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Ken Borland



Reto starts like a fish out of water, but then all goes swimmingly 0

Posted on April 09, 2024 by Ken

SUN CITY, North-West – United States-based South African Paula Reto may have looked a bit like a fish out of water when she bogeyed the second and third holes on the second day of the SuperSport Ladies Challenge presented by Sun International on Thursday, but the rest of her round at the Lost City Golf Club then went swimmingly as she claimed a share of the lead.

Reto went on a run of five birdies in six holes from the fifth hole, and then added back-to-back birdies on the 13th and 14th holes, before returning from a lightning break with another gain on the 17th. Her superb six-under-par 66 lifted her to eight-under overall and she will go into the final round tied for the lead with India’s Tvesa Malik, who fired a stunning 65.

The 33-year-old Reto won this tournament in 2022, but it was then played at the Gary Player Country Club. But after a tough 2023 campaign on the LPGA Tour, Reto is in a good frame of mind back in her home country, and it showed in her ability to bounce back from two early setbacks on Thursday.

“I don’t know what happened really, I hit a bad tee-shot on the second and suddenly I’d gone bogey-bogey. I just said to myself that I must give myself opportunities and fortunately I then managed to get the ball close to the hole a few times, and chipped in on the eighth, which is always nice for your momentum,” Reto said.

“Lost City is completely different to the GPCC, you have to strategise more off the tees, it’s a course that requires more thinking. To be able to bounce back after those two bogeys felt really good and I was very happy that I kept to the plan. I was able to stay on plan and not let the bogeys get to me.

“Last year was tough because I struggled with my swing a bit and I couldn’t string four good rounds together. It starts to take a toll on your confidence and you start to try and change so much all at once.

“So at the start of this year I just tried to hone in on a few things, make sure I do those basics well. I’m happy with where my game is heading and I just love coming back here to South Africa, being with my family and feeling a bit like I’m on vacation,” Reto said.

Getting married on December 29 to fellow Indian professional golfer Ajeetesh Sandhu certainly seems to have bear fruit for Malik as she produced an outstanding, bogey-free round with four birdies on the back nine and then three on the front.

First-round leader Lauren Taylor shot a 70 on Thursday to move to six-under-par, two off the lead, while exciting South African youngster Gabrielle Venter shot 68 on Thursday to move to five-under.

Only human for Maphaka to feel pressure of expectation, but instead he flourished 0

Posted on April 05, 2024 by Ken

Expectation can be an unkind burden for young cricketers and it would only have been human for Kwena Maphaka to feel the pressure during the ICC U19 World Cup hosted by South Africa. But instead the DP World Lions rising star showed his mettle by flourishing and enjoying a spectacular tournament.

The St Stithians pupil was named the Player of the Tournament for his 21 wickets, just one short of the all-time record at the event. Bangladesh spinner Enamul Haque took 22 wickets in 2004, but one record Maphaka did claim for himself was for three five-wicket hauls in a single edition of the U19 World Cup, which no-one had managed before.

He is the fourth South African to receive the honour, the first being current DP World Lions men’s captain Dominic Hendricks in 2010. Aiden Markram (2014) and Dewald Brevis (2022) are the others to bring the individual title back to Mzansi.

Left-arm fast bowler Maphaka is a prodigy, of that there is no doubt, and the 17-year-old was playing in his second junior world cup. He first played for the St Stithians first XI in Grade IX, so he has had to deal with expectation from a very young age.

“I’ve learnt how to deal with it quite well, there is always expectation. It’s getting higher as I get older, but I’m just trying to grow as a cricketer at the same pace,” Maphaka says.

“On a personal level I was quite happy with the tournament, but it was unfortunate that we did not go through from the semifinals and win as a team. But that’s cricket.

“I guess I just hit a run of form and when you’re in that purple patch you feel confident and that there’s not much that can stop you. The games were all so close together and I was in good mental places, so I just ran with it,” Maphaka says.

Having fulfilled his considerable potential at junior level, the matric student will be prioritising his academics in 2024, but he is already part of the DP World Lions men’s squad. He made his debut for them on November 30 at St George’s Park, taking four wickets in the match against the Warriors. He had already made his first-class debut back in June last year when he was fast-tracked into the SA A team in Sri Lanka by Test coach Shukri Conrad.

Maphaka is sure to still pop up from time-to-time this year as he begins to transition into senior cricket.

“This year my first priority is to pass matric, so my focus will be on school, that’s my main goal. From next year onwards I can focus on domestic cricket and I hope to make my name with the DP World Lions. Then maybe in a couple of years I will be fortunate enough to represent the Proteas,” Maphaka says.

By then he could quite possibly be running the joint, just like his predecessor at St Stithians and the DP World Lions, the great Kagiso Rabada.

DP World Lions bowling coach Allan Donald sees some similarities between Maphaka and Rabada, who he coached in his first few months at international level with the Proteas.

“You get these youngsters who you just absolutely know have got it and they’ve got the jewels to go the whole way, like KG. The first time I saw Kwena I could see he had everything – he’s fit, strong and athletic; he has a good action and a magnificent wrist.

“We saw in the U19 World Cup that he was bowling late-inswinging full balls to the right-handers, knocking over the stumps at pace. He has all the credentials to be a wonderful prospect. Every now and then you get a freakish cricketer and Kwena is one of those.

“It’s a privilege to be involved with him and I look forward to him joining us full-time when he’s finished school. He is just a gem and the world is at his feet,” Donald said.

Smith has reason to smile as 2nd season of SA20 takes cricket further from ugly place 0

Posted on March 04, 2024 by Ken

South African cricket was in an ugly place before the arrival of the SA20, and now that the second season has proven to be just as exciting as the first, commissioner Graeme Smith has reason to smile.

The former Proteas captain was certainly a happy man this last week as he got stuck into the post-mortems of the event that once again enjoyed tremendous crowd support, threw up more fantastic cricket, and was once again won by the Sunrisers Eastern Cape.

“In two years we have built something South African cricket can be really proud of. At the end of 2022, we were all looking for something positive. Now people are raving about the SA20,” Smith told Rapport.

“The feedback from the players, the teams and the fans has been extremely positive. The actual cricket played was probably the greatest strength of the tournament, teams and individuals really came to the fore and it was very exciting. And we will never take for granted the number of people who came to the grounds and turned on their tellies to watch.

“Mondays and Tuesdays are the toughest days to get a crowd, but to see the people come and support was fantastic, we were still 65% full on those days. And then from Wednesday to Sunday the crowds were incredible. The final weekend of league action was probably my favourite time because the crowds were amazing and it was tense cricket,” Smith said.

The success of the SA20 has certainly disturbed the cricketing landscape. Australia’s Big Bash League, which this year overlapped with the SA20 because it finished on January 24, is apparently feeling the heat. There has been talk of them bringing their auction forward to try and get the cream of the cop and making players sign guarantees that they will be available for the complete tournament. Smith has heard other rumours, but is not flustered by the competition.

“I hear rumours that the Big Bash will move to December. But those players who sign for them will still have options; those players who initially backed us I will always be grateful to.

“We will look at things like pre-signings and our auctions, but the timing of the auction will depend on what we deicide about pre-signings.”

But it is the International League T20 in the United Arab Emirates, which had its final on Saturday, which is causing the greatest ruction when it comes to these rapidly-spreading franchise leagues.

“We’ve built up our SA20 against the Big Bash and the ILT20 sitting right on top of us, so there are a thousand more positives for us than negatives. We obviously want some high-quality overseas players, but our tournament definitely has a local player base.

“But the ILT20 consumes too many overseas players; they require nine foreign players in an XI. So it’s not really an investment in UAE cricket. That also puts them up against the ICC, who passed a ruling that franchise T20 leagues are only allowed up to five overseas players. They gave the ILT20 an extended time to sort it out because they said they had existing broadcast deals,” Smith said.

With the Sunrisers Eastern Cape once again dominating the SA20, questions were asked as to why they don’t get home ground advantage in the playoffs. But the nature of the tournament, with this season’s qualifiers only decided after the last round-robin match, means it is logistically near-impossible to give the top two teams home fixtures.

A short, one-month tournament is what the SA20 is all about, and only deciding who will host the final at the end of the event would require nearly a week to be added to the schedule in order to satisfy the logistics of making the last game a real extravaganza and fitting finale.

“We’re trying to keep the tournament short and exciting, four or five weeks maximum. The SA20 is a massive ship to move logistically and it’s very difficult to do that in one day. We have to sell tickets for the final and brand the stadium properly …

“The final was sold out two weeks before the game, which is a real sign of success. We understand the fans want to see their team play in the final at home, but the format will probably stay the same. The IPL have a very similar set-up with neutral venues for the final, it’s like Champions League football as well. Like this year, we’ll probably give the winners the opening game next season,” Smith said.

Apart from stimulating the economy – Smith pointed out how airports around the country have been full of SA20-connected people for the last month – the successful league has also planted the first seeds of what will hopefully be a hugely successful 2027 World Cup in South Africa.

“The SA20 means that there should be a lot of high-quality people who have worked on an event of similar level to the 2027 World Cup. We’ve given them incredible experience of working under high pressure to very high standards, it’s a really high-performance environment. Our staff have made me proud and I want to see an outstanding World Cup here in 2027,” Smith said.

Given his success in setting up and driving the SA20, what chance Smith for the tournament director role in the new organising company CSA have just registered?

Thanks to Lions pipeline, Potsane contemplates world cup after discovery seven years ago 0

Posted on February 06, 2024 by Ken

Seven years ago Sipho Potsane was your typical Alexandra township 10-year-old, crazy about soccer. Now 17 years old, he is contemplating playing in the U19 Cricket World Cup, which will be hosted in South Africa, starting in January.

The dramatic transformation in Potsane’s life is a testament to the work of the Central Gauteng Lions union’s pipeline; their work is not just about ensuring the DP World Lions men’s and women’s teams remain amongst the strongest in the country, but also about making sure that success is sustainable by growing the game at grassroots.

It is something CEO Jono Leaf-Wright is passionate about and he is not the sort of leader who limits his role to shuffling papers and editing spreadsheets in his Wanderers office; he is out there getting his hands dirty and there is a sense of urgency when it comes to his efforts to uplift all the people who the great game of cricket touches in Gauteng.

Potsane is an up-and-coming left-arm spinner and Leaf-Wright, who has a Level III coaching qualification, remembers their first meeting well.

“At 10 years old, Sipho was a big soccer boy and he had no clue about cricket. But we saw when we brought cricket to his school that he could throw, catch and hit the ball. After a lot of nutritional work and extra coaching, he was given a bursary to Jeppe and is now playing for the SA U19s and has been named in the squad for their World Cup.

“He was a talent we discovered in Grade V and we and the other parties involved embarked on a journey then to make sure that he succeeded in making the best of that talent.

“Cricket is not being played much any more in township schools, but the Lions pipeline reintroduced them to the game. It’s a real challenge though because they don’t have fields, so they are playing cricket in corridors and car parks.

“Sipho’s wonderful story shows how our pipeline can get kids playing cricket at a higher level. And that pipeline is only going to get stronger thanks to the new pipeline sub-committee of the Central Gauteng Board that has been created by our new president, Dr Mohammed Moosajee, who was the Proteas manager for so long,” Leaf-Wright said.

Karabo Meso is a player who has already announced herself at a Junior World Cup, being named in the ICC’s team of the tournament after the T20 event also hosted by South Africa in Benoni and Potchefstroom in January 2023.

The wicketkeeper/batter was a resident of Rockville in Soweto when she was introduced to the game through the KFC Mini-Cricket programme and it was not long at all before the Central Gauteng Lions spotted her talent. She was playing for the DP World Lions senior provincial team before her teens.

Meso was one of three players included in the girls SA U19 squad that came from a Gauteng township, the others being captain Oluhle Siyo and Refilwe Moncho of Soweto Pioneers.

“It all starts at grassroots and we are grateful for the support from our partners,” Reuben Mandlazi, the Lions Amateur Cricket Manager, says. “There are 124 schools in Gauteng that play cricket, 94 of them are high schools. And the Lions have 26 teams at various national weeks this year.

“Infrastructure is what distinguishes a lot of these schools though, that’s the great challenge. It’s something township schools don’t have. We at the Lions ensure that we create an environment that enables us to spread the game. We make sure the children are well-transported, kitted and coached.

“A strong Lions means a strong Proteas and if we don’t have strong schools programmes then that will impact that. We ensure that we have sustainable programmes that feed into making us a world-class brand,” Mandlazi said.

Words alone will of course not accelerate the development of all the talent in the province, neither will one-off, showy gestures for good PR. Fortunately, those accusations can never be levelled at the Central Gauteng Lions union. Their success at age-group level and their thriving club leagues make sure of that.

“We need to bridge the gap between U19s and the Lions teams, not everyone can be like Kagiso Rabada or Quinton de Kock and just make a straight jump to senior level,” Mandlazi says.

“The players are all on their own journey and we have to ensure there is a platform for them. We have the strongest club leagues in South Africa, that is one of the most important things, and our Macrocomm, Enza and Black Widow leagues are that platform for the players.”

That the Central Gauteng Lions boast a premier pipeline is borne out by their results in the various national weeks in December. Lions Cricket were the champions in both the U16 Girls and the U19 Boys weeks, while they finished third in the U16 Boys and U19 Girls tournaments.

As champions of the Khaya Majola Week in Makhanda (Grahamstown), the Lions also dominated selection for the SA Schools side with three players in Richard Seletswane, Kwena Maphaka and Esosa Aihevba.

Luke Francis and Potsane were named in the SA Colts team.

In the U19 girls week, Meso made the SA Schools side, not only making the opposition chase leather in the field, but her wicketkeeping was also of the finest quality.

Which epitomises the Central Gauteng Lions pipeline, ensuring durable success for the Pride of Jozi.

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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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