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Ken Borland

Nortje leads the way with ball, before Proteas fold again with the bat 0

Posted on March 02, 2023 by Ken

Anrich Nortje had it all in synch on the second day of the first Test against the West Indies as he took five wickets.

Anrich Nortje led a superb display with the ball by the Proteas, but South Africa’s top-order then folded again with the bat in a familiar story on the second day of the first Test against the West Indies at Centurion on Wednesday.

The Proteas reached stumps on a desperate 49 for four in their second innings, but with a first-innings lead of 130 their overall position is much more positive, with a lead of 179, six wickets in hand and a pitch that is starting to do the unexpected.

That sizeable first-innings lead was thanks to the excellent work of the bowlers, who dismissed the West Indies for 212, Nortje taking a wonderful five for 36 in 16 overs. Bowling with tremendous fire, but also ruthless control, Nortje spearheaded a dramatic collapse that saw the tourists, looking solid on 169 for three, lost their last seven wickets for 43 runs.

The hottest bowler in the country this season typically said he could not have done it without the help of his fellow bowlers and the support of some vociferous spectators.

“It was nice to have a bit of a crowd at my back, and most of the time something was happening with the ball, with the wind blowing across the right-handers also helping,” Nortje said.

“KG [Rabada] also bowled really well before me and I just tried to capitalise on that and take the momentum further. There was movement and that breeze, and that played into our favour.

“I think the attack did a pretty good job. We just tried to control the run-rate and still try to be attacking. It was nice to see Gerald Coetzee come in too and do his thing. I was very happy for him, he’s bowled lots of overs domestically at high pace and was with us in England and Australia. Charl Langeveldt [bowling coach] helped him a bit with some small tweaks.

“We could all see how happy he was to get his first Test wicket and I’m sure he will have a long career going forward,” Nortje said.

With the West Indies coming in to bat half-an-hour into the morning session, it was Rabada who provided the early pressure. He produced a peach of a delivery, pitching middle-and-off and hitting the top of off-stump to bowl Kraigg Brathwaite for 11. The captain might have saved himself with a better stride with the front foot.

But the West Indies, much like the Proteas on the first day, batted solidly up front. Tagenarine Chanderpaul (22), Raymon Reifer (62) and Jermaine Blackwood (37) saw them to 136 for three at tea.

With much caution against the probing attack on a helpful pitch, the West Indies top-order strung together partnerships of 22, 36, 64 and 47.

But from 3.36pm, when Marco Jansen, who did not seem to have his best rhythm, had Reifer caught behind with his best ball of the day, angling in and then just nipping away from the left-hander; until 4.06pm, when Alzarri Joseph (4) became Nortje’s fourth victim, the Proteas enjoyed a great half-hour. They took five wickets for 21 runs in the space of 28 deliveries.

The next ball after Reifer’s dismissal saw Rabada have Roston Chase (22) caught at first slip and Nortje then removed Josh da Silva (4) and Jason Holder (0) in the same over. The 29-year-old completed his fourth five-wicket haul in 19 Tests when he had Kyle Mayers caught at fine leg, top-edging a hook, for 18.

“Things can happen quickly here,” Nortje said, “you just have to try and do the basics for as long as possible.”

First-innings centurion Aiden Markram made a flying start to the South African second innings, racing to 35 not out off just 33 balls with six fours, but West Indies made inroads at the other end.

Dean Elgar (1) will be furious with himself for once again being caught at third man trying to ramp Joseph, totally unnecessarily, while Tony de Zorzi fell first ball to Kemar Roach and Temba Bavuma also suffered a golden duck, making him just the fourth player to make a pair in his first Test as captain, also being caught behind, off Joseph, who was probably still celebrating his career-best five for 81 in the first innings. The only consolation for De Zorzi and Bavuma was that they were both excellent deliveries, tough to get first up.

A busy day’s cricket – the Proteas had started Wednesday by taking their first innings from 314 for eight to 342 all out – ended with Holder trapping Keegan Petersen lbw for seven with a bit of a grubber that jagged back into the batsman.

One side has testified with zeal, now the other side get to sell their story 0

Posted on September 03, 2021 by Ken

Cricket South Africa’s Social Justice and Nation-Building hearings are set to resume on Monday and now those implicated in the first three-and-a-half weeks of testimony will get the chance to sell their side of the story to the ombudsman, Advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza.

So far the SJN hearings have been anything but boring as nearly 50 respondents have come before Ntsebeza and his fellow advocates and testified with great zeal about how they have been hurt or discriminated against by the game of cricket in this country.

Unfortunately, numerous critics and commentators have been a bit slow to realise that we have only heard one side of the story thus far. None of this evidence has been tested or cross-examined, but that hasn’t stopped sensational headlines and vicious social media attacks being made.

While many of the stories of hurt were eloquently and movingly presented, sadly some people abused the process to continue the campaign against CSA director of cricket Graeme Smith and Proteas coach Mark Boucher, making them the focus of their presentations. As if Smith and Boucher are personally responsible for all the awful things that happened in the 1990s and 2000s. And, judging by some of the hysterical reaction, they would already be locked away in a cell before being allowed to give evidence according to certain people’s idea of how justice works.

Discrimination based on race is what the SJN is looking for, but several of the complaints around selection ignore the fact that Linda Zondi was national convenor of selectors at the time, or Russell Domingo was the Proteas head coach. So is it Black people being discriminatory or are we going to deny both these great cricket servants their agency and say they were merely stooges for the few White people involved in the running of cricket at the time?

Omphile Ramela, the former president of the players’ association, has been one of the most vocal voices claiming rampant discrimination in cricket. His personal complaints centred around him no longer being contracted by the Highveld Lions as a batsman and for CSA turning down his application to succeed Zondi as the convenor of selectors. Enoch Nkwe was the Lions coach who decided not to renew his contract and Victor Mpitsang was rightfully given the job of selection convenor, given his broad knowledge of the players in the system through both his coaching and commentary work.

There are many witnesses who have every right, however, to be angry about how they were treated, especially in the earlier days of unity. Selection frustrations are always a part of cricket though and a player not being selected cannot automatically be ascribed to racism. While Khaya Zondo was no doubt embittered by what happened to him in India in 2015, it is probably true that the only South African cricketer who was definitely dropped from the Proteas XI due to the colour of his skin was Kyle Abbott in the World Cup debacle earlier that year.

Watching our gloriously transformed and brilliant Springboks in action and listening to the painful SJN Hearings around the same time, I cannot help but feel it is the strict quotas in cricket that have caused much of the anger, strife and bitterness.

Rugby has never had quotas as strictly enforced and their transformation has been more organic. And to try and paint them as ‘targets’ in cricket is totally disingenuous – if they were just targets then why was Ashwell Prince, according to his own testimony, hauled before a CSA disciplinary committee after failing to meet the requirements on one occasion as Cape Cobras coach?

White players, who lose their places in the team due to quotas, are naturally upset and wonder if the player replacing them is there on merit. This unhappiness has now extended to Coloured and Indian cricketers and is not good for changeroom morale.

The other side of the coin is that Black players also wonder if they are in the team on merit (as the majority are), and that type of self-doubt is lethal in a sport like cricket which relies so much on confidence and self-belief.

Readers will find the connection between Player’s life story & Higgo’s 0

Posted on July 07, 2021 by Ken

Readers of Gary Player’s life story will know how much South Africa’s greatest golfer was affected by losing his mother at a young age, but ironically it has been the tragedy that connects him to one of this country’s best rising talents – Garrick Higgo.

Player’s mother Muriel succumbed to cancer in 1943, when he was just eight years old. The last time he saw her was on Christmas Day, two days later she died. Player has said that something broke in him that day and he has been trying to fix it ever since, which partly explains the remarkable passion and tenacity of one of the hardest-working sports stars there has ever been.

Higgo was introduced to golf by his father Guillermo, but in 2008, when he was just nine, the family, which includes two siblings, were involved in a car crash, hit by another vehicle, and his Dad was fatally injured.

“I met Gary Player just after that because we both had a holiday home at Plettenberg Bay and we used to play and practise a lot together, play nine holes in the afternoon. His Mom died when he was eight, which was around the age I was when I lost my Dad. So we connected, it is a real and amazing connection, and it’s been there since before all the good things happened to me.

“It was only when I was around 12 or 13 that I totally understood who Gary Player is. I would be watching the Majors and I would see Gary’s name always popping up. He calls me a lot and he has really helped my game and especially the mental aspects of it,” Higgo says of his remarkable friendship with someone more than sixty years his senior.

It is Higgo who is now playing in the Majors and the lessons Player, who won nine times on golf’s biggest stages, has imparted should stand him in very good stead. The 22-year-old made his Major debut in May at the PGA Championship and made the cut, before really getting to grips with the brutal Kiawah Island course with a 69 in the final round that saw him rise into a tie for 64th.

In last weekend’s U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, Higgo missed the cut by two strokes, but one should take into account the hectic build-up the Paul Roos Gymnasium product had to that tournament. In a way, Higgo was the victim of his own success as he won the Palmetto Championship the week before, in just his second PGA Tour start.

And with a clearly emotional and overjoyed Player giving Higgo a phone call at the winner’s press conference, the U.S. media understandably had a new sensation to focus on, especially given his three wins in the last year on the European Tour.

“It had an impact because I was very tired mentally, each one of my wins has changed my life and the one on the U.S. PGA Tour the most significantly. My caddy, who is also my best friend, also had to fly back before the U.S. Open because his wife went into labour. So I wasn’t exactly fresh going in, but I played alright and just had a couple of bad bounces.

“I’m learning from each week I play and it made it tough winning the week before the U.S. Open. I didn’t play my best, I was mentally drained, I had a different caddy and I just missed the cut. And I’ve learnt so far in the Majors that you’ve got to have everything working, you have to do everything well. You can’t lose focus, if you are slightly off-line you will be punished.

“But the more I play in the Majors, the better I’ll get. I need to tighten up on my misses and just get more comfortable with everything going on,” Higgo said this week.

Naturally, he knows there is still plenty of room for improvement in his game as well.

“A couple of things in my swing were a bit off so I went back to a draw, that’s the way I like to hit it, I’ve gone back to what is comfortable for me. I’ve also had to work on my short-game technique because the pins are always tucked here in America; I needed to figure out how to get a lot more spin on my chips and get them shorter.

“I wold say my strengths are my mental game, putting and the short game, those are definitely my strongest suits, and my iron play has always been solid. I’m a little streaky off the tee though, I’m generally straight and can hit it a decent distance, but I would like to hit a lot more fairways,” Higgo said.

With arguably the best mental mentor one could have in Player, Higgo certainly seems equipped with the right stuff to keep making waves in world golf. And armed with a simple philosophy, it is understandable why the left-hander has been able to win so quickly at every new rung of the golfing ladder he has climbed.

“I treat every event the same, I don’t make them into big things, whether it’s a Big Easy Tour event or a PGA tournament, and I think that helps mentally. The other guys in a PGA event are obviously going to be better than those in a Big Easy tournament, but I don’t worry about them really, I’m just focused on my own game.”

With the sort of start to his international career Higgo has made, it is the opposition who are surely going to be worrying about him more and more.

Hendricks shows up critics’ tendency to be suspicious of position changes – Jake 0

Posted on February 03, 2021 by Ken

Bulls coach Jake White says critics have a tendency to be suspicious about players changing position, but the incredible success story of Cornal Hendricks moving from wing to inside centre and being man of the match in the Currie Cup final shows the tremendous benefits that can be gleaned from such bold decisions.

The 32-year-old Hendricks, barring a couple of seasons in midfield in the early stages of his career at Boland, had played all his rugby before 2020 and all 12 of his Tests for the Springboks on the wing, but White raised eyebrows when he moved the popular Paarl product to centre before his first game in charge at Loftus Versfeld. On Saturday night, after the Bulls’ triumph in the Currie Cup final, White pronounced Hendricks as probably his player of the season.

“Cornal has been phenomenal, probably our best player this season. A lot of guys in that No.12 jersey started on the wing – Ma’a Nonu, Tana Umaga and Caleb Clarke is now establishing himself there as well. It’s about his appreciation for space and it helps having Morne Steyn and Ivan van Zyl inside him. The youngsters have also learnt a lot from Cornal because he is very professional and so dedicated, and a great communicator.

“I started coaching in 1982 and for me it has always been about putting combinations together. Bryan Habana started at centre and became one of the best wings ever, Jean de Villiers played wing and centre, Beauden Barrett plays flyhalf and fullback. One needs to trust the coaching staff and the player. Who knows, one these guys playing wing today might end up at centre as well,” White said.

While Hendricks’ mien is always one of cheerfulness, he has come through numerous tough times in his career, most notably when a heart defect was discovered and he was told n 2015 that he would have to give up rugby. Springbok legend De Villiers, who was Hendricks’ captain in the national team, has high praise for the tenacity of the man.

“When you take Cornal’s whole career in consideration, he’s always been fighting adversity and having to prove himself – from the Sevens circuit to playing for the Cheetahs and then the whole heart thing when no-one wanted to take a risk on him. But he has always adapted and when he moved to centre I almost just expected him to make a success of it.

“And the position has fit like a glove for him, he gets go-forward with the ball and his defence has been very astute. Maybe he doesn’t quite have the pace anymore of his Sevens days, but he still has plenty for an inside centre,” De Villiers told The Citizen.

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    Mark 7:8 – “You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men.”

    Our foundation must be absolute surrender, devotion and obedience to God, rising from pure love for him. Jesus Christ must be central in all things and his will must take precedence over the will of people, regardless of how well-meaning they may be.

    Surrender yourself unconditionally to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, then you will be able to identify what is of man with the wisdom of the Holy Spirit. Then you will be able to serve – in love! – according to God’s will.

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