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Ken Borland

Mike Bechet: A straightforward coach who makes administrators squirm but the players adore him 0

Posted on July 13, 2021 by Ken

Mike Bechet is the sort of coach who makes administrators squirm but is adored by his players, for the same reason – the great producer of schoolboy talent is renowned for being straightforward and honest, and as passionate about the game as anyone.

Bechet’s fame was made at Maritzburg College, where 21 future senior internationals and 74 SA U18 caps have passed through his hands since 1982. Since 2015 he has been at Jeppe High School in Johannesburg and his impact is clear. He may be coaching the U16A team, but it is no coincidence that Jeppe have become a dominant force in South African schoolboy hockey, being the top-ranked team in both 2018 and 2019. And there have been a couple more SA Schools caps coming through his pipeline.

Among the more recent internationals Bechet coached at school are Tevin Kok, Tyson Dlungwana, Tommy Hammond, Siya Nolutshungu, Taine Paton, Peabo Lembethe and Matt Guise-Brown. Before the recent era, Proteas such as Steve and Iain Evans, Grant von Mayer, Ryan Shrives, Darren Gallagher, Charl van der Merwe and Gareth Carr all graduated under Bechet’s coaching.

And this is not to mention the impact Bechet has had on cricket in this country, as coach of the Maritzburg College 1st XI for 572 games, he had a major hand in the development of Jonty Rhodes and David Miller, as well as one Kevin Pietersen, who played for England. He was an SA Schools and SA U19 selector from 2008 to 2020.

Bechet’s coaching approach could be described as “tough love” and the former parabat has always been more interested in the character of his charges than in their skills.

“I like to pick guys who absorb information and who have good character, I value that above skill. You can teach someone skill but you can’t teach character. Things like mental attitude and a culture of no excuses play a huge role. I look for guys with big hearts, the capacity to train hard and who live a good lifestyle. I always advise my players to surround themselves with winners from whatever field.

“Basically I want to develop good people, that’s what really counts for me, and you want them to continue playing. Unbeaten seasons don’t fill me with much pride, I get more pride out of developing international and provincial players. That’s the bigger picture that I’m after. And it’s incredibly humbling to stay in touch with a lot of my former players who have made it big.

“They all come back to me and that’s the rewarding bit, to have an influence on people’s lives. I accept that I’m not everyone’s cup of tea, but if you can handle discipline and train hard then you will flourish under me,” Bechet says.

One only has to spend five minutes on the side of a sports field with Bechet to know that it is obvious he hates losing, but he is more than willing to embrace the tough lessons that defeat can impart.

“One does actually learn a lot more from losing, especially kids,” Bechet says. “And knowledge is power and I do read a lot. Sports books like the autobiographies of people like Jose Mourinho, Pep Guardiola, Rod McQueen, Eddie Jones, they were all hard guys. My approach is certainly that you must be all-in or not at all.”

A product of Durban High School, Bechet studied at both Rhodes University and UCT. He has a BA Honours in Physical Education and an HDE and has twice been the recipient of the South African Hockey Association’s President’s Award for services to hockey, in both 2005 and 2010.

Bechet has seen all sides of the hockey realm – as a player he represented Eastern Province, Western Province and the champion Natal side, as well as being capped for the SA U21s in 1976. He has coached Natal Schools (1989) and the senior Natal side (1991-92) to interprovincial titles and was the convenor of the South African selection panel for both the 2008 and 2012 Olympics.

Bechet has even excelled in the world of umpiring, having an SA III grading and having blown the 1987 and 1988 SA U18 IPT finals.

It was out on the park where Bechet, who considers himself a schoolmaster first and foremost, first began honing his coaching skills.

“Hockey was always my passion and being coached by people like Darryl Bestall, Alan Paton, Tony Godding and Brian Edwards, I was exposed to so much coaching wisdom. I used to pick their brains while I was playing, I was taking in information all the time I was out on the field. In July 1981 I began employment at Maritzburg College and I have always said I’m a schoolmaster not a teacher, because I teach phys ed and I coach sport,” the 65-year-old says.

Von Mayer, who has followed in Bechet’s footsteps as a schoolmaster coaching hockey, albeit further in the heart of the KZN Midlands at Michaelhouse, says it was only when he was a student that he realised the key to Bechet’s success.

“Bech really gets the best out of people because he gets you to play for something other than yourself. Often you end up playing for him.

“That’s because he brings a system and an organisation to the game, that comes from the fact he was a fine player himself. He demanded that you do things to improve your skills. When I talk to other coaches now in the different fora, they’re all like him now. So Bech has spawned a whole lot of new coaches who continue his approach”.

Mike Bechet has already had a massive impact on South African hockey, and the good news is that influence will continue through his legacy – the young men he coached now becoming mentors themselves.

A simple calculation for WP: Forward might is right 0

Posted on October 28, 2017 by Ken


It may not be a straightforward calculation to measure the exact amount of momentum Western Province gained from their pack in the Currie Cup final against the Sharks in Durban on Saturday, but it was simple as anything to work out that it was the visiting forwards who played the key role in their convincing 33-21 victory.

At practically every scrum, the Sharks were going backwards, and even on the one occasion they got the shove on Western Province, it still ended in a try for the visitors as eighthman Nizaam Carr broke blind and set up fellow loose forward Cobus Wiese for the try.

Western Province were also dominant on the gain-line, meeting a Sharks pack, that has powered through most other opposition this season, head-on in a brutal battle.

Western Province flyhalf Robert du Preez was a composed general behind this juggernaut pack, while opposite number Curwin Bosch lost his cool, being exposed defensively and only succeeding with 50% of his kicks at goal.

It took a while for the Western Province ace to be reflected on the scoreboard though, with the Sharks thriving in the first half as they capitalised on soft mistakes by the visitors to run up a 21-10 lead that lasted until the final moments before the break.

The Sharks were tied down in their 22 as the final hooter went and, even though Carr was held up over the line by Garth April, a five-metre scrum resulted in concerted pressure, and eventually wing Kobus van Wyk rushed out of the defensive line, allowing opposite number Dillyn Leyds to go over in the corner.

From that point on, the Sharks were on the back foot; pushed back on the gain-line, unable to get their hands on the ball and condemned to playing in the wrong areas of the field by the tactical nous of on-song flyhalf Robert du Preez.

Wiese’s 51st-minute try brought Western Province practically back on level terms and they took the lead for the first and final time when Bosch went high on wing Seabela Senatla, who brushed him off and was able to offload to centre Huw Jones, who skipped past a few defenders on his way to the tryline.

Western Province then relied on the boot of Du Preez to close out the game and they can justifiably feel proud by how they finished the season as thoroughly convincing champions, having been underwhelming in the opening half of the competition.

No team can expect to win a final with their pack being so badly beaten, but the Sharks certainly made a good fist of it for the first 35 minutes.

Despite being shoved off the ball in the opening scrum to concede a tighthead, it all started so positively for the Sharks with centre Marius Louw slicing through the Western Province defence like a can-opener to set up Odwa Ndungane, in his 251st and last game for the Sharks, with a dream try.

But glory can turn into humiliation very quickly in finals and Jones then stepped inside an on-rushing Ndungane for Western Province’s opening try just four minutes later. The Sharks will be more disappointed that they conceded a five-metre scrum, from which the try came, through players just being in the wrong place at the wrong time at a ruck, resulting in accidental offsides.

Eighthman Daniel du Preez then muscled his way over in the 18th minute, but it would end up as a bad day for the twins as Jean-Luc had to be helped off the field moments later with an ankle injury, and Daniel would be yellow-carded late in the second half for tackling a player off the ball.

Having their most physical forward excluded from the gain-line battle certainly didn’t help the Sharks, but to be fair, Western Province were already dominating the scrums and had kept Jean-Luc in check up until his departure.

The home crowd would have hoped the phenomenal long-range drop goal Bosch fired over off a retreating scrum would mean the youngster was settling into the game, but unfortunately the pressure was inexorably transferred on to him and the Springbok hopeful did not handle it well.

The game-management of Robert du Preez was outstanding, though, and the other chief heroes for Western Province in a fine all-round display were Wilco Louw, the player of the match for the way he provided the foundation for the huge scrummaging display that laid the platform for victory; Jones, the Scotsman who brought tremendous physical presence and great feet to the midfield, and Carr, the workhorse of the team.

The Western Province front row, with Bongi Mbonambi and JC Janse van Rensburg providing powerful support to Louw, is where the victory had its starting point though.


Mosehle makes it straightforward for the Titans 0

Posted on December 14, 2015 by Ken


Mangaliso Mosehle played the innings of his life to set up a straightforward run-chase for the Unlimited Titans and victory over the Sunfoil Dolphins by seven wickets with 19 balls to spare in the RamSlam T20 Challenge final at SuperSport Park in Centurion on Saturday night.

The Titans had sent the Dolphins in to bat and stuck to their basics well as they restricted them to 159 for five in their 20 overs. It was a challenging enough total in a final, but Mosehle blasted 87 off just 39 balls to rush them to their target in only 16.5 overs.

The 25-year-old Mosehle  has always been highly-rated by the Titans, but coach Rob Walter has had to be patient and back the talented Duduza product long after many others have called for him to be dropped. In the nets, Mosehle is one of the cleanest ball-strikers in a team of great batsmen, but, often impetuous, he has struggled to produce innings that really matter.

But he is the sort of batsman who always looks to take the game forward, and on Saturday night he played what could be the defining innings of his career as he slammed six fours and seven sixes to win the final almost single-handedly.

There were enough streaky shots to keep the Dolphins interested, but the skill and talent was abundantly evident as his confidence grew and grew. The highlight of his innings was when he launched a sensational assault on South Africa’s number one T20 spinner, Imran Tahir, hitting the first four balls of the 12th over for six, six, four and six as 28 runs came off the over and all but settled the contest.

“The key for us was to rotate the strike, but after I hit the first one down the ground, it felt good, so I told Henry Davids that I was going to take him on,” was the unassuming Mosehle’s explanation.

By the time Mosehle was out in the 15th over, caught-and-bowled splicing a hook at Kyle Abbott, the Titans needed just 12 runs off 34 balls; the fat lady had not only sung, she was downing beers somewhere in the heaving, festive capacity crowd that gave the final a tremendous atmosphere.

The experienced Davids, who became just the second batsman after Dolphins captain Morne van Wyk to score 2000 RamSlam T20 Challenge runs, was the ideal foil for Mosehle, finding the gaps to rotate the strike as he scored 35 off 38 balls and shared in a record 123-run second-wicket partnership off just 71 deliveries. The previous record for the Titans was 111 between Gulam Bodi and Heino Kuhn against the Highveld Lions at the Wanderers in 2006/7.

Davids was dismissed, caught behind off Abbott, straight after Mosehle fell, but the Dolphins had all but conceded defeat, the talismanic Kevin Pietersen telling Mosehle that his dismissal had merely delayed his drinking time!

Quinton de Kock (12) was dismissed, caught off a leading edge, off Andile Phehlukwayo’s first ball, but that was the last moment of joy for the Dolphins for an hour as Mosehle launched his withering offensive.

Van Wyk had earlier shot out of the blocks as he opened the batting for the Dolphins, scoring 29 off 24 balls as the visitors reached 47 without loss in the powerplay.

The wicketkeeper/batsman had timed the ball beautifully, collecting two fours and two sixes, but was then caught on the cover boundary off Junior Dala, punished for hitting a shot too well.

Young paceman Lungi Ngidi came on for one over midway through the innings and claimed the massive scalp of Pietersen, caught for 10 as David Wiese took a steepling catch on the midwicket boundary with impressive calm.

Davids then really put the Dolphins on the back foot as he removed opener Jonathan Vandiar (26) with his first delivery, leaving them on 76 for three at the start of the 12h over.

West Indian pro Dwayne Bravo, though, finally made his mark on the Dolphins’ season as he scored 53 off 30 balls, a clever innings full of nifty strokes as well as powerful ones, as he and David Miller (33 off 25) added 83 off 53 deliveries.

Titans captain Albie Morkel once again called on eight bowlers and they all had their moments.

Fast bowler Chris Morris was probably the most impressive, although he did not take a wicket in his four overs that cost 30 runs. Dala, the other fast man, took one for 33, while Wiese, called on to bowl the last two overs from the Hennops River End, ended the innings with the wickets of Miller and Bravo off successive deliveries.

But even if both those balls had been hit for six, it would not have stopped the Titans army from marching on, their ninth victory in 11 RamSlam T20 Challenge matches this season indicating a team that is on top of their game, marrying tremendous personnel with a spot-on tactical approach.

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