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Ken Borland



Elgar looking forward to home & a juicy steak on the braai 0

Posted on December 30, 2023 by Ken

Proteas captain Dean Elgar says he is looking forward to getting home and enjoying a juicy steak on the braai following his team’s 2-0 hiding in the Test series against Australia, but at least some of the hurt and embarrassment was eased by the draw they managed to secure on the final day of the third Test in Sydney on Sunday.

South Africa came through the flames on Sunday, managing to stretch their first innings from 149/6 to 255, and then making 106/2 in their follow-on innings to deny the sizzling hot Australians a 3-0 sweep. They are not scores that would usually prompt satisfied celebrations, but this Proteas team needs small victories at the moment.

“We had a conversation last night where we said we could either lie down today and let Australia roll us, creating more embarrassment, or we could fight it out for the full final day,” Elgar said.

“It was really great to see how the team responded and there were a lot of learnings today. Being hurt and embarrassed probably go hand-in-hand, but maybe we feel that a bit less now. We showed a lot of fight and there were positive signs.”

Elgar must have felt like he was a piece of meat being braaied in the flames as he endured a miserable series, scoring just 56 runs in six innings.

“I could never get going in this series and the one time I did, I managed to run myself out. I can accept being caught down the leg-side twice, but three or four times highly irritates me. That’s something different. Generally there is a way you get out, and bowlers target that.

“Ten years into my Test career and now there’s something new. I’ll have to look at it. There have been a few conversations between me and the batting coach about some extra work.

“But for now I just want to get on a plane, go home, chill out, braai, go to the bush and play some golf. Taking as much time off as I want is what I need,” Elgar said.

The 35-year-old said he still has big ambitions, however, around the whole tricky business of fixing South Africa’s Test fortunes.

“There are four-day games in February before the two Tests against the West Indies. I still have the hunger and drive, no doubt. And I really believe there’s space for CSA to entertain motivating the players more who play this format.

“There’s room for discussion around compensation for the purest format, and we also need to play more games. At the moment the number of Tests is being stripped back and we are behind the pack,” Elgar pointed out.

Zondo able to marry experience with fighting spirit 0

Posted on December 20, 2023 by Ken

Khaya Zondo was able to marry the experience he has in domestic cricket with a fighting spirit as he top-scored for the Proteas on another torrid day in their Test series against Australia on Saturday, and he is confident that he and his team-mates can do it again on Sunday’s final day to save the third Test in Sydney.

Zondo scored a career-best 39 in nearly two hours at the crease as South Africa struggled to 149/6 in the two sessions that were able to be played on the fourth day. That means they are still 127 runs short of avoiding the follow-on; they are likely to have to bat through 98 overs on Sunday, but they do have 14 wickets in hand on a pitch that demands watchfulness but is far from a minefield.

Zondo shared partnerships of 48 with Temba Bavuma (35) and 45 with Kyle Verreynne (19).

“We have one day to bat, we have done it before so I’m sure we can do it again,” Zondo said after stumps on the penultimate day at the Sydney Cricket Ground. The pitch is like the one in Pietermaritzburg, so it’s familiar to me as a Durban player.

“It’s not quick, there’s turn every now and then and it’s not reversing a lot. They are just using the crease and creating angles. The short ball doesn’t get up, so that is the only challenge from the perspective of facing the seamers. You’ve got to watch it and play instead of trying to get under it.

“The conditions dictate how you must play, whether the ball is turning or not, the pitch is quick or slow; and Temba and I felt out there that we needed to be quick on our feet, whether we were coming down the wicket or going back in the crease. Certain shots are better options,” Zondo said.

Although he is 32-years-old, Zondo’s sole real experience of Test cricket has been against the powerful English and Australian attacks, away from home and in often testing conditions for batting. His Test debut against Bangladesh last April came as a Covid substitute on the final day when South Africa had already completed their batting. His seven innings have now brought 120 runs at an average of 20 – figures that suggest he is worth persevering with, especially when compared to the returns of some of his colleagues who have been given more opportunity.

The Westville Boys’ High School product is feeling positive about his prospects, a mood he said is shared by his team-mates in the changeroom despite their miserable time in Australia.

“I’ve only had a short international career, I’ve only played England and Australia at their homes and those are two top attacks,” Zondo said. “But it’s been a good experience.

“It’s comforting to know that I am able to play against the best and hold my own. It’s just about spending more time at this level and then hopefully I can dominate one day.

“If I’m selected more, then I have to make sure I perform to play every game. The last year has been challenging, but if you can get through that then you can play at this level.

“For me it’s about taking every opportunity, playing as much cricket as I can get. If it’s first-class cricket, then I must go there and nail that; if it’s SA A games, then I must nail that,” Zondo said.

Law of averages suggests Proteas are due a draw … 0

Posted on October 31, 2023 by Ken

The law of averages suggests South Africa are due a draw in Test match cricket, and that likelihood became stronger on Friday as the entire third day’s play in the third Test against Australia in Sydney was washed out.

The last time the Proteas were involved in a Test that did not have a winner and loser was way back in March 2017, 47 matches ago, when rain washed out the final day’s play against New Zealand in Hamilton with South Africa five wickets down in their second innings and still trailing by 95 runs.

The weather is predicted to improve over the last two days in Sydney though, and the Proteas are going to have to bat the better part of 196 overs to save the game, with Australia having already posted 475 for four. That means, if the home side declare overnight, South Africa’s initial target will be 276 to avoid being forced to follow-on, which is surely Australia’s best chance of victory. The Proteas have failed to reach that mark in their last eight innings.

The fact that Australian opener Usman Khawaja is on 195 not out may buy the Proteas some more time if Australian skipper Pat Cummins is feeling sentimental and delays the declaration in order for the 36-year-old batsman to get his maiden Test double-century.

Cummins will also be mindful that he has unusually under-strength attack at his disposal, with just four frontline bowlers, only two of which are pacemen.

Proteas have been accessories to their own demise 0

Posted on September 26, 2023 by Ken

The Proteas cricket team have already surrendered the series to Australia, soundly beaten in the first two Tests, and they have certainly been accessories to their own demise, so hopefully they can reverse that trend and spare their blushes in the third and final Test that starts in Sydney in the early hours of Wednesday morning (SA time).

While South Africa’s recent batting performances have been a crime against the decorated legacies of great batsmen that have represented the country before in Australia, like Jacques Kallis, Graeme Smith and Hashim Amla, the line-up for the third Test simply have to dig deep within themselves and supplement whatever technical skill they can muster with tremendous determination and a bloodyminded refusal to give their wickets away.

As impressive as the Australian attack have been, there have been too many soft dismissals; avoiding run outs will help for a start.

The South African batsmen have the talent to be performing much better, they just need to show more mental steel. Which is tough to do when the team has taken a battering and confidence is low.

But there comes a time when a line in the sand has to be drawn and an attitude of “over my dead body” adopted; a New Year’s Test seems a most apt time for this to happen.

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