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Ken Borland

Keeping their fine Champions Cup form going is the Sharks’ goal 0

Posted on June 26, 2023 by Ken

Keeping the momentum of their fine Champions Cup form going is the goal of the Sharks on Friday night as they tackle the Lions in a United Rugby Championship match at Kings Park, but whether they can do that having rested a few key Springboks will be the question on coach Neil Powell’s mind.

Having been instrumental in the impressive wins over Harlequins and then Bordeaux-Begles in France, Springboks Eben Etzebeth, Bongi Mbonambi and Ntuthuko Mchunu have all been rested this weekend, while Siya Kolisi, Jaden Hendrikse, Gerbrandt Grobler and Ben Tapuai will play off the bench.

“We’ve had two good EPCR games and we would love to keep the momentum going,” Powell said on Thursday. “So we will keep going with continuity in selection as well.

“We always want to do well, no matter which competition it is, but every home game is especially important. It’s obviously going to be a physical battle looking at the forwards the Lions have selected.

“So we obviously have to match that and we’ve selected a team that will give us the best energy. Some of the changes are part of our rotational policy, maybe giving guys a break.

“The number of game minutes that Siya and Eben have had, not just for the Sharks but the Springboks too, means it is crucially important to manage them well. This was an opportunity for a bit of a break,” Powell said.

Apart from the actual game time, the Sharks have also had a punishing schedule of short weeks and overseas travel, which is a major concern and they will be relying on Alan Temple-Jones being a real conditioning guru to ensure the players can still perform at peak levels.

“The travelling has been tough,” Powell admitted. “We played Friday to Friday and then we only flew back from France on Sunday. So this is a short week again, it makes it difficult.

“The Lions have not done a lot of travel, so we felt the guys coming in for us could bring some extra energy. We have a block of 11 consecutive weeks of games and we are only on game five now.”

Proteas Women will be after quicker batting 0

Posted on August 22, 2022 by Ken

The Proteas Women’s team will be after quicker batting in order to stay alive in the three-match series when they tackle England again in the second ODI in Bristol on Friday.

Having won the toss and elected to bat first in the opening match in Northampton earlier this week, South Africa struggled up front in the face of some outstanding quick bowling by the veteran Katherine Brunt (9-1-18-3). After 30 overs the Proteas had posted just 109/5 and it was only thanks to Chloe Tryon (88 off 73) and Nadine de Klerk (38 off 53) that they managed to eventually reach 218.

No-one in the top-five batted with a strike-rate higher than 67, compared to England’s blazing batting which saw them chase down the target inside 33 overs. Emma Lamb scored a 91-ball century and Nat Sciver blasted 55 off 36 balls to show South Africa a more appropriate approach.

“It was definitely not our best performance, far off it,” De Klerk admitted on Thursday. “We all know we can play much better than that and we need to play positive cricket.

“We lacked intensity and we need to back ourselves. I definitely think we’ll put up a better game in the second ODI, we’re going to show a lot more aggression with the bat, take the bowlers on a bit more.

“We’ve been training the way we want to play and it’s gone very well. We’ve been trying out different options. We also didn’t have the best day with the ball, but England came out at a blistering pace.

“We need to think out the box more, but all credit to England for batting really well,” the 22-year-old De Klerk said.

The all-rounder has been one of the fringe players in the Proteas squad since making her debut in May 2017, but with the absence of Dane van Niekerk and others, De Klerk has been a regular starter since the start of last year.

“It’s all about waiting for our opportunity and whenever you get the chance, you must make the best of it,” she said. “We get a lot of support from everyone and it’s just about working hard behind the scenes.

“I think everybody – including Shabnim Ismail – is good to go for the match and I think it’s going to be a really good pitch and a quick outfield.

“So we want to have a lot of fun, back ourselves and keep it simple. We’ll be going out to play nice, aggressive, positive cricket,” De Klerk said.

Proteas’ 1st women’s Test in 8 years versus team with widest experience of the format 0

Posted on August 08, 2022 by Ken

South Africa’s women’s cricket team head into their first Test match in eight years – and just their 13th overall – in Taunton on Monday when they tackle the side with the widest experience of the format: England.

Monday’s historic encounter will be England’s third Test in just over a year and they have played 97 in all. Most of their team were involved in an Ashes Test against Australia in January.

The Proteas’ preparations for what is really a daunting step into the unknown have been rocked by the unavailability due to injury of leading fast bowler Shabnim Ismail (calf strain) and all-rounder Chloe Tryon (hip). The in-form Ayabonga Khaka will also not be playing because she declared herself unavailable for Test cricket before the start of the tour.

“We would love to have had those three seniors, with their experience and skillsets, but it’s not a big setback,” captain Sune Luus said on Sunday.

“We still have a very good team, the youngsters have shown they can step up in the recent series we’ve played and I have full confidence in them. The team is the future of South African cricket.

“It’s our first Test in eight years and we’re just going to enjoy it as much as we can. We’re picking up the red Dukes ball for the first time and we’re delighted to have the opportunity.

“Test cricket hasn’t always been the biggest thing for women’s cricket, but hopefully we can play more of them in the future,” Luus said.

Playing successful Test cricket will require a range of skills from a Proteas team that are very inexperienced in the long-form game.

“It’s all new for us in Test matches and we’re very excited,” Luus said. “We do not really know what Test cricket is about and how it goes, but it will be a good challenge for our skills.

“You need to concentrate for long periods and you’ve got to be on top of your game. We’ve worked on our game-plans and what is required at certain times.

“It’s going to be a work in progress, we’ll take it session-by-session, we’ll be learning all the time. It’s going to be a great introduction and opportunity.

“It’s a real honour to wear our Test caps for the first time. There are going to be a lot of Test debuts and it’s going to be a special day for us,” Luus said.

  • Play starts at 12pm SA time

A contingent of 11 Saffas tackle PGA layout that favours top-class approach play 0

Posted on June 20, 2022 by Ken

A contingent of 11 South African golfers will tackle a daunting Southern Hills layout from Thursday in the PGA Championship, the second Major of the year, with the 7556-yard course favouring those with top-class approach play.

Tilted greens with fast run-off areas that repel wayward approach shots, combined with heavy bunkering, make for a difficult challenge that will put a premium on accurate approach play and good putting.

Erik van Rooyen is the leading South African on the PGA Tour in terms of the Shots Gained on Approach statistics but he has a love-hate relationship with the PGA Championship. His best finish in a Major was his tied-eighth finish in the 2019 event at Bethpage Black, but last year at Kiawah Island he smashed a tee-box marker on his way to missing the cut.

Although he withdrew for unexplained reasons from last weekend’s Byron Nelson Classic, Van Rooyen is South Africa’s second-highest ranked golfer at No.61 in the world.

Louis Oosthuizen (15th) is still South Africa’s highest-ranked performer, but a cloud of uncertainty hangs over a golfer who has perennially flattered to deceive at the Majors, having six runners-up finishes to go with a solitary win – at the 2010 Open Championship.

Oosthuizen has been strongly linked with the breakaway LIV Golf Invitational Series backed by Saudi Arabia, which starts in June, so this could be a swansong at the Majors for the 39-year-old.

Christiaan Bezuidenhout is third in the rankings amongst South Africans at 67th and also good around and on the greens. He has been consistent, making 13 of 15 cuts on the PGA Tour this year, without being a regular contender.

For a real dark horse, look no further than world number 68 Shaun Norris, who has been the best putter on the DP World Tour this year and strong in his approach play as well. This week could be a great opportunity for him to improve on his Major record of five missed cuts in seven events, with a best finish of tied-61st in the 2018 Open.

The other South Africans in the field – Justin Harding, Garrick Higgo, Dean Burmester, Oliver Bekker, Charl Schwartzel, Danie van Tonder and Branden Grace – can all be considered long shots, although Southern Hills was the venue for two memorable Southern African Major triumphs with Nick Price winning the 1994 PGA Championship by a lengthy six shots and Retief Goosen triumphing in a nervewracking playoff for the 2001 U.S. Open.

Not only is Southern Hills long, but it will be playing to par-70 and there are normally tricky winds to deal with in the rolling hills of Oklahoma’s Green Country, as well as a creek that runs throughout the course. It requires precise planning and execution, especially on the lay-ups, and the winning score is not expected to be much under-par.

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