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Ken Borland



Disallowed slip catch and handling of bad light the main talking points 0

Posted on October 16, 2023 by Ken

The TV umpire’s decision to disallow a slip catch by Simon Harmer and the onfield umpires’ handling of bad light were the main talking points after an abbreviated opening day of the third Test between Australia and South Africa at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Wednesday.

Only 47 overs were bowled on the first day, Australia reaching 147 for two. The second of those wickets was the dismissal of Marnus Labuschagne for 79, edging a phenomenal delivery with pace, bounce and nip away from Anrich Nortje that defied the sluggishness of the pitch. Unfortunately for the South African-born batsman, umpires Chris Gaffaney and Paul Reiffel then immediately took the players off the field for bad light, never to return.

Labuschagne had enjoyed a huge slice of luck though when he was on 70 and he edged left-armer Marco Jansen low to first slip, where Harmer seemed to have scooped up a fine catch.

Neither Labuschagne nor the umpires were 100% sure though, with third umpire Richard Kettleborough being called into play, the soft signal being out. Having watched numerous replays, the Englishman felt the ball had touched the ground, but a conclusive replay, zoomed in from the front, was strangely absent.

Labuschagne survived, and five minutes later, the crucial replay suddenly emerged and showed that Harmer did get his fingers under the ball. The incident raised suspicions about the host broadcaster interfering in the officiating of the game, but apparently the third umpire only had access to the world feed camera shots and the front-on slow-mo replay was exclusively a Channel 7 shot.

Nortje was adamant that Harmer had caught the catch.

“We all thought it was out, Simon was convinced that it had gone straight into his hands. The front angle replay I think showed that he had his fingers underneath the ball. So we were unfortunate not to get that one,” Nortje said.

“You’ve just got to try and focus again because feeling hard done by can quickly get out of hand. I just told Marco to try and refocus and stick to the basics. He bowled really well at that stage and we were able to feed off that energy.”

The in-form fast bowler had more sympathy for the umpires’ decision to stop play for bad light at 2.17pm local time, to again rule it was too dark just as the players were about to go back on to the field at 3.45pm, and then to stop play for the final time at 5.05pm.

“It’s tough and it was really dark at one stage,” Nortje said. “It’s not just about the batsmen, fielders start to not be able to pick up the ball in certain areas and you don’t want to drop a catch then.

“They were probably the right decisions, it’s about playing fair. With two guys bowling quickly and with the ball a bit harder, it can get unsafe. There was one bouncer from KG Rabada that was not picked up so well.”

Nortje was also the producer of the first wicket when he had David Warner caught by Jansen high at first slip off an attempted slash outside off stump.

Daring to use ball-in-hand pays off for Springboks 0

Posted on October 19, 2022 by Ken

The Springboks, daring to use ball-in-hand way more than last weekend, hammered Australia 24-8, with a bonus point in their Rugby Championship match at the Sydney Football Stadium on Saturday.

Here are four talking points:

Daring to use ball-in-hand

South Africa scored four tries and not one of them came from a rolling maul, and they did not win a single scrum penalty, showing that they can score tries through different ways. The whole mentality of the Springbok team on Saturday seemed to be focused on scoring tries and not merely winning penalties. But by daring to use ball-in-hand way more, they showed, and hopefully proved to themselves, what potential they have as an attacking side.

Nineteen-year-old wing Canan Moodie scored on debut from a brilliant up-and-under win, and excellent kicking did also play a big role in South Africa’s triumph. But Franco Mostert’s exceptional try, rounding off a team build-up, showed the way forward. The Springboks were patient in winning a kicking battle and then, once they were in Australia’s half and set, they swept left and then right, practically the whole team handling before Mostert went over in the right corner.

Hail King Kolisi

South Africa’s captain produced a brilliant effort as he led from the front with a display that showed true Warrior quality. He won three turnovers, his work-rate was superb as he mopped up or provided continuity, he was strong in defence and, perhaps most importantly, he was at the forefront of showing that the Springboks were not going to put up with any of the Wallabies’ niggling nonsense like they did in last weekend’s match. And he did all this with impressive composure, never losing his cool.

Willemse and Hendrikse

South Africa fielded a new and youthful half-back partnership in 22-year-old scrumhalf Jaden Hendrikse and 24-year-old flyhalf Damian Willemse. What an exciting future they have together!

Willemse was outstanding as the general in the No.10 jersey – the backline looked more effective thanks to his silky skills, he kicked some lengthy touchfinders as the Springboks convincingly won the territory battle, and he defended his channel stoutly.

Hendrikse was slick in his service from the base and varied his pass or run game nicely, and his box-kicks were on-point, as in when he provided Moodie with the opportunity for his try on debut.

Abundant talent and potential in evidence

The Han of China might be the world’s largest ethnic group, comprising 18% of the global population, but in terms of rugby talent, South Africa is overflowing. They showed on Saturday – when they were not even particularly clinical in taking all their chances – what can be when they get their selection right and back themselves more in playing a varied brand of attacking rugby.

A good start, with Damian de Allende rounding off nine minutes of dominance from the opening whistle, was crucial and showed the importance of having your best players on the field from the start and keeping them on for longer.

The first-choice tight five started and Malcolm Marx, Eben Etzebeth and Mostert, who moved to lock, played the full 80 minutes.

Considering the players on the sidelines though, coach Jacques Nienaber definitely has the raw material to mount a strong defence of the World Cup. It is a matter of getting the mindsets and game-plan right.

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