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Ken Borland

Powerhouse Lions field top-class outfit for T20 opener 0

Posted on May 10, 2024 by Ken

A “powerhouse” DP World Lions men’s team are determined to claim a second trophy this season as they start their CSA T20 Challenge campaign against the GBets Rocks in Johannesburg on Friday night, and they will be fielding a top-class outfit.

The #PrideOfJozi boast a couple of players named in the Betway SA20 Team of the Tournament in Ryan Rickelton and Wiaan Mulder, there is a thrilling prospect of Kagiso Rabada and his protégé Kwena Maphaka sharing the new ball, and a wonderful batting line-up with other Proteas stars in Reeza Hendricks, Rassie van der Dussen and Temba Bavuma.

Apart from Rickelton and Mulder blazing a trail in the SA20, the DP World Lions are guided by a coach in Russell Domingo who has played a key role in the Sunrisers Eastern Cape winning back-to-back titles as their batting coach. The experienced Domingo will know exactly how to play winning T20 cricket in South Africa.

Rickelton, who was the leading run-scorer in the SA20 with 530 runs at an average of 58.89 and a strike-rate of 173.77, is setting a confident tone right up front.

“We will have a full squad, barring KG when he goes to the IPL, so we have a powerhouse team, obviously we’re going to put our names up for the overall win. We would be upset if we don’t get that far and we’re really looking forward to it after winning the four-day title, which was a big incentive for us because we haven’t won that in a while,” Rickelton said.

“While the tournament was obviously a major let-down for us at MI Cape Town, I have clarity about my batting. Coach Robbie [Peterson] was quite decisive about what he wanted us to do and we really strived to win the powerplay. So I had to execute my role as well as I can with Rassie, because of the power we had to come behind.

“The opportunity was there to really take the game on there up front, to really maximise the powerplay. I had the freedom to fail and I just tried to keep it simple, while training specifics. Now I want to make sure I make an impact for the Lions, that is hugely important for me,” Rickelton said.

All-rounder Mulder earned a spot in the SA20 Team of the Tournament mostly for his batting, where he averaged a healthy 37.13 and scored at a dynamic 157.14, continuing what has been a top-class summer with the bat. Mulder shone as a finisher, but also as a safeguard who could come in during the powerplay and lay a platform for the spectacular hitting of Heinrich Klaasen.

Mulder said he went into the competition with confidence, thanks to, again, the freedom given him by the DP World Lions coaches, and a clear job description from Durban Super Giants coach Lance Klusener.

“Russell Domingo and Hashim Amla have been incredible for my game, they have really motivated me and allowed me to just go and play, to break the shackles. Because of them I took a lot of confidence into the SA20.

“I discovered a couple of new things about my game during the tournament. I worked really hard on playing spin and finishing, which is a part of the game Mark Boucher told me he didn’t think I had when he was Proteas coach. I spent quite a lot of time working with Heinrich and Dwaine Pretorius, but I’m never going to be that type of batter, having a perfect swing and getting carried away hitting sixes.

“But I can hit space and I can score different sorts of boundaries, I can still score 50 off 25 balls. Lance backs me quite a lot, my technique gave me the opportunity to bat in the top five and my role was to face quite a lot of balls and protect Heinrich. You can get some real jaffas in the powerplay, but you can play with a lot of freedom afterwards,” Mulder said.

With the players that the Lions have, playing at a fast-action venue like the DP World Wanderers Stadium, and with so many of them knowing exactly what to do to win T20 games, there is no reason why our Pride should not back themselves to bring home another trophy.

The Lions have a trio of key Proteas as they travel to CT for the penultimate 4-day round 0

Posted on February 23, 2022 by Ken

Duanne Olivier, Ryan Rickelton and Wiaan Mulder were all left out of the Proteas white-ball squad for the Indian whitewash and they will be key players as the Central Gauteng Lions now travel to Cape Town to take on Western Province from Thursday in an attempt to hang on to top spot after the penultimate round of the CSA 4-Day Domestic Series.

The Lions suffered their first defeat of their campaign in their last match, going down by eight wickets as the KZN Dolphins chased down 260 at Kingsmead. But there is no reason to fear that the Lions have lost their mojo: They were in control of the match from the start, declaring in both innings and gambled in the final innings, knowing that a win would have almost assured them of the title. But the Kingsmead pitch can get pretty flat when the north-easterly blows.

Instead, the Eastern Province Warriors, who beat Boland by 168 runs, have closed to within 1.80 points on the log and they now travel to Durban to take on the Dolphins.

But the return of Olivier, still the leading wicket-taker in the competition, means the Lions have a fearsome attack that also includes the fire of Lutho Sipamla, the cunning of Malusi Siboto, the swing bowling of Mulder and the spin of Bjorn Fortuin.

If Newlands is flat, one can also expect the powerful Lions top-order, Rickelton joining Dominic Hendricks, Josh Richards and Reeza Hendricks, to cash in. Richards is the tournament’s leading run-scorer with 413 at an average of 82, while the other three are all averaging over 40.

Western Province are expected to field potential match-winners in Zubayr Hamza and Wayne Parnell, and they will be hoping they can score big alongside David Bedingham and Tony de Zorzi.

The Northerns Titans travel to Bloemfontein to take on the Free State Knights full of confidence and hope after their eight-wicket win over North-West in Potchefstroom lifted them back into contention, just less than 20 points behind the Lions.

Northerns will need a full house of points from the last two rounds to snatch the title from the pace-setting Lions and the charging Eastern Province team, but they will bring an attack full of threats to Bloemfontein.

Lizaad Williams, having just returned to full fitness and picking up six wickets against North-West, unfortunately has a side-strain, but talented fast bowler Okuhle Cele returns to action. There is pace backing from Corbin Bosch and Junior Dala, and swing from Aya Gqamane. One can expect off-spinner Simon Harmer, backed by slow left-armer Neil Brand, to play a key role, especially since his recall to the Proteas squad.

The Titans batting, led by Heinrich Klaasen and Grant Mokoena, has also been full of runs this season.

The other Division One game sees Boland hosting North-West.

Boks impressive, but Davids says far from a 10/10 performance 0

Posted on September 01, 2021 by Ken

Impressive as the Springboks’ 32-12 win over Argentina was, forwards coach Deon Davids said on Monday that it was far from a 10/10 performance and they will be striving for more consistent excellence this weekend against the same opposition and in the same Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.

Although there are unlikely to be wholesale changes to the team, tinkering in the interests of keeping some players fresh and others involved could see as many as 10 players wearing a different number on their backs on Saturday.

And one of the significant changes could come in the No.10 jersey. Elton Jantjies’ tendency to mix some skilful moments with basic errors could see him come off the bench on Saturday, with Morne Steyn starting at flyhalf. Damian Willemse also had a mixed day at fullback and there will certainly be plenty of people excited about the prospect of Aphelele Fassi returning to his regular position.

Captain Siya Kolisi played against Argentina despite having gastric flu and, given his all-out effort during the British and Irish Lions series, there is certainly an argument to be made for him to be rested ahead of the huge challenges in Australasia.

Davids said on Monday though that Duane Vermeulen is still two-to-three weeks away from playing, so who would take over the captaincy is an issue. Eben Etzebeth has captained the Springboks before, although ideally he would be resting as well were it not for the injuries to Rynhardt Elstadt, Jean-Luc du Preez, RG Snyman and Pieter-Steph du Toit.

Kwagga Smith can easily play openside flank and Dan du Preez could come in on the blindside, but an injury to Marco van Staden could force the Springboks back into a 5-3 bench.

Davids also confirmed that scrumhalves Herschel Jantjies and Faf de Klerk are also still unavailable for this weekend.

“We want a more consistent performance. The players generally made the right decisions, but the execution was not always where we want it to be. But they found solutions as the game went on, especially in the scrums and lineout. We want to ensure we grow and get better in our execution, make sure that flows into Saturday’s game.

“We are very happy with the guys that stepped in against a quality side. It was obviously a big step up the youngsters had to make and we were glad with the way they reacted. In selection, we will look at performance, but also the freshness of the players and we want to build depth and experience into the group. Those considerations all have to be balanced,” Davids said.

Judging by last weekend’s performance, the depth in Springbok rugby is okay.

“There were some big moments that the players handled well. That was testament to the base of talent that we have, how the guys assist each other and the leadership of the senior players and how the youngsters react to that. It speaks to a whole team effort and it was a good learning experience against a very competitive team. We now have a base to move from,” Davids said.

Possible Springbok team: Aphelele Fassi, Sbu Nkosi, Jesse Kriel, Francois Steyn, Rosko Specman, Morne Steyn, Cobus Reinach, Jasper Wiese, Dan du Preez, Kwagga Smith, Lood de Jager, Eben Etzebeth, Wilco Louw, Malcolm Marx, Ox Nche. Bench – Trevor Nyakane, Joseph Dweba, Vincent Koch, Marvin Orie, Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg, Jaden Hendrikse, Elton Jantjies, Damian Willemse.

Proteas playing in the evening again & will be better prepared – Janneman 0

Posted on February 18, 2021 by Ken

South Africa will be playing in the evening again in Lahore on Saturday as they look to stay alive in their T20 series against Pakistan and opening batsman Janneman Malan said they will be better prepared having now experienced the interesting weather conditions in the ancient city and centre of culture.

Given it is winter in Pakistan and dew is prevalent in the evenings, the Proteas did the right thing after winning the toss and choosing to bat second in the first match of the series, but there was even more moisture than expected but it strangely had less impact than the visitors thought it would. They were hoping it would make a dry, slow surface more slick, allowing the ball to come on to the bat better and negating some of the turn. But that didn’t happen according to Malan.

“It was interesting weather, especially when the fog came in. Credit to Pakistan for taking two important catches in the closing stages in those conditions. There was a wet outfield, the ball was wet, but it still didn’t skid on as much as we expected, so it was quite a challenge against the spinners at the start. So we just tried to capitalise on the seamers while they tried to figure out what to do.

“But now that we’ve seen what works and what doesn’t work, we’ll have better plans for the second game. Some deliveries were more difficult to hit and it wasn’t so much about execution as having the right plans. So there’s room for improvement – we probably need to commit harder and have clearer, better plans. But as a batting unit, we’re not far off where we want to be,” Malan said after blasting 44 off 29 balls in the first T20.

But after Malan’s opening stand of 53 off 42 balls with Reeza Hendricks, South Africa’s next biggest partnership was 32 for the fourth wicket between Hendricks (54 off 42) and skipper Heinrich Klaasen (12) as wickets fell regularly after Pakistan made the initial breakthrough via exciting leg-spinner Usman Qadir. Just one more sizeable partnership would have made the Proteas’ chase so much easier.

“As a batting unit, we want to win games and we’re not far off clicking. Just one more big partnership and we would have won the game. We just need to come up with the best options for each batsman. Experience is important and we’re obviously missing some of that, but it’s more important that every player focuses on doing their job, we can all add value.

“Reeza was in a difficult position when I got out because he had not faced a lot of balls, but he kept a cool head and got the strike-rate up again. He was obviously upset that he didn’t finish the game, but his dismissal was unlucky and he played a very good innings. The second game is a good opportunity for us to bounce back hard and hopefully change the momentum so we can take that into the final game on Sunday,” Malan said.

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