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Ken Borland

Lack of experience a large part of the Proteas’ batting woes – Sammons 0

Posted on November 08, 2023 by Ken

Proteas batting coach Justin Sammons says a large part of his team’s batting woes this year is due to their lack of experience because they do not play enough red-ball cricket.

While South Africa already play less Test cricket than most teams – a situation which will worsen markedly in the next couple of years – Cricket South Africa have also cut the number of four-day matches the provinces play to just seven per season due to financial constraints.

It means the country’s top batting talent may only play ten first-class innings a season when the effects of the weather and innings victories are thrown into the equation. Senior Proteas have also been conspicuous by their absence in domestic cricket, which weakens both the batting and bowling standard of the competition.

“What’s very important to realise is that there is no substitute for experience and you only gain that from playing,” Sammons said on Friday in Sydney. “The more you play, the more experience you get and the more lessons you learn.

“As a country, we need to look at how we look after the four-day system going forward. With the way the world is going, it’s a tricky balancing act, but we do need to find a way.

“The bottom line is that the players need to play as much cricket as possible. We’ve got to think out of the box, whether that’s the board or the director of cricket.

“But there has to be a way. We can’t just resign ourselves to T20 dominating and not playing enough first-class cricket. I believe the key for us is playing more four-day cricket,” Sammons said.

While the batting coach admitted that the batsmen were suffering from a lack of confidence, one positive has been the form of wicketkeeper Kyle Verreynne, who has proven himself to be a tenacious customer. Verreynne was one of only three Proteas batsmen to average more than 30 (32.12) in 2022, the others being Temba Bavuma (40.07) and Keegan Petersen (38.38).

“The growth in Kyle’s game has been tremendous, both technically and obviously mentally,” Sammons said. “The key I think is that he has figured out his own way of playing at his tempo.

“He has stuck to the tempo that allows him to be successful. He will continue to work on that, but he’s clear in terms of his identity as a cricketer, he understands how to go about scoring runs.

“He’s like Dean Elgar, Jacques Kallis or Graeme Smith in that you knew what you would get from them. I think he has that clear identity of who he is as a cricketer, which goes a long way.

“Following the England series, in tough conditions, our batsmen’s confidence was dented a bit. And then the first Test here the conditions really favoured the bowlers and naturally the confidence was hit even more,” Sammons said.

Hot weather & the ball flying miles the norm, but Detry masters different conditions 0

Posted on February 13, 2023 by Ken

Hot weather and the ball flying for miles is always the norm at Sun City, but Belgium’s Thomas Detry managed to master the different conditions in this year’s Nedbank Golf Challenge and soar into a share of the lead after the third round with back-to-back 67s on Saturday.

Heavy showers on Friday meant the second round could only be completed on Saturday morning, with the golfers then only having a half-hour break before heading out again for their third rounds. Although there was occasional drizzle on Saturday, mercifully there was no disruption to play with the rain not nearly as heavy as forecast.

Detry began his round on the 10th and immediately gathered back-to-back birdies and then another shot on the par-five 14th. His next birdie came via a lengthy, curling putt on the par-three fourth, and he then finished his round in superb style with three successive birdies from the seventh to the ninth holes. The 29-year-old dropped two shots, on the 17th and sixth holes, both par-fours.

His tremendous finish lifted him to nine-under-par for the tournament, the mark Rasmus Hojgaard got to on a sensational run that saw him eagle the famous ninth hole and pick up birdies on the par-five 10th and par-three 12th holes. The exciting Dane then parred his way home to shoot another 69, just as he did in the first two rounds.

Detry is a leading player on both the DP World and U.S. PGA Tours, and so he has had to learn to be adaptable, especially when it comes to the considerable travel demands and the different courses and conditions he has to handle. It is no surprise then that an unusual day at the Gary Player Country Club did not catch him offguard.

“With all the rain, the course is playing longer. We’re used to hitting Driver 330 metres and seven-iron over 220, but with the colder weather, we’re now hitting five or six iron and I think that surprised some of the players a little,” Detry said.

“It’s also wetter so the rough can be a bit harder to get out of, so it is easy to drop shots here and there. It’s usually hot, so the course is playing much longer than we’re used to.

“The travel between tours is tough, but I really wanted to make these last two events on the DP World Tour, so I flew from Mexico on Sunday night and only arrived here on Tuesday night.

“I’ve been feeling a bit under the weather, so to be able to rest most of Friday was massive for me to play 27 holes today so consistently. Getting a lot of rest and eating a lot of food out there gave me energy,” Detry said.

South Africans Branden Grace and Thriston Lawrence are both just one shot off the pace heading into the final round. Lawrence had the lowest score of the third round with a brilliant seven-under 65 and, starting his round on the 10th, he had three successive birdies from the 13th and then another two back-to-back on 18 and the first hole. The 2021 Joburg Open champion completed a bogey-free front nine with two more birdies on the sixth and ninth holes.

Grace lifted himself into contention with a brilliant 67 on Saturday morning, and then struck the ball beautifully again in the third round, but a cold putter meant he had to settle for a one-under 71. But he is in hot form and has the confidence of his 2017 Nedbank Golf Challenge triumph to bolster him.

Proteas pace attack highly-motivated to do some damage against Bangladesh team that shocked them last time out 0

Posted on January 16, 2023 by Ken

The last time the Proteas played against Bangladesh in white-ball cricket was earlier this year when Bangladesh shocked them by winning the ODI series in South Africa, so there is a pace attack that is highly-motivated to do some damage when the two teams meet in the T20 World Cup in Sydney on Thursday.

The Proteas and Bangladesh were meant to play a warm-up game before the tournament, but that was washed out, and the rain then also forced South Africa’s opening match against Zimbabwe to be abandoned without a result. Given their experience in last year’s T20 World Cup, where they lost just their opening game but missed out on the semi-finals on nett run-rate, the Proteas know they have to win all four of their remaining matches to make sure they progress.

“Last year we learnt that every game is so important and we’ve wrapped our heads around having to win everything from here on in to give us the best chance of qualifying for the semis,” paceman Lungi Ngidi said on Wednesday.

“We’re definitely hungry to win, but every team is under pressure. The last time we played against Bangladesh, their batsmen came out pretty aggressively against us. So we will definitely target their top-order.

“They have Shakib al-Hasan to control the middle, but if we cut off the head of the snake up front, then hopefully we can restrict them to as low a total as possible.

“We will play towards our strengths and we have seen that pace has been most successful so far in the tournament. So we would like to attack them with our strength and we will see how they handle that tomorrow [Thursday],” Ngidi said.

The skilful 26-year-old also did not want to sell the Proteas bowling line-up short, saying they embraced talk about them possibly being the best pace attack in the world.

“For people to say we have the best attack in the world is an honour and privilege for us, it gives us lots of confidence as well,” Ngidi said. “It means we can walk with our heads held high.

“It also means we really want to showcase what we have. We have three or four seamers and everyone is better at something than someone else

“It makes the job a lot easier because it becomes pretty difficult with two seamers having to do everything.

“That gives the bowlers the sense of calm and confidence that’s needed in a tournament like this,” Ngidi said.

Unfortunately, there is a high probability of a lunchtime thundershower in Sydney putting a dampener on the Proteas’ efforts once again.

Play starts at 5am.

Proteas collapses have showed that international stage is not for Joe Soap batsmen 0

Posted on December 29, 2022 by Ken

The International cricket stage is not the sort of place Joe Soap batsmen just come in and automatically do well and the recurring failures of the Proteas batting line-up this year showed that there is something more systemic to blame for the several dreadful collapses we have seen.

In the last 12 months, South Africa have been bowled out in Test cricket for scores of 95 and 111 in New Zealand, 118, 151, 169 and 179 in England, and 191 and 197 against India at Centurion. In ODIs, England have bundled them out for 83 and India shot them out for 99 earlier this week, while 154 all out against Bangladesh at SuperSport Park was a shock. In T20s, there was 87 all out and 106/8 in India, and 118/9 in the opening match of last year’s World Cup, against Australia in Abu Dhabi.

Some of these same batsmen that have been exposed a few times against overseas opposition take delight in scoring heavily in domestic cricket, and that is where Cricket South Africa need to look first.

The expansion from six to eight teams at the top level and the unfortunate fact that probably two-thirds of the transformation targets per team are filled by bowlers, has led to a dilution of the strength of bowling attacks in the local game.

Having watched plenty of domestic cricket in recent times, it is apparent that, for top batsmen, there is probably a pair of pacemen and maybe a spinner who will provide a suitable test for their abilities, but thereafter there is a drop in intensity and a batter who has international aspirations finds it relatively easy to rack up big scores.

The quality of pitches also needs to be looked at: We have had a few ‘roads’ around the country which barely test a batsman, and green tops and rank turners don’t help either because they lower the overall quality of the bowling by not forcing bowlers to develop the skills and patience required on the generally good wickets at international level.

And, as both England and India’s bowlers have capitalised on, there is precious little quality swing bowling seen in South Africa these days; gone are the likes of Richard Snell, Meyrick Pringle and Alan Dawson, who were leading wicket-takers season in and season out.

The ill-effects of quotas on local cricket are obvious, but it also needs to be pointed out that the wretched system of Apartheid enforced a 100% White quota, which had even more of a sickening effect on sport. Quotas are there to try and redress that iniquity and level the playing field, and if anyone has a better method of doing that, I’m sure CSA would love to hear from you.

It has certainly not helped the domestic game that there have been drastic financial cuts by CSA. These cost-saving measures came about due to the incompetence and misgovernance of the previous board, which caused sponsors to flee en masse.

In previous times, new batsmen came into the Proteas team with three or four seasons of strength-versus-strength, hard cricket behind them. They would play a dozen matches per season per format. Now the domestic game is no longer contested on a home-and-away basis, and our top local cricketers play much less cricket, thereby reducing their experience and learning opportunities.

So what are CSA to do about this, to ensure that we keep producing great batsmen of the same ilk as Hashim Amla, Jacques Kallis, AB de Villiers, Gary Kirsten, Herschelle Gibbs, Graeme Smith, Faf du Plessis, David Miller, JP Duminy and Albie Morkel?

Hopefully the SA20 league is going to pump much-needed funds into domestic cricket to make it stronger, but CSA are also going to have to try and bring more of those illustrious former names into the fold to help advise and fine-tune our best young batsmen who are going to push for Proteas places in the future.

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