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Ken Borland

The passing of the Queen and the effect on sport 0

Posted on October 24, 2022 by Ken

The passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has not only caused great sorrow in the United Kingdom as they have lost the longest-serving monarch they ever had, but around the world where she was a much-loved figure, one of the constants of the 20th and 21st centuries and all the turmoil practically three generations lived through.

The charming sight of the Queen, always so immaculately turned out, meeting sporting teams is also now a thing of the past. I wonder if King Charles III will bring the same gravitas and elegance to the occasion …

While meeting government ministers who invariably end up delaying the scheduled starting time of whatever sporting event they are piggybacking on is not the sort of thing sports stars keep in the memory banks, and they largely annoy spectators, shaking hands with the Queen was always a memorable moment.

Part of that had to do with the fact that she was engaging, had a famously mischievous sense of humour and always had a sharp eye on proceedings. She and Prince Philip were avid cricket fans and she visited Lord’s on 25 occasions.

Jonty Rhodes scored a quickfire, sparkling century in the opening match of South Africa’s 1994 tour of England, against the Earl of Carnavon’s XI at Highclere, but his memories of that day revolve around meeting the Queen.

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh had spent a few hours watching the game from a marquee and Rhodes tended to stand out whenever he was in the field – a real livewire in terms of his dazzling fielding skills, but also constantly cajoling his team-mates with handclaps and shouts of encouragement.

During the lunch break, the teams were lined up and introduced to Her Majesty and she showed how keen an observer she had been as she stopped and asked Rhodes “Are you the one making all the noise?” with an amused glint in her eye.

“Yes Ma’m, I’ve got to keep the old guys moving,” Rhodes replied, drawing a smile and a nod from the Queen before she moved on down the line.

As one would probably expect, Australian cricket teams have had rather more uncouth interactions with Her Majesty, with Dennis Lillee asking for her autograph and Rodney Hogg commenting on her attractive legs. She later sent Lillee a signed photograph of the incident and he says the photo still has pride of place in his office, while Elizabeth II apparently had a warm friendship with the late Shane Warne, who also passed away this year.

She would also routinely hand out the silverware at the Wembley football stadium, most notably when England won their only soccer World Cup, in 1966.

Prince Harry, fresh from celebrating the birth of his second child, Lilibet, in June, is known for his love of rugby. The Springboks are perhaps his ‘second team’ and his celebrations after their 2019 World Cup win, including a conversation with scrumhalf Faf de Klerk who was wearing just his famous Springbok flag underpants, gave rise to many hilarious memes.

When one thinks of the Royal Family and sport, however, the obvious main connection is with horse racing. Queen Elizabeth II has been described as the sport’s “greatest supporter”. Her royal meeting at Ascot is one of the most famous equestrian events in the world and, as an owner of thoroughbreds, she enjoyed several big wins there.

Both Nicky Henderson and Sir Michael Stoute, who trained the Queen’s horses, mentioned her thorough knowledge of all things equestrian in their warm tributes.

Her daughter, Princess Anne, rode in the 1976 Montreal Olympics, and her daughter, Zara Tindall, wife of former England rugby star Mike, won a silver medal with the Great Britain equestrian eventing team at the 2012 London Olympics.

From Godfather Donald to Rabada: Proteas pace rules 0

Posted on October 10, 2022 by Ken

Kagiso Rabada became the second-quickest bowler, in terms of deliveries bowled, to reach 250 Test wickets during South Africa’s almighty thrashing of England at Lord’s, making it three Proteas inside the top-four of that particular statistical honours list.

The great Dale Steyn tops that list, needing just 9 927 deliveries to take 250 wickets, with Rabada reaching the milestone with his 10 065th ball, a clever slower-ball that had a slogging Stuart Broad caught at backward point. Pakistani legend Waqar Younis is third on 10 170 deliveries, with Allan Donald, the godfather of Proteas fast bowling, the fourth quickest (11 559).

Since South Africa’s return from isolation in November 1991, they have taken over from the West Indies as the team that has consistently produced the most lethal fast bowlers, and it was great to see that traditional strength used to such marvellous effect at Lord’s.

Test cricket is arguably at its best, a heavenly spectacle indeed, when great fast bowlers are in action, especially these days when so much is loaded in favour of batsmen.

South Africa is clearly blessed to have four world-class pacemen at the same time in Rabada, Anrich Nortje, Lungi Ngidi and Marco Jansen, who played together for the first time at Lord’s.

Sadly, it seems they will not be given enough Test matches to put up the same numbers as some of the other great fast bowlers in the history of the game.

Rabada, for instance, takes his wickets currently at a rate of 4.71 per Test. With just 28 Test matches scheduled for the Proteas over the next five years, given the same strike-rate, Rabada will be on around 380 Test wickets, still well short of breaking Steyn’s mark of 439 as South Africa’s most prolific bowler. Even Steyn himself expected Rabada to cruise past his record, but if South Africa keep playing as few Tests as they do, it will take the man who sprang to fame as the spearhead of the U19 side that won the Junior World Cup until he is in his mid-30s to claim the record.

For neutrals, South Africa’s demolition of England at Lord’s must have made for compelling viewing. Surely the International Cricket Council would want to ensure their fans get to see more of that?

All squad members stepped up in all 3 disciplines – delighted Miller 0

Posted on September 14, 2022 by Ken

Stand-in Proteas T20 captain David Miller said coach Mark Boucher can be delighted not only with the team’s groundbreaking series win in England but also the way all members of the squad stepped up and ensured all three disciplines were firing in the last two games.

Having been well-beaten by 41 runs in the first match of the T20 series, South Africa clicked in batting, bowling and fielding as they won the last two games by 58 runs and 90 runs to win their first white-ball series in England since 1998.

“It’s a huge achievement, I hadn’t realised it had been as long as that,” Miller said after sealing the series in Southampton at the weekend. “It’s really tough to win here, they like to come hard at you and they’ve been really successful.

“So the guys are extremely happy and we’ll have a few drinks tonight and enjoy ourselves. The coach can be super-proud of all the performances. We stood up in all areas of the game.

“There were very good contributions all round. We spoke about the fielding after the first game and all the dropped catches. Our standards are very high and we took some seriously good catches after that.

“To show the bouncebackability we did makes us extremely proud, it showed the character of the team. We’ll take a lot of confidence from this and it’s a great space to be in,” Miller said.

The consistent finisher had special praise for his bowlers, especially wrist-spinner Tabraiz Shamsi, who took eight wickets in the last two games to prove he remains one of the top bowlers in the format.

“Shamo showed he is not ranked as one of the best bowlers in the world for nothing. He knows what he has to do, I might just mention one or two pointers to him about what he can do, just to build his confidence up a bit.

“But the first T20 in Bristol had a very small boundary, we had a game the next day and that’s not something I wanted to harp on too much.

“Given the batting England have, lots of credit should go to our bowlers, they did extremely well. The margin for error is so small in T20 and it’s a funny game.

“But we played a lot of good cricket at the big stages, you have to make sure you’re up for the battle whatever match you’re going into,” Miller said.

With the World Cup rapidly approaching, will there be fresh Bok blood? 0

Posted on July 05, 2022 by Ken

With the World Cup rapidly approaching, the selection of South Africa’s squad to face Wales in the incoming series in July will be under the spotlight and three former Springbok greats have called for the introduction of some fresh blood.

South Africa will defend the title they won in Japan in 2019 when the next World Cup kicks off in September 2023 and Joel Stransky, John Smit and Victor Matfield all believe the time is now for Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber to start building depth for that tournament.

“The Springboks should use the Welsh games to see who the next eighthman, flyhalf and outside centre will be. Other than that we have depth,” 2007 World Cup winning captain Smit said.

Stransky, the hero of South Africa’s 1995 World Cup triumph, said there should also be change at fullback.

“There must be an eye cast forward to the World Cup because Jacques will probably have to pick his squad in 12 months time,” Stransky said.

“Some guys are getting on a bit, if we pick a similar squad to 2019 then there’ll be half-a-dozen players 33 and over. It’s a chance to blood youngsters, even off the bench.

“He needs a fullback, Willie le Roux last year was already borderline and I don’t think Jacques should pick him. I would love to see Warrick Gelant play there, there’s Aphelele Fassi or maybe even Cheslin Kolbe.

“But now’s the time, there were guys who have shone in the URC and you can’t ignore them. But my concern is that some of them have not even been at the alignment camps,” Stransky said.

“Whoever is going to play at the World Cup, whatever their age, they must play now,” Matfield, man of the match in the 2007 final, added. “It was not a great year for the Boks in 2021 and they need to build a team and their confidence.

“There are one or two players who everyone says should be in the side, but they haven’t been at the alignment camps. Warrick Gelant and Evan Roos are unbelievable game-breakers.

“If you have one or two youngsters between the experienced players, then it will feel like they’re playing provincial rugby. But we’re not saying pick five or six new guys,” Matfield said.

The legendary lock said he hoped a couple of x-factor players as well as Bulls second-rower Ruan Nortje would be added to the Springbok party.

“I don’t believe in testing players at Test level, but you need one or two players with x-factor that can bring the magic, otherwise you struggle to break teams down, especially with defences being so tight.

“Ruan Nortje is a fantastic player, but it’s unfortunate for him that we have four unbelievable second rowers: Eben Etzebeth is the best in the world, Lood de Jager is arguably second; there’s RG Snyman if he’s ready and Franco Mostert always adds value,” Matfield said.

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    Mark 7:8 – “You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men.”

    Our foundation must be absolute surrender, devotion and obedience to God, rising from pure love for him. Jesus Christ must be central in all things and his will must take precedence over the will of people, regardless of how well-meaning they may be.

    Surrender yourself unconditionally to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, then you will be able to identify what is of man with the wisdom of the Holy Spirit. Then you will be able to serve – in love! – according to God’s will.

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