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Ken Borland

Zondo able to marry experience with fighting spirit 0

Posted on December 20, 2023 by Ken

Khaya Zondo was able to marry the experience he has in domestic cricket with a fighting spirit as he top-scored for the Proteas on another torrid day in their Test series against Australia on Saturday, and he is confident that he and his team-mates can do it again on Sunday’s final day to save the third Test in Sydney.

Zondo scored a career-best 39 in nearly two hours at the crease as South Africa struggled to 149/6 in the two sessions that were able to be played on the fourth day. That means they are still 127 runs short of avoiding the follow-on; they are likely to have to bat through 98 overs on Sunday, but they do have 14 wickets in hand on a pitch that demands watchfulness but is far from a minefield.

Zondo shared partnerships of 48 with Temba Bavuma (35) and 45 with Kyle Verreynne (19).

“We have one day to bat, we have done it before so I’m sure we can do it again,” Zondo said after stumps on the penultimate day at the Sydney Cricket Ground. The pitch is like the one in Pietermaritzburg, so it’s familiar to me as a Durban player.

“It’s not quick, there’s turn every now and then and it’s not reversing a lot. They are just using the crease and creating angles. The short ball doesn’t get up, so that is the only challenge from the perspective of facing the seamers. You’ve got to watch it and play instead of trying to get under it.

“The conditions dictate how you must play, whether the ball is turning or not, the pitch is quick or slow; and Temba and I felt out there that we needed to be quick on our feet, whether we were coming down the wicket or going back in the crease. Certain shots are better options,” Zondo said.

Although he is 32-years-old, Zondo’s sole real experience of Test cricket has been against the powerful English and Australian attacks, away from home and in often testing conditions for batting. His Test debut against Bangladesh last April came as a Covid substitute on the final day when South Africa had already completed their batting. His seven innings have now brought 120 runs at an average of 20 – figures that suggest he is worth persevering with, especially when compared to the returns of some of his colleagues who have been given more opportunity.

The Westville Boys’ High School product is feeling positive about his prospects, a mood he said is shared by his team-mates in the changeroom despite their miserable time in Australia.

“I’ve only had a short international career, I’ve only played England and Australia at their homes and those are two top attacks,” Zondo said. “But it’s been a good experience.

“It’s comforting to know that I am able to play against the best and hold my own. It’s just about spending more time at this level and then hopefully I can dominate one day.

“If I’m selected more, then I have to make sure I perform to play every game. The last year has been challenging, but if you can get through that then you can play at this level.

“For me it’s about taking every opportunity, playing as much cricket as I can get. If it’s first-class cricket, then I must go there and nail that; if it’s SA A games, then I must nail that,” Zondo said.

Commonwealth Games will hopefully see Proteas Women return to their strengths 0

Posted on September 12, 2022 by Ken

The novelty value and excitement of being part of a greater Team South Africa at the Commonwealth Games will hopefully see the Proteas women’s cricket team return to their strengths and bounce back from a torrid run of six straight defeats against England when they play New Zealand in their opening game at Edgbaston on Saturday.

Team unity will seldom be more important for the Proteas as they are without most of their leading individual stars – Lizelle Lee has controversially retired, Marizanne Kapp is back in South Africa attending to a family emergency, Dane van Niekerk is still injured and Trisha Chetty and Tumi Sekhukhune are also unfit to play.

They have also been in England for a long time, suffering regular blows to their morale, and key players like Shabnim Ismail, Sune Luus and Mignon du Preez have been struggling for form.

Coach Hilton Moreeng has tried to bolster the mood.

“It’s very exciting to have this opportunity to be part of the Games, it’s a first for us and you can see the joy in the players, they know they have the opportunity to do something special.

“It’s a very happy camp and we feel blessed to represent Team South Africa. The main thing is we have acclimatised and we can adapt to conditions in Birmingham very well.

“Plus we’ve been playing against a very competitive team like England, who are always in the top two and they have tested us well. We’ve gone back to the drawing board to see how we can improve.

“We’ve learnt a lot playing against England and now we will use that to see how we can get victories in the Commonwealth Games. We will need to fire in all our disciplines,” Moreeng said.

While New Zealand have been inactive since the World Cup in March, it should be remembered that they beat the Proteas 3-1 in their previous meeting back in February 2020, clinching the series by romping to a 69-run victory in Wellington.

England and Sri Lanka are the other teams in Group B, so it is likely whoever wins Saturday’s clash between the Kiwis and the Proteas will make the semi-finals along with the hosts.

But New Zealand have been underachievers in global women’s events and South Africa will hope their greater match-sharpness will allow them to put their opponents under pressure.

Play starts at 12pm.

Rassie weathers torrid start & spiteful Wagner burst to top-score 0

Posted on April 04, 2022 by Ken

Rassie van der Dussen had to weather a torrid start to his innings and then a spiteful burst of short-pitched bowling from former team-mate Neil Wagner, but the phlegmatic 33-year-old still managed to top-score for South Africa on another gripping day of the second Test against New Zealand in Christchurch.

Van der Dussen’s 45 helped shore up the middle-order after Tim Southee had dismissed both openers with just 23 runs on the board, adding 65 for the fourth wicket with Temba Bavuma (23). The Proteas ended the third day on 140/5, a lead of 211.

“We went out with a useful lead and tried to play on the front foot, looking to score, but New Zealand have a world-class attack and they really don’t give you much,” Van der Dussen said.

“I myself was a bit more streaky than I usually am at the start of my innings and Neil then bowled a brilliant spell of short ones, which unfortunately got me out.

“Fourteen years back, when I made my first-class debut for Northerns, we were in the same team. I knew his plan and he knew that I was not going to leave any short balls, there were runs there to be had.

“So it was me or him and I just needed to last one or two overs more and I would have won the battle. But he has a big tank and well done to him. I’m sure it was entertaining to watch,” Van der Dussen said.

Colin de Grandhomme’s brilliant 120 not out had earlier kept the Black Caps in the game as he lifted them to 293 all out. Kagiso Rabada, who took 5/60, and left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj were the only bowlers to keep him contained for long though, and Van der Dussen said they would be the pair the Proteas will probably be calling on in the fourth innings to win the game and level the series for South Africa.

“It would be really encouraging if we can strike early again in their second innings, and the way they played Kesh in the first innings, I think he is really going to come into it in the fourth innings.

“If we can bat through the first session tomorrow [Monday], then we will be in a great position and any lead above 270 we would be reasonably happy with.

“We’ve got to give Kesh the chance to really get into the game and hopefully the pitch will deteriorate. KG also plays a big role for us. He doesn’t miss his lines and lengths much.

“KG asks lots of questions, he can swing the ball and he has a good bouncer and a good yorker. The team looks to him to win matches for us and he knows it. He takes responsibility, he knows that if he takes wickets then we win Tests,” Van der Dussen said.

A torrid year not quite over for the Boks 0

Posted on October 29, 2021 by Ken

A torrid year for the world champions is not quite over yet despite their face-saving 31-29 victory over the All Blacks on the Gold Coast on Saturday, as the Springboks still have an end-of-year tour to the United Kingdom.

Before Saturday’s impressive win, the Springboks, after nearly 18 months of not playing a Test, had endured a torrid, albeit triumphant series against the British and Irish Lions, beaten Argentina twice, but then seemed to be running out of steam as they lost both Tests against Australia and then succumbed to a narrow defeat against New Zealand, to lose three in a row for the first time since 2016.

South Africa will face Wales, Scotland and England on that tour but they will now do so with some confidence following an epic victory over the No.1 ranked team in the world and their greatest rivals.

“To have some momentum is massive, you need it if you’re going to build a team and rotate your squad,” Nienaber said.

“The margins are so small when numbers one to three play each other, but the players never doubted, they never lost focus and never veered off what we wanted to do. We’re not back at our 2019 level yet and we are still learning.

“But it’s been unbelievable for us to play against our Sanzaar partners again after we missed out in 2020. They bring a different style and mentality, and it’s nice to compete against a different skill-set and appetite for risk.

“We had a tough time when we lost some momentum, but in the end we have some back,” Nienaber said.

Man of the match Duane Vermeulen, whose trademark turnover in the final minute kept the Springboks’ hopes alive, said the victory had been a massive boost and gave an insight into just how hard bubble life in Australia has been for the last six weeks.

“It’s been a difficult time, away from our home and families, not seeing your kids or spending time with them, which is vital for your mental state. For the first two weeks we were in a hard bubble, making our own beds and cleaning our rooms.

“We’ve just had to keep on adjusting and we got it all together at the end. There are good vibes and energy now, which we can take into the end-of-year tour.

“We only have two weeks off and then it’s another five or six weeks on tour. But we are in a good mental state at the moment,” Vermeulen said.

Vermeulen and the rest of the pack were superb in exerting their alpha-male dominance on the All Blacks, but in the end it was some vital touches from substitute backs Elton Jantjies and Francois Steyn that made the difference.

Nienaber was full of praise for his bench.

“Last week I wanted to bring Elton on but didn’t because of Marco van Staden’s injury, and I probably should have bitten the bullet and done it. He was excellent when he came on and Frans was brilliant, he has unbelievable ability with those 50/22 kicks which we utilised.

“We have quality players on the bench, they are there to fulfil a role, once the starters have done their specific jobs and emptied their tanks,” Nienaber said.

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    Persevere in your service as Christ did – through obstacles, disappointment and adversity, and never give up hope.

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