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Ken Borland



Constants & challengers looking for cheer in Pakistan 0

Posted on February 15, 2021 by Ken

South Africa have played 14 T20 Internationals in the last two years and have used 26 players in that time.

Of the squad that will start a three-match series in Pakistan on Thursday afternoon (3pm SA time), Tabraiz Shamsi (13/14), David Miller (11/14), Dwaine Pretorius (9/14) and Andile Phehlukwayo (8/14) have been pretty constant selections in the Proteas T20 squad.

But with the T20 World Cup scheduled to be played in India in October/November this year, who are the other players who will be looking to book their places in the first-choice squad over the next week? What are the roles for which there are still selection question marks?

Back-up spinner

With Imran Tahir only appearing once in the last two years, it would appear wrist-spinner Tabraiz Shamsi is now the first-choice spinner. But the effectiveness of spin bowlers in T20 has been a constant through the years, especially in India, and South Africa would love to be able to field two tweakers. Ideally, to balance the side, the second one should be a batsman as well.

The players who fit that description are Bjorn Fortuin, George Linde and Jon-Jon Smuts, all accurate left-arm orthodox bowlers.

Linde is the one who has had most to cheer lately, taking five wickets the last time he bowled, in the second Test. With an average of 17.78 and a strike-rate of 136 in franchise T20s, the left-hander can certainly bring some power-hitting to the No.6 position.

Fortuin is probably the best bowler of the three, but is the weaker batsman, while the 32-year-old Smuts is Mr Consistent and he has already excelled with both bat and ball in the five ODIs he has played.

Fast bowling back-up

Kagiso Rabada, now back resting in Bryanston, and Lungi Ngidi, the pride of Kloof, are the twin pace bowling spearheads of South Africa’s first-choice T20 side. There is quite a divide in terms of success between them and the other pacemen who are striving to be in the World Cup squad.

While Anrich Nortje is also back resting in South Africa, Junior Dala and Lutho Sipamla have the opportunity to make themselves regulars in the squad, while the uncapped trio of Glenton Stuurman, Nandre Burger and Okuhle Cele will want to show their abilities as well.

The No.3 link-man

Temba Bavuma is busy establishing himself as Quinton de Kock’s opening partner and Rassie van der Dussen and David Miller have cemented their places in the middle-order. But will veteran Faf du Plessis make it to another World Cup? The 36-year-old had a little dip in form last year, his strike-rate dropping from 145 to 125, but he does still churn out the runs in the shortest format.

If Du Plessis is not going to be at that No.3 node, who could possibly replace him?

Heinrich Klaasen and Pite van Biljon are more finishers who bat five or six, while Reeza Hendricks has plenty of experience in the top three but needs to regain his best form. If Janneman Malan blossoms then he could force his way into the reckoning and cause the batting order to shuffle with Bavuma maybe moving to No.3.

Ryan Rickelton and Jacques Snyman are the up-and-coming young stars who have excelled at franchise level batting in the top three as well.

Schwartzel puts two frustrating years behind him at Leopard Creek 0

Posted on December 01, 2015 by Ken

 

Charl Schwartzel put two years of brutally hard work, frustration and demoralisation behind him as he won the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek on Sunday, cruising to victory by four strokes in the co-sanctioned European/Sunshine Tour event outside Malelane.

It is Schwartzel’s first win since he completed a hat-trick of titles at Leopard Creek in the last week of November 2013; since then his swing disintegrated and he even discovered that his putting had major flaws.

“It feels fantastic to win again because the last two years have been the biggest slump my golf has ever been in, sometimes I would think ‘am I ever going to win again?’ I’ve worked really hard in that time, your expectations get higher and then it’s frustrating when one or two bad rounds mean you just can’t get to the top,” Schwartzel said after his final-round 70 left him on 15-under-par for the tournament.

“There are 13 years of demons running around in my head and that’s a lot of demons to fight. It gets harder, but I feel that I’m a better player. I don’t think I can improve much on what happens on the range – where my game feels flawless – and I just need to bring that game to the golf course more often, I need to make that gap between the two smaller.”

What made the 31-year-old’s 10th European Tour victory even more special was that he did not play anywhere near his best over the weekend but was still able to do what was necessary to win.

“It was a struggle over the weekend, I was way off my best game, but to get it done, to manage my way around, keep the ball in play and grind it out, means I’d give my effort an A+, that’s a big achievement. Jack Nicklaus said he won many tournaments with his B or C game, and that’s what makes this win even more satisfying,” Schwartzel said.

Frenchmen Sebastien Gros and Benjamin Hebert were Schwartzel‘s closest challengers at the start of the final round, but they both fell back, Hebert only managing a level-par 72 to finish third on 10-under and Gros being derailed by successive double-bogeys on the third and fourth holes on his way to a 73 and fourth place on nine-under.

Instead it was the old boy, Gregory Bourdy, who flew the Tricolour highest as he surged into second place on 11-under-par with a 68. Things could have been very different if the 33-year-old hadn’t found the dreaded bunker left of the seventh green, from where he chipped into the water and ended with a six on the par-three.

Another Frenchman, Thomas Linard (70), finished in a tie for fifth on eight-under-par alongside Englishman Matt Ford (70) and Joost Luiten (71) of the Netherlands.

Jaco van Zyl, who fired a 64 for the lowest round of the day, and defending champion Branden Grace (71) were the next best South Africans, in a tie for eighth place on seven-under with Englishman Eddie Pepperell (68).

 

 

 

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