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Ken Borland

World is their oyster as Proteas bowlers head to helpful Dubai 0

Posted on December 06, 2021 by Ken

Given that the Proteas expect there to be assistance for all their bowlers and that the West Indies batsmen fared even worse than South Africa’s in their T20 World Cup opening matches, one would understand if Kagiso Rabada feels the world is their oyster as they go into their crucial encounter in Dubai on Tuesday.

While South Africa could only post a rather miserable 118-9 against Australia in Abu Dhabi, a total their admirable bowlers almost managed to defend, the West Indies batting was downright atrocious as they were bundled out for a measly 55 by England in Dubai.

Rabada cautioned, however, that the West Indies still have an explosive batting line-up that will be out for redemption after eating humble pie at the weekend.

“We know the ball will move around a bit, batting is not that free-flowing because the pitches are not flat, they offer something for the bowlers,” Rabada said on Monday.

“We expect the Dubai pitch to offer something for both pace and spin bowlers, there will be assistance, a bit of bounce, sometimes the ball stops and it can be a bit two-paced.

“So batsmen will have to really apply themselves, but the West Indies will be looking to come back really strong and we can never underestimate them. The England game is behind them and this is a completely new match.

“They are a dangerous team and it’s a new day. The West Indies are a strong, powerful team, especially in T20 cricket. So we will need to be as disciplined as we were against Australia,” Rabada said.

Having performed so very well in the field against Australia, Rabada said the Proteas are still very positive and they are confident their batsmen are able to come to the party on Tuesday.

“We bowled extremely well but it was obviously not an ideal start with the bat. But you rarely get a perfect game in both departments and Australia’s bowling outshone their batting too.

“We will have to rock up with the appropriate intensity again and we’ll need to be close to our best. There will be a lot for the bowlers to work with, but we have to apply ourselves too.

“The bowlers can’t just rock up and put the ball in a place. We have to make sure we come with the same intensity when you’re defending a low score, we have the strategy and now it’s about execution.

“We also see the batting as a concern, but it’s been addressed and they know what they have to do. But it’s just one game where we didn’t get over the line, why should we be negative? We are still very positive as a team,” Rabada said.

‘You have a debt to society’ Player tells U.S. golfers 0

Posted on May 25, 2020 by Ken

“You have got to understand that you have a debt to society,” the great Gary Player said when asked what message he would give to American golfers playing for millions of dollars every weekend on the U.S. PGA Tour. And then the 84-year-old nine-time Major winner and Grand Slam champion took a potshot at the lack of American golfers playing in the Nedbank Golf Challenge at Sun City.

The U.S. PGA Tour offered more than $375 million of prizemoney for 46 official events last year, with order of merit winner Brooks Koepka taking home $9,684,006.

The Nedbank Golf Challenge, of which Player is the host, is part of the prestigious Rolex Series on the European Tour and the winner gets $2.5 million, one of the biggest prizes in world golf. But there was only one American in the field last year in David Lipsky, the world number 193 at the time, who plays mostly on the European Tour. In 2018, not a single American accepted the invitation.

“I’m in favour of the guys making as much money as they can but when you consider that I won just $45 000 for winning the PGA Championship in 1972 then it’s fair to say we worked so hard in those days so they could win big money. You’ve got to understand you have a debt to society and so many golfers do a fine job and golf is the greatest catalyst for charitable giving.

“But Sun City offered the biggest prize ever last year and there was not one American who played. They wanted 5-6 million dollars just to play. I would have rowed over from America for that kind of money! I would tell them you are not fulfilling your debt to promote the game that enabled you to live the way you do,” Player said on Thursday night in a webinar hosted by Citadel Investment Services.

South Africa’s Sportsman of the 20th Century also said to count him amongst those players who have said this year’s Ryder Cup must be played with spectators allowed or be postponed. The biennial match between the United States and Europe is scheduled for September 25-27 at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin, but there have been suggestions it will have to be played without galleries, a move which has been rejected by golfers on both sides of the Atlantic.

“The Ryder Cup is a hard call. I never played in it for obvious reasons, but I can understand both sides. The sponsors put in a lot of money and the tournament wouldn’t exist without them, or the media too. Sponsors and the media are the reason why golfers nowadays play for absurd amounts of money.

“But the whole enthusiasm of the Ryder Cup is such that if there was just a deathly silence you wouldn’t want to play. So I’m with the players on this, but my heart bleeds for the sponsors and media. But the tournament can be delayed, rather do that like they’ve done with the U.S. Open and the Masters. Golfers will also have to make sacrifices and play over Christmas or whenever,” Player said.

From the basement to the attic for Beuran, who now knows the levels required 0

Posted on May 12, 2020 by Ken

Beuran Hendricks has become a contracted Protea for the first time and the left-arm pace bowler admitted on Monday that it has taken him a while to understand just what a different level international cricket is, as his career has gone from the basement to the attic of the game in the last four years.

Hendricks actually first played for South Africa way back in 2014, appearing in a couple of T20s against Australia before going to the ICC World Twenty20 in Bangladesh. He did well enough to gain an IPL contract with the Punjab Kings XI, but he then suffered a stress fracture and when he returned at the end of 2015, he struggled to make the Cape Cobras side.

A move to the Highveld Lions, initially on loan, in early 2017 rejuvenated his career, however, and he was back playing T20s for South Africa that October. He has now played 13 T20 Internationals, taking 20 wickets, an ODI debut followed in January 2019, then he was a late replacement for the World Cup in England, and he reached the Holy Grail in January this year when he made his Test debut against England at the Wanderers and took five for 64 in the second innings.

“I’ve been playing pretty decently at franchise level, enough to warrant selection for the national team. I started my international career well enough but then I felt that my performances dipped and they weren’t really at the standard I set for myself. But I now know the intensity and levels I need to be at which should lead to more consistency for the Proteas.

“My Test debut against England was pretty special and I learnt that you can’t drop your intensity at all, it’s five days against opposition who aren’t giving you anything. I was put under pressure in the first innings [23-3-111-1], on the back foot, but in the second innings I picked it up a notch, my intensity was higher and I was able to bring it back a bit. I now know and understand the intensity I need at that level,” Hendricks said on Monday.

“To get my first Proteas contract makes me feel special and proud, it shows that hard work pays off. It has settled a lot of nerves, I now feel part of the Proteas family and team. A lot of positive decisions have got me where I am now in my game and my personal life etcetera,” he added.

But there will be no resting on his laurels for the 29-year-old because Hendricks believes there are no guarantees of Proteas selection given the amount of talent he sees coming through the franchise system.

“There is so much talent coming through, every year there’s a new name. The franchise system just needs to tap into all that talent and make sure that it’s ready for international selection. I think the national selectors are going to be busy over the next two to three years because there will be a lot of options for them to consider, we’re not far off that point.

“But I’ve thought about what I want for my future and I will do whatever I can to make sure that the Proteas stay one of the best teams in the world. Fortunately I have a pretty good relationship with Charl Langeveldt [bowling coach], he understands my bowling best and we know how to communicate with each other. I’m very sure he’s going to be successful now that he’s back with the Proteas,” Hendricks said.

The John McFarland Column: SA’s SuperRugby downgrade hard to understand 0

Posted on April 12, 2017 by Ken


Sanzaar obviously had to make changes to SuperRugby because the crowds were not reflecting the status of the competition, but I struggle to understand why South Africa have to give up two teams.

Our previous wins at the Sanzaar negotiating table have been because we could always use the threat of going to Europe and our TV figures to get our own way.

So why do New Zealand keep five franchises and South Africa have just four, but we’re a much bigger nation! I know the argument based on the performance of the teams, but in 2013 we had four teams in the top eight and in 2012 three sides in the top six. So we have had the strength, and the Bulls were a dominant force in SuperRugby from 2005-2010, which is not so long ago!

So I struggle to comprehend how a team like the Cheetahs, who are such a strong rugby region, can be facing the axe. Everyone understands that the Kings will have to go due to their financial woes and because they are propped up by Saru, but it will be very disappointing to lose the Cheetahs after they have been in SuperRugby for so long. And the Free State and Griqualand West region has provided a heck of a lot of players who have gone on to greater things.

What really concerns me is that the Springboks will miss out on an extra 30 players to choose from, while New Zealand will have a pool of 150 SuperRugby players, a 20% bigger selection pool.

And it’s easy to say we will retain more players because we will now have more money, but as Faf de Klerk’s offer from Sale shows, guys can still earn more than triple what they’ll get in South Africa by going overseas. I believe we’ll actually retain fewer players because there will be less opportunity with only four franchises. Our coaching ranks will also be diminished with less opportunity for them too.

The funny thing is, a year ago Sanzaar said everything was fine and a big fuss was made about how the new format would mean much less travel for South African sides – a maximum of two flights overseas.

The tournament did need expansion and Argentina have now been able to keep their best players, they haven’t gone to Europe, because there’s a clear pathway for them to develop and express themselves at the highest level. We’ve seen that with the Sunwolves too.

People say it’s not our job to develop rugby in South America and Asia, but that’s shortsighted. Rugby has to be a global game, if it just stayed within the Commonwealth and Argentina, it would die.

Exposing a team from Japan to higher levels of rugby has certainly brought an improvement to their play. There were 22 000 people at the Bulls game in Tokyo and the excitement was incredible, especially considering that the last game in Tokyo saw the Sunwolves lose 83-17 to the Hurricanes!

But there was a great atmosphere and huge interest in the Bulls game, but more on that shock result later on.

In my view, the SuperRugby format should be a 16-team competition – so five New Zealand and South African franchises, four from Australia and the Sunwolves and Jaguares – with everyone playing everyone else once. You would have two three-week tours as part of that.

Six teams would then progress to the playoffs, with the top two sides initially having a bye straight into their home semis against the winners of the quarterfinals, which would be third versus sixth and fourth against fifth.

This weekend I am really looking forward to the match between the Lions and the Stormers, which should be a high-tempo, all out attacking game, but the side that defends best will win it. For the main Easter weekend game to be between the two conference leaders is going to provide a great spectacle.

The quality and skill level of the Stormers last weekend against the Chiefs shows that they have reached a new dimension and you have to credit Robbie Fleck and his staff, and the players, for their willingness to play like that. It’s really high-risk, high-reward rugby and, believe me, it has to be coached!

What was especially pleasing was the way they really matched a New Zealand team at the back end of the game, when it’s normally been a huge struggle for South African teams.

The Sharks also had a good win, even though they are not scoring a lot of tries. They are playing off the other side’s mistakes, like their spectacular intercept try against the Jaguares.

They hung on in there against the Argentinians and it was an important win for their conference, although they will be a bit disappointed they gave the Jaguares a point. But it’s good that they were able to grind it out, hopefully they can get on a roll and get their confidence going.

The humidity in Durban made the ball very slippery and there were similar conditions for the Bulls in Tokyo, a match I was fortunate enough to attend. It was very wet and the Sunwolves managed the conditions better. The Bulls are not far off but they were simply not good enough last weekend.

They took time to get into their stride, they struggled to get control of the game. But then they had control when they were nine points ahead, they were in the pound seats, but the yellow card obviously had a huge influence.

After that the Sunwolves took a scrum with 10 minutes to go and scored the matchwinning try. The lesson for the Bulls is that when a backline player like Jan Serfontein gets a yellow card, then you must replace him. It’s better to have a full backline because you need that speed on defence. It was standard procedure when I was with the Springboks that if a backline player got a yellow card late in the game then we would take a forward off and replace him. Otherwise you’re defending with six versus seven, which is why the Sunwolves were able to break out so easily.

The Sunwolves were also able to keep the ball in play and did a good job of nullifying the Bulls’ lineout maul threat by standing off. That meant the Bulls had to mostly play from static ball. The home side were also very good with their kicks and chips, while the Bulls could have done much better with their chips, especially the one from their own 22 that led to a try.

The Bulls will be really hurting, but they now have a lot of games at home. No other team in the competition has had such a tough start away from home, and the Bulls will now hope they can get some form and a winning run at Loftus Versfeld.

John McFarland is the assistant coach of the Kubota Spears in Japan and was the Springbok defence coach from 2012 through to the 2015 World Cup, where they conceded the least line-breaks in the tournament and an average of just one try per game. Before that, McFarland won three SuperRugby titles (2007, 09, 10) with the Bulls and five Currie Cup crowns with the Blue Bulls. In all, he won 28 trophies during his 12 years at Loftus Versfeld.

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