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Ken Borland

Boucher will be okay as lucrative IPL gig beckons; but who could take over? 0

Posted on October 27, 2022 by Ken

Following the announcement that Mark Boucher will be stepping down as Proteas coach after the T20 World Cup next month, it has emerged that the record-breaking wicketkeeper is lining up a lucrative Indian Premier League gig as the next step in his coaching career.

Boucher’s success with the South African T20 team – they are currently ranked third in the format – has attracted the attention of IPL franchises, who will also remember the stint he served as an assistant with the Kolkata Knight Riders in 2016.

It is believed though that Mumbai Indians are after his services to lead the Cape Town franchise in the new SA T20 competition early next year. This could provide Boucher with a stepping stone into becoming their coach for the IPL, which would be one of the best-paid jobs in cricket.

Mumbai finished 10th and last in this year’s IPL under Mahela Jayawardene, a massively disappointing performance considering they won the tournament five times between 2013 and 2020.

CSA could announce an interim coach to take over from Boucher in the coming summer, before making a permanent appointment.

So who does South African cricket have who could take over the Proteas’ reins?

Robin Peterson

The spin-bowling all-rounder is probably the perfect candidate to succeed Boucher. Peterson has considerable international experience, having represented South Africa in 15 Tests, 79 ODIs and 21 T20s between 2002 and 2014. He has also done a wonderful job as coach of the Warriors, considering their limited resources, and they were pipped to the four-day title by the Northerns Titans last season. They are currently fourth in the overall Division One standings, ahead of teams like Western Province, KZN Dolphins and the Free State Knights.

Peterson also favours an extremely positive brand of cricket, his ability to empower the players being perfectly suited to the direction in which the modern game is going.

Malibongwe Maketa

The current owner of the SA A coaching job, the 41-year-old is next in line in terms of the pipeline. Maketa was also the assistant coach of the Proteas under Ottis Gibson from 2017-2019, but the outbreak of the Covid pandemic has meant the SA A team has hardly played in recent times and his coaching aspirations have been set back. But his tactical acumen and player management are both excellent. He represented Border in his playing days and is a former head coach of the Warriors.

Wandile Gwavu

Gwavu has enjoyed great success coaching the Lions and has won five trophies since 2019 when he took over from CSA’s current director of cricket, Enoch Nkwe, as head coach. And that will also be in his favour because he is almost a protégé of Nkwe’s and believes in the same principles of good structures and empowering the players. They are certainly on the same wavelength.

Counting against Gwavu is that he is still very young in coaching terms – just 35 years old – and he has no international experience.

Mandla Mashimbyi

Mashimbyi took over as Titans coach in the middle of the 2019/20 season when Boucher took over the Proteas role, managing to rebuild a team that dominated the second decade of the 21st Century but was in need of new blood.

Leading Northerns to the four-day title last season, as well as runner-up finishes in both the white-ball tournaments, was an outstanding achievement with a new-look side.

But the 41-year-old would also be taking a step into the unknown at international level, having never been there before.

Stransky: Flamboyant flyhalf who kicks with either foot v unassuming No.10, with weather to decide? 0

Posted on July 25, 2022 by Ken

A flamboyant flyhalf who can kick well with either foot versus an unassuming No.10 who makes few mistakes: This will be the matchup on Saturday in the United Rugby Championship final between the Stormers and Bulls, and Springbok legend Joel Stransky believes the weather in Cape Town could decide who comes away with the spoils.

Manie Libbok is the adventurous Stormers flyhalf who overcame a poor semi-final to throw the pass for the equalising try and then slotted the touchline conversion.

Chris Smith was his typically consistent self in the Bulls’ shock win over Leinster, bringing a maturity and calmness under pressure to the flyhalf position.

“Both flyhalves control the game well,” Stransky said on Tuesday, “but in very contrasting ways. What they both do very well is manage space.

“Chris is rock-solid, brings nothing special, no scintillating breaks, but he defends well, he’s a bit bigger, and he frees up the talent outside him. The Bulls have actually scored seven more tries than the Stormers.

“Chris kicks very well and he doesn’t make mistakes, which will be quite important if it is wet, because errors can cost you in a final. He could be the difference if there is parity up front.

“Manie kicks well with either foot, he runs well and defends his channel. That last pass over the top was because he is confident due to the faith put in him and the liberty he’s been given to play what’s in front of him,” Stransky, a celebrated flyhalf who scored all South Africa’s points in the 1995 World Cup final, said.

While Stransky, who brought an appealing mix of skilful kicking and exciting attacking play to the Springbok team, would love to see a dry evening in Cape Town on Saturday, the weather forecast does not look good and he believes rain will favour the Stormers.

“I hope rain does not put a dampener on the final. Rain would suit the Stormers with their big, strong front row and bench. The Bulls will have to move the ball around a bit because of the Stormers’ strong pack and midfield.

“But as much as we backs would like to think differently, the game will be won and lost up front. The scrum plays such a massive part and if it’s wet then you would expect more mistakes and more scrums.

“You would expect Steven Kitshoff and Frans Malherbe to have a bit more dominance, so you have to look at the Stormers if it’s a tighter game.

“But if it’s looser, then the likes of Marcell Coetzee, Elrigh Louw and Arno Botha are more dynamic ball-carriers. The Stormers do have the outstanding Evan Roos, but Hacjivah Dayimani is not so much a hard carrier and Deon Fourie is a proper openside,” Stransky said.

Sharks advised to concentrate more on coaching than who’s at flyhalf 0

Posted on April 11, 2022 by Ken

Springbok legend Joel Stransky has advised the Sharks to concentrate more on their coaching structure than who they actually play at flyhalf as they head into a crucial phase of the United Rugby Championship.

The Sharks host the Scarlets at Kings Park on Friday night and are leading the South African Shield, sitting inside the playoff places in eighth spot. But the Stormers and Bulls are within striking distance and the Sharks need to get bonus point wins against both the Welshmen and then Zebre Parma the following weekend to capitalise on home games against teams in the bottom half of the log.

But to do that, the Sharks will need to score tries and they seem unsure of who to play in the pivotal flyhalf role – Curwin Bosch, Boeta Chamberlian or Tito Bonilla?

“Whenever a team does not click on attack then people blame the flyhalf, but more often than not one should look at the coaching structure,” Stransky told The Citizen.

“Is the team getting good ball, go-forward possession, quick ball? Are they creating the space to attack and what are their running lines, are there dummy runners?

“The flyhalf plays a big part in all of that because he is first-receiver more often than not. If you have a forward as first-receiver than your whole game-plan changes.

“But if your flyhalf is first receiver then he must understand space and have the ability to carry the ball into that space with speed. He needs to understand if he needs to play flat or be in the pocket,” Stransky said.

The 1995 World Cup hero was part of the Natal Sharks’ Currie Cup winning teams of the early 1990s, and while his most famous moment came with the boot, Stransky was also an authoritative figure on attack, with silky skills. The Sharks then moved on to an iron-bodied, gain-line dominating flyhalf in Henry Honiball.

None of their current trio of No.10s are in that mould, but Stransky said he would back Chamberlain as his first-choice. The 23-year-old wrought a tough 24-10 win over the Pumas last weekend in the Currie Cup, kicking eight penalties as the Sharks failed to score a try.

“It’s a tough one but I would probably go for Boeta because he brings a bit more flow and rhythm to their game,” Stransky said. “He plays a bit flatter and understands when he needs to take the ball flat.

“Curwin is a great kicker and has other attributes, but he does hang back a bit in the pocket. The Sharks have got issues scoring tries, but when Boeta played URC five or six weeks ago, he wasn’t too bad.”

Harmer has become a systematic winner of matches 0

Posted on March 07, 2022 by Ken

Perhaps the biggest change in the Simon Harmer who last played for South Africa in 2015 and the one who is now back in the Test squad in New Zealand is how the off-spinner has become a systematic winner of matches, mostly for Essex but now also for the Northerns Titans in the limited time he has spent with them.

Harmer has collected more first-class wickets than anyone else in the world over the last five years and he has taken 10 wickets in a match seven times in 64 matches for Essex, with 23 five-wicket hauls.

The 32-year-old has already taken 35 wickets in six matches for Northerns, playing key roles in their wins at Newlands (10 wickets) and in Bloemfontein (8 wickets).

“There’s been that perception that off-spinners in general are there to stop the game, go for two runs an over,” Harmer told The Citizen on Tuesday, “but that has shifted to being a wicket-taking option, someone able to win games.

“I have also changed and I now have the realisation that I can win games, I’m able to really influence the outcome. That has been a big change for me over the last few years.

“I’ve relished winning games for Essex and hopefully now even more for the Titans, winning games for them in the second innings in South African conditions.

“At the start of the season, conditions were not conducive to spin so my role was to hold up an end, stop the game, give the team control at one end while the seamers rotate,” Harmer said.

It is very apparent that a major part of Harmer’s development into being one of the world’s best off-spinners has simply been the amount of cricket he has played. The Pretoria-born star has thrived on playing back-to-back seasons in the northern and southern hemispheres. He was a bit more than a budding off-spinner when he signed as a Kolpak player in English county cricket, but he is now certainly in full bloom as a master of his craft.

“Playing back-to-back seasons has really helped me to evolve and develop much quicker,” Harmer said. “And it’s not just the number of games but also the different conditions you experience.

“In England the weather is different, you play with a Dukes ball and there are different pitches. So you learn a lot and you have to do it quickly. You learn about different grips, strategies and which variations work.

“I’ve learnt along the way to sum up what will work very early in a spell and you also need to be able to change things if they are not working, and still be accurate and consistent,” Harmer said.

Keshav Maharaj is almost exactly a year younger than him, having celebrated his 32nd birthday on Monday, while Harmer turns 33 on Thursday, and their experience and adaptability makes one feel the Proteas have their Test spin-bowling bases well covered.

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