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Ken Borland

Proteas head to the World Cup with tails up, thanks to all-round Jansen show 0

Posted on September 17, 2023 by Ken

Marco Jansen took a career-best five for 39 with the ball, and also scored an explosive 47 with the bat.

The Proteas will head to the World Cup with their tails up after they completed a brilliant come-from-behind series win over Australia on Sunday, their 122-run victory in the fifth ODI at the Wanderers being their third on the trot.

Chasing 316 for victory, Australia had their customary fast start as they reached 124 for two in the 20th over, but they then faded away amidst the fall of regular wickets, one of the World Cup favourites slipping to 193 all out before another 15 overs were bowled, thereby surrendering a five-match series they led 2-0.

Marco Jansen was the destroyer-in-chief, revelling in the pace and bounce available at the Wanderers to claim a career-best five for 39 in eight overs. Twelve of those runs technically came off one delivery as he bowled successive no-balls and was hit for a four and a six by Mitchell Marsh. The Australian captain was the main threat in the chase, striking some mighty blows as he powered to 71 off 56 deliveries.

The beanpole left-hander took the first five wickets to fall and is only the second South African to achieve this feat in ODIs. The great all-rounder Shaun Pollock did it twice, also at the Wanderers, against England in 2000 and Pakistan in 2007*.

And then the classy left-arm spin of Keshav Maharaj was too much for the tail as he took four for 33 in 9.1 overs, also a career-best.

Jansen also answered one of the troubling questions surrounding this South African side: Do they have a proper all-rounder to fill the key number seven slot?

The 23-year-old showed his batting ability as he smacked an almost arrogant 47 off just 23 balls, also his highest score in ODIs. He came in with the innings at a crossroads on 212 for five in the 42nd over, Aiden Markram having just fallen for an elegant, high-quality 93 off just 87 balls.

It had been tough going up front for the home team after they were sent in to bat on a tacky pitch which allowed the ball to do a lot. They had been reduced to 103 for four in the 24th over, but the calm and experienced heads of Markram and David Miller (63 off 65 balls) put them back on an even keel and the Proteas then dominated the tailend of the innings.

Another all-rounder, Andile Phehlukwayo, also took the chance to shine although he is not in South Africa’s World Cup squad. At least not yet as injuries to Sisanda Magala and Anrich Nortje could see him get a late call-up. He was playing on Sunday due to Kagiso Rabada resting a sore ankle.

Phehlukwayo finished the innings in sensational fashion, blasting 39 not out off just 19 balls, with four sixes. The left-hander plundered 24 off the last over bowled by Michael Neser to lift the Proteas to an above-par score. They really should have been 292 all out but Australia messed up a golden opportunity to run out last man Lungi Ngidi at the bowler’s end as Phehlukwayo came back for two in the final over.

Coach Rob Walter was measured in his delight, refusing to entertain thoughts that Australia have been sent from these shores with their tails between their legs, but chuffed by how the Proteas bounced back from their five-match losing run including the T20s.

“It’s easy to get caught up in the emotion either side of winning and losing, but it’s important to stay level and understand where we are as a team and what we are working towards.

“The best thing about the series win was that we won in different ways: In Potchefstroom we won through spin, at Centurion through pace and today was an all-round performance. We have progressed and improved in all departments and we’re closer to playing good cricket than we were when we started.

“I would be very careful though to read too much into beating Australia and what it means for the World Cup. Conditions might be very different in India, even though we have won with both pace and spin, and their team will change considerably.

“You’re going to have Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc coming at you and they’ll have a couple of other batsmen too. Plus Australia know how to play at a World Cup,” Walter said.

Before the series, South Africa faced questions over the number seven spot and a potentially long tail when they are batting. Jansen averaged 33.50 in the series and scored at a strike-rate of 125.23 – you can’t ask for much more in that position.

“Marco has such huge potential and we saw a bit of that today in the way he contributed with both bat and ball. But he has so much more in the tank, he’s not even close to his ceiling and I’ll be pushing him to achieve that.

“Andile is part of our broader squad and he showed with the bat how capable he is, that innings was highly influential in the match because chasing 270 is very different to 315. He played a massive role today and got an important wicket. It’s great to see him come in and contribute,” Walter said.

The man of the match plaudit, however, belonged to Jansen. The amiable Potchefstroom product confirmed that he just loves to bat; bowling is more like a job for him.

“My main focus is with the ball and taking wickets is expected of me, that’s my primary role. But I’m happier batting, I enjoy that a lot more, I like batting a lot, so I enjoy the hard work I’ve put into it,” Jansen smiled.

“I’ve improved my options a lot. When I started playing for the Proteas, certain shots were my go-to, like against a spinner I would slog-sweep over cow-corner. Now I feel I can play more off the back foot, I can manoeuvre in the crease. And I’m not just trying to plant my foot and hit every ball for six over cow, I can get the other batsman on strike, I can rotate.

“It’s a bit more responsibility as an all-rounder, but it’s important to go out and enjoy it. Luckily I really enjoy batting and just go out and try and express myself. Bowling feels more like my day job.”

Jansen took both his proper job and his ‘hobby’ to new levels on Sunday and he will go to the World Cup as one of several question marks that have been answered for the Proteas.

They will board a plane to India on Saturday, with both Nortje and Magala having to bowl in the nets in the coming days to prove they are pain-free and able to participate in the World Cup.

*Stats kindly supplied by CSA official statistician Andrew Samson.

SA rugby forever bonded with Kitch’s ‘high or low road’, but Jake says it’s too early for that 0

Posted on September 05, 2023 by Ken

South African rugby will forever be bonded with Kitch Christie’s famous ‘high road or the low road’ scenario before the 1995 World Cup triumph, but Bulls coach Jake White says it is still too early to consider his team as being at a similar crossroads ahead of their crunch United Rugby Championship match against the Sharks in Durban on Saturday.

Coach Christie said it was crucial that the Springboks beat defending champions and favourites Australia in the opening match of the 1995 World Cup and take the “high road” through the tournament; defeat would mean the “low road” requiring victories over England and New Zealand before the final. South Africa pulled off a sensational 28-18 win, setting them up for an unbeaten run through the tournament they hosted.

The Bulls, having lost last weekend to the Stormers in Cape Town, are now five points behind the defending champions in the South African Shield, having played an extra game. If the Sharks beat the Bulls with a bonus point at Kings Park, then they could be within another bonus-point win of the Pretoria side, with a game in hand.

But White, who has called the late Christie his mentor, is not stressing about the log at this stage.

“We’re not at the high road or low road point yet and it’s not a do-or-die game,” White said on Friday. “It’s still so open, although we do know Leinster are the pace-setters, they always have been.

“We beat the Sharks with a bonus point at Loftus, and if the Sharks beat the Stormers twice and we win this weekend, then we would be favourites again to win the conference.

“There are still a lot of permutations between now and the end of the tournament, and not every team will win every game at home. Winning a couple of matches away is the premium.

“But we will be up against one of the strongest provincial sides, although one thing I enjoy about the URC is that a team can beat anyone on any given Saturday. That’s exciting,” White said.

Nine current Springboks is what the Bulls, who will field Johan Goosen at fullback and Chris Smith at flyhalf, are up against. The combination of Smith and Goosen played in the pivotal game-management positions when the Bulls beat the Sharks 40-27 at Loftus Versfeld at the end of October, which is why White has made that selection again.

“The last time we played the Sharks we did that and it worked well, and we didn’t have Kurt-Lee Arendse and Canan Moodie then,” White said. “It means we have two kickers and two passers and can move the ball away from flyhalf.

“I’ve heard it might rain in Durban too and the Sharks don’t play much in their own half, they have a good kicking game and Makazole Mapimpi is very good in the air.

“But it’s not just a reaction to them, it worked for us at home and it gives us two guys who understand how we want to play. It’s important that Bernard van der Linde can also kick with both feet at scrumhalf,” White said.

Bulls:Johan Goosen, Canan Moodie, Cornal Hendricks, Harold Vorster, Kurt-Lee Arendse, Chris Smith, Bernard van der Linde, Elrigh Louw, Cyle Brink, Marco Van Staden, Ruan Nortje (c), Ruan Vermaak, Mornay Smith, Johan Grobbelaar, Simphiwe Matanzima. Bench -Jan-Hendrik Wessels, Gerhard Steenekamp, Sebastian Lombard, Janko Swanepoel, Nizaam Carr, Embrose Papier, Lionel Mapoe, David Kriel.

Many questions surrounding Proteas in 1st ODI in India for 7 years 0

Posted on December 07, 2022 by Ken

With South Africa’s automatic World Cup qualification in doubt and with them not having played an ODI in India for an astonishing seven years, there are many questions surrounding the Proteas as they go into the first ODI against the hosts in Lucknow on Thursday.

But at least they will be going into the series with several in-form batsmen, with confidence high from the T20 series. David Miller, Quinton de Kock and Aiden Markram all looked in prime form by the end of that series, while Temba Bavuma returns to 50-over action having missed the series in England due to injury. He will welcome the less frenetic tempo and his form has been decent in this format, averaging 36.75 in his last 10 innings, including a brilliant 110 against India in Paarl in January.

Bavuma is also likely to bat at three given the return of Janneman Malan to continue his successful opening partnership with De Kock. Although his form has dropped a bit of late since his sensational debut in 2020, Malan still averages 52.70 at a strike-rate of 85 in his 20 ODIs.

Heinrich Klaasen is another who did not feature in the T20s but should play tomorrow given that there is no Tristan Stubbs in the squad.

Malan pointed to be there being more time and less pressure for the South African batsmen in the ODIs.

“As an opener, I’ve definitely experienced, a couple of times, not being in form or not having a lot of matches under your belt. There can be a lot of pressure when that happens in T20, because it is quick-moving and you have the pressure of the run-rate,” Malan said on Wednesday.

“You feel like you have to make a move, but ODIs are easier, you can take your time a bit to get in.

“We’re all just showing Temba some love because he’s in a bit of a patch at the moment. But that can change quickly and he has a chance now to find some form before the World Cup.

“We’re all pulling for him because he’s a good leader and very valuable in our space,” Malan said.

The last ODI series South Africa were scheduled to play in India was in March 2020. The first match was washed out without a ball being bowled in Dharamsala, and then the terrible Covid pandemic struck and the next two games were cancelled. Their previous ODI series in India was in October 2015, when they won the series 3-2. They scored 438 for four in the decider in Mumbai, De Kock, Faf du Plessis and AB de Villiers all scoring centuries, and they then bowled the hosts out for 224.

The Proteas’ record in ODIs in India is far from awful – they have won 13 and lost 15.

Smit to Roos: Stay close to the line without overstepping it 0

Posted on December 07, 2022 by Ken

Former Springbok World Cup winning captain John Smit has advised fiery Stormers eighthman Evan Roos to find a way to keep his passion on the field, but stay close to the line without overstepping it when it comes to ill-discipline.

Roos, who made his Springbok debut against Wales this year, was yellow-carded last weekend for an off-the-ball tussle, that saw him lean his elbow on his opposite number’s neck, in the 52nd minute of the Stormers’ win over Edinburgh.  It came at a bad time when the Stormers were under pressure, and it allowed the Scottish team to close the gap to 13-17.

Overseas critics have accused the 22-year-old of being unnecessarily confrontational, some calling his play dangerous and thuggish.

“Evan is a player who is really driven internally and he needs to find a way to control that emotion,” Smit said when asked at a Vodacom United Rugby Championship media call how he would handle a player like Roos if he were captain.

“Players get away with absolutely nothing these days, the most aggressive thing you’ll see on a field now is someone grabbing a collar and looking angry.

“Eben Etzebeth does it very well, controlling his passion right up to the end point of not getting in trouble. Evan needs to somehow know how to bottle that passion, and you don’t want to temper his enthusiasm.

“He just needs to be told though that losing control won’t just cost him but the team too. I would tell him that the angrier he gets, the more the team’s ability to succeed is diminished,” Smit said.

Smit of course had arguably rugby’s hardest ever enforcer to rely on to lay down the law in Bakkies Botha. But sometimes it took all of Smit’s considerable leadership wisdom to keep the legendary lock on the field.

“I had a few players in the Springbok team who sometimes suffered from over-stimulation!” Smit laughed. “Take Bakkies. Whenever I wanted to try gee up the team in the changeroom, I would wait for Bakkies to go to the toilet or get his knee strapped, otherwise my team talk would make him a bit over-zealous in the first five minutes! And that would be to our detriment.”

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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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