for quality writing

Ken Borland

Gabba pitch aside, years since SA batting was so weak 0

Posted on June 09, 2023 by Ken

The consensus among former Australian players in Brisbane was that they had never seen a Gabba Test pitch that was so green as what was prepared for the first Test against the Proteas this weekend; it has also probably been years since they saw such a weak South African batting line-up.

Those two factors, plus the sheer quality of both bowling attacks, were the reasons behind the astonishing two-day Test match in Brisbane, the second-shortest ever in Australia and the second-shortest anywhere since 1935.

The Proteas batting was already at a low ebb when they arrived in Australia. Their entire squad boasts just 17 Test centuries and captain Dean Elgar has scored 13 of them. It is a far, far cry from previous South African touring teams Down Under which saw batsmen like Faf du Plessis, Jacques Kallis, Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers boast great individual performances. Previously, stars like Eddie Barlow, Aubrey Faulkner, Graeme Pollock and Colin Bland wowed Australian crowds.

There will be many different opinions as to why South African batting is at such a nadir; mine is the lack of top-quality first-class cricket played by the batsmen, yours may be different.

Elgar seems reluctant to make changes for the vital second Test in Melbourne from Boxing Day, but the Proteas have to bring something different to stay in the series. Selection does not seem to be a strong point of their’s at the moment and in Brisbane, in the most bowler-friendly conditions imaginable, they went in with five frontline bowlers instead of playing the extra batsman. Between them, Lungi Ngidi and Keshav Maharaj bowled just 11 overs.

Rassie van der Dussen has scored just 295 runs in his last eight Tests at an average of only 21.07, having not reached fifty in that time, and would appear to be most in danger of losing his place. Theunis de Bruyn and Heinrich Klaasen, both in-form domestically before going on tour, are next in line.

Meanwhile Ryan Rickelton is back in South Africa and looking invincible whatever is going on in his ankle.

Proteas play 2 spinners thanks to all their IP on Wanderers payroll 0

Posted on March 08, 2023 by Ken

Proteas coach Shukri Conrad made another big call for the Wanderers Test

New Proteas Test coach Shukri Conrad, captain Temba Bavuma, bowling spearhead Kagiso Rabada and batting consultant Neil McKenzie have all been or are currrently on the payroll at the Wanderers for many years, and Conrad said on Tuesday that it was that home ground knowledge that led South Africa to make the shock decision to play two spinners in the second Test against the West Indies, which starts in Johannesburg on Wednesday.

The first question Conrad was asked during Tuesday’s pre-match press conference was whether the hosts had settled on a starting XI, and the transparent coach surprised many when he began reciting the team. That surprise turned to shock when the names Simon Harmer and Keshav Maharaj were called out consecutively at numbers eight and nine.

The debate at the Wanderers is usually whether the Proteas will play even one frontline spinner, but from a pace-heavy attack for the first Test at Centurion, Conrad and the brains trust have now switched to fielding both off-spinner Harmer and left-arm orthodox Maharaj. It is the first time since the 1965 Test (37 matches ago) against England, when orthodox left-armer Atholl McKinnon and offie Harry Bromfield both played, that South Africa have selected two frontline spinners for a Wanderers Test.

But those who have watched much cricket at the Wanderers this year will know that the pitch has been unusually helpful to spinners, offering both turn and bounce. Conrad said they know the Wanderers pitch well enough to know this week’s track is different to what has been in use for Test matches there for several years.

“Frostie [new groundsman Brendon Frost, formerly of Willowmoore Park] has done a good job covering the massive bare patch so that it looks okay. But we have lots of cricket IP [intellectual property] in our squad when it comes to cricket here – myself, Temba, KG, Neil Mac have all been involved with Lions cricket for a long time,” Conrad pointed out.

“In the last year, we’ve seen that spinners do come into play more here. A Test doesn’t have to end on Day Three, and if we go to the fourth and fifth day then spin will definitely come into play.

“The pitch looks a bit abrasive and we think one end is going to be a lot more seamer-friendly. So we’re not just making the change for change’s sake,” Conrad said.

Local knowledge has also led to Ryan Rickelton getting a place in the starting XI, replacing the struggling Keegan Petersen. Since the hero of last summer’s epic series win over India tore his hamstring in the CSA T20 Challenge final in November, he has scored just 85 runs in six innings.

Rickelton, on the other hand, has been in tremendous nick, stroking three centuries in his five four-day innings. His absence from the Proteas team this summer has been perplexing; even his much-debated ankle injury has not been able to justify his omission.

“Ryan deserves a crack, he’s been churning out runs and probably deserves a chance more than anyone,” Conrad admitted. “Ryan is definitely going to be a big part of the side going forward.

“Knowing his character and the way he has performed at domestic level, we can start building a future team around him. I think he’s going to have a long and successful run.

“Keegan was the incumbent and I still think his best position may be number five going forward, looking at the way he plays. The batting unit is still a work in progress, but I think he will have a bigger role to play in the middle-order,” Conrad said.

South Africa: Dean Elgar, Aiden Markram, Tony de Zorzi, Temba Bavuma, Ryan Rickelton, Heinrich Klaasen, Wiaan Mulder, Simon Harmer, Keshav Maharaj, Gerald Coetzee, Kagiso Rabada.

Years since Australia had such volumes of rain & Proteas warm-up falls victim 0

Posted on January 04, 2023 by Ken

It’s been many years since Australia experienced such volumes of rainfall as they are at the moment and the Proteas fell victim to the inclement weather on Wednesday when their second and final warm-up match for the T20 World Cup, against Bangladesh in Brisbane, was abandoned without a ball being bowled.

South Africa will open their World Cup campaign on Monday in Hobart against the top qualifier from Group B, in which Scotland, Zimbabwe, West Indies and Ireland are all locked on two points.

The abandonment of the Bangladesh game happened without there being a toss, so we don’t know whether appointed captain Temba Bavuma was going to play or not. But his form in a year so badly disrupted by injury and illness has been the biggest talking point in South African cricket of late, and there is no doubt he would have loved to have gathered some much-needed runs under his belt.

For the rest of the Proteas team, the weather was a mild irritation and Rilee Rossouw, such a well-travelled T20 player these days, said they are ready for when their curtain comes up on Monday.

“Some guys might be frustrated that we couldn’t play today, but for the others, we’re pretty much ready to go,” Rossouw said. “It’s something we couldn’t control and it’s unfortunate that we did not play today.

“But the guys put in a good shift in the indoor nets and the team is very confident, we have played a lot of cricket over the last month, we’ve had a lot of game-time.

“The boys are ready, playing good cricket and excited for that first match,” Rossouw said.

While Bavuma’s woes would almost certainly see him left out of Monday’s starting XI if he were not the captain, at least the Proteas know they have a ready-made, in-form replacement in Reeza Hendricks. Either him or Rossouw could comfortably open the batting with Quinton de Kock.

In the absence of both Bavuma and De Kock in the first warm-up game – the nine-wicket hammering of New Zealand – Hendricks and Rossouw opened the batting and put on 66 at 10-runs-an-over. It’s been six-and-a-half years since they played together in the Free State Knights team and Rossouw is hoping his former provincial team-mate can really announce himself on the global stage considering the great form he is in at present.

“Reeza and I go a long way back and it’s always nice to bat with him, he always brings something special,” Rossouw said.

“I hope he gets the chance to show the world what he’s about. We are all much better players than we were in those Knights days, we’ve learned from experience and from each other. And he is world-class,” Rossouw said.

Smith did not need to be beeped out once so preparations are going smoothly 0

Posted on October 17, 2022 by Ken

Despite technological difficulties meaning the video for their big name reveal of the new SA 20 could not be played, the commissioner of the T20 franchise league, Graeme Smith, did not need to be beeped out once at the announcement on Wednesday, suggesting preparations are going relatively smoothly for the basket that is seemingly holding all Cricket South Africa’s eggs in the coming years.

Smith is under enormous pressure to deliver a successful T20 franchise league at CSA’s third attempt, but it seems the former Proteas captain is bringing the same cool, unruffled head as he did at the crease. In terms of time-frames, it is a bit of a T20 dash, and now that the name – SA 20 – has been unveiled, the player auction in Cape Town on September 19 will be the next big landmark.

“It’s a simple name, but something we can really own and bring to life,” Smith said. “We’re very excited by what can be done with it and what we can create. One of our taglines is For Everyone.

“Hopefully it will bring people together and new fans to the game, give them the opportunity to love cricket. Hopefully the highly-competitive cricket will stand out.

“To see it come to life is very exciting and hopefully there will be full stadiums and great excitement. We’ve had very tight timelines, just five months to get the league going, so we’ve had to be agile,” Smith said.

While there has been some debate over how star players like Rashid Khan (BBL), Moeen Ali (UAE) and Liam Livingstone (BBL) are going to meet their commitments to both the SA 20 and the other leagues they have signed for over the festive season, Smith said he is pleased with the players available for his league.

“We’ve attracted some high-quality players. Our league is South African focused – 60-70 of them playing on a global platform – but we do have extensive overseas interest, an immense number of players have registered for the auction.

“The Big Bash League will have a different structure this season and they’ve allowed players to play in Australia for a portion of the tournament. So from early January, those Big Bash players who have signed for the South African league will be fully available.

“There are a few players who have also signed for the Emirates league. I was in the UAE last week and met with the league and we’ve agreed a way to handle it – we’ve allowed the players to feel comfortable to choose where they play. There needs to be a way we both co-exist,” Smith said.

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    Philemon 1:7 – “Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints.”

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