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Ken Borland

Sport will humble you when hubris takes root 0

Posted on October 06, 2022 by Ken

The wonderful thing about sport is that it will constantly surprise you, with tales of the underdog triumphing being one of its most inspirational features. But it will also humble you, especially when hubris is allowed to take root.

Cricketers will talk about Mother Cricket and making sure no-one gets big-headed; rugby players will constantly talk up the opposition to ensure they will not be complacent on match day.

But every now and then, someone will get it horribly wrong and sporting misfortune will come back to bite them, often hard.

The Springboks, having played so brilliantly to beat the All Blacks in Nelspruit, came a cropper the following weekend at Ellis Park. They did not seem over-confident in the week leading up to the clash and said all the right things about an expected New Zealand rebound.

But there were certain selections which have led to them being accused of hubris and Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber needed to do better when asked questions about these controversial picks after the game.

No-one who was in the cauldron of Ellis Park last weekend will doubt the passion of Springbok supporters. And they don’t like having the wool pulled over their eyes or being told the reasons for a player being selected are “privileged” or a secret.

And yet this is what Nienaber did when the media wanted to know his justification for starting Joseph Dweba at hooker ahead of the rampant Malcolm Marx, and an underdone Duane Vermeulen at eighthman.

Both selections smacked of arrogance – fielding anything less than your best team against the All Blacks, and a desperate one at that, is bound to result in embarrassment.

When considering the worths of Dweba and Marx, the latter is clearly the better hooker at the moment and one of the best, most dangerous forwards in world rugby.

But given the injury to Bongi Mbonambi, Nienaber almost had to play Dweba and then the discussion could change to how does one get the best out of both players? If the inexperienced Dweba has to play, when will he be most effective?

There’s no doubt that a fresh Marx coming off the bench is a massive weapon for the Springboks, so one can understand the attraction of going that route.

But there’s also no doubt All Blacks coach Ian Foster, craggy-faced during the week but etched with relief after the game, was smiling inside when he heard their nemesis of Mbombela would not be tormenting them for the full 80 minutes.

Nienaber has already put himself among the elect group of coaches who have beaten the British and Irish Lions, but the hallmark of great coaches is their ability to keep the public on their side whether winning or losing, while also grooming the confidence and belief of their players.

Nienaber needs to embrace the fact that the fans are his constituents and the media are his conduit to them. Nobody is suggesting the fans should have a say in selections, but they do deserve to have them better explained than just being told “it’s privileged”.

There was another example of hubris in the last week that made me chuckle.

England Lions captain Sam Billings had some strong things to say after his team had played the Proteas off the park in an innings win in Canterbury, albeit in a warm-up match in which South Africa only fielded two first-choice bowlers. He implied Proteas captain Dean Elgar was stupid for ignoring how wonderful ‘Bazball’ is and said it should have been a massive wake-up call for the tourists.

But as the Springboks discovered, things seldom stay the same for long in the world of sport, and now it’s England who are under the pump at Lord’s.

You would expect Rabada to lead the attack … and he duly delivers 0

Posted on October 03, 2022 by Ken

Kagiso Rabada is the one bowler you would expect to lead the South African attack in the series against England and he duly put himself in the forefront of a wonderful first session for the Proteas as they reduced the hosts to 100/5 at lunch on the first day of the first Test at Lord’s.

After Dean Elgar had won the toss and elected to bowl first in partly-cloudy, humid conditions in London, Rabada removed both openers as he and Lungi Ngidi (5-1-12-0) began brilliantly with the new ball.

Rabada was on the money from the outset and struck in his second over as Alex Lees (5) wafted loosely outside off-stump, trying to drive a delivery that was far too short, a ball with zip and bounce drawing the edge to wicketkeeper Kyle Verreynne.

The other opening batsman, Zak Crawley, lasted twice as long but received a thorough working over, and eventually fell for just 9 as he was well-taken at second slip by Aiden Markram off Rabada (9-1-26-2).

England were 25/2 inside the first nine overs, and their situation became deeply troubling when their batting talisman, Joe Root (8), was trapped lbw by a big inswinger from left-arm quick Marco Jansen, on the stroke of the opening hour.

Anrich Nortje initially battled to find his radar, but in his third over he produced a thunderbolt that would have sent resounding tremors through the England camp, bowling the in-form Jonny Bairstow for a duck. Delivered at almost 150kp/h, it was full and angled in, and one of England’s key batsmen was comprehensively castled as the home team sank to 55/4.

Ollie Pope, having come in after the fall of the first wicket, resisted stoutly as he reached a determined 51 not out off 70 balls by lunch. Busy and compact, he had struck four fours in a fine display of positive batting.

He and captain Ben Stokes had fought back with a fifth-wicket stand of 45, but England were cut deeply by the loss of Stokes to the final ball of the session. Nortje struck the massive blow, moving the ball away late from the left-hander and finding a leading edge that went to fourth slip. Stokes had played some thumping drives straight down the ground and was looking ominous.

You can only feel sorry for the SA women’s hockey side 0

Posted on August 22, 2022 by Ken

Having been one goal away from qualifying for the Women’s Hockey World Cup quarterfinals but then finishing in a share of last place, you can only feel sorry for South Africa’s women’s hockey side as they lost 1-0 to Chile in their final game to finish joint 15th in Amsterdam.

To make matters worse, they had numerous chances against Chile but failed to take their opportunities. The momentum gained from their comeback 3-3 draw with Japan and gutsy 1-0 defeat to Germany that saw the superpowers scrape into the quarterfinals has now been lost as they head for the Commonwealth Games.

Kayla de Waal’s direct running from midfield created problems for Chile in the first quarter, but the final pass kept going astray, with the Diablos only threatening the South African goal a couple of times.

The score was still 0-0 at halftime, as both teams lacked the finishing touch even though the game had opened up.

South Africa dominated possession in the second half, but chances were wasted. This led to frustration and a yellow card for Erin Christie.

Giles Bonnet’s side weathered the storm of being a player short, but will kick themselves that they conceded the matchwinning goal a minute after being restored to 11 on the astro. They will also lament the defensive lap that left Manuela Urroz wide open to a diagonal ball that allowed her plenty of time and space to finish well.

Even though Chile were also reduced to 10 players in the final quarter, South Africa were unable to threaten their opponents’ goal.

While the defence, led by goalkeeper Phumelela Mbande and sweeper Jean-Leigh du Toit, has been outstanding in this World Cup, questions will need to be asked about an attack that was off the mark for much of the tournament.

Nkwe on Smith: ‘You can’t take it away from him, he’s a legend of the game’ 0

Posted on August 22, 2022 by Ken

New CSA director of cricket Enoch Nkwe has expressed a desire to keep his predecessor Graeme Smith involved in South African cricket, saying “you can’t take it away from him, he is one of the legends of the game”.

Smith’s tenure as director of cricket came to an end on March 31 and, given the often-strained relationship between him and the CSA Board, which unsuccessfully charged him with racism, he decided not to pursue a renewal of his contract.

Nkwe, the former assistant coach of the national team, was announced as Smith’s successor on June 30 and held his first press conference on July 8. Having already revealed he has a good relationship with Proteas head coach Mark Boucher, and the pair had held a fruitful meeting before the team’s departure to England, Nkwe then stated his willingness to also work with Smith.

“For the betterment of South African cricket, it will always be good to have some level of contact with Graeme, to ensure continuity,” Nkwe said.

“You can’t take it away from him, he is one of the legends of the game and our most successful captain. You want to tap into that cricket brain, see how he sees things from the outside.

“He’s been involved in the IPL, he’s still based in South Africa and he’s only a call away. Why not use him? You don’t want to lose him to the wilderness.

“So I will look to use him in whatever capacity I can. It’s the same with all of our ex-players, we want to get them closer to us,” Nkwe said.

The former Central Gauteng Lions player and coach said the Proteas team were supportive of the positive brand of cricket he wants to introduce to all CSA teams.

“It’s a very positive brand. As South Africans we are so diverse and I would like us to show the world that we can lead the cricketing space,” Nkwe said.

“Whenever we have thrown the first punch then we have been very dominant. I’d like to see that attitude spread down the pipeline, I want us to become trendsetters.

“Every time we have been positive, taken risks, not been afraid, then we’ve been a strong force. Other countries have spoken highly about our talent, we want to be in a position to win a lot more often.

“Most of the players understand my philosophy, although there are quite a few things from a strategic point of view which we still need to unpack,” Nkwe 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.”

    “Every disciple of Jesus has a capacity for love. The most effective way to serve the Master is to share his love with others. Love can comfort, save the lost, and offer hope to those who need it. It can break down barriers, build bridges, establish relationships and heal wounds.” – A Shelter From The Storm, Solly Ozrovech

    If there’s a frustrating vacuum in your spiritual life and you fervently desire to serve the Lord but don’t know how you’re meant to do that, then start by loving others in his name.


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