South African Sports News – 3 February
Proteas ready for mighty India
The Proteas opened their tour of India yesterday with a practice match ahead of their quest to unseat the hosts as the premier test nation. The tourists are taking on the Indian board president’s XI in a two-day match in Nagpur before the first test begins at the new Vidarbha Cricket Association ground on the outskirts of the city on Saturday.
The two-test series – the second test will be played at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata from February 14 – could be one of the most important the Proteas have played in recent times. The number two ranked South Africans need a 2-0 series win to dislodge India from the top spot. A 1-0 result in favour of the tourists will leave both teams level on 123 rating points.
The Proteas were unsettled last week by the resignation of long-time coach Mickey Arthur over what he said were differences of opinion with Cricket South Africa (CSA) on the future course of action. The entire selection committee, headed by former test player Mike Procter, was also giving their marching orders following a 1-1 series draw to England at home. National high performance coach Corrie van Zyl has replaced Arthur for the Indian tour, which includes three one-day internationals (ODI’s) after the tests.
Proteas’ captain Graeme Smith (pictured) was, however, confident that his team would rebound from their recent setbacks and play well in India. “It’s been an emotional week and not many teams go to India and win,” Smith was quoted as saying in Johannesburg prior to the team’s departure over the weekend. “The players who have been part of the set-up for a while have dealt with a few difficult things in recent years and handled them very well. “I expect them to be as professional as normal, and I’m looking to them for responsibility and guidance for the youth.”
The 15-man squad includes 29-year-old right-hand batsman Alviro Petersen and 25-year-old left-arm fast bowler Lonwabo Tsotsobe, both of whom have yet to play test cricket. Tsotsobe forms part of a five-pronged pace attack led by Dale Steyn, but does not include former spearhead Makhaya Ntini who was axed after a string of sub-par performances. It remains to be seen whether ‘new kids on the block’ Tsotsobe, Peterson and, to a lesser extent, all rounder Ryan McLaren and speedster Wayne Parnell can justify their selections by producing some noteworthy performances.
Whatever happens on this tour, one thing can be certain. The Proteas can expect a gruelling time of it against arguably the best test team in the world. If they do manage to come away with a victory against India it will be a remarkable achievement, considering the many inexperienced players in their side and their mediocre showing against England in the recent home test series.
However, as they say, cricket is a strange old game and anything can happen.
The world will be watching.
Proteas test squad:
Graeme Smith (capt), Hashim Amla, Ashwell Prince, AB de Villiers, Jacques Kallis, Jean-Paul Duminy, Alviro Petersen, Mark Boucher, Paul Harris, Johan Botha, Ryan McLaren, Morne Morkel, Wayne Parnell, Dale Steyn and Lonwabo Tsotsobe.
Bafana’s World Cup preparations going well
Bafana Bafana head coach Carlos Alberto Parreira is happy with his team’s progress after recent back-to-back victories over the past fortnight. Bafana’s comfortable 3-0 victory over Zimbabwe in a friendly international played at the Moses Mabhida Stadium last Wednesday evening, was a vital step towards preparing the South Africans for a demanding 2010 World Cup group stage in June.
The win over Zimbabwe has undoubtedly given Bafana plenty of confidence ahead of their training camp in Brazil in March, where Parreira will select about half of the 29 players that did duty at the team’s training camp in Durban these past two weeks.
Bafana begin their 2010 World Cup campaign against Mexico at Soccer City on June 11 and will play Uruguay and France, both former World Champions, in their other two Group A matches. The South Africans crushed Swaziland 6-2 in a training match played at the Chatsworth Stadium last weekend and are starting to demonstrate the kind of form needed to post a serious challenge at the 2010 global spectacle.
“The purpose of this camp was to get to know some of the new faces and work closely with them at training and we achieved all that,” said Parreira. However, the 66-year-old Brazilian admitted there was still a long way to go before Bafana can hope to pose a serious challenge to the other teams in the World Cup.
“It was useful playing Swaziland and Zimbabwe although we made far too many mistakes in the first half against Zimbabwe, where we gave the ball away too easily,” explained Parreira. “Zimbabwe proved as tough as I expected, but in the end we were better conditioned and took control although we made a bad mistake in defence when we went to sleep and almost allowed them to score near the end of the game,” he added.
Siphiwe Tshabalala, Thulasizwe Mbuyane and Lucas Thwala (pictured) all scored goals for Bafana. Parreira said the nucleus of his 23-man World Cup squad would consist of locally based players.
Fabulous Prince leads Warriors to victory
A brilliant maiden limited-overs century by Ashwell Prince (pictured) steered the Chevrolet Warriors to a comfortable 71-run victory over the Nashua Dolphins in their MTN40 final clash at Buffalo Park in East London on Friday. The 32-year-old Prince, playing his 200th limited-overs match, smashed the hapless Dolphins’ attack to all corners of the park on his way to scoring 128 runs (16 fours and three sixes) off just 96 balls in one of the best innings seen at Buffalo Park in many a year.
Prince was simply unstoppable as he put the Dolphins’ bowlers to the sword in a remarkable display of batting that had the Buffalo Park faithful cheering for more. When he was eventually dismissed with the score on 221/3, it seemed as though the Dolphins might have a chance of restricting the Warriors to a gettable total. However, Proteas stalwart Jacques Kallis, who came to the crease with the total on 130/2, went into overdrive after Prince’s dismissal and mercilessly assaulted the Dolphins’ attack to finish with an undefeated 87 (eight fours and three sixes) off just 57 deliveries to take the Warriors to an imposing 299/4.
Opener Justin Kreusch had earlier weighed in with a useful 37 (four fours) off 43 balls and put on 93 for the first wicket with Prince. All of the Dolphins’ bowlers suffered under Prince’s and Kallis’ brutal assault with Alfonso Thomas (0-73 off seven overs) and Andrew Hall (2/71 off eight overs), in particular, coming in for some severe stick. In reply, the Dolphins could only muster 228 all out in 36.4 overs as Lonwabe Tsotsobe (3/53 off eight overs) and Wayne Parnell (3/27 off seven overs) tore the heart out of their batting.
The in-form Hashim Amla (68 runs off 69 balls) and the ever-green Dale Benkenstein kept the scoreboard ticking for the Dolphins, but 300 off just 40 overs was always going to be a tough ask for the visitors and in the end they finished well short of their target. Dave Miller (46 off 30 deliveries) and Benkenstein gave the Dolphins some hope with a fifth wicket stand of 59, but when the latter was bizarrely dismissed with the total on 195/5 it clearly wasn’t going to be the visitors’ night.
Benkenstein lost his grip on his bat after playing a shot against paceman Makhaya Ntini with the result that it fell onto his stumps leaving the umpire no choice but to give the Dolphins stalwart out hit wicket for 63. Benkenstein’s dismissal heralded the beginning of the end for the visitors as Parnell and Rusty Theron (2/48 off 6.4 overs) captured the remaining five wickets for the addition of just 33 runs.
Miller struck four fours and two sixes in his entertaining knock, but once he was clean bowled by Parnell with the score on 200/6 there was just no ways the Dolphins could mount a recovery. In the end, it was an excellent all-round performance by the Warriors, which saw them claim their first title since the introduction of franchise cricket.
The focus now shifts from the 40-over to the 20-over version of the game when the Standard Bank Pro20 Series competition gets underway tonight with a clash between the Dolphins and the Nashua Titans in Durban. The Dolphins have beaten the Titans in their last two outings, but the Pretoria franchise will be hoping to turn the tables on their recent conquerors and come away with a convincing win.
In other Pro20 fixtures this week, the Nashua Cape Cobras do battle with the bizhub Highveld Lions at Newlands in Cape Town while the Warriors square off against the Diamond Eagles at Buffalo Park in East London. Both games take place on Friday and begin at 6pm. Weekend action sees the Dolphins take on the Warriors in Durban while the Titans facing off against the Cobras at SuperSport Park in Centurion. Both games are on Sunday and start at 2.30pm.
PSL season resumes after long break
The Absa Premiership continues after a six-week break with a host of fixtures scheduled to take place over the next few days. Log leaders SuperSport United will be looking to cement their position at the top of the log with a win over fifth-placed Orlando Pirates (pictured) at the Orlando Stadium this evening in what is likely to be the pick of today’s matches.
In another interesting top of the table clash tonight, second-placed Mamelodi Sundowns do battle with Bloem Celtic at the Super Stadium. Sundowns can expect a tough challenge from Celtic who are currently lying seventh on the log. The pick of the weekend games could well be the encounter between Celtic and eighth-placed Moroko Swallows, which takes place at the Seisa Ramabodu Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Jomo Cosmos 0 – Maritzburg United 0
Golden Arrows 1 – AmaZulu 2
Ajax Cape Town 2 – Platinum Stars 0
Moroka Swallows 0 – Kaizer Chiefs 0
Free State Stars vs Santos – Charles Mopeli Stadium at 3.30pm
Mamelodi Sundowns vs Bloem Celtic – Super Stadium at 7.30pm
Black Aces vs Bidvest Wits – Puma Rugby Stadium at 7.30pm
Orlando Pirates vs SuperSport United – Orlando Stadium at 8.00pm
Bidvest Wits vs Orlando Pirates – Bidvest Stadium at 3.30pm
Platinum Stars vs Santos- Royal Bafokeng Stadium at 3.30pm
Kaizer Chiefs vs Jomo Cosmos – Loftus Versfeld Stadium at 3.30pm
SuperSport United vs Free State Stars – Super Stadium at 6.00pm
Maritzburg United vs Golden Arrows – Harry Gwala Stadium at 8.15pm
AmaZulu vs Black Aces – Moses Mabhida Stadium at 3.30pm
Bloem Celtic vs Moroka Swallows – Seisa Ramabodu Stadium at 3.30pm
Ajax Cape Town vs Mamelodi Sundowns – Athlone Stadium at 3.30pm
World Cup hero Kruger passes away
Former Springbok flanker Ruben Kruger, who was an integral member of the 1995 Rugby World Cup squad, has died. The 39-year-old Kruger passed away last Wednesday after losing a long battle with brain cancer. The powerfully built Kruger excelled at rugby from a young age and was already playing for the Grey College 1st XV in his standard eight year. He soon went on to play provincial rugby for the Cheetahs and then the Blue Bulls.
Kruger made his Test debut against Argentina in Buenos Aires on November 6, 1993 and ended up winning 36 caps for his country, scoring seven tries and playing in two World Cups. Nicknamed ’The Silent Assassin’ Kruger earned five caps for South Africa before the start of the historic 1995 World Cup – now the subject of movie legend Clint Eastwood’s latest film, Invictus.
Kruger scored his first international try in the rain-soaked 1995 World Cup semi-final against France and crossed the try line in the first half of the tension wracked final against New Zealand. However, referee Ed Morrison controversially ruled that the ball had been held up and did not award the try. At the end of the 1995 season, Kruger was recognised for his excellent form by being named the South African Player of the Year. He played in the first two Tests against the British and Irish Lions in 1997, but missed South Africa’s Tri-Nations winning campaign the following year due to injury.
Kruger returned to the national side in 1999 and earned a place in the Springbok World Cup squad. He played against Spain in a pool game and took the field as a replacement in the third place play-off against the All Blacks. However, this proved to be Kruger’s last appearance in a Springbok jersey as persistent injury problems put a premature end to his career.
Kruger was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumour in 2000 and had an operation to remove it, but it re-surfaced and he eventually succumbed to its cruel effects after a brave fight, which lasted the course of a decade. Kruger’s funeral will take place today in Pretoria at the CRC church on the corner of Lynnwood and Hans Strijdom Avenues, near Silver Lakes where Kruger lived with his wife Lize.
Local players storm into second round at SA Open
South African Davis Cup squad member Raven Klaasen (pictured) defeated Frenchman David Guez 6-4 6-3 in the opening round of the R3.75-million South African Open at a sweltering Montecasino yesterday afternoon. The King Williams Town-born Klaasen must have been very pleased with himself after vanquishing a player ranked 243 places better than his own 375th world ranking.
The unassuming 27-year-old led an encouraging two-pronged entry of South Africans into the last 16 stage of the tournament, and will play Yen-Hsen LU of Taipeh in the second round. Klassen’s countrymen Izak van der Merwe made full use of his potent serve to dispatch Israel’s Noam Okun 7-6 (7-5) 7-6 (7-2) and will now face another Frenchman, Stephane Robert, in the second round.
Fritz Wolmarans failed to follow in the footsteps of his countrymen when he wilted like a daisy in the oppressive heat to succumb 6-4 7-5 to Germany’s Bjorn Phau.
Dustin Brown (Jam) bt (4) Marco Chiudinelli (Swi) 6-4 3-6 6-4
(1) Gael Monfils (Fra) bt Dominik Hrbaty (Slo) 6-2 6-1
Somdev Devvarman (Ind) bt (6) Xavier Malisse (Fra) 6-4 6-2
(3) Feliciano Lopez (Spa) bt Benjamin Balleret (Monaco) 6-1 6-7 (5-7) 6-3
(7) Yen-Hsen LU (Tai) bt Jarkko Nieminin (Fin) 6-3 6-2
WBF and IBO Champion Dlamini dies in car crash
Unbeaten Mlungisi Dlamini (pictured left), one of South Africa’s most promising and exciting boxers, was killed in a motor vehicle accident near Harrismith in KwaZulu-Natal on Friday. The 27-year-old World Boxing Foundation (WBF) and International Boxing Organisation (IBO) lightweight champion had a record of 21-0-1 (13 KO’s) and was scheduled to take on Pauls Moses for the World Boxing Association (WBA) lightweight belt in April.
Born in Bergville, KwaZulu-Natal on May 29, 1982, Dlamini made his professional debut in Mandini, KwaZulu-Natal in September 2000 with a four-round points victory over Ernest Makhathini. Dlamini’s career progressed slowly for a number of years, but took off in 2005 after he moved to Johannesburg and joined experienced trainer Warren Hulley. lamini won seven fights in a row under the tutelage of Hulley before capturing the vacant WBF lightweight belt with a fifth-round TKO victory over Argentine Ivan Orlando Bustos in March 2007.
Known as ‘The Killer Shark’, Dlamini made successful defences against Jairo Demoura Dos Santos, Diego Martin Alzugaray, Gairy St Clair and Francisco Lorenzo. Possibly his best performance was the fourth round knockout victory he recorded over countryman Zolani Marali at Emperors Palace in Kempton Park in October last year. That victory earned Dlamini the vacant IBO lightweight belt and set the stage for bigger things to come. Sadly it was not to be as his life was tragically cut short.
He will be sorely missed.
Holyfield / Botha road show moves to the U.S.
Former International Boxing Federation (IBF) heavyweight champion Francois ‘The White Buffalo’ Botha will still get a chance to fight American ring legend Evander ‘The Real Deal’ Holyfield, but will have to travel to ‘the land of the free’ to do so. The 41-year-old South African and the 47-year-old Holyfield were scheduled to square off against each other in Kampala, Uganda on February 20. However, the fight’s promoters had not provided a promised pre-fight payment for the bout, which resulted in a change of venue. The contest is now expected to take place on March 6, possibly in Miami, Florida.
Former undisputed heavyweight champion Holyfield has not fought in over a year and has had other fights cancelled in South Korea and Ethiopia when financing fell through. He will be eager to get back in the ring and demonstrate to many of his detractors that he is far from the washed up fighter that many suspect he is.
Holyfield, who owns a 42-10-2 (27 KO’s) record, has not held a heavyweight belt since 2000, but continues to fight on despite his advancing years and a string of mediocre performances against fighters whom he would have destroyed in his heyday.
Besides the fight against Botha (pictured right), Sanders said Holyfield would also face fellow American Derric Rossy on April 24 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Botha (47-4-3; 28 KO’s) could fight another American, hard punching Joey Abell (25-4; 24 KO’s), in Uganda sometime this month in order to keep sharp before tackling the vastly experienced Holyfield. The 28-year-old Abell has fought mostly low calibre opposition and is not considered to be a serious threat to Botha. However, boxing is an unpredictable sport and Botha will be wise not to take Abell lightly. After all, it only takes a moment of carelessness to lose a fight, which is something Botha knows only to well.
The ‘White Buffalo’ was leading former heavyweight champion ‘Iron’ Mike Tyson on all three judges scorecards in their January 1999 bout in Las Vegas before getting knocked out with a savage right cross to the draw after dropping his hands and taunting the former ‘baddest man’ on the planet. It was a mistake that Botha would come to regret, as a win over Tyson would have set him up for a lucrative rematch and other big paydays for years to come. However, it was not to be and Botha eventually decided to step away from the sport in 2002 only to launch a comeback in July 2007 with a point’s victory over journeyman Bob Mirovic.
The charismatic South African has gone on to win two of his three fights since then, but has fought mostly low-grade opposition and is considered by many pundits to be way past his best. However, a win over Holyfield will undoubtedly re-establish Botha, who holds the lightly regarded World Boxing Federation (WBF) heavyweight belt, as a serious contender in the division.
Proteas ready for mighty India – Photo – Graeme Smith: Source –t20worldcupcricket.com
Bafana’s World Cup preparations going well – Photo – Lucas Thwala: Source – www.projects.ajc.com
Fabulous Prince leads Warriors to victory – Photo – Ashwell Prince: Source – www.alloutcricket.com
PSL season resumes after long break – Photo – Orlando Pirates: Source – www.oleole.com
World Cup hero Kruger passes away – Photo – Ruben Kruger: Source – www.guardian.co.uk
Local players storm into second round at SA Open – Photo – Raven Klaasen: Source – www.flickr.com
WBF and IBO Champion Dlamini dies in car crash – Photo – Mlungisi Dlamini: Source – www.businessday.co.za
Holyfield/Botha road show moves to the U.S. – Photo – Francois Botha: Source – www.boxnews.com.ua