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Who will be your World 11!!??

February 16, 2011 in Uncategorized

With the Cricket World Cup on our doorstep, I thought I’d make up a World 15. I feel that these guys should / would also come good for the 2011 edition of cricket’s biggest trophy.

At first, I just wanted to put on a World 11 plus a 12th man but decided that since each squad picked 15 players I decided that I’ll also go with that. There are a couple of surprises, guys that didn’t make the cut. It’s really surprising actually & looking at the team now I noticed that only three captains that will lead their squads in the upcoming tournament made my team.. and none of them are in my starting 11. So without further a due, here’s my World 15 in alphabetical order:

Shahid Afridi, Hashim Amla, AB De Villiers, MS Dhoni, Jacques Kallis, Virat Kohli, Lasith Malinga,

Morne Morkel, Muttiah Muralitharan, Yusuf Pathan, Harbhajan Singh, Shaun Tait, Sachin Tendulkar, Daniel Vettori, Shane Watson

The Openers: Hashim Amla & Shane Watson

Amla is currently the nr.1 batsman in ODI’s so on that alone, he should walk into any World 11 team whether it’s a world cup, a series or a pick up match on a Saturday afternoon. I find it a bit difficult to grasp that a player can change his method of batting so easily.. From being elegant & patient in the test arena to attacking & aggressive in ODI’s.

Watto has been a rare shining light in Oz during a period the proud cricket country would love to forget. With out-of-form-rungetters like Clarke & Haddin & the loss of their captain (Ponting), Watson has sometimes single handedly led Australia to victory. Both of these players like can devastating in the first 15 overs and with more batting to come, they can lay the platform for what can be a 300+ total. The ozzy will also be a very useful with giving the team a couple of medium-paced overs.

The Rocks: Sachin Tendulkar & Jacques Kallis

Should one of the 2 openers (or even both of them) fail with the bat, the little master has the ability to stable the innings and still go after the bowlers. As the king of India, Tendulkar knows a vast amount about batting conditions in India and being the only batsman to have scored a double 100 in ODI’s, he’s shown that he can be at the crease for very long time without losing his will to attack any bowler. Kallis is the definition of a rock when it comes batting an innings & will gladly take his time to get his eye in while others have a go at the other end. But once he’s eye is in, Kallis do have the tendency to broaden his shoulders & play hair-raising strokes (I couldn’t help myself there). And lets not forget about his ability to brake key partnerships on the bowling end.

The Run Getters: Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers & Yusuf Pathan

This exciting trio will bring a lot creativity, a lot of fours & sixes meaning a lot of the runs to my team. I opted for Kohli to come in at 5 because I think AB can sum up with the team needs much quicker than the young Indian star. AB will also be my keeper and because of the batting that came before him, he wouldn’t be that much responsible to be the team’s primary run scorer. It’s because of this that he will also captain my side. And can you imagine what it would be like should he and Pathan be at the crease with 15 overs (including a powerplay) remaining?? I wouldn’t want to be on the bowling side that time.

The Spinners: Harbhajan Singh & Muttiah Muralitharan

As Indian’s primary spin bowler, Singh will be very valuable to my team. Throw in the fact that he like to throw his bat around and suddenly he looks like the perfect nr.8. Murali may not know how to hold a bat but the king of spin (yeah Warne, I said it) is a must-have when playing in the Sub-continent. Alternating overs with Singh, these two has the ability to dry up runs, get through the overs, take crucial wickets and put pressure on the opposition.

The Seamers: Morne Morkel & Lasith Malinga

 

Yeah I know, no Steyn or Kulasekara? Or Lee & Tait? Or Khan & Anderson? Nope.. I opted for Morkel because this tall timber rocketed up the ODI rankings of late. The pitches in India don’t offer the seamers that much, and therefore I feel that form will be more important than ability. Slinga Malinga is one of the few bowlers you want to see running at you at the death and being Sri Lanken, he’s very familiar with playing conditions. His form also merit his selection.

12th Man: Daniel Vettori

Even though the kiwi captain is the nr.1 ODI bowler in the world, I couldn’t put him in the team ahead of Murali & Singh. Dhoni & Afridi should consider themselves unlucky not to make 12th man.

And there you have it, that’s my team.

O ja Poms, I’m sorry but I could find a place for any of the English players. Trott was awesome in the series against Australia but who would I take out of those top 4 batsmen?? My point exactly..

Exciting batters like Sewhag, Dilshan & Gayle should also find themselves unlucky not to make the squad as well as JP Duminy. There are very few players I know that can score between 40 – 80 runs, by just hiting 1 or 2 boundaries yet still finish with an 85 – 100 strike rate.

I’m outy

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This could be a tough year ahead for the Stormers & WP

February 11, 2011 in Uncategorized

I see a tough year ahead for my beloved Stormers and Western Province. And no I’m not talking about our “unfair” schedule. And you damn right it’s unfair even though Alistair Coetzee came out to say that another week off can help the squad with the return of players struggling with niggles as well as waiting for our nr.1 flyhalf Peter Grant returning form Japan.

Apart from our bye on the 1st week of the competition, our fixtures don’t look that bad with our first 3 games being played in Cape Town against the Lions, Cheetahs & Highlanders. Those are games that we should win.  We’re also playing the Crusaders (even though we played them here last year as well) and the up-n-coming, dangerous Reds in Cape Town this year n they are teams you want to play at home. However, the month of May will probably tell us whether this team dropped, maintained or excelled their standard of play from the awesome display we saw last season because we’ll be facing the Saders (at home), Chiefs, Blues, Brumbies (all away) followed by a match up with the unknown Rebels in the 1st week of June in Melbourne before coming back to SA.

The new super rugby formation sees teams playing their rivals in their respective countries twice and anything can happen in derbies. A team like the Cheetahs loves to go the powerhouse teams like the Sharks & Bulls and cause an upset and let’s not forget about the win they got in the Cape during the round robin stages of the Currie Cup last year. Yip, anything can happen in derbies.

But having said that and after taking another look at our schedule, the Stormers should win many more matches than what they’d lose, so that’s not my concern.

  As I mentioned in the 2nd paragraph, the Stormers surprised many with their play last season that gave them their 1st ever semi final win to play against the eventual winners in the final.. you know who they were..  They then showed that reaching their first ever super rugby final was no fluke when they then reached the Currie Cup final later that year only to come up short again. The Cape’s senior side haven’t won a trophy in over 10 years and we as fans can’t be blamed for thinking 2011 will be the year our trophy drought would come to an end and that is because of the standards the Stormers and WP set for us last year. I mean if we were to improve on last year’s performances, then surely we must win a trophy this year right??

Some people have the audacity to call the Cape side chokers as we had 2 opportunities to win a trophy last season and didn’t. And even though we could’ve played much better (really, we couldve) we did come up against two teams that:

-          Finished their round robin stages as the nr.1 team on the log

-          We faced them on their home grounds (yes, Soweto was like a home game for the Bulls)  AAAAND

-          We faced 2 teams that’s been involved in finals for the last 3 or 4 years and knew how to handle the pressure that came with a game of that magnitude.

As hard as it is to write this, I’m a big enough sportsman to admit that the Bulls and the Sharks deserved to be champions BUT the Stormers for damn sure deserved to play in both of those finals. 

No, I don’t think that not winning a trophy will be a disappointment this upcoming season, but I just hope that we can show the Southern hemisphere that last year was no fluke. Look at the Chiefs.. 2009 they were good enough to be thumped by the Bulls in the final n the next year they didn’t even feature in the knockout stages. I think the next step for the Stormers & WP is to convince everyone through results that they’d better start getting use to seeing them in them finals’ and THEN start winning the bluddy thing.

I’m outy..

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League of the stars?? Or the league of 2 teams

February 8, 2011 in Uncategorized

The 2 – 1 defeat current leaders of the English Premier league, Manchester United suffered this weekend is exactly what the Spanish La Liga needs on a more regular basis. One could say it was a weekend of upsets as Liverpool beat Chelsea in London and Arsenal gave away 4 – 0 lead to draw with Newcastle. An opportunity squandered there as they could’ve moved within 2 points of the leaders. And with these kind of results happening on a “regular” basis in the Premier League, one could safely say that with only 4 point lead at the top, Man U might have the title in their sights, but its definitely not theirs, well not yet anyways.

 

I wish I could say the same with La Liga where Barca is sitting pretty with a 7 point lead over arch rivals and my team Real Madrid. But that’s not what’s baking my noodle. Villareal who is currently in 3rd place is 16 points behind the log leaders, yet there is only an 8 point difference between them and 6th place Espanyol. So lets just take a look at other leading leagues in the world shall we:

 



Soccer League

Difference in points between nr. 1 – 6

Difference in points between nr. 3 – 6

England

16 points

11 points

 

Soccer League

Difference in points between nr. 1 – 6

Difference in points between nr. 3 – 6

Italy

9 points

4 points


Soccer League

Difference in points between nr. 1 – 6

Difference in points between nr. 3 – 6

France

7 points

2 points


Soccer League

Difference in points between nr. 1 – 6

Difference in points between nr. 3 – 6

Germany

17 points

3 points

Soccer League

Difference in points between nr. 1 – 6

Difference in points between nr. 3 – 6

Spain

24 points

8 points


As you can see La Liga has the biggest point difference (24 points) between the nr. 1 team and the team currently sitting at the 6th spot, followed by the Bundisliga (17points) and the Premier League (16). What’s interesting though is the the Premier league has the biggest difference between the 3rd team and the 6th team on the log with 11 points and one could safely say that the German league find themselves in the same boat as La Liga which is a bit unusual considering the stars Bayern Munich have in their team.Things are very tight in the Italian and French leagues and I think that is what the neutral fans want. I mean sure, the fans of  Borussia Dortmund & Barca will be happy that their teams are sitting pretty at the top but one has to feel for teams like Villareal and Valencia who’s fans will just be happy to qualify for the Champions league let alone win La Liga.

ESPN calls La Liga the league of the stars but what they don’t say is that most of those stars only plays for 2 teams: Real Madrid and Barcalona. The latter is looking unbeatable and I’m sure that they can’t help if they’re a cut above the rest, yip including Madrid but even though it may not be best for these 2 teams, I think it will make La Liga much more interesting if these two teams draw or lose a couple of games. Or maybe we must all just accept that this is Barca’s era & no matter who you buy, they’re gonna atleast rule La Liga for the next 2 or 3 seasons.


 

I’m outy.. 

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Would you like a 1st eva? Or a 1st eva repeat??

February 7, 2011 in Uncategorized

Which one is more important to the average South African sports fan: Winning the Cricket World Cup for the 1st time or becoming the 1st country defend their Rugby World Cup trophy? There’s no question that I if you ask any new zealander to choose between the two, they definitely go for the RWC trophy that has eluded them for over 20 years, but which one would we as SA fans choose??

 

Rugby is our country’s biggest & best sport and I’ve heard quite a few times in my day that we’re the rugby factory of the world. Sure, NZ might say that they are the best factory but surely they get a lot of “help” from islands like Fiji, Tonga & Samoa, right?

 

But back to us. If you look at the 2 teams (the Proteas & the Boks), who do we feel deserved to be more successful of the two? Few teams could claim to be more unlucky than the Proteas and lets not kid ourselves, you can have all the skills and talent in your team but if lady luck left you, be afraid.. be very afraid.. a catch you as a player usually would catch, all of a sudden gets dropped, you get run out from a throw that should a player try it again, he’s never get it right.. hit the ball onto your stumps, or you as bowler see your ball just miss the stumps from an inside edge.  And then ofcoz there’s the real bad luck moments like the ’99 & ’03 fiascos all tough the latter is more a case of stupidity than bad luck.  And in rugby, who can forget Larkham’s fluke-drop that put us out of the ’99 RWC. Yes, ladies and gents, every sport team needs a bit of luck to be successful.

One can say that when it comes skill, talent & opportunity, our current cricket and rugby team strikes all three columns. In cricket have a potential all-time great in Kallis, 3 batsmen (Amla, de Villiers & Duminy) that can rule the cricket world for the next 4 – 8 years and 2 seam bowlers (Steyn & Morker) that can re-write every SA record infront of them.


 

 Throw in SA’s best ever captain who only needs a CWC trophy to complete an already awesome resume and who loves leading from the front and you have all the ingredients to be a successful ODI cricket team.

 

In rugby, the RWC could be the swansong for some of the greatest players this country has ever produced. John Smit has won almost everything an international captain can win while breaking captain records on his way.  Matfield’s name will surely popup whenever there’s discussions about the world’s greatest locks and after producing a certain Joost vd Westhuizen, we stepped up a notch and gave the world Fourie du Preez.

 

Throw in players that can be currently be penciled in as the world’s best like Bismark, Smith & Jaque Fourie and you certainly have a team that can make their country proud.

 

But if you had to choose, and you could only choose one, who would you pick or who would like to see bring a trophy home? the About-damn-time Proteas?? Or the Probably-best-team-to-repeat Springboks??

Im outy

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4 Male Lions too many for this pride

February 3, 2011 in Uncategorized

The Lions’ acquiring of Butch James from Bath could be favorable or a waste of money. As far as I know, the Lions now have 4 flyhalves: Up-n-coming Jantjies, Burton Francis, injury plagued Andre Pretorius & James and I can’t help but feel for Jantjies and Francis.


Yes, having season campaigners like Petoors & James will be beneficial for your team but both of them?? And two players who’s injury count could probably outnumber the whole Lions’ backline. I’ve always been a huge fan of Petoors because (if fit ofoz) in the early 2000’s he had no peer when it came to an allround, attacking flyhalf in South Africa. Throw in the fact he wasn’t afraid to use both feet if situation calls for it, he was always in the Bok setup (once again, if fit ofcoz).

  After some brilliant performances on the ’06 end of the year tour, I thought he’ll definitely be our nr.10 for the RWC a year later but another injury-cursed Super rugby campaign as well as James’ Sharks reaching their 2nd Super rugby final, he fell out of favor with then coach Jake White.

 

James had a very good RWC and he’s performances I think were underrated because of other performances by Matfield, Smith, FdP, Habana & Monty. But that was 4 years ago!!! And even though there has been said that James put in some stellar performances up North of late, he looked very average when he represented the Boks last year. In his defense, many Springboks looked average last year.

 

One has to feel for one Burton Francis.  He moved away from the Bulls to get more game time only to find himself now the 4th flyhalf option. I’m sure John Mitchell has a plan for the young pivot and will keep him involved but even then Francis will still find himself in an almost identical situation where his Morne Steyn is now Elton Jantjies.


I’m really looking forward to see if Jantjies can be the real deal playing against the Carters, Giteaus, Coopers and the other cream of the crop in the South Hemisphere. But he can only show that if he’s on the field. It’s brilliant to see that Mitchell is very protective of his talent, wrapping him in cotton wool and last year even felt he wasn’t ready yet for international rugby so I’m sure that he’s got Jantjies’ best interest at heart but I honestly feel that adding two “older bothers” (and lets not forgot about the Carlos Spencer’s influence) is a bit too much.

 

I’m outy

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Players that needs to be super in Super Rugby..

February 1, 2011 in Uncategorized

Well, one way to look at this upcoming & extended super rugby season is by saying that it gives a lot of “fringe” – or in some cases forgotten Sprinboks the perfect opportunity to show they belong in the RWC squad.

 

I mean we all know who’s going to be there: (pending injuries ofcoz) Your du Preez, Fouries, Matfields, Smiths, Bothas etc. but these guys can’t play every minute of every game and we all know that your bench & fringe players will need to play very well if you want a successful campaign. Remember how we almost lost against Tonga in the last RWC coz we made use of a “B team” & the only way we avoided defeat was for Jake to bring on his entire star bench on in the 2nd half???

I do feel however that the experience and skill of the reserves in the ’11 class is much better of that in the ’07 class and they should be able to beat a team like Namibia or Samoa in our world cup pool.

 

Now I’m sure that there are a whole bunch of these guys who we as bok fans feel should be in the bok 22 or atleast in the squad but I’m just going to mention 11 players who I feel must play their socks, their boots & their jerseys off to get the Bok call up:

 

Forwards

 

CJ van der Linde

CJ showed his aspiration to still wanting to represent his country by moving back to SA. On his day he’s still one of the best tightheads in the world & he’s also versatile enough to play loosehead. His best competition for the nr. 3 jersey is probably Jannie du Plessis and to a very far extend BJ Botha. He’ll probably will be in the squad of 30 but should he have a solid season with the Stormers, he can do one of his bullish runs with his 122kg body right into the bok starting front row.

 

Adriaan Strauss

If you’re a hooker and you make the Bok squad AND you’re not Barney, Du Plessis or Chilliboy then you MUST be brilliant. Coz lets be honest here, getting past the incumbent bok captian, the best hooker in the world (arguably) & the 1st ever black bok captain & future-touted-captain will take some doing. Strauss will have to more than solid if he’s to convince ou Pietjertie to pick him instead of Chilliboy.

 

Flip vd Merwe

 

Flip’s bok fate will depend on 2 things: his playing time and Steven Sykes’ form. Playing behind Bakkies in a team can be very rewarding but equally frustrating for a youngster and should Ludeke limit Botha’s game to 40 -50 min or a certain amount on games (which he should do), Flip can show that he is the real deal and there is life after the Bulls’ golden generation retires. He’s competition I think is Steven Sykes and maybe even Danie Rossouw but I have my doubts about the latter.

 

Heinrich Brussow

A lot has “changed” in the loose foward play & rucks since 2009 when a rugby seun from Vrystaat showed that South Africa can produce world class thieves in ALL colors.  But then Richie went complain to Paddy and Paddy went to the IRB and before you know it, McCaw is the world’s best fetcher again and NZ dominates teams again. Brussow will have to show that 2009 was no fluke and even with the new interpretations, he can still be effective at the breakdowns. With Schalk the incumbent no.6 and Alberts the new bok basher from the bench, Brussow will really have to step up.

 

Backs

 

Francois Hougaard

Hougaard showed last season that should FdP step down, he can play nr.9. Bulls speedster, Shadow vd Heever will be joined by Basson and probably Zane in the back three which means Hougaard will probably come off the bench and start the occasional game when Fourie gets rested. And it is then when he’ll have to show his mettle because P-Divvy still has Tiger Pienaar as well as Drunken master Januarie he could pick for nr. 20.

 

Pat Lambie / Elton Jantjies

Potential, skill and talent these two have an abundance of but Lambie will have to avoid singing the 2nd season blues and Jantjies will need to show he’s talented enough to mingle with the southern hemisphere’s best. Lambie is currently leading the race of deputy for Morne Steyn but another old forgotten bok could still get past him:

 

Butch James

The Lions are currently in the process of acquiring James from Bath and should they be successful, P-Divvy will potentially have 3 back up flyhalves to choose from. Word up north is that Butch is playing very well but should he come back to SA, he’s presence could pose a couple of interesting questions for Mitchell and de Villiers: How will playing time between him and Janties work out? But more importantly, will he have the legs (or in his case, the knees) to play for the Boks in the RWC?? Experience does count in Butch’s favor and should anything happen to the ace from Pretoria, it will be nice to have that kinda experience in your back pocket.

 

Bryan Habana

Yeah I know.. How can a former SA & IRB Player of the year that’s only 27 years old struggle to make the starting lineup (or atleast the squad) of a world cup bound rugby team, but that’s unfortunately the position that Jetshoes finds himself in. Last year a host of wingers (Aplon, Basson, Mvovo) run past Habana into the Bok setup and even though it’s nearly impossible to imagine Habana not making the world cup squad, a couple (or a lot actually) of tries and scintillating runs wouldn’t hurt his cause. Because there’s also:

 

JP Pietersen

 

Another forgotten bok that brought the trophy home in ’07 after making his bok debut just a year earlier. It’s unbelievable to think that even though he’s been with the Boks for nearly 5 years, he’s only 24 years old. With his rare combination of size & elusive speed, an on form JP is a must-play for any team he represents. He scored 12 tries in 15 super rugby games in the last world cup year and many bok fans (me included) will hope that he catches that form in this RWC year.

 

Conrad Jantjes

I wanted to put in Zane Kirchner but just like his Bulls teammate Wynand “prince charming” Oliver, he had plenty of opportunities in bok colors to show that he belongs but unfortunately he just cant cut the mustard, the line or the defender on international level. Conrad has been out of top flight rugby for a while now but when fit & on form can be one of SA’s best allround fullbacks. This is probably his last chance to represent his country in a RWC so to impress the bok coaches, super rugby can be the ideal stage for him.

 

I’m outy