I am not going anywhere near contentious first Test decisions; the video questioning of match officials etcetera. It has been done by dozens already. When all is said and done, what happened cannot be changed. The Lions won.
There is a new referee for this match. What damage has been done by all the commenting by team officials and pundits, we don’t know.
The Lions’ first Test starting pack was heavier than the Bok eight; the Springboks don’t have the monopoly on “massive” forwards. The Lions gave away nothing in terms of fronting up to the physical challenge, despite an overall lacklustre first half from the tourists.
A game of two halves it was, and the crux was that the Lions were able to adapt and improve whereas the Boks weren’t. The Lions were able to right their wrongs of the first half in convincing fashion.
The Boks were neither able to take their world-renowned intensity to a new level nor were they able to sustain the intensity that they had managed to build in the first half. The Lions are fitter.
There are Covid-related reasons, yes, matches played and matches cancelled, yes, the worst possible Bok build-up to a Lions series ever, yes, but it doesn’t change the reality facing the Boks in this Saturday’s second Test.
An enduring mystery is how little an impact the Boks’ much-vaunted bomb squad front-row had when they entered the fray immediately after half-time. They could not reverse the gathering Lions momentum.
The Boks’ starting front-row, in contrast, were outstanding – and that dominance played a significant role in the momentum that generated a 12-3 half-time lead. We can only hope there will be a sustained effort over the full spectrum of the second Test match.
The bottom line is, the team that is better able to limit its penalties conceded (especially the unforced penalties in goal-kicking areas) will likely win a close Test match. And that is very closely linked to who dominates at scrum time, and therefore who is able to establish momentum.
The first-half penalty count belonged to the Boks. The second-half penalty count was a Lions landslide. The penalty count was determined by who was in control of the game. The team that is most disciplined, in not giving away soft penalties; this will be key.
The Lions also redirected their kicking game in the second half, punting the ball higher and a little shorter, distance-wise, which enabled more hanging time and hence more competitive kick-chases.
In the first half, the Lions were generally awkward and the composed Boks looked to be cruising to victory, but critically the men in green and gold didn’t punch home that advantage with a try or two. Marginal decisions in this match played a role, but however you look at it, the Boks need to create more try-scoring chances.
It was only in the second half that a put-upon South Africa seriously looked like scoring – and that came from situations where they were improvising in the moment. The Boks were forced by game situations to step out of their comfort zone and improvise. More of this is needed… this is an instinctively, naturally, talented Bok back three. Use them more.
As mentioned, match fitness was a key factor; the Lions are definitely in better physical condition than the Boks. The Covid problems in the Bok camp leading into the Test severely impacted their ability to last the pace in the second half, whereas the Lions just seemed to be getting stronger and stronger.
I fear that, with just 7 days between Tests it leaves no time to close this gap sufficiently enough to nullify the marked advantage that the tourists have in this facet.
Granted, and as mentioned, there were the tiniest of margins in several potentially match-altering moments but my prevailing feeling is that the Lions ultimately deserved the first Test win.
A critical factor, alluded to above, is that, between them, our match-winning wings hardly got the ball; barely a handful of times; in 80 minutes. There have to be ways found to include them more. They are major weapons in the Bok armoury.
And there is no superstar in number 8 Duane Vermeulen to give us renewed hope. His injury-enforced absence was never more evident than in the first Test.
My feeling on the second Test is that it is for the Lions to lose. They are in the pound seats right now.
A solid physical and tactical performance should be enough for the Lions this Saturday (and I hope I am wrong) whereas the Boks have a number of gears to change in order to get things right and level the series.
The first half will be crucial. The Lions will not give an inch physically. Somehow, the Boks will have to impose themselves on this match. It is going to take intelligence and power. Our men in green and gold must find a way. Key moments must be won.
It is a tantalising prospect. Bok win please.
Oh how I miss it… flashback to 14 August 2019 and the opening of the newly minted Zungu Soccer Pavilion at Hilton College’s newly dedicated football ground, Zungu Field…
Results in recent years suggested there wouldn’t be much in it, but visitors Michaelhouse were full value for their first team’s 2-0 soccer victory over home side Hilton College on this balmy Autumn afternoon (14 August 2019) in the beautiful KZN midlands.
Jono Cook feature image: The Hilton and Michaelhouse first teams line up before the 14 August 2019 match that heralded the opening of the Zungu Soccer Pavilion on Zungu Field at the Hilton campus.
It is worth mentioning that Boys of Hilton were without their talismanic 2018 SA U17 soccer captain, match-winning goalkeeper and Manchester City trialist Constandino Christodoulou, who is out for two weeks due to injury.
And it is worth speculating whether Costi could have kept out the brace of goals that eluded his replacement, Jacob Kethro, but it would have taken a pair of phenomenal saves to deny first the on-song Men of House striker Alex Vermeulen and then fellow frontrunner the irrepressible Thabo Dlamini.
In truth, Jacob was offered very little protection by his defenders on both extremely well-taken goalscoring occasions so, Costi or no Costi, I think that this match belonged to House by a distance.
The Michaelhouse victory stage was set from the get-go, and Hilton were never given a chance to get back in the game or seriously threaten the visitors’ control.
After the initial midfield tussle for possession, a superb through-ball into the big box in the 5th minute found the athletic Michaelhouse striker Alex Vermeulen, who was strongly tackled before he could get in a goalshot.
In the 9th minute, great play on attack by Men of House centre back Luc Pousson saw a turnover but the versatile first XV rugby player was back in a jack-flash to close down a Hilton College counter-attack. This standout cameo of the Michaelhouse intent proved to be a blueprint for the game – Hilton were seldom given space.
Two minutes later a superb curling left-to-right free-kick by Michaelhouse left midfielder Mugabi Lubinga was placed square in the aerial zone of the dangerous Alex Vermeulen but a top-class header out of danger, under tremendous pressure, by Hilton College centre back Tapiwa Mushonga snuffed out the real and present danger.
Then nippy Michaelhouse marksman Thabo Dlamini got in the first of numerous goalshots in this absorbing match but Hilton keeper Jacob Kethro handled the threat comfortably.
It was all Men of House in the opening stages but the Hilton College tackles were decisive, accurate and very hard – there was no quarter asked or given in this annual soccer match – and one sensed that Boys of Hilton were beginning to find their feet.
The snag, though, was that Michaelhouse marksman and incisive 2019 KZN Inland U18 hockey forward Thabo Dlamini and partner upfront Alex Vermeulen [the 2021 Michaelhouse 1st XV captain), ably assisted by Siyanda Mkhize, were looking exceptionally sharp – and being supplied with a striker’s dream – lots of quality ball.
In the 17th minute Michaelhouse’s busy Gareth Kemp – playing in an attacking role behind the forwards – got in on the act but once again the goalshot attempt was fielded with relative comfort by the alert Hilton keeper Jacob Kethro.
A minute later it was Thabo Dlamini’s turn to just about wriggle his way through the crowded Hilton College goalmouth but the hungry sharpshooter was dispossessed at the moment critique.
Uncertainty under the sustained Michaelhouse pressure in the attacking third began to reveal itself when Siyanda Mkhize intercepted an errant Hilton College clearance but the Gareth Kemp goalshot was superbly saved by keeper Jacob Kethro diving to his left.
Into minute 21 and Gareth Kemp and Thabo Dlamini both got in (off-target) goalshots before a heavy tackle on Gareth Kemp a minute later earned Michaelhouse a direct free-kick just outside the big box, but the Alex Vermeulen strike flew high and wide.
The neutral scoreline was finally altered soon after, when Michaelhouse’s Kwanele Khumalo threaded his way through the left channel before his layoff was slammed into the Hilton College net by striker Alex Vermeulen to make the score Michaelhouse 1 Hilton 0.
Into the 25th minute and following a wayward Alex Vermeulen goalshot, Hilton took the opportunity to break out fast but their rare attacking move amounted to zero, as Men of House’s back four moved smartly to contain the threat.
Michaelhouse retaliated with back-to-back attacks at the other end that came close to nudging the scoreboard further in their favour.
About 29 minutes gone and finally Hilton garnered a great goalshot opportunity but captain Simi Bhembe blazed his strong strike over the crossbar, which led into halftime, the score reading Michaelhouse 1 (Alex Vermeulen) Hilton College 0.
* One could not help surmising that Men of House might come to regret they didn’t convert at least one more goalshot opportunity into something tangible on the scoreboard, but that would depend on what unfolded in the second half.
Into the second half we went and I don’t know what Hilton College coach Cele Mbanjwa said to his lads but they looked a much-improved outfit. Would it be sustained throughout the half, though? Michaelhouse were certainly not going to give up their lead without a fight.
And as if to underline the Men of House resolve, a crucial intercept by Michaelhouse centre back Luc Pousson stymied a top-quality Hilton attacking sortie out left.
7 minutes into the second half and a beautifully-weighted through-ball ball by Michaelhouse centre midfielder Michael Ross set up Alex Vermeulen but his goalshot brought a fine reflex save from Hilton keeper Jacob Kethro.
After their promising start to the second half, the pressure on the Hilton defence was beginning to build again – a la the first half –and not much more than a minute or two after the Kethro save, it was the pocket Men of House rocket Thabo Dlamini put in the clear… and he coolly picked his spot to jettison Michaelhouse into a 2-0 lead.
A match constant was the Michaelhouse and Hilton supporters cheering, chanting and drum-rolling their first teams on to greater heights as they searched for victory in this annual match in the long history of these two great South African schools.
Well into the second half, Michaelhouse captain and keeper Noah Stanger finally got a meaningful touch on the ball but the Hilton chance was once again lost and the retaliation from deep saw Michaelhouse striker Thabo Dlamini set free with a seemingly sure-fire gold-rush opportunity – only to see his goalshot flash past the wrong side (the right side, from a Hilton perspective) of the far post.
A heavy tackle in midfield on Hilton College captain Simi Bhembe saw a Michaelhouse man yellow-carded and one pondered whether this could be the moment opportune for Hilton to erase the 2-goal deficit?
However, Michaelhouse centre back Nick Crampton again displayed a telling example of the Men of House’s resolve in this intriguing derby – tall and strong – a tower of stability and measured calm – in the heart of the visitors’ defence.
Then when Hilton had a player banished to the sin-bin after a heavy tackle, the visitors’ 2-0 lead in this annual marquee soccer match was already inscribed in the history books for the Men of House.
And so it was; leaving the big crowd satisfied with what they had witnessed as a spectacle, albeit with slightly mixed emotions depending on which side of the N3 your allegiances may lie.
Hilton College 0
1 Jacob Kethro
12 Motheo Makwana
2 Kopano Segoale (vc)
14 Tally Tshekiso
3 Tapiwa Mushonga
6 Suubi Mugerwa-Sekawabe
11 Tanaka Matsa
7 William Raw
9 Wandile Zulu
10 Simi Bhembe (c)
8 Jonathan Tlhagoane
18 Sabelo Moshesh
15 Lwazi Mkatshana
13 Onye Adirika
17 Mamucha Munthali
5 Vuyo Zungu
Head coach Celo Mbanjwa
1 Noah Stanger (c)
3 Luc Pousson
8 Nick Crampton
5 Michael Bradford
6 Mugabi Lubinga
10 Kwanele Khumalo
1 Conor MacColl
7 Gareth Kemp
4 Michael Ross
13 Alexander Vermeulen
9 Thabo Dlamini (vc)
18 Matthew Craigie-Stevenson
14 Hugo Ayo
11 Letlotlo Kebonang
15 Arden Scholtz
12 Siyanda Mkhize
Head coach Ryan van Wyk
Anyone who has seen Philani Simamane play rugby will know the feeling: a quickening of the senses as one realises one is watching something special.
I, for one, will never forget the hat-trick of tries that centre Philani scored for the Maritzburg College first XV on a magical winter’s day against Westville on Goldstones back in 2019.
Feature image: Philani’s 2019 first XV rugby jersey. The names of all donors to his appeal are being embroidered on the jersey and he will be taking this keepsake with him when he departs for the States. A lovely reminder of all the people who are part of his adventure and whose best wishes he takes with him.
That College lost a 54-point thriller to a very good Westville side by 2 slender points (26-28) should not in any way detract a Maritzburg College supporter from the fact that this was a magnificent spectacle of KZN schoolboy rugby.
Philani, as is the case with all aspiring young rugby players, be they in-school or recently matriculated, is facing new challenges – but in this instance not of the Covid-related kind.
Andrew Soden, who was head prefect of Maritzburg College in 1991, is one of the directors of the Sikhona Foundation, a local non-profit organisation and has been pioneering an appeal to help Philani realise his dream of attending university and playing rugby in Georgia in the USA – and that dream is on the cusp of being realised.
Philani has been accepted at university but what remains is the nitty gritty of putting together the financial nuts and bolts to make this dream real, and to that end, Andrew (a College boy from 1987 to 1991) put out a recent appeal that is told in a delightful way – and goes to the heart of what Maritzburg College rugby – and being a Maritzburg College Old Boy – is all about.
Here is Andrew’s story in full, as addressed to the writer in an e-letter today (the bold text etc is mine):
“Hi there Jono
“Any theory on why College boys blacken out their boots?
“The generational re-tellings and the hand-me-down stories as to the origin of this tradition may have diluted the reason over the decades.
“But, for me, its real impact has been highlighted in the ongoing appeal for the young lad in the photo below, Maritzburg College Old Boy Philani Simamane (OC2019).
“We have been raising money and support to help Philani follow his dream of a university degree.
“This young man, from a very humble background, worked hard for his scholarships to primary school and Maritzburg College, but we know that the journey is not yet done and it is important to help Philani finish what he started.
“The blackening out of our boots makes us equal; none more important than the rest. It signals solidarity and directs our focus and energy towards a shared cause. It bonds us together, with the tacit acknowledgement that we are there for each other when the need arises.
“Over the past months the inspirational and humbling responses to Philani’s appeal for support has highlighted for me the extraordinary bond that Old Boys of this impressive institution share.
“This show of strength and unity has really restored my faith; a testament that when the situation demands it a College boy will always rise to the occasion.
“Along with Philani we are so very grateful for the encouragement and the support already pledged.
“I would love to share with you some of those interactions that have helped restore my faith:
“One of our supporters, a veteran College Old Boy, well into his 80’s, responded personally with words of encouragement for Philani along with a gift of R500 – which I know is a princely sum for this Old Boy!
“Even though he has never met Philani, or perhaps even heard of him until recently, he is just so excited for this young beneficiary of his support, and has asked us to keep him up to date!
“An Old Boy in the United States has generously offered to provide Philani with the sponsor’s letter which he needs to obtain his student visa.
“Other US expats have offered Philani weekend/holiday accommodation with them, some are helping find vacation work for him while another is putting together a small gathering to welcome Philani to the great state of Georgia!
“An Old Boy and 1st XV winger from 1984 got in touch this past month and offered his support. He has a son and daughter at the same university that Philani is heading to and both are also part of the rugby programme. He ‘is up there most weekends and looks forward to helping Philani out with whatever he needs’.
“In the midst of these offerings of support this familiar quote came to mind:
‘If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.’
“I know that Philani’s journey still seems so ‘far’ but he has received wonderful support from his ‘team-mates’ and with your help he will achieve his academic goal of a university degree.
“If you are still a believer in why College boys blacken out their boots please join in and support Philani’s appeal.
“You can make your contribution through
1. a donation via Direct Deposit (bank details will be emailed to you once your pledge is made); or
2. our verified PayFast platform which allows for CreditCard, Masterpass and Instant EFT donations.
Every contribution, no matter the size, is gratefully received and appreciated.
Stay safe and take care of yourself.
(Blackened out boots from 1987 to 1991)
The above links refer to the (i) Direct Deposit and (ii) Payfast payment options.
Andrew Soden +27 (0)83 456 1092
It looks like 3 Glenwood Old Boys, 1 Kearsney College Old Boy and 1 Maritzburg College Old Boy are in with a rare career chance (a one-in-12-year-chance) of facing the British & Irish Lions come 6pm this Saturday at Emirates Airlines Park (aka Ellis Park) in Johannesburg.
Recent Glenwood Old Boys, the first XV flyhalves Jordan Hendrikse (20 years today and back from his stint with the Junior Boks) and utility Fred Zeilinga, are in the 26-player (SA franchise) Lions squad that was named late yesterday afternoon to take on the British & Irish Lions in the tour opener of this renowned touring team’s sojourn to South Africa.
Tracey van den Aardweg feature image: Kearsney College’s Sibu Sangweni in his heyday as captain of the first XV here against Michaelhouse.
Recent Kearsney captain and loose forward Sibusiso Sangweni is also among the Lions squad of 26. And Ruhan Straeuli, son of Lions boss Rudolf, who spent his early high school years at Glenwood before relocating with the family to Gauteng where he finished his schooldays at his dad’s alma mater, Menlo Park.
What a thrill at this relatively early stage in their post-school careers.
And former Maritzburg College centre Dan Kriel, twin brother of Springbok Jesse, is also among the local Lions’ 26 for Saturday at Emirates Airlines Park (aka Ellis Park).
And with Jesse in the Bok mix for the Test series, it adds more Kriel Family colour to the palette.
In November last year, Jesse revealed that his great grandfather, John Hodgson, a loose forward, played for the touring British Lions (as they were then known) in New Zealand and Australia all of 91 years ago.
John Hodgson played for the 1930 British Lions team that beat the All Blacks 6-3 in the Dunedin Test match and in the 15-10 loss to the All Blacks in Auckland.
In all, Dan, Jesse and younger brother Matt Kriel’s maternal great grandad John, a flanker, represented the touring British Lions a total of 15 times and also earned 7 Test match caps for England including against the 1932 Springboks in London.
The Kriel brothers’ mother is Angela, and great grandad John’s Lions cap was sent by English relatives to Angela’s aunt Diana in South Africa during the international travel restrictions late last year.
A wonderful story all-round.
The Johannesburg-based Lions’ 26-man squad is: Pieter Botha, Ruan Dreyer, Jannie du Plessis, Jordan Hendrikse, Francke Horn, Dan Kriel, Jacobus Kriel, Sibahle Maxwane, Nathan McBeth, Reinhard Nothnagel, Burger Odendaal, Marthinus Pelser, Manuel Rass, Carlu Sadie, Sibusiso Sangweni, Ruben Schoeman, Sithembisu Sithole, Dillon Smit, Ruhan Straeuli, Emmanuel Tshituka, Vincent Tshituka, Jamba Ulengo, Morne van den Berg, EW Viljoen, Gerrit Visagie and Fred Zeilinga.
* If there is a KZN10 Old Boy or two that I have somehow overlooked among the 26 players above, please let me know.
KZN Inland Cricket is looking for a likely candidate to fill the position of Head Coach of the KZN Inland U16 boys age-group squads.
The role of the Head Coach is to develop and implement a high-performance coaching programme with the support of the Provincial Coach Education Manager for the Under 16 Age Group squads.
The primary purpose for the position is to have a positive impact in the preparation and coaching of both squad cricketers with the intent of enhancing the individual performance of the identified players.
KEY JOB OUTPUTS – PURPOSE OF THE JOB
The incumbent will be responsible amongst other things for the following key delivery areas:
•To develop the cricket specific components of the Player Performance Plan for identified cricketers.
•To Coordinate the interventions for the identified players as part of the Personal Development Plans of a cricketer.
•To guide the selection panel in the selection of the Provincial Under 16 training squad.
•To lead the identification of talent within National, Provincial or Franchise pipeline structures.
KEY DELIVERY AREA 1
To develop the cricket specific components of the Player Performance Plan (PPP) for identified cricketers.
•Manage the planning process and ensuring that each identified cricketer has a plan aligned to the deliverables of the PPP.
•Work closely with the Provincial Coach Education Manager to establish and approve the planned outcomes of the PPP for each identified cricketer.
•Ensuring that support systems and structures for the identified cricketers are enhanced to sustain adequate individual performance standards.
•Outline performance expectations to the identified cricketers as well as his coach (i.e. school, club, Hub, etc.).
•Establish regular performance reviews and assessment of the identified cricketers.
KEY DELIVERY AREA 2
To Coordinate the interventions for the identified players as part of the Personal Development Plans of a cricketer.
•Ensure that an adequate needs analysis is conducted on each identified cricketer covering the following developmental aspects:
▪Physical (Physiological conditioning and Nutritional status).
▪Cricket Skills (Technical, Tactical and playing exposure).
▪Medical (Injury or illness).
▪Psychological (Socio-Psychological health and Mental Performance).
▪Socio-Culture (School Education, Post School Activities, Support networks, Socio-Economic status and Team Environment).
•Ensuring that adequate specialists are available to be assigned for the intervention measures with the support of the Provincial Coach Education Manager.
•Ensuring that regular communication and reporting with relevant stakeholders takes place (i.e. pipeline and other coaches, parents, specialists, etc.).
KEY DELIVERY AREA 3
To guide the selection panel in the selection of the Provincial Under 16 squad.
•To develop and implement structures within the province that can sustain talent identification aligned to the provincial pipeline structural requirements.
•To ensure that there is support and understanding of the programme undertaken by the key role players within the Provincial Schools’ cricket system through the assistance of Youth Cricket Coordinator/Cricket Services Manager.
•To work closely with the coaches of the identified cricketers within the squad by ensuring that the individual deliverable plans are supported and actioned.
•Introducing benchmark performance required to be attained by identified cricketers for each cricket discipline.
KEY DELIVERY AREA 4
To lead the identification of talent within the National, Provincial or Franchise pipeline structures.
•To play a key role in the preparation and coaching of the selected Provincial Under 19 squad.
•To conduct off-season coaching programmes and camps.
•Prepare player reviews for implementation as per the PPP.
•To manage the identifying of talent for the franchise region talent camps and potential cricketers for the Cubs XI.
KEY JOB KNOWLEDGE REQUIREMENTS
•Understanding the Player Performance Plan.
•Be able to Coach and Identify talent.
•Be able to evaluate and prepare training programmes to meet the needs of the identified cricketer.
•Be able to evaluate and monitor progress.
•Understanding the various coaching styles.
•Understanding of the CSA Long Term Player Development process.
•Knowledge of the domestic cricket systems.
•Understanding of the challenges of BA players within the CSA pipeline.
•Basic Mentoring principles.
•Development & nurturing focus.
*Self-motivated & high work ethic.
•Deadline Driven (Critical).
•Minimum Level 3 Coaching Qualification, plus:
•Played Cricket at First Class Level will be an advantage.
•Driver’s Licence with own vehicle.
•More than 3-years’ credible coaching experience of elite cricketers.
•The Cricket Services Manager.
Suitably qualified candidates are invited to apply for the position by submitting an application together with a comprehensive CV, certified copies of applicant’s South African ID, Valid RSA Driver’s Licence, Valid CSA Level III Coaching Accreditation qualification, Valid Police Clearance and other appropriate qualifications relating to the post, and at least two contactable references, to: Jason Sathiaseelan: email@example.com by the close of business on Monday, 28th June 2021.
In making the final selection
*Consideration will be given to the employment equity objectives of KZN Cricket.
*A performance agreement shall be entered into with the successful applicant.
*The right not to make an appointment is reserved.
*Should you not be contacted within 30 days of the closing date, you may consider that your application is unsuccessful.
How do you pick the ultimate Test cricket team from a cast of incredibly talented performers that must run into the hundreds who have excelled over the ages?
To coincide with the World Test Championship final that is currently taking place between India and New Zealand in Southampton, former England opening batsman and media pundit Geoffrey Boycott had a go in a recent article in The Telegraph and backed up his reasons why.
Feature photo: Gary Sobers of the West Indies. Supremely gifted all-rounder.
Geoff did not include one South African in his two teams, so I had a go at picking an All-Time SA Test match XI as well as two All-Time KZN Schools XI’s.
Geoff picked two match-day squads of 12 for an imaginary “Ultimate Test Match of Test Matches” and had to look at the candidates from all countries as well as the different eras. The 11 ultimately chosen out of the 12 would depend on the pitch – to opt for two spinners or one. He opted to not consider any current players.
And in his pragmatic way, Geoff made the following crucial distinction, which I think is the only way to compare players whose careers can be more than 100 years apart: “It is unfair to judge players only on figures. They all have great numbers, so to be fair I judge them against contemporaries from their own eras.” I tried to do the same with my teams.
When one considers that the likes of Barry Richards, Graeme Pollock, Mike Procter, Ian Botham, Hashim Amla, Curtly Ambrose, Michael Holding and Kapil Dev didn’t get the nod in either of Geoff’s squads of 12, you can see the embarrassment of riches available.
Geoffrey’s Ultimate Test Team One
Opening batsmen (1) Jack Hobbs and (2) Herbert Sutcliffe: “The finest opening pair in history,” says Geoff. The pair opened the batting for England a total of 38 times and their average number of runs scored per innings was 85.81 before a wicket fell. No Test match opening pair has ever done better than that, says Geoff. “To get that sort of start – on average – is like winning the pools.”
3. Don Bradman (Australia, captain): “A run scorer, a unique genius who was twice as good as the rest of us and is captain of this team. There is nothing else to add.”
4. George Headley (West Indies): Headley only played in 22 Test matches over a 10-year period yet was able to peel off 10 Test match centuries. “The Aussies dubbed him the black Bradman,” says Geoff.
5. Sachin Tendulkar (India): “Technically superb, with the performances to match against all types of bowling,” says Geoff. “Mastered his era and handled the pressure of expectation from India’s fanatical supporters.”
6. Gary Sobers (West Indies): Significantly, Geoff describes this ultimate all-rounder as the best batsman he has ever seen. And apart from his batting, “He [Sobers] was originally selected as an orthodox left-arm spinner but later in his career bowled left-arm lively swing which could be devastating. A great catcher anywhere close in.”
7. Alan Knott (England): “Lovely hands. Missed very little,” says Geoff. “I judge wicketkeepers on what they miss, not just how many they catch. How many catches or stumpings a gloveman takes is dependent on how many catches and stumpings the bowlers create. Got important runs when his team was in trouble, too.”
8. Shane Warne (Australia): “Natural wicket taker with amazing control,” says Geoff. “Generated a huge amount of spin with very, very few bad balls. Before he hurt his shoulder his flipper was devastating.”
9. Jim Laker (England): “For balance, I want a spinner turning the ball the other way. If it spun, Laker [an off-spinner] bowled teams out. He didn’t bowl the doosra because he didn’t need it. On dry turning pitches or a wet pitch that was drying he was nigh-on unplayable. On flat pitches you still couldn’t get after him.”
10. Sydney (SF) Barnes (England): As Geoff says, Surrey and England wicketkeeper Herbert Strudwick describes Barnes thus: “He was the best I ever kept to. He sent down something different each ball and he could turn it either way in remarkable fashion.” The great Australian batsman Clem Hill said: “On a perfect pitch Barnes could swing the ball late, in and out, and spin it.”
11. Malcolm Marshall (West Indies): “Bowled very fast, with movement,” says Geoff. “Could and did sometimes cut his pace down and seam the ball around at a lively pace within himself. On subcontinent pitches he was highly successful because he was skiddy without losing pace. Tall guys banging it in on those pitches can have the life sucked out of the delivery.”
12. Dennis Lillee (Australia): “Very fast, very smart, very skilful – and he had a big heart,” says Geoff. “Wonderful control – a complete fast bowler.”
Geoffrey’s Ultimate Test Team Two
1. WG Grace (England): “Some people could say Grace played in an era of underarm bowling that evolved to round-arm bowling. But on poor pitches open to the British weather, the ball often jumped up at your face or shot along the deck! He took 3 000 first-class wickets and scored 54 896 runs with 126 hundreds. He was the first man to score 100 hundreds. Compare his deeds with his contemporaries and he was way above anyone else. He was a natural athlete and in 1866 won the National 440 yards title and two days later scored 244 not out for Gloucester against Surrey at the Oval.”
2. Len Hutton (England): “A great England and Yorkshire batsman but Hobbs and Sutcliffe as a pair have to play together, so Len opens the batting with WG,” says Geoff.
3. Viv Richards (West Indies): “The best at number 3 but even he can’t be above Bradman in the other XI,” says Geoff. “Brutal, devastating, a tremendous competitor who was a great of his era. A giant in a fantastic team.”
4. Wally Hammond (England): “Hammond and Bradman didn’t get on during the 1946 friendship tour of Australia,” says Geoff. “You can’t have two players who hate each other causing disunity, so I’ve separated them. Hammond took 700 first-class wickets bowling medium pace and was a great slip catcher. He scored 167 centuries and in 1928-29 he outscored Bradman in Australia.”
5. Brian Lara (West Indies): “A wonderful stroke player,” says Geoff. “Making the world Test match record score of 375 for West Indies vs England in 1994 would be the supreme achievement for most batsmen, but to do it twice is mind blowing – and that’s what he did when he made 400 not out in 2004. He also scored the highest individual score in first-class cricket – 501 not out for Warwickshire against Durham in 1994 – and from only 427 balls. Wow. Every cricketer would be happy to have just one of those records. Excellent judge of length and a huge range of shots.”
6. Imran Khan (Pakistan, captain): “Anyone who can handle the politics, tempestuous nature and talent of a team of Pakistani players has to be outstanding at handling people. A fast bowler who was a great exponent of reverse swing on dry or low slow pitches, he also batted well. Excellent all-rounder, a great leader of men.”
7. Adam Gilchrist (Australia): “Alan Knott was a better wicketkeeper but Gilchrist’s glovework was good enough. For a stumper, his batting was on another planet,” says Geoff. “Changed the role of keepers and a long line of fine keeper-batters have followed trying to emulate him.”
8. Bill O’Reilly (Australia): “Very tall, and a faster-than-normal wrist spinner,” says Geoff. “He didn’t toss it up much but created enormous pressure on batsmen by giving little to hit. Bradman said Bill O’Reilly was the best bowler he ever faced and was better than Barnes because he could bowl every ball that Barnes bowled, plus the googly. Barnes’s reply was, “I never needed it.” Barnes was a bit faster than Bill and swung the ball too, which Bill didn’t do much.”
9. Wasim Akram (Pakistan): “It is handy to have left-arm seam from a different angle,” says Geoff. “A tall man, he generated lots of pace and awkward bounce. Swung the new ball and could reverse swing the old ball devastatingly.”
10. Harold Larwood (England): “I must have Larwood in the opposition,” says Geoff. “Why? If Bradman is allowed to play his best, he can bat his side into a winning position. The only man to have cut Bradman down to half size was Larwood in the 1932-33 series in Australia. Larwood unsettled Bradman and also did some psychological damage to the great player because after that series they didn’t speak. There was too much feeling. It was personal. And regardless of all that, he was very fast and very accurate.”
11. Freddie Trueman (England): “Hardly ever got injured and took 307 Test wickets at 21.57 with a strike rate of 49, which is tremendous,” says Geoff. “Fred was not selected for 29 Tests because the ‘Establishment’ at that time were wary of characters. [England captain] Peter May said at the end of a long tiring day in the field Fred was the one bowler he could call on to come back and do the business.”
12. Muttiah Muralitharan (Sri Lanka): “Lovely lad and very likeable but my professional opinion is he threw it with that action. Anyway, I have to accept the ICC cleared it, so with his wickets and match-winning performances he has to be in. Great skill and huge spin either way with the doosra. Wonderful to watch.”
I then decided to have a go at picking an All-Time South Africa Test match XI and this is what I came up with. Please note that I didn’t spend hours on this, researching reports, averages and the like, so it is purely a squad of 12 that pretty much immediately came to mind. No doubt I probably have forgotten a player or two.
Possible All-Time SA Test match squad of 12
1 Barry Richards
2 Graeme Smith (captain)
3 Hashim Amla
4 Graeme Pollock
5 Jacques Kallis
6 AB de Villiers (wicketkeeper)
7 Shaun Pollock
8 Mike Procter
9 Hugh Tayfield
10 Dale Steyn
11 Alan Donald
12 Imran Tahir
* The Test match squads of 12 below are by no means the definitive squads either, as there have been so many outstanding players from our KZN schools. It was just a quick thumb suck. Guaranteed I have forgotten a name for a minute and left someone out.
Possible All-Time KZN Schools squad of 12
1 Barry Richards (DHS)
2 Jackie McGlew (Maritzburg College, captain)
3 Hashim Amla (DHS)
4 Kevin Pietersen (Maritzburg College)
5 Robin Smith (Northlands, now Northwood)
6 Lee Irvine wicketkeeper (DHS)
7 Shaun Pollock (Northlands, now Northwood)
8 Mike Procter (Hilton College)
9 Keshav Maharaj (Northwood
10 Hugh Tayfield (DHS)
11 Lungi Ngidi (Hilton College)
12 Richard Snell (DHS)
And I would love to see them play a Test match against this KZN Schools squad, which is:
1 Chris Smith (Northlands, now Northwood)
2 Trevor Goddard (DHS)
3 Wayne Madsen (Kearsney College)
4 Roy McLean (Hilton College)
5 Dale Benkenstein (Michaelhouse, captain)
6 Jonty Rhodes (Maritzburg College)
7 David Miller (Maritzburg College)
8 Trevor Madsen (Glenwood, wicketkeeper)
9 Richard McGlashan (Beachwood, now Northwood)
10 Trevor Packer (Alexandra)
11 Daryn Dupavillon (Maritzburg College)
12 Derek Crookes (Hilton College)
13 Errol Stewart (Westville)
I bet there are names I have forgotten. It is just a team I came up with. I tried not to include players I have written about in recent years. They have got enough to contend with in these challenging times.
“I remember struggling to sleep, my mind racing and hands sweating days before Saturday. The butterflies and excitement in the build-up during the week of a first team match were that much more intense for a Hilton/Michaelhouse.
“I still get goosebumps when I hear Brothers in Arms, the song that played during Main Quad war-cries on the Friday night.”
Thomas van der Hoven feature photo: Michaelhouse in possession on Meadows in the 5 May 2018 clash.
It is a measure of the impact the Hilton/Michaelhouse matches have on the participants when one learns that the comment above comes from a man who played 56 Tests for the Springboks before his career was sadly cut short at the age of 28. None other than the Michaelhouse Class of 2008’s Patrick Jonathan Lambie.
Of the 202 Hilton/Michaelhouse first XV rugby matches that have been played so far (Hilton won the inaugural match 6-0 in 1904) the Michaelhouse lads have won 99 with Hilton having won 93 and 10 of the matches having been drawn.
The excellent Murray Staats article that appeared in the Meander Chronicle May/June 2019 edition also mentions the rather unique scenario that played out in 1987 when the scorelines in the 2 matches were 7-7 and 9-9.
In a Covid-free world. this past Saturday, 12 June 2021 would have been the 205th match between the Hilton College and Michaelhouse first XVs. Because of Covid, however, this past Saturday marked the 3rd successive cancellation of this hallmark biannual event on the KZN and SA schools rugby calendar.
The last time the flagship rugby teams of Hilton and Michaelhouse met was on 15 June 2019 when Hilton prevailed 28-8 away on Meadows. Because of Covid the 2020 Hilton and Michaelhouse first teams never got the chance to experience what is a landmark event in the lives of everyone who has had the privilege of being a player in it over the last 118 years.
There was much hope and anticipation this year that the matches would take place – even if without spectators, which number in the thousands in a normal year.
Hilton, under the captaincy of number 8 and head of school Nick Hatton, had started the year with much promise, accounting for Northwood 31-6 away on 8 May in what, in recent times, was a late start to the season (because of Covid) before beating Durban High School (DHS) in convincing fashion 44-5 at home in their lone match on Gilfillan the following Saturday.
Then came the controversial call from government to ban school contact sports, despite government admitting that there was no evidence to suggest Covid was being transmitted during matches. Instead, government said, the virus was being spread outside the confines of the school grounds. Studies in Britain confirmed that there was no evidence to suggest Covid was being spread during matches.
Due to the delays in the school year and other Covid-related concerns, what would have been a very short season for Hilton anyway – just 7 matches were scheduled this year – has to date been cut down to the 2 matches already held. The matches that followed the DHS match – against Glenwood and Westville, which surely would have been hotly contested, were cancelled, as with this past Saturday’s Michaelhouse match.
There are still 2 matches left on the Hilton calendar, that against Kearsney College on 17 July and then Michaelhouse at home on 24 July in what would have been the return clash.
With the current Covid third wave issue, the prospects of these matches taking place appear almost nil. So for the second successive year, the two school’s premier rugby players will never know the thrill of being part of something that becomes a lifelong treasured memory for the participants.
As with Nick Hatton and Team Hilton, the disappointment for first XV fullback and captain Alexander Vermeulen and Team Michaelhouse must be profound.
Michaelhouse managed 4 matches before the cancellation, beating Clifton 30-5 in Durban before edging home side Kearsney 26-24. Then came 2 narrow defeats, going down 17-10 at Westville before a 12-3 loss to Glenwood 4 days later in their lone home match on Meadows.
Men of House still have 2 matches left on the calendar, at home to St Charles College on 17 July and then the away match versus Hilton on 24 July.
Of course this current scenario encompasses all KZN school winter contact sports so there are thousands of boys (in the context of this story) missing out on an experience that, for many of their predecessors, led to treasured memories and lifelong friendships.
Indeed, when Old Boys of the KZN10 schools gather, their teams and match-ups of yesteryear often form the opening lines of conversation and before long the fond reminiscences are being swapped back and forth.
With the school sporting calendar so congested as it is; competing sports treasure their time to shine during their allocated time slots through the year, allied to academic priorities, it seems that even if the Covid situation were to improve rapidly it would be too late for thoughts of squeezing in a Hilton/Michaelhouse rugby fixture somewhere.
We are all poorer for it.
The Kearsney Old Boys’ (Class of 2013) Du Preez twins, Jean-Luc and Dan, could soon be resuming their Springbok Test match careers after they got the nod in the 46-player Bok squad for the upcoming series of matches that includes the British & Irish Lions tour.
Swapping the Durban-based Sharks by joining their older brother Rob at the Sale Sharks in Manchester has been a revelation over the past 2 years in that the twins’ marked physicality appears to have been added to with a newfound nuance in passing skills and a more calculated temperament.
A huge physical presence, high workrates, big hits and imposing metre-adding carries are being more intelligently applied in their Sale Sharks incarnation and the twins’ (born 5 August 1995) Bok representation 3 years ago, followed by a fallow 2019 in terms of their Rugby World Cup Japan absence, might well get a boost this time round, perhaps even in the famed Springbok Bomb Squad off the replacements’ bench.
Dan has been an explosive, game-breaking factor pretty much exclusively at number 8 alongside his Sale Sharks number 9 (& Springbok World Cup-winning incumbent) scrumhalf Faf de Klerk. There is massive competition for places in this 2021 Boks group but it would be nice to see this 8/9 pair together in action for the Green & Gold at some point.
The more Test-experienced Jean-Luc (13 Bok Tests, 2 Bok Test tries), who followed Dan (4 Bok Tests) up north, has been primarily used by his Manchester club in the second row as well as at number 6 and his lock-flank-8thman versatility could make him a sought-after member to cover these key positions if the Boks’ #RWC2019 policy is continued this year with the 6-2 split instead of the conventional 5 forwards and 3 backs filling the replacements’ bench.
Apart from serious doubts about star Bok number 8 Duane Vermeulen’s fitness, of the 6 named Bok lock specialists, the rugby health of Lood de Jager and RG Snyman is a significant worry for the upcoming international matches.
So, choosing their moments and not flying in willy-nilly, this could be a year to cherish for Kearsney and its 2013 duo of Du Preez, whose time in the school water polo pool and the telepathy synonymous with twin-sets could make for some great interchanges.
# The Boks face Georgia on the Friday nights of July 2 and 9 before tackling the Lions on July 24 and 31, and 7 August. The South Africa A team will also come from the 46-man Bok squad and they take on the pride of Britain and Ireland on 14 July, a Wednesday.
Maritzburg College, the oldest boys’ school in KZN, continued its annual tradition recently by adding 4 new names for the year 2021 to its custom of honouring and celebrating its “Friends of College”.
Written by Maritzburg College
Maritzburg College has welcomed 4 new members into its “Friends of College” ranks. Started in 1994, this group was created to recognise, honour and celebrate people who, in a variety of ways, have given service to the school and to education. To date, there are over 120 members of the “Friends of College”, some of whom were present in the Victoria Hall on Friday evening, 4th June to welcome the newest members.
This year, Maritzburg College paid tribute to Dr Erna de Lange, Dr Lawrence Kriel, Mr Bruce Lesur and Mr Angus MacDonald.
Feature pic (from left to right): Maritzburg College headmaster Mr Chris Luman with the school’s latest ‘Friends of College” – Dr Lawrence Kriel, Dr Erna de Lange, Mr Bruce Lesur and Mr Angus MacDonald.
Dr Erna de Lange has spent a lifetime in education, obtaining her doctorate on the value of structured pre-formal education, which later became the Grade R model currently used in schools. She has served as a principal and later as a lecturer in the field of Education Management, Education Law and Professional Ethics.
Erna has also served as both Trustee and later Provincial Executive Officer of the KZN chapter of the Governing Body Foundation. She is known to be an outspoken advocate, championing and supporting Governing Bodies and principals, as they charter often complicated waters of leadership.
A font of knowledge and advice, an inspirational mentor and a voice of sound, calm reason for many principals, Erna has had a long association with Maritzburg College, providing incredible support and always having the school’s best interests at heart – a true “Friend of College”.
Dr Lawrence Kriel’s journey at Maritzburg College started in 2012 when his son Jared entered 2nd form (grade 8) and he began assisting at the first-aid facility at Goldstones, working with Sister Ann, Ms Greyling, the paramedics, and later Sister Kylie.
From stitching to diagnosing, Lawrence has looked after countless College boys over the years, mainly rugby players, but also sometimes the hockey lads and even a spectator or two, and continued to assist College long after his son matriculated in 2016, right up to 2019, before Covid put an end to school sport.
The high quality of Maritzburg College’s first aid service is the envy of many schools around South Africa and, at times has been the benchmark for many other schools. This is, in part, due to the input of doctors like Lawrence Kriel – a real “Friend of College”.
Angus McDonald arrived at Maritzburg College from Eshowe in January 1996 and, in time, became a prefect, represented the school at athletics and played for the 2nd cricket XI and the 2nd rugby XV.
Having successfully headed up the Zululand Rugby Academy for 4 years, Angus joined the College staff as the Director of Rugby in late 2008, holding the position until the end of 2010, when he returned to Zululand. During his tenure at College, Angus showed himself to be not only endlessly energetic and passionate, but also engaging and compassionate, and was well liked and respected by staff, Old Boys and parents.
Angus has remained a roving Ambassador-at-Large for the school in Zululand, regularly encouraging promising young men to apply to College, and has also been financially very supportive of various boys, as well as of the school’s Skonk Nicholson Rugby Festival – he remains a most worthy “Friend of College”.
Bruce Lesur matriculated from College in 1989 and is currently a farmer in the Umshwathi area, where he lives with his wife Michelle. Their son Gary matriculated from College in 2018 as a 5th generation College Boy. Bruce played 1st team rugby for Maritzburg College in 1989 and was fearsome in both attack and defence – a typical “College boy” trait that his son, Gary, emulated when representing the 1st rugby team himself.
It was during this time that Bruce showed his tremendous ability to lead, and his willingness to give of his time and expertise for College, both as a parent and Old Boy, serving on various committees and eventually as President of the Maritzburg College Old Boys’ Association.
Bruce has continued his involvement in the Association and currently serves as its vice-president. Maritzburg College recognises the loyalty, goodwill and incredible contribution Bruce has made to the school – a true “Friend of College”.
Grand Slam-winning tennis star Andy Murray’s mother, Judy, makes some telling points in reflecting on how it feels as a parent when watching your child going through a difficult interview with media.
Feature photo: The then 19-year-old Andy Murray a picture of despair during a press interview, having lost at the 2006 French Open. AP
Most young sportspeople of exceptional talent are not necessarily prepared for the spotlight that comes outside the confines – or relative freedom – of the playing field. It is easy to be caught off-guard by an unexpected enquiry.
After all, as a child you first want to play, actually compete, and – hopefully – win. That is your focus; not being asked questions that can be tricky to answer.
And with the overwhelming focus of social media, those unexpected questions can lead to a long tail of comments by persons who (i) may not even know you and/or the circumstances, and/or (ii) do not have sufficient grasp of the issue to be in a position to comment with authority. But comment… some certainly will.
Of the pressures on a young athlete, there is also the age-gap. Often those persons asking the questions or commenting on the responses are considerably older than the person in question (no pun intended). This can also lead to misunderstandings in what the young person being interviewed actually meant.
This Judy Murray passage from her article in this morning’s Telegraph warrants being stated in full:
“When you step into an interview room, there are so many potential pitfalls. If you’ve won, you’re excited and in danger of feeling so relaxed and happy that something slips out and gets you into trouble.
“It’s tougher, though, when you’ve lost. You’re much more likely to become upset or to bristle at a provocative question – and we all know that anger, tears, feuds and gossip make for good stories.
“The whole situation takes me back to when Andy was young and really struggled with the press-conference environment. He wanted to compete in big stadiums in front of huge crowds, not to be asked about whether his shorts were too big, or whether he should get a haircut, have a shave or smile more often.”
Remember, he was still a teenager; he just wanted to win matches. End of.
Judy, who has a lot of experience in tennis as a player and coach herself, arranged for the then 19-year-old Andy to undergo a course in media training
“The idea was to help Andy deal with the attention, the adverse comments, and know which subjects to avoid. You’ve got a coach at that age, teaching you how to hit your shots and plan a match strategy, but few young players can afford a PR consultant as well.”
English media professional Jonathan Overend gave the young Andy (then 19) the best advice, whilst sharing a taxi, says Judy.
“Jonathan… made some great suggestions on how to handle press conferences and interviews,” says Judy.
“Speak about your tactics, how the weather was affecting play, and what the momentum switches were. Do the press conference on your terms. It was common sense but a real light-bulb moment.
“If you don’t want to bring emotions into the picture; then you can be more analytical. Instead of saying, ‘I’m upset because I lost’, say ‘I missed a chance at this moment’, or ‘I need to go away and work on such-and-such.’
“The other thing we [Judy and Andy] did was to watch press conferences of players who handle them really well.
“Andy Roddick and Roger Federer were two of them. They were so good at taking an awkward question and turning it around so that they could get their message across. They also used humour brilliantly. Yes, they were older, but that’s the best way to learn. Study those who do it well.”
Judy goes on to say that more attention should be focused on this aspect of the recognition that comes with sporting success.
“Being comfortable and confident in front of a microphone is so important. It’s just not the sort of thing that a young athlete is thinking about when they’re trying to establish themselves…”
I didn’t realise quite how distinguished a career and life Sir Andy Murray’s mom has had. Google “Judy Murray tennis” and you will see in Wikipedia that she has done quite a bit. Judy actually wrote the article. Her piece was prompted by the decision of the world’s highest-paid female athlete, Naomi Osaka of tennis fame, to boycott press conferences. If needs be, Google and you will be up-to-speed with this ongoing saga.