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Records and Rankings

Apart from the sideshow created by the Kevin Pietersen saga, the last “text match”, as it was dubbed in the media, gets underway at Lords today. At stake are the series and the number 1 world ranking – indeed everything to gain, but also a lot to lose!

Graeham Smith

Graeme Smith

Firstly, congratulations to Graeme Smith who today becomes the most capped captain of test matches (94) breaking the record set by Allan Border, the Australian skipper in the late 80’s and early 90’s.  The English captain, Andrew Strauss, plays his 100th test for the “Three Lions” today – a marvellous achievement which deserves all the plaudits he gets.

The game has an uneasy feel for me; the English had huge press coverage which overshadowed the build-up of this test and it has been a major distraction for the ECB and their test side. Yet they will be desperate to prove that they can win without Kevin Pietersen  and thus justify his exclusion and hold on to their number 1 ranking. To do that though, they would need to make the play and force a result! The sometimes conservative approach of Strauss will be tested and could be found wanting.    

Expect a clinical and ruthless approach from the Proteas; Smith wants this badly and so does his team – don’t be surprised if our fearless leader leads this charge with the bat, with King Kallis as keen to get his name on the honours board too!

The wicket will turn a bit as I believe the preparation has been geared towards the inclusion of Graeme Swann. With two relatively new players in the English team – Bairstow and Taylor – a lot is expected from Strauss, Cook, Bell and Trott to handle the SA attack. Perhaps a bit much is expected from them as Steyn, Morkel, Philander, Tahir and Kallis will be keen to make inroads in that batting line-up which has been severely weakened by the exclusion of England’s best player. 

I sense the Protea hunger will be bigger than that of the English but as you and I know, this game loves to surprise us when we least expect it.

Good luck boys – Go Proteas
– By Bobby Londt

Rugby Championship kicks off

With all due Respect…

I came across this information on the NZ Herald rugby page this week:

On Sunday, the Senior All Blacks held a meeting with the squad’s newcomers to ensure they recognise the importance of the looming challenge against Australia.

Coaches were invited but the gathering on Sunday was organised and led by the old hands, including captain Richie McCaw and veteran hooker Keven Mealamu, who spelled out exactly what was expected of the squad ahead of Saturday’s Rugby Championship opener against the Wallabies in Sydney.

“It’s respect more than anything,” said utility back Tamati Ellison of the theme of the evening. “Respect for the jersey, the Australians, the Bledisloe Cup.

Dis geen geheim dat ek ‘n groot bewonderaar van die All Blacks is nie. Let wel, bewonderaar, nie ondersteuner nie. Ek bepleit allermins dat ons die All Blacks slaafs moet navolg. Dit is ‘n sikliese ding dat ‘n sekere span vir ‘n tyd die pas aangee, en ander dan weer met innoverende gedagtes by hulle verby skuif.

So lief as wat ons vir die Bokke is, so seer maak dit as jy begin respek verloor vir jou span. Daar was ‘n tyd toe so ‘n moontlikheid begin ontstaan het. Mens het op ‘n stadium gewonder of die Boktrui vir sommige spelers nog belangriker is as die tjek aan die einde van die dag.

Seker die grootste hartewens van elke Springbok ondersteuner is dat ons weer ‘n slag die kitaar slaan. Soos die All Blacks, het ons ‘n opwindende samestelling van jeug en ervaring, met die hoogs bedrewe ouer manne wat die koppe moet koel hou as die druk hoog raak.

Respek vir ons tradisie en geskiedenis behoort by ons ook die grootste motiveerder te wees.

Of is dit ‘n uitgediende waarde?

Springbok Team Selection

My colleague and neighbour, Bobby, has an affinity for things blue, and regards all my criticism of certain players as stemming from their provincial orientation, rather than merit. Then Tony Calitz in Durban keeps reminding me of the one time when I voiced the opinion that Keegan Daniel should be dropped from the Sharks side.

Mens kan nie wen nie, maar sien jy vrees in my oë?

The side chosen for Saturday is probably the strongest side in years. Selection on merit, rather than experience, was forced on Heyneke by the injury to Pierre Spies. The return of Frans Steyn for Wynand Olivier certainly strengthens the backline, and the return of Andries Bekker provides more experience in the second row, which was lacking against the English. Willem Alberts had to be included after his sterling performance against the English.

Ja Bobbie, ek weet jy sal nou weer sê al vier die spelers wat vervang is, is Bulle, maar onthou dat Kirchner darem vir Lambie vervang. Na my uiters beskeie mening is die bes gebalanseerde span wat ons in die veld kan stoot, en hulle behoort goeie rekenskap van hulself te kan gee.

Many moons ago, when Nelie Smith coached the Pumas, they nearly beat the Boks. They had two major weapons: their fearsome pack, and a mercurial flyhalf called Hugo Porta. The same test awaits the Boks on Saturday. I sincerely hope that they will not be caught napping.

Ek kry vanoggend ‘n briefie van Piet Wiese op Brits on dankie te sê dat ek hom aangeraai het om die regulatoriese eksamens in Engels te skryf, aangesien sy studie materiaal in Engels was. Hy eindig sy brief af met die woorde: “Mag dit reën waar jou bokke wei.”

Pragtige woorde, wat ek baie ter harte neem.

Net bly hy net nie gesê “… waar jou Bokke speel nie.”
– By Paul Kruger

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