Was ‘prepared’ to lose T20 captaincy – Botha

Category : News

Johan Botha, the South Africa allrounder, has admitted to being “disappointed but prepared” after being stripped of the national Twenty20 captaincy earlier this year. Botha was announced as Graeme Smith’s successor to lead the Twenty20 team in August last year and was widely tipped to become ODI captain as well, but lost out on both jobs when AB de Villiers was named captain in June.

“The captain must be the first pick in the team and with all the spinners around at the moment it’s difficult to say who the No.1 is, so I knew it was unlikely I would become captain,” Botha told ESPNCricinfo. Botha’s ascendency was forced backward during the 2011 World Cup, when the emergence of Pakistan-born legspinner Imran Tahir and the form of left-arm spinner Robin Peterson left him fighting for his place in the starting XI.

Botha’s suspicions that he would not be the next captain were confirmed when Andrew Hudson, convenor of selectors, hinted that the appointment would aim to promote continuity. “I thought they would look for someone who would be able to take over from Graeme [Smith] as Test captain one day and so that would mean looking for someone who plays all three formats, so I knew it couldn’t be me – I don’t play all formats,” he said. Botha has only played in five Tests in his career, as a second-spinner behind Paul Harris.

de Villiers’ was unveiled as captain in June, when Botha was overseas, contracted as a Twenty20 professional in the United Kingdom by county side Northamptonshire. Having almost expected it, Botha was able to deal with his emotions maturely. “I was busy playing and so I got over the disappointment quickly,” he said.

He is able to acknowledge the credentials of his colleague with no malice and is even hoping he will be able to play a part in assisting de Villiers. “He is a great player and he will do a good job. I think it this will really lift his game,” Botha said. “I will give him as much as he can take. It’s not every day that you ask for something of the senior players but sometimes you do need them in a match situation and I will contribute then.”

More pressing in Botha’s mind is wresting back his berth in the side. “I didn’t get as many wickets as Imran or Robin in the World Cup but I did my job, which was to contain at one end so guys got wickets at the other end.” Botha has been hailed for his ability to boss over the middle overs of the match with the ball and squeeze the opposition for runs. He thinks there is still room for him to play that role in that future. “Morne [Morkel], Dale [Steyn] and Imran are all attacking bowlers and you can’t only have that. Even though Lopsy [Lonwabo Tsotsobe] can play a containing role, he bowls with the new ball so batsmen will take him on.”

Botha’s edge may lie in his all-round ability. “I think my batting will help me stay in contention,” he said. During this year’s IPL, Botha was promoted to number three in the batting line-up for Rajasthan Royals by Shane Warne and played some match-winning knocks. “I don’t think I will be able to bat that high up the order for South Africa, because of the quality of players we have here, like JP Duminy and Colin Ingram, but hopefully my performances [in the IPL] put something into someone’s mind.” With the lower middle-order exposed for being brittle at the World Cup, the least it could have done was give the selectors an idea of how to strengthen it.

South Africa’s first task of the summer will be to take on Australia, a rivalry that has always attracted interest. The last time the two teams played a series, Botha captained South Africa to victory in the Twenty20-leg. Botha is looking forwarded to playing the Australians again, especially because they are likely to have his Royals’ team-mate Shane Watson in the mix. “He wasn’t in the side the last time we played them and I’ve seen what he can do; he can win games single-handedly.”

Botha marvelled at Watson’s solo efforts during the IPL from up-close and is now back home and about to embark on an extreme solo performance of his own. This weekend, Botha will spend 24 hours cycling at St George’s Park in Port Elizabeth to raise money for three educational charities. It’s Botha’s fourth appearance in the gruelling event. How does he plan to combat the inevitable exhaustion that will creep in? “When you’re scared of falling off, that’s what keeps you on.”

Source: ESPN CricInfo – July 26, 2011 / FIRDOSE MOONDA

Mini-cricket inspiration from Proteas stars

Category : News

Cricket South Africa and KFC are inspiring young players and their coaches through the KFC Mini-Cricket programme. On Monday, coaches in Nelspruit met newly appointed Proteas ODI and Pro20 captain AB de Villiers and fast bowler Lonwabo Tsotsobe.

The two Proteas visited the KFC Mini-Cricket national seminar and shared some of their cricketing stories with the coaches, while answering questions.

De Villiers spoke about his days as a young boy playing backyard cricket and how his coaches were an inspiration for him to always do his best.

‘Important’

“You will never understand how important the role of the coach is in a young boy or girl’s cricket life,” said de Villiers, who is also a KFC Mini-Cricket ambassador.

“All I ever wanted when I was little was to have my coach watch me as I hit the ball far or took a really good catch.

“It means the world to a child to know your achievements are being noticed.”

Tsotsobe shared his story about the beginning of his cricket career through mini-cricket in Port Elizabeth. “It all started with someone seeing something special in me,” Tsotsobe said, as he spoke about the importance of having a good relationship with your coaching staff.

“I believe that it is important to have trust and communication between player and coach in order for a player to give of his best,” he added.

‘Respect’

“I have so much respect for these coaches who are pushing for kids who are just like I was back in the day.”

“I was not only excited to see AB de Villiers, but happy to hear him speak,” coach Jamie Lee Bowker said at the end of the session. “Now we can see what it is that the kids we are coaching are playing towards.”

Cricket South Africa CEO Gerald Majola commented: “It is important to have members of the Proteas here for the coaches to be able to share the stories that they were told by someone like AB (de Villiers) with the children they coach.

“Having national players take time off their personal lives to come through to the seminar shows just how important all of us at CSA take the KFC Mini-Cricket programme and how much we value the individuals involved in this programme.”

About KFC Mini-Cricket

KFC sponsors 16 regional mini cricket festivals annually. The game is played with a soft ball and teaches children the joy of participating in a team sport.

Mini cricket provides children with a foundation for the game by teaching the basics of batting, bowling, and fielding.

The KFC mini cricket section on the Cricket South Africa website also takes it a step further by providing a number of videos covering “warm up”, “hand eye coordination”, “speed work”, “balance”, and “the obstacle course”.

According to KFC, mini cricket is “more than just about the game; it’s an opportunity to teach children valuable life lessons and social skills, such as teamwork and discipline, while promoting a balanced and active lifestyle.

“It creates memorable family moments with many parents and teachers assisting in the coaching and running of the programme, providing an entertaining day out for the whole family to enjoy”.

Source: SouthAfrica.info – July 5, 2011