Kevin Sinfield calls on England to empty tanks against South Africa

By Sports Desk October 20, 2023

Kevin Sinfield has demanded England’s players empty the tanks in Saturday’s World Cup semi-final against South Africa to ensure they are not left with lifelong regrets.

For eight of the starting XV it is the chance to avenge their defeat to the Springboks in the 2019 final when the expectations generated by a thumping victory over New Zealand a round earlier were ground into the Yokohama Stadium turf.

Steve Borthwick’s England were given little hope of challenging for South Africa’s crown due a dismal series of warm-up fixtures which extended their losing run to five defeats in six Tests, yet they are the only unbeaten side left in the tournament.

Defence coach Sinfield sees the benefit of continuing to confront adversity head on at the Stade de France.

“I am certainly not overwhelmed. I understand the challenge in front of us,” the English rugby league great said.

“But I don’t mind being backed into a corner, don’t mind being written off, don’t mind being slammed, don’t mind being in the thick of a pretty tough circumstance.

“I just think that we’re in a World Cup semi-final, there is a lot of good in us, there are a lot of things to be excited about.

“Coming up against South Africa will let us know where we’re at. But for our players, they are so excited to be out there.

“Rewind eight weeks to the end of August and it was pretty grim for us, but we want them to absolutely rip into it on Saturday night.

“We want them to give everything they’ve got, otherwise you end up with a load of regrets for the rest of your life.

“We are really looking forward to this – we are coming up against the best team in the world at the weekend.”

England have a mix of ages in their squad ranging from 22-year-old George Martin to 36-year-old Dan Cole and Sinfield believes that the final message to the squad before they take the field needs to be delivered with more subtlety in the modern era.

“It’s probably more subtle than Churchillian speeches and understanding that leadership has changed and this generation is different,” Sinfield said.

“Gone is the big Churchillian leader. They do exist but they’re quite rare.”

South Africa director of rugby Rassie Erasmus is adept at what Warren Gatland describes as “dark arts”, such as using mind games to give his side an edge.

The most recent example is the suggestion that the Springboks used HIAs in their quarter-final victory over France to give forwards Duane Vermeulen, Pieter-Steph du Toit and Bongi Mbonambi a rest – a claim denied by Erasmus.

Attack coach Richard Wigglesworth insists England are ready for any scheming but believe the match will be decided in other areas.

“I’m sure that, with the smarts of their coaching team, they will try to throw stuff at us, no doubt. Will that be the winning and losing of this game? Probably not,” Wigglesworth said.

“It will probably be the big bits of the game that decides that and then they’ll give those little nuances a chance.

“I wouldn’t like to guess what they are going to try and do because I know they will watch and hear everything we say. I wouldn’t like to try and give anyone a head start.”

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    The initiative which CWI says forms part of its corporate social responsibility efforts. The regional body provided 2,685 tickets to students, 412 to teachers, and 198 tickets to players from the Under-15, Under-17 and Uner-19 teams, ensuring these young athletes have the chance to experience top-tier cricket action.

    The Schools Ticketing Programme, a central element of this initiative, is designed to immerse young minds in the thrill of cricket, offering them the opportunity to witness international matches and develop a lasting passion for the sport.

    CWI President, Dr. Kishore Shallow, underscored the importance of cultivating a strong cricket culture across the region, and this he said reflects his administration’s ongoing commitment to youth engagement and sports development.

    "We are keen to help revitalize cricket in Jamaica. Introducing the children to cricket is vital for the future of the sport in Jamaica and the entire region. By bringing students to these matches, we are not only providing them with an enjoyable experience but also nurturing an appreciation and love for cricket that can grow with them,” Shallow said.

    "This Schools Ticketing Programme initiative is about more than just watching a game; it's about creating a connection with the sport that can inspire future generations,” he added.

    Recently-elected Jamaica Cricket Association (JCA) President Dr. Donovan Bennett, expressed enthusiasm for the initiative and its potential impact.

    "We are thrilled to collaborate with CWI for this Schools Ticketing Programme. This initiative promotes cricket and instils values of teamwork, discipline, and perseverance in our young people," he said.

    "By exposing students to live cricket matches, they are getting a deeper understanding and appreciation for the game. This experience is invaluable for their personal and athletic development,” Dr. Bennett noted.

    West Indies won Thursday’s first game by 28 runs. The remaining two matches of the series are scheduled for Saturday, May 25 and Sunday, May 26 at the same venue. Start time is 2:00pm.

  • King leads the way as West Indies see off South Africa in T20I opener King leads the way as West Indies see off South Africa in T20I opener

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    It was a welcome return of international cricket to Sabina Park, even moreso for stand-in captain Brandon King, who led from the front as West Indies downed South Africa by 28 runs in the first of their three Twenty20 (T20) warm-up encounters on Thursday.

    King, who is leading the team for the first time on his home soil, gave the decent size crowd much to cheer about with a well-played 79 off 45 balls, which assisted the Caribbean side to 175-8 from their allotment, before Matthew Forde (3-27), Gudakesh Motie (3-25) and Obed McCoy (2-15), restricted South Africa to 147 in 19.5 overs.

    Despite the absence of the main scoreboard –which has been out for almost four years now –as well as an underprepared tabled press area, King and company ensured that the first international game at the venue since 2022, was a successful one.

    The 29-year-old, who is deputizing for compatriot Rovman Powell, attributed his Player-of-the-Match knock, which included six fours and six maximums, to the familiar conditions.

    “Obviously it is leading up to the World Cup so we want to be playing good cricket and we got the win today, so we are happy with that and I think we played well all around,” King said in a post-game interview.

    “I had the advantage of knowing the conditions well and I know that it is easiest to bat when it’s the new ball so I had to try and get a good start and I executed well. At the mid-way point I think we had 200-220 in mind as we had wickets in hand but it is a difficult wicket to bat on when the ball gets older, but we still managed to get a competitive total on this wicket,” he added.

    After being asked to take first strike, King started positively, but lost opening partner Johnson Charles (one) in the fourth over with the score at 36.

    However, he found another useful ally in Kyle Mayers, and the added a further 79 runs for the second wicket, with King, the aggressor raising his 10th international half-century off 27 balls in the sixth over when he drove a length delivery from Lungi Ngidi to the midwicket boundary.

    The skipper continued to take the South African bowlers to task, before he eventually went, reaching for one of Andile Phehlukwayo that came off the toe of the bat and was caught by his opposite number Rassie van der Dussen.

    Still, at 115-2 after 11 overs, West Indies remained on course for a massive total, but then came the familiar collapse as they lost three wickets in quick succession. Mayers was first to go for a 25-ball 34, including three sixes and a solitary four, with Andre Fletcher (one) and Fabian Allen (one) following.

    In fact, apart from vice-captain Roston Chase, who made a measured unbeaten 32 off 30 balls, which had two fours and a six, none of the batsmen got into double figures.

    Phehlukwayo (3-28) and Ottneil Baartman (3-26) did the damage for South Africa.

    In reply, South Africa started with Quinton De Cock driving Matthew Forde’s first ball, a full length delivery, straight down the ground. However, the 22-year-old Barbadian responded immediately as he served up another full length delivery, just around off stump, which forced de Kock into another drive, but the left-hander got a slight edge and Andre Fletcher made no mistakes behind the stumps.

    Debutant Ryan Rickelton (six) also had a brief stay in the middle, and from there, the visitors laboured, despite Reeza Hendricks making his 15th T20 international half-century. Hendricks, who was ninth man out with just two balls left of the innings, made a career-best 87 off 51 balls with six sixes and six fours.

    Captain Rassie van der Dussen (17) and Matthew Breetzke (19) were the only other South African batsmen to reach double figures.

    The second and third games of the series are scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, at the same venue, ahead of the much-anticipated June-1-29 T20 World Cup hosted in the Caribbean and United States.

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