Last season was a disaster for Western Cape cricket with the off field shenanigans and on field performances that blighted the team. Former coach Paul Adams was taken to task by senior players and the World Sports Betting Cape Cobras – yes a mouthful – ended last in the Momentum One Day Cup and did not fare much better in the CSA T20 Challenge either.
Their Sunfoil Series started badly, losing three of their first five matches with two draws before the Cobras management decided to name Adams as the WP Academy coach and instil former middle-order Proteas batsman, Ashwell Prince, as the new head coach.
Prince’s effect was almost immediate as the Cobras bounced back in the second half of the Sunfoil season, winning three from five games to end third on the log while heading into the final round of games with an outside chance of actually winning the title!
“The style of cricket he wants us to play is an aggressive brand of bat and ball and that is the reason we ended last season the way we did in the four-day competition,” said captain, Dane Piedt.
“His character comes through to us in the team and it rubs off on all the players and that was a prime example of how we could go out there and express ourselves last season,” added Piedt, who has played seven tests for the Proteas, capturing 24 wickets.
Barring the nine senior players in the Cobras squad, the remaining thirteen players combine for an average age of just 24 years but this does not present a problem to the 27-year old captain. “We have a young squad and we don’t want to use that as an excuse. We just want to go out there and express ourselves again.”
“We didn’t give ourselves the best opportunity to do that last year. We now have a clean slate, we’ve had a good pre-season and we are ready to go out there and express ourselves. Silverware will always be a goal and the coach spoke to us about it,” said Piedt.
The Cape side have also been boosted by the return of Proteas stalwart, Temba Bavuma while JP Duminy’s presence in the side will also bode well for the Cobras, with Duminy having been dumped by the national selectors during the England series.
“It has been very good for us, (Duminy) being in and around the nets the last couple of weeks since he returned from England. It will be key how the youngsters form around JP as he is a big player for Western Cape cricket,” said Piedt of the 33-year old Proteas batsman.
“Having Temba is also very good for us, we are very good friends and I spoke to him about coming home. He will have some responsibility being a senior player and that will give him some confidence going into the new season,” added Piedt.
Qaasim Adams is also back in the Western Cape after having spent some time with the Multiply Titans but the Cobras have lost one of their key players in wicketkeeper, Dane Vilas. The 32-year old has moved on up the coast and will ply his trade with the Hollywoodbets Dolphins and seems to be in excellent form, having made a career-best 224 for Lancashire in England recently.
“Dane was here for six or seven years and he was a big player for us, he had some big seasons and it was sad to see him leave but we have an excellent young player in Kyle Verreynne. We just have to move on unfortunately,” stated Piedt.
The 20-year old former Wynberg Boys High pupil has some big shoes to fill but feels confident in the top-order, having recently made 70 in the number three slot during a pre-season game against the Warriors in Oudtshoorn. But Verreynne will have the experience of Andrew Puttick and Pieter Malan at the top of the order to guide him as well as the likes of Stiaan van Zyl and Justin Ontong around him.
” Putters (Puttick) is like a very good red wine, he just matures as time goes on. He is a big player for us, considering he’s been with us for something like 18 years,” said Piedt.
“He has the right to call time on his career but we hope that he will still be with us for the next couple of years. He has worked hard over the winter and we are looking forward to him and Pieter up top to give us good starts,” added Piedt.
The Cobras begin their four-day campaign against the current champions, the VKB Knights, at the Mangaung Oval in Bloemfontein on Tuesday 19 September and are raring to get their new season under way with all hands on deck and a passion to play good cricket.
“We are all good. Tsepo Moreki was our biggest concern on the injury front but he came through the warm ups well so for all intents and purposes he looks good. Everyone else is raring to go,” ended Piedt.