Cobras aim to be more clinical against Knights

South Africa

The Cape Cobras must be more clinical with bat, ball and as a fielding unit in order to utilize opportunities and transform potential match-changing moments into bonus point wins.

This was the frank assessment of the assistant coach, Faiek Davids.

He spoke in the build-up to the Sunfoil Series clash against the defending champions, the Knights, at the Recreation Ground in Oudtshoorn starting on Friday from 10:00.

The Cobras selectors picked the dynamic duo of Kyle Simmonds, a left-arm orthodox spinner, and the 19-year-old left-arm swing bowler Michael Cohen in an extended squad for the trip to Oudtshoorn.

Simmonds recently averaged 136.50 with the bat in the South African Emerging Tour of Zimbabwe and was the leading wicket-taker, grabbing 15 wickets. Cohen nabbed out six wickets. On his first-class debut, he finished with a match-haul of 6-49.

After two rounds of Sunfoil Series fixtures, the WSB Cape Cobras currently have 21.30 points. They are within touching distance of the table-topping VKB Knights, who boast 28.96 points.

During an impressive net session on Wednesday, the world-class cricketer and former test stalwart JP Duminy helped Ashwell Prince, the WSB Cape Cobras head coach, and Davids during the net session. He assisted with throw-downs while offering some pearls of wisdom to the Cape Cobras’ batsmen.

Rory Kleinveldt, former South African test and One Day International star, took charge of the bowlers.

The South African bowling ace Vernon Philander was also at the nets to share his professional knowledge and experience.

Philander, man of the series against Australia last season, was sidelined for the Bangladesh series due to injury.

Stiaan van Zyl took full part in the net session on Wednesday after his return from the UK.
The stylish left-handed former South African top-order batsman struck 1023 runs for Sussex in 2017. It was his first county-season.

The top-order batsman Justin Ontong came through the batting session unscathed. That was despite nursing an injury to his right index finger which required the use of a plastic splint.

Ontong is confident of playing against the Knights.

He recently hammered a magnificent match-saving 128 against them. He subsequently struck a swashbuckling half-century against the Warriors.

Davids said the management team has addressed the batting with the top and middle order and has set high standards for them.

“We felt that scores of 400 or 450 are not good enough.

“We actually could have scored 600 or 650 (against the Warriors). We have addressed that with the players and they have accepted the challenge. Hundreds are not necessarily good enough. We need to convert those scores (into something more substantial).

“In terms of the bowling attack, there should not be excuses. It is about executing your skills and taking 20 wickets to win matches. Yes, we were bowling on flat tracks, but we created opportunities to possibly change match situations.

“We should be grabbing those opportunities,” he added.

Davids lamented the missed opportunities in the field in the first two games. Some catches that were not necessarily difficult, did not go to hand.

There was one occasion on which a Warriors player was caught behind off his first delivery, and admitted afterwards he was gone, but the fateful finger was not raised.

“We have to be more clinical,” Davids said.

“We have the personnel to win matches, and I’m not just talking about the squad of 13, but the full professional squad,” he added.

Nicky Bojé, the Knights coach, said 21 centuries have been struck in the first two matches which underlines the flatness of the tracks.

Although he feels upbeat about the batting in the first match against the Cape Cobras, there is some room for improvement as a bowling unit.

“We had been without Duanne Olivier and Marchant de Lange, but Marchant is back for the game against the Cobras.

“If you want to win the competition, you require a couple of bowlers to take almost 40 wickets each.

“We are on top in terms of the log position, but if we can win one or two matches, it will create a substantial gap,” he added.

The Knights possess a strong batting line-up, bolstered by the presence of David Miller.

The Cobras, however, are equally impressive. They have a star batting line-up which is lengthened by the presence of the dynamic Kyle Verreynne.

The top-six have produced five centuries this season, and the team have completed two double-century stands and 12 other fifty-run partnerships.

The Cape Cobras squad: Dane Piedt (capt), Michael Cohen, Zubayr Hamza, Simon Khomari, Pieter Malan, Aviwe Mgijima, Tshepo Moreki, Justin Ontong, Andrew Puttick, Kyle Simmonds, Jason Smith, Kyle Verreynne, Lizaad Williams.