Bavuma, Philander part of Cobras pre-season warm-up games

SA Domestic

The Cape Cobras ignited and united by a preseason period of 11 weeks, will be bolstered by the return of two international stars, Temba Bavuma and Vernon Philander, when they embark on their tour to the Recreation Ground in Oudtshoorn.

The Cobras will play in two two-day warm-up games against the Warriors from 8th to the 14th September, separated by a rest day on the 11th.

Faiek Davids, assistant coach of the Cobras, said the whole squad (with the exception of the overseas-based players Richard Levi, Rory Kleinveldt and Stiaan van Zyl) will be on tour.

The Boland squad members who depart for duty in the Africa T20 Cup, Simon Khomari, Justin Ontong, Lizaad Williams and Pieter Malan, will only be available for the first franchise warm-up game.

The rehabilitation of Philander, who missed the final Test against England with a back spasm, will be monitored and discussed with the national team management, but he might play in Oudtshoorn depending on his fitness, said Davids.

There is even a chance that he might only feature as a batsman. Bavuma will definitely play, the assistant coach added.

Davids said one of the goals for the season is to play a positive brand of cricket, reminiscent of the second half of last season when the team won three out of five four-day clashes.

“We not only want to score centuries, but big hundreds, not to save games but to win them. The team wants to bat deep and open up, scoring tons to set up games,” he added.

The Cobras boast a strong middle-order and there is depth in the bowling department.

In terms of the top-order, there might be a challenge for Malan and Khomari for who will partner Andrew Puttick.

Davids said it was imperative for the team to hit the ground running. The team had a “fantastic” pre-season and the unity in the squad is special. There are no excuses and it is vital for the Cobras to get off to a flyer.

They will meet the VKB Knights in the opening four-day match of the season at the Mangaung Oval from 19th to 22nd September, followed by a clash with the Warriors at the St. George’s Park in Port Elizabeth from 28th September to 1st October.

Hashim Amla will be available for the opening match of the season against the Knights, which will open up different combinations, said Davids.

“There are so many options available to us in the top-order as we look at Jason Smith, Malan (a possibility at number three), Justin Ontong, Zubayr Hamza and Aviwe Mgijima. We are in a very good space as a team,” he said.

“One obvious aim is to strike more centuries this season,” Davids said.

“The advent of T20 cricket has changed the game. More players, even at Test level, are using shots like the reverse sweep to advance the scoring rate,” he said.

But he emphasized the importance of game awareness and reading the phase of the match. Although the players must open up, there are stages when consolidation is necessary in order to rebuild, and phases where the players need to be more aggressive.

Analysing match situations correctly is a vital ingredient for the Cobras to excel, he added.

The Cobras will host the Knights at the Recreation Ground from the 6th to the 9th October, and the Warriors from 16th to 19th October at Newlands.

The Cape side will return to the Recreation Ground from 23rd to 26th October against the Hollywoodbets Dolphins to conclude the first half of the Sunfoil series of 2017/2018.