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THERE are few more streetwise cricketers around than Charl Langeveldt. And that’s not only because he spent his formative years working as a warder at the Drakenstein Prison.
Langeveldt understands the nuances of cricket, especially the subtleties of pace and swing bowling. There have been few better craftsmen of this trade than the 37-year-old, who is originally from Stellenbosch, on the South African domestic circuit for the past 15 years.
Despite the former Proteas international’s advanced age, when thoughts of spending more time in the vineyards should be more appealing than being out on the cricket field, Langeveldt showed last season during the Cape Cobras’ successful run to the 1-Day Cup that he still had much to offer besides advice from the sidelines.
Originally dropped by former coach Richard Pybus, more due to a clash of personalities than any loss of form, the veteran hit back upon his reinstatement to claim 19 wickets in the competition. It was not only the highest in the series, but it also earned Langeveldt the acclaim of being South Africa’s One-Day Cricketer of the Year.
“It’s all about the love for the game,” he said this week at the launch of the Cobras’ new technical sponsor ahead of their 1-Day Cup defence which starts on Sunday against the Dolphins in Pietermaritzburg.
“Of course, when you’re my age, there are days when you wake up in the morning and the body feels sore and you’re thinking ‘How I am going to get through training, especially during pre-season on the cold days’. Once the season gets rolling, though, you just know you’re going to be okay.”
Langeveldt also has a new passion that gets that old diesel engine steaming again. Along with fellow stalwart Johann Louw, he spent the winter months mentoring the inexperienced Cobras bowlers at a specialist fast-bowling academy in Paarl.
Youngsters such as Beuran Hendricks and Lizaad Williams, both of whom have been included in the Cobras’ 13-man squad for the trip to KwaZulu-Natal, impressed Langeveldt a great deal and he now hopes they can implement what they learnt at the Boland Park indoor nets during the off-season, especially with the new rule changes in the 1-Day Cup.
“It’s going to be really tough on the bowlers this season. Five fielders have to be in the circle at all times outside of the powerplay, compared to the usual four. That’s one less boundary rider, which will make it tough,” he said. “And that’s why you need somebody out on the field to guide these young guys. You don’t want to leave them alone there to fend for themselves when a guy like Albie Morkel is smashing the ball around the park.”
Coach Paul Adams is no doubt hoping that not only have the young duo – Williams and Hendricks – sapped up all the knowledge they can gather in such a short space of time, but also that he can squeeze one more sterling season out of his banker, Langeveldt.
Adams cannot call on either Vernon Philander or Rory Kleinveldt, and that’s besides Dale Steyn and Jacques Kallis, of course, for the majority of the 1-Day Cup campaign.
Kleinveldt, in particular, is a major loss after he was surprisingly included in South Africa’s Test squad for the tour of Australia. The burly opening bowler was second in the wicket-taking standings behind Langeveldt last season, despite being dropped for the final.