Cape Town - It’s been a rough old ride for the Cape Cobras and their coach Paul Adams this season - and that’s just on the field.
Putting aside the ongoing CCMA matter between some of the players and the Western Cape Cricket board following the grievance lodged by the players over Adams, they have lost both Sunfoil Series games by significant margins - 10 wickets to the Highveld Lions and 175 runs to the Knights.
The major problem has been a lack of contributions from the top-order batsmen, with captain Omphile Ramela struggling in his new opener position, while Andrew Puttick was unavailable for the second game.
Stiaan van Zyl has been the only senior player to score a half-century, with young all-rounder Jason Smith setting the example with scores of 95 and 100 not out.
But Adams is hopeful of a turnaround at Newlands on Thursday when the Cobras host the Warriors (10am start). A big boost upfront is the return of left-hander Puttick, although that is likely to see Matthew Kleinveldt miss out despite scoring 47 and 54 against the Knights last week.
“I think we’ve played well in patches. I think we need more consistency and the shining light is that some young players have put in the performances. It’s important that we work in partnerships and at the end of the day, we require our senior boys to step up to the plate. The team is under pressure, and where your character gets tested is when those moments arrive,” Adams told Independent Media after practice at Newlands on Wednesday.
“For me, it’s looking for good consistency within our batting order - calmness as well. In our selection, we are showing calmness in that regard, but it’s also important for everyone to know that there comes a time when you also look outside. Performance is key.
“So for us, it’s a big game where we want to turn around our fortunes and how we want to go about it, and it’s not going to require a panicky head or wanting to chase the game. We are at Newlands and it’s important to be calm and relaxed in how you play the four days. And day one is important.”
The coach believes that the top-order batsmen need to provide a solid platform to get the best out of stroke-players such as Smith and Zubayr Hamza - another youngster who caught the eye with 68 against the Knights.
Ramela has compiled just 33 runs in four innings, with Van Zyl on 91. Another senior figure who has missed out with the bat is wicket-keeper Dane Vilas, who was the leading scorer last season, but has just 17 runs to his name in four innings. Vilas will play in the next two four-day games before flying to Australia to join the Proteas Test squad.
“Omphi has batted up there before, and as a captain, you want to be leading from the front. In both games he’s come out early doors, and you also want to back your talk up with some character-building innings,” Adams said.
“So for him, it’s making sure that he backs his processes about batting there, and be confident in his movement and things like that. He plays a pivotal role, along with Andrew Puttick, in setting up partnerships and getting through the new ball with our top three. Then we can set up first-innings totals.
“At the moment, Jason (Smith) is walking in under pressure, and he is scoring the runs there. But someone must bat with him, as we also have to think about batting points in the first innings. We don’t have much (2.82), although we have our full bowling points (8).”
Cape Cobras Squad
Omphile Ramela (captain), Matthew Kleinveldt, Andrew Puttick, George Linde, Dane Paterson, Zubayr Hamza, Jason Smith, Stiaan van Zyl, Dane Vilas, Dane Piedt, Tshepo Moreki, Aviwe Mgijima, Beuran Hendricks.’