Cape Town - Omphile Ramela looks like a man that is currently carrying the world on his shoulders. The once-broad smile has been replaced with a hardened frown, and there is even a sprinkling of grey hairs starting to appear upon the 28-year-old’s head.
If the challenge of trying to lift a team’s morale, that is currently on the bottom of the Sunfoil Series table after two matches was not big enough, the Cape Cobras captain also has Cricket South Africa disciplinary hearing pending after an incident with his Knights counterpart Theunis de Bruyn during last weekend’s encounter in Bloemfontein.
Throw in the CCMA hearing the aggrieved group of Cobras players attended yesterday, where “players and board members exchanged frank views”, in addition to the fact that Ramela is struggling with his personal batting form at the moment too, then it quickly becomes clear that the former Maties left-hander has plenty to ponder ahead of tomorrow’s crucial clash against the Warriors at Newlands.
“There is a lot going on. There’s no doubt about that,” Ramela told Independent Media at training yesterday. “But we’re professionals and we’re working hard to put things right. It is all about shouting out the noise and getting on with the job.”
Ramela has certainly not been the lone senior figure to get stuck in the blocks thus far this season. Prior to missing the Bloemfontein trip due to his ill father, veteran opener Andrew Puttick suffered a double failure at the Wanderers while Proteas back-up wicket-keeper Dane Vilas, who was the second highest run-scorer in the Sunfoil Series last season with 761 runs at an average of 69.18, has a highest score of just 10 in four innings thus far.
Instead the Cobras have had to rely on their young pups with Jason Smith (22), Zubayr Hamza (21) and a couple of inexperienced franchise batsmen like Matthew Kleinveldt and Aviwe Mgijima all passing 50 already this season.
There have been suggestions in some circles that the CCMA hearings due to grievances with coach Paul Adams may be distracting the senior core within the Cobras side, but Ramela was quick to dismiss this theory and was keen to assure the Newlands faithful that his team remains steadfast in trying to win matches for franchise.
“There’s no doubt we haven’t been scoring enough runs. I personally take that on board,” Ramela said. “But to those thinking that we’re going out there and giving our wickets away, I can assure you that’s not the case. There’s nobody going out to there to have a hack. We’re value our wickets and we’re trying our very best to win games of cricket for the Cobras.
“The youngsters have been outstanding. Jason Smith is quality, and Zubi (Hamza) just goes about his business quietly. But I’m confident one of the senior guys will get a century this weekend. We’re all still working as hard, if not harder, than we always have.”
Cobras convenor of selectors and the remainder of the brainstrust are unlikely to make any wholesale changes just yet with only Puttick set to return to the line-up at the expense of Kleinveldt, despite the left-hander enjoying a good weekend in Bloemfontein with scores of 47 and 54.
Vilas will also remain behind the stumps for more weekend of Sunfoil Series action before joining up with the rest of the Proteas squad ahead of the three-Test series Down Under.
Swashbuckling opener Richard Levi was also at training yesterday - his first session since returning from English T20 champions Northamptonshire - but is unlikely to be considered for selection until the T20 series gets away next month.