Cape Town - The Cape Cobras embark on their first home game of the season on Thursday. Anyone who has witnessed their recent travails on the road will know that the comforts of Newlands will alone not be enough to get their Sunfoil Series campaign back on track.
But if the Cobras can win - and that’s going to be no easy task considering the Warriors downed the champion Titans last week - it will go a long way to ease the pressure on a core of senior players.
It certainly has been a fractious build-up to this clash with a group of Cobras players spending time at the CCMA hearing this week, which ultimately led to a bust-up at training between the coaching staff and a group of senior players. And now under-fire coach Paul Adams has expressed his desire for “some of the senior guys to step up and support the younger players”.
This entire situation is crying out for someone to step away from all the noise and simply let his bat do the talking. Someone like Stiaan van Zyl, who fits the description better than anybody else in the Cobras team.
It has long been the elegant left-hander’s character to climb into his bubble to concentrate on scoring runs. It is often big runs too, like the 2013-14 season when he struck 933 which ultimately catapulted him into the national team.
Van Zyl’s time with the Proteas was, though, not as productive as he would have liked. After scoring a century on Test debut batting in the middle-order, Van Zyl was shifted up the order to open the innings. The experiment failed dismally, which resulted in the 28-year-old losing his place in the Proteas squad for the Australian tour.
More importantly, though, it affected Van Zyl’s confidence and it was only after his 83 in the first innings against a quality Knights attack this past weekend that he showed signs of the classy player that has graced the Cobras middle-order for the last eight seasons.
But such is the high standards Van Zyl sets himself, and for the rest of the Cobras batting unit, that he knows the effort in Bloemfontein was not good enough.
“I should have gone on and made a big score like 150,” he said yesterday. “I do think we need to occupy the crease and bat time. We should be batting for sessions and if we are still there after 96 overs at the end of the day we will have close to 300 runs. I plan to bat for more than a session and occupy the crease. You can always catch up later, but we have to bat for longer periods”
The Cobras bowlers will certainly be hoping that the remainder of the batting unit heed the advice for they have put in a couple of long back-to-back sessions over the past fortnight.
It is for this reason that a second spinner has been added to the 13-man squad with George Linde receiving a call-up this weekend. The left-armer put in an impressive performance for the Western Provinces semi-pro side last weekend in Oudtshoorn, capturing a haul of 5/10 against South Western Districts.
Cape Cobras squad
Omphile Ramela (Capt), 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