Zaahier Adams

EVER since Jonty Rhodes claimed a world-record five catches in a Hero Cup one-day international at Mumbai’s Brabourne Stadium back in 1993, India have been in awe of South Africa’s athleticism and fielding prowess.

The locals gasp when Herschelle Gibbs plucks one out of the sky or AB de Villiers makes an acrobatic stop, but at the moment, they are wondering where the Cape Cobras hail from.

A comprehensive seven-wicket victory over New South Wales Blues in the Champions League Twenty20 opener in Chennai last Saturday could not mask yet another mediocre Cobras fielding effort on the subcontinent.

Three catches were fluffed – two butter-fingered efforts at mid-on – and overthrows were conceded in the powerplay, allowing Australia’s state champions to ease out of the blocks. It follows a similar inept fielding performance the last time the Cobras were in India, when it cost the Western Cape franchise the opportunity to play in the maiden Champions League T20 final for the $2.5million jackpot.

“Without a doubt the boys weren’t happy with the poor start we had,” Cobras assistant coach Faiek Davids told the Cape Times from Chennai yesterday. “It’s not often that you win the game after giving guys like David Warner and Shane Watson a second life.

“We know we need to improve that area of the game, but in saying that, we did not have much competitive cricket before Saturday, and the tension of starting the tournament all played a role.”

While the catching was disappointing, the overthrows gave the appearance of overall sloppiness. Davids, though, believes overthrows are all “part of the game” and was instead excited by the opportunities the Cobras inner-ring fielders created.

“Of course, there has to be somebody backing up when a player has a shy (at the stumps), and that comes down to angles and that type of thing, but that’s part of the game. It could easily have been different. It is a case of millimetres. In the Pro20 final at Newlands, Justin Ontong had a similar opportunity and threw down Ashwell Prince’s stumps. On Saturday, he just missed, and it went for four.

“At least the guys reacted quickly enough to be in the position to have a go at the stumps. It is all about accuracy and execution, and that is what we worked on in an extended fielding session. We had a solid three-hour workout today,” Davids added ahead of the Cobras’ date with MS Dhoni’s Chennai Super Kings tomorrow.

Meanwhile, Davy Jacobs’s horrendous run of injuries has continued. The wicket-keeper-batsman, who has struggled with injury concerns since starring for his home side, the Warriors, in the Champions League last year has been forced to withdraw from this year’s edition with a hip ailment.

Jacobs was playing for an Indian Premier League outfit, the Mumbai Indians, despite the Warriors having qualified for the Champions League.