THE Cape Cobras arrived at Newlands yesterday like clockwork. One by one they pulled up around 9am, gathered their kit and started their preparation for training.
Four-and-a-half hours later, after an intense session under the tutorship of coaches Paul Adams and Salieg Nackerdien in the Cape Town sun, they very gingerly made their collective way to the showers.
It was not military training by any manner of means, but Adams, in particular, was clearly trying to emphasise the importance of hard work and values of team work to his charges, who have lost their way during the last two 1-Day Cup matches.
After a promising start under Adams’s directorship, the Cobras have suffered consecutive defeats to the Titans and Lions.
The manner of the reversals have also been a source of great concern, with the bowlers letting the side down in failing to defend 277 in Benoni before it was the batsmen’s turn to neglect their responsibilities last Friday at Newlands when 248 proved too much to chase down.
“It was disappointing to lose those two matches, but we have identified the areas which we need to improve on,” Adams told the Cape Times yesterday.
“But our training session was more about getting everybody switched on and really working on those skills that needs refining. We called in a lot of net bowlers to give the batsmen some proper batting time to work on anything they felt was not really up to scratch.
“We also had a lengthy fielding session, simulating match-intensity situations, because we want to create opportunities in the field and not just sit back and wait. You would also have seen us having a nice long chat, where we spoke frankly about a few things.”
From the outside, it certainly seemed that Adams and captain Justin Ontong had a few strong opinions on certain matters; with visible hand gestures creating a sense that some hard words were shared. It’s a wake-up call the Cobras certainly needed, especially with the talent the defending champions possess.
“I don’t really want to elaborate on what was actually said. That’s for the team. We know what we need to do, and how we need to approach our next couple of games. It’s also not about individuals and finger-pointing, but collectively, we need to step up,” Adams added.
There’s little doubt that the Cobras’ batting unit have to start putting together substantial partnerships, and that is where Adams believes his team have faltered most thus far.
He has identified the period between the 26th and 40th overs as one in which the top- and middle-order have come unstuck regularly.
The possible reason for this is the non-availability of English overseas professional Owais Shah, who has been pivotal for the Cobras during that stage of the innings over the previous two seasons.
Unlike former coach Richard Pybus, Adams has placed his faith in young charges like Yaseen Vallie in that crucial middle-order position, and is confident that with more exposure to pressure situations, that the experience gained will not only be beneficial to the individual, but also the team.
Franchise cricket is, though, not a “finishing school”, and lessons will need to be learnt quickly with another double-header on the horizon, starting with the Warriors in East London tomorrow. The Cobras are at “home” on Sunday against the Knights in Paarl.
A victory is required in at least one of the games, while maximum points from both these matches would ensure the ride to the semi-finals would be a lot more comfortable.
Cape Cobras squad
Richard Levi, Andrew Puttick, Stiaan van Zyl, Justin Ontong (capt), Yaseen Vallie, Dane Vilas, Justin Kemp, Johann Louw, Charl Langeveldt, Dane Piedt, Beuran Hendricks, Alistair Gray, Lizaad Williams.