CAPE TOWN - Anyone who knows Ashwell Prince will vouch for his devotion to Liverpool Football Club.
It seems Prince has adopted the same mantra as Reds coach Jurgen Klopp in his first full season at the helm of the Cape Cobras. Just like Liverpool under the charismatic German, the Cobras have certainly committed to an attacking gameplan where players are encouraged to express themselves, which has certainly produced some thrilling entertainment this season.
The coin doesn’t always fall in Prince and the Cobras’ favour - like when Robbie Frylinck struck two sixes from the final two deliveries to snatch a last-gasp victory for the Dolphins at Boland Park last Wednesday - but both managers will admit such defeats only strengthens their players’ resolve.
Equally, it makes the victories even sweeter when they do get over the line as the Cobras did heroically at Newlands on Friday. The fact that the opposition was the Titans, beaten with three balls to spare as the Cobras’ last pair scampered home, would have had Prince and his team smiling just a little bit more too.
“We don’t do boring, do we?” Prince chirped. “Anyone who comes out to our games will get full value for their ticket price.
“Overall you would like to be more clinical. Close out the game a bit more comfortably. But the way Rory (Kleinveldt) and George (Linde) hauled us back into the game with that partnership for the ninth wicket showed lots of character, that this team is not going to give up until the final ball. It was four points worth celebrating for there are plenty of quality teams in this competition and every point is vital in securing that playoff spot,” the Proteas batsman added.
The Klopp managerial handbook must certainly still be lying on Prince’s desk at his Newlands office for there are even more traits coming through.
In Prince’s case, the emergence of Linde as a genuine all-rounder has been a highlight for the Cobras this season. The 26-year-old is primarily a left-arm spinner with his 11 wickets at 24.90 placing him among the top wicket-takers at the Cobras, but it his batting that has developed immeasurably. Linde struck the winning runs on Friday to finish unbeaten on 39, which further emphasised his value to the Cobras.
Considering he has already struck his maiden franchise T20 half-century this season - batting at No 3 - and it is clear Linde is on an upward trajectory.
“When I arrived at the Cobras a couple of seasons ago as the batting consultant, I immediately recognised George’s capabilities with the bat.We have put in the hours with him and now it’s reaping the rewards. It really is fulfilling to watch him develop,” Prince said.
The Cobras have a big week ahead running into the playoffs. The Knights (Wednesday) and Highveld Lions (Friday) travel to the Western Cape this week for matches at Newlands and Boland Park respectively.
Prince’s Cobras will, though, be boosted by the return of Proteas Test batsman Temba Bavuma. Bavuma was left out of the Proteas’ starting line-up for the first two Tests against India and is not expected to play at the Wanderers next week, with the Proteas employing a four-seamer policy at the expense of the extra batsman.