CAPE TOWN - Any coach who loses 237 matches worth of first-class experience, and particularly within his seam bowling department, ahead of a trip to the Wanderers would have been a touch concerned. But not Cape Cobras coach Ashwell Prince.
Even though Rory Kleinveldt (injured) and Dane Paterson (Proteas T20 call-up) were unavailable, Prince remained confident that his team could take 20 wickets. And that’s exactly what they did, and within three days too, to complete an innings-and-71-run victory over the Highveld Lions.
“Why did we beat the Lions despite losing Rory Kleinveldt and Dane Paterson? Well, Lizaad Williams has been around for a long time and every time he plays for the Cobras, he has never let us down, he makes the step up well. And he took five wickets in this game,” Prince said.
“Tladi Bokako made the step up and took the new ball and hardly strayed. Jason Smith took 3/19 and scored a half-century, and at a stage he bowled six overs for seven runs. An important factor in the second innings of the match was that we controlled the run rate (and did not let the Lions get away). And this was on a surface where you could get a couple of wickets when you have new batsmen at the crease.”
The visitors dominated the contest from the outset, when they dismissed the Lions for just 107 before taking full control by posting 529 through centuries from youngsters Janneman Malan (137) and David Bedingham (107), and further half-centuries from all-rounders Jason Smith, Kyle Verreynne and Dane Piedt. The icing on the cake, though, came on the third afternoon when captain and off-spinner Piedt claimed seven wickets to close out the victory.
“It was an unbelievable team performance,” Prince said. “Dane bowled off-spinners and used the rough. It was a wicket on which you could easily bag two or three if you were not established at the crease and that was what happened in the end. They (Malan and Bedingham) batted unbelievably well in just their second game for the Cobras, and credit must go to Jason Smith, Kyle Verreynne and Piedt for getting us past the 500-run mark.”
The victory propelled the Western Cape franchise to top of the Four-Day Franchise Series standings with 49 points after two games. But unfortunately for the in-form Cobras, the competition will now have a week break before it resumes on 22 October again, when Prince’s team head to SuperSport Park to face arch-rivals and defending champions, the Titans.
“Yeah, we’re not too happy with the break,” Prince said. “It does come at an awkward time considering the guys are playing really good cricket at the moment and the team is in (a) really good space, but we knew about it before the time, so there’s nothing we can really do about it. We just need to re-focus when we come together again.”