CAPE TOWN – Don’t give them a sniff. That’s Cape Cobras coach Ashwell Prince’s message to his players for this weekend’s crucial Sunfoil Series clash against the Highveld Lions at Boland Park starting on Thursday.
The Lions are an embattled unit at the moment with their coach Geoff Toyana facing an uncertain future after a demoralising season across formats.
The visitors from the Highveld are the only team to taste defeat – twice – in this Sunfoil Series competition and the Cobras will be looking to take advantage of the low self-confidence within the Lions camp.
“We have all been there. When you are losing, things don’t seem to go your way. But that doesn’t make you a bad team all of a sudden. There are still quality players in that Lions team and a couple of new young faces that are always eager to prove their worth,” Prince said.
“That’s why we need to stick to basics very well. If we put together a couple of solid partnerships, the mind might start playing tricks again … ‘here we go again’ … and equally if we have the ball, a couple of early wickets could heighten the pressure they are currently under.”
Although he may not want to say it, but Prince knows this match is crucial to his own team’s ambitions of closing ground on the competition leaders, the Titans.
The Cobras had the better of drawn contest in Benoni last weekend where the weather had a major bearing on proceedings. However, the Titans face a tough contest away to the defending champions, the Knights inBloemfontein this weekend, which means a victory for the Cobras could see the current 13-point deficit wiped out.
“Look we fancy our chances against any team in the country, but you have to pitch up at a game, you have to play well, you have to apply pressure because no game is played on paper,” Prince said. “You can’t win on paper.
“You have to go out there and do everything you can to push for a result and apply pressure for long periods like we did against the Titans. We applied pressure for a longer period and had the upper hand in the game.
“In terms of the season, I think it will go right down to the wire because all the teams are tight. The Titans have got one win and the Warriors one win and then all other teams are only one win behind them. So, from that perspective, we’re not a long way behind.”
Both teams have been affected by national team call-ups this weekend with the Cobras losing opening bowler Dane Paterson. Impressive left-arm seamer Michael Cohen has been called up to replace Paterson. Cohen claimed his maiden franchise five-wicket haul earlier this season.
Meanwhile, the Lions are without bowlers Aaron Phangiso and Beuran Hendricks, who both claimed ‘five-fors’ last week, and opening batsman Reeza Hendricks.
Squads for Boland Park:
Cobras: Dane Piedt (capt), Michael Cohen, Zubayr Hamza, Simon Khomari, George Linde, Pieter Malan, Aviwe Mgijima, Mthiwekhaya Nabe, Jason Smith, Stiaan van Zyl, Kyle Verreynne, Lizaad Williams.
Lions: Stephen Cook (capt), Dominic Hendricks, Omphile Ramela, Rassie van der Dussen, Nicky van den Bergh, Wiaan Mulder, Mangaliso Mosehle, Nono Pongolo, Sean Jamison, Wihan Lubbe, Beuran Hendricks, Dyllan Matthews, Craig Alexander.