CAPE TOWN – After a season of slim pickings for the Cape Cobras there was finally something to cheer about at Newlands on Friday morning with the biggest roar of approval reserved for Aviwe Mgijima.
The Cobras batsman was awarded the prestigious Player of the Year and Players’ Player of the Year prizes at the season-ending awards. It was richly deserved too for Mgijima was often the lone warrior when everything around him seemed to be imploding for the majority of the season.
Having being a part of the Cobras squad for the past few seasons, but resigned into a marginalised role under the previous coaching regime of Paul Adams, the 28-year old Mgijima has thrived in an environment that has trusted his ability much more. The change of attitude towards the former University of Western Cape student has seen him repay the new coaching staff, headed by former Proteas Test batsman Ashwell Prince, by striking five half-centuries in the Sunfoil Series and a further three fifties in the Momentum One-Day Cup.
“It feels very good. I am very surprised. I know I had a decent season, but I didn’t know that I would be getting these prizes. The Players’ Player of the Year award, though, means the most to me because that means my work has been recognised by my teammates and peers,” Mgijima told Independent Media.
“I had a change in mindset at the start of this season. I knew I had to train harder than anyone else if I wanted to make an impact. I lost a lot of weight in the off-season. I also worked with Ashwell during the winter already. He really got into my head. I didn’t just want to be in the side. I wanted to make contributions. I needed to do it, not just for me, but to prove to everyone else too.”
Mgijima will need to continue his progress next season as the Cobras look to rebuild a franchise that has suffered significant body blows this past season. Not only did the Cobras fail to reach a final in 2016/17, but they have also lost the services of some key players for next season.
Left-arm seamer Beuran Hendricks has joined former Cobras captain Omphile Ramela in moving to the Highveld Lions den while young top-order batsman Keegan Petersen has already also made a permanent move to the Knights leaving the Cobras with some gaping holes to fill.
Although originally from the Eastern Cape, Mgijima is not looking for a move “home” or anywhere else for that matter and is desperate to help the Cobras returning to winning ways.
“I am really happy here at the Cobras. I am hoping to stay here for many seasons. I especially enjoy working with Ashwell too. He’s really made me believe in myself and helped my confidence,” Mgijima said.
Cape Cobras Award Winners
Sunfoil Series Player of the Year: Justin Ontong
CSA T20 Cricket Challenge Player of the Year: Wayne Parnell
Momentum One Day Cup Player of the Year: Richard Levi
Players’ Player of the Year: Aviwe Mgijima
Player of the Year: Aviwe Mgijima