CAPE TOWN – Dane Piedt is not your ordinary cricket captain.
He has already been described as “maverick” in certain media circles, and rest assured, there will be no clichés used at his press gatherings.
He was in a similarly fiery mood this week at Newlands.
Perhaps it had to do with the late Heritage Day braai activities happening at training – Piedt is easily the best braai-master in the Cobras team – but he was certainly in a positive frame of mind ahead of the trip to Port Elizabeth for the Sunfoil Series clash against the Warriors on Thursday.
It is this vibrant energy that seems to attract the young players to the Cobras skipper, with all the rookies always seemingly in close proximity of Piedt.
It may also have something to do with the fact that the right-arm off-spinner is ready to go to war with his young charges, especially his inexperienced bowling unit.
Even after they conceded 623/4 against the Knights last week in Bloemfontein, Piedt is still backing the likes of Tshepo Moreki (23) and Lizaad Williams (23) to succeed.
“We have an inexperienced bowling attack and everyone knows that around the country. But I guess we all have to start somewhere,” he told Independent Media.
“I think it is down to us to do it. It is possibly a blessing in disguise that we don’t have Vernon (Philander) and Parney (Wayne Parnell) available because now we can be really honest with ourselves to see where the bowling attack is.
“At the end of the day, we are going to have to find a way to do it – no matter what surface we are faced with.
“Me, as the skipper, I am always going to tell the guys I don’t care what surface we are playing on, we have to find a way to win the game. We have to take 20 wickets to win the game, and it is always going to be down to us.”
The Cobras will soon be able to call on a senior campaigner like Rory Kleinveldt, who has been outstanding for Northamptonshire, having claimed 13 wickets – including a career-best 9/65 – in his last English County Championship outing, but Piedt remains eager to support his young charges.
“We don’t want to bring in the more experienced guy who is playing in England at the moment to try and fix the situation. We as the bowlers are going to have to create the momentum. I think we are heading in the right direction,” he explained.
Another rookie that has certainly caught the attention of his skipper is former South Africa Under-19 wicket-keeper Kyle Verreynne.
The ginger-haired gloveman made his Cobras debut last week, and would have been under heavy pressure coming into the game knowing that he was replacing a stalwart such as Dane Vilas, who signed a Kolpak deal with Lancashire and moved to the Dolphins in the off-season.
But Verreynne acquitted himself well behind the stumps, and even added an invaluable 42 not out in the second innings to bat out the final day with Piedt, which ultimately saved the game for the Cobras.
“He is a great little player. He is very boisterous in the way he walks around. He is a relaxed type of character. He has come from a great school like Wynberg. They really blood good young cricketers there,” Piedt said.
“He has fitted in well, and I know what’s like to be a young player walking into a team environment where it is awkward and you don’t really feel backed. That’s not a pleasant experience.
“We have therefore given all the young guys the opportunity to walk into the dressingroom and really express themselves off and on the field. We have a great vibe…
“Sometimes the banter goes too far, but we have a great vibe in the dressingroom.”
Cape Cobras Squad
Dane Piedt (captain), Dayyaan Galiem, Zubayr Hamza, Simon Khomari, Pieter Malan, Aviwe Mgijima, Tshepo Moreki, Justin Ontong, Dane Paterson, Andrew Puttick, Jason Smith, Kyle Verreynne, Lizaad Williams.
* The match is not being televised.