CAPE TOWN – In this bumper festival of cricket – better known as the Mzansi Super League – the Cape Town Blitz play three home matches in seven days.
With one game already behind them – a 50-run lashing by the Jozi Stars on Tuesday night – but just a day out from their first-ever home derby against the Paarl Rocks on Friday, there is no time to dwell on “what-ifs”.
“Sometimes you just got take a hiding,” Blitz captain Farhaan Behardien said philosophically. “We don’t want to complicate things too badly. We have now lost a couple of games, but we have also won quite a few games.
“We still are in the pound seats with a couple of games to go here at home. So, it is not all doom and gloom. We got beaten by a better side. It was basically a reversal of the game up in Joburg. They had no answers for us on that night with the same attack. But if we win our next couple of games we will have a home final, even if we win one and the other results go our way, we could still sneak a home final. We will lick our wounds and move on to the next one.”
Such a level-headed approach is often required when the pressure is at its most intense – like it will be over the next week with teams jostling for playoff spots. It is also during this frenetic period when championship-winning teams –like the Blitz aim to be – should be able to rely on their older hands to put in the major performances.
The Blitz have been heavily reliant on openers Quinton de Kock (228 runs at 45.60, strike-rate 174.04) and Janneman Malan (279 runs at 38.50) to get their innings moving, with the misfiring middle-order seemingly running into a patch of bad form since Pakistan duo Muhammad Nawaz and Asif Ali’s early tournament half-centuries. The Jozi Stars impressive bowling unit certainly exploited this soft underbelly.
“That is very evident to see. We haven’t done very well as a middle-order unit. Our bowling has been very strong and our top-order has been strong. It was tough when the middle-order came in and we needed 14 runs per over.
That put us under pressure from the get-go. The wicket quickened up which suited their faster bowlers Duanne (Olivier) and KG (Kagiso Rabada). And then (Nono) Pongolo and Dan Christian bowled good change-ups. They were very street smart and made it difficult for us.
“But it is time for us older guys to put our hands up and lead they way. Guys like myself, (Asif) Ali and Muhammad Nawaz, the experienced guys, we need to put our hands up and accept responsibility for maybe not contributing as much.”
Coach Ashwell Prince has a couple of options in youngster Jason Smith and Pakistani Hussain Talat that he could draft into the line-up to beef up the middle-order, although there is also the possibility of moving England international Dawid Malan lower down for the Rocks clash on Friday.@ZaahierAdams