CAPE TOWN - With the rain falling in these parts again, the Cape Cobras have had an enjoyable winter break.
But unlike most of us that have got the fireplace going, and snuggled up under the blankets, the Cobras have been keeping warm in a different way. Dane Piedt’s team have been sweating it out at the gym under the watchful eye of trainer Sherman Baatjes and are ready for the new season in peak physical condition.
“I don’t know if I am just getting old, but that was the toughest pre-season training I have ever done in my career,” captain Piedt, who recently also returned from SA ‘A’ duty in India, said. “Sherman has really put us through our paces. The boys are looking and feeling good, and hopefully it will set us in motion for a good season ahead.”
This intense preparation is certainly required for the Cobras are set to embark on their longest summer since the advent of franchise cricket in the country. Their official season gets underway with a home Sunfoil Series fixture against the Knights on October 1 at Newlands and possibly only concludes on Sunday, May 5 with the CSA T20 Challenge final.
And if that wasn’t enough, the Cobras are getting going this week already with a two-day practice match on Tuesday and Wednesday - against a combined team of the Dolphins and the KwaZulu-Natal - and will play a T20 match against the same opposition on Thursday before the inaugural Kasi Coastal Challenge in Chatsworth on Friday.
“We’re really looking forward to getting out there again. The weather is much better in Durban to cricket outdoors. We haven’t been together for a while also. Some guys have become fathers, others have been watching soccer, and others have playing cricket in India, so this is good week to get the ‘family’ all together again," Piedt said.
“There are a couple of new faces like ‘Baby’ Malan (Janneman) and Tladi Bokako and it will be nice to see how they fit into the environment. I haven’t played against or with Janneman before and only once against Tladi, so it will be good to see how they shape up and fit into our combinations.”
After a couple of miserable summers down at Newlands, there was a fresh energy and spirit under Piedt and coach Ashwell Prince’s leadership last season. A host of young players were introduced to franchise cricket, while some semi-pro seniors were also graduated to the Cobras ranks.
Although no trophy was ultimately collected, there was a major improvement in across all three competitions. Individuals like 21-year-old wicket-keeper Kyle Verreynne were also honoured nationally as the “Newcomer of the Year”, while batsmen Zubayr Hamza and Pieter Malan along with seamer Mthiwekhaya Nabe also made their SA ‘A’ debuts. All of this bodes well for the new season, especially now that the youngsters have gained an extra year of experience at a higher level.
“We were happy with the way things went last season. I mean the last time we played eKasi Challenge against the Titans in Mamelodi back in 2013, I think half our team was still in school!"Piedt added. “But they all year older now, more experienced, more mature, so we have set different goals for we are in the second year of our process and we need to continue growining.”
Wayne Parnell, Rory Kleinveldt, Pieter Malan and Dane Paterson are not in the squad that will travel to Durban due to English County Championship and SA ‘A’ commitments respectively.
The Cape Cobras travelling squad to KwaZulu-Natal: Aviwe Mgijima, Dane Piedt, David Bedingham, Dayyaan Galiem, Ferisco Adams, George Linde, Janneman Malan, Jason Smith, Kyle Verreynne, Lizaad Williams, Mthiwekhaya Nabe, Simon Khomari, Tladi Bokako, Zubayr Hamza.