Cobras coach Ashwell Prince and captain Dane Piedt speaks to the media on Friday. Photo: Zaahier Adams/IOL Sport

CAPE TOWN – Ashwell Prince is an ardent Liverpool Football Club supporter. In fact, the mere mention of arch-rivals Manchester United is enough to get him seething.
 
But yet the Cape Cobras coach seems to be following the trends of great United teams of yesteryear, namely the “Busby Babes” and “Fergie’s Fledglings” with his passion for the development of young players.
 
Last season’s “Prince’s Pups” took great strides in what was the maiden season of franchise cricket for many of them, with the Cobras progressing to two limited-overs semi-finals and also finishing a credible third in the first-class competition.
 
But with the new season on the doorstep – the Cobras play their first official four-day fixture of the 2018-19 season on Monday at Newlands – Prince has once again named a fresh set of greenhorns in his 13-man squad to face the Knights.
 
Due to the retirement of senior batsmen Andrew Puttick and Justin Ontong, and the Kolpak departures of Richard Levi and Wayne Parnell, there will likely be a couple of debutants in the form of Janneman Malan (22) and David Bedingham (24) in the batting order next week.
 
Parnell’s late decision to sign for Worcestershire was obviously not factored into the pre-season planning, but Prince is confident his youthful charges are ready for the big time.  

Cobras coach Ashwell Prince speaks to the media on Friday. Photo: @CobrasCricket on twitter
Cobras coach Ashwell Prince speaks to the media on Friday. Photo: @CobrasCricket on twitter 

“Opportunities have come about because of circumstances. But it is more or less the same batting line-up as last season. As a coach I feel really excited about the potential we have. I honestly believe we have at least three or four players that can go on to play for South Africa,” the former Proteas batsman said.
 
“(The decision to part ways with) Wayne Parnell was a bit unexpected but there are capable players stepping into that position. Rory Kleinveldt might have played less of a role, but now he will play a greater role. And there are other players who can step up, like Jason Smith, Dayyaan Galiem and Ferisco Adams.”

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The Cobras certainly showed last season they are ready to challenge for higher honours, with particularly their batting line-up posting big totals that put the opposition under pressure. The one aspect that was concerning, though, was the Cobras’ fielding with a number of catches being dropped. This had a major impact on the Cobras’ ability to take 20 wickets, which could have seen them close out more outright victories.

Cobras coach Ashwell Prince and skipper Dane Piedt at Friday's press conference. Video: Zaahier Adams/IOL Sport

Captain Dane Piedt believes his team have worked hard during the off-season to rectify this matter.  
 
“Last season we created opportunities with the ball, but did not execute them. We have done the hard preparation but ultimately it is about having the right attitudes to take chances and effect the run-outs. It is a vital part of the game,” said the skipper.
 
The Cape Cobras squad is:

Dane Piedt (capt), David Bedingham, Tladi Bokako, Zubayr Hamza, Rory Kleinveldt, Janneman Malan, Pieter Malan, Aviwe Mgijima, Mthiwekhaya Nabe, Dane Paterson, Jason Smith, Kyle Verreynne, Lizaad Williams.


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