Ryan Rickleton's century powers Lions to victory over Cobras

By Zaahier Adams Time of article published Jan 22, 2021

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CAPE TOWN - There have been some tough acts to follow in the game over the years.

Replacing Jacques Kallis in the Proteas Test side has proved pretty daunting. Aspirant Australian leg-spinners feel the same way about Shane Warne.

Currently, Proteas captain Quinton de Kock’s shadow must be quite large for anyone wanting to audition behind the stumps and as the national team’s opening batsman.

On the evidence of today’s dazzling display at Senwes Park in the Momentum One-Day Cup Group B opener between the Highveld Lions and the Cape Cobras it seems Ryan Rickelton (109 not out off 100 balls, 12x4, 1x6) may seem up for the task though.

There certainly is plenty about the 24-year-old, who recently received his maiden Proteas call-up for the T20 leg of the Pakistan tour that is akin to a young De Kock. And it’s not just the fact that he is a classy left-hander.

Rickelton exhibits the same je ne sais quoi that De Kock played with when he first arrived on the South African domestic scene. The manner in which he disdainfully dispatched the Cobras bowlers, particularly seamer Corbin Bosch on one occasion, through mid-wicket was a striking resemblance to the Proteas skipper.

There are few in the game that possesses the freedom of mind – let alone skill – to play with such gusto.

It may have helped that Rickelton was facing a team that he has feasted upon in the past – he averaged 49.75 against the Cobras prior to yesterday’s century - for he was in utter control throughout his innings against both pace and spin.

Everybody that joined him at crease, bar Reeza Hendricks, seemed to feed off his positive energy too. Opening partner Wesley Marshall began the festivities with a strong 28 off 37 balls in a 57-run partnership to get the Lions’ innings underway before Dominic Hendricks (54 off 61 balls) and Rickelton put together a match-winning 98-run stand for the third wicket.

On the side of the Cobras, they remain a team in an ugly mess. Their bleak record of not having won a game all season now stretches across formats and they just appear to be a team that is struggling to find its feet.

Their batting effort started off positively enough through a half-century from Proteas opener Janneman Malan (67 off 94 balls), but then fell away through some injudicious shot selection all the way down the line-up.

The inadequate total was then complimented by a weak bowling effort and increasingly shoddy catching and ground fielding. At the moment, they certainly appear to be a youthful team bereft of all the experience that stood them in such good stead previously.

This is not something that coach Ashwell Prince can miraculously change over the course of the followning two days leading up to the Cobras’ next game, but somehow he will need to get the senior players like captain Zubayr Hamza, in particular, into a frame of mind where they can perform to the best of their abilities again.

The Lions, meanwhile, have no such problems. Their batting unit, led by Rickelton, is firing on all cylinders and the old spinning fingers of skipper Aaron Phangiso (3/33) and Bjorn Fortuin (1/38) are enjoying the conditions they will encounter again today in their match against the Warriors.

@ZaahierAdams

IOL Sport

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