Cape Cobras coach Ashwell Prince (left) and Vernon Philander (centre) talk to Dane Paterson during a training session. Photo: Chris Ricco/BackpagePix

CAPE TOWN - Social media is often a messy place. There are no rules. Fiction is regarded as fact. And opinions are often posted anonymously.

But those who follow Cape Cobras coach Ashwell Prince will know there are few who shoot as straight as he does.

It is a trait that he carries through to his coaching and last week a group of senior players certainly felt the brunt. Proteas seamers Wayne Parnell and Dane Paterson were benched along with the experienced Qaasim Adams and promising youngster Jason Smith for the past weekend’s RamSlam T20 fixtures.

The shake-up had an immediate effect with the Cobras turning around their fortunes with two successive victories. While some believed Prince may have been resting his internationals, the former Proteas batsman quickly set the record straight.

“We have a big squad with lots of competition. But it is important that when players are left out of a squad there are no mixed messages. There was concern about people’s form and they were left out because of form,” Prince said at a press conference at Newlands on Tuesday.

The clean out is not completed yet though. Opening batsman Richard Levi has struggled in this season’s T20, contributing just 18 runs in four innings, and Prince admitted this is a cause for concern as it places extra pressure on the middle-order, particularly captain JP Duminy who rescued his team at both Boland Park and Newlands with timely half-centuries.

“Obviously his (Levi’s) form has been disappointing for both him and the team. It is an area of concern. More often that not, we have been two or three wickets down in the power-play. It also means JP comes to the crease early, and possibly not being allowed to go on to the front foot and attack. “We know what he is capable of. Richie is a match-winner. But the same rules apply to everybody,” he stated.

Prince was certainly not glum at Newlands. And neither was the team. The Cobras’ T20 campaign is back on track with the victories gained over the weekend and they can now look towards fighting it out for a semi-final spot. A victory over the last-placed Warriors on Wednesday evening in Paarl will certainly give the home side some much-needed breathing space.

Prince is not taking his former team lightly despite their lowly position, but he was excited with the small things that are improving in his own camp.

“We mentioned in our team chat that we’ve remained calm and posted competitive scores through partnerships lower down the order. That is a major positive. Also how we started our bowling with the new ball (in the last two games). It has been really good," he added.

“It has been an improvement on the last few games. We didn’t really get down to death overs in the first three games, but we finished really well in Paarl and here at Newlands. Those two departments improved greatly. We know how quickly things can turn and we must just stay focused on doing the small things correctly and staying in the game every ball.”

Cape Cobras coach Ashwell Prince speaks at a pres conference. Video: Zaahier Adams

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