CAPE TOWN – Dane Vilas played 169 matches for the Cape Cobras. Over that period he became a firm favourite of the Newlands faithful.
And in return, he loved every minute batting in the middle, with Table Mountain looking over his shoulder.
But all good things come to an end, like it did when Vilas, 33, packed up his kit bag and made his way up the east coast to the Dolphins – via a Kolpak-contract with English County Championship team Lancashire – a couple of seasons back.
All the emotions are stirred up again though whenever he returns to the hallowed old ground, but only this time, it also filled with the desire to do well against his former teammates.
And he did just that on Wednesday, finishing unbeaten on 63 not out, which formed part of a 113-run partnership with Sibonelo Makhanya (53) that has given the visitors a lifeline heading into the final day.
The Dolphins went to stumps on day three on 265/7 – a lead of 153 runs, with three wickets remaining.
“It is always nice to come back to Newlands. It is a great place, good to see some familiar faces. Ev (Newlands groundsman Evan Flint) produces some good wickets, great outfield, and there isn’t better scenery to play at,” Vilas told Independent Media.
“It’s also always nice to score runs against them. I used to smash them in the nets, and there was always a niggle out there, and it’s nice to do it out in the middle again.”
The value of the innings by Vilas and Makhanya can certainly not be underestimated.
The pair had to contend with some quality seam bowling, particularly when the second new ball was taken.
Both Vernon Philander and Dane Paterson (4/57) probed away at the off-stump, and ultimately it was Paterson who gained the rewards when he collected three late wickets, including that of Makhanya, to put the Dolphins under pressure once more.
“Obviously Vernon’s record speaks for itself here at Newlands. And the way Patto (Paterson) is bowling at the moment, he just keeps on getting better and better.
“He really understands his game, so it was really tough, and also (Dane) Piedtie with the old ball, the way he was bowling, so it was tough attack to get runs against,” Vilas said.
"Cricket is a funny game . you never know," @DolphinsCricket batsman Dane Vilas on his team's chances ahead of the final day at Newlands. @IOLsport @DaneVilas #COBvDOL #4DaySeries #Maleish pic.twitter.com/1mU53Fa1AS— Zaahier Adams (@ZaahierAdams) October 31, 2018
“I think the way Sibs batted, especially being on a pair, the way he came and got off strike, he batted beautifully, and in a real pressure situation.
“It sort of took the pressure off me, in the way he dominated the partnership.
“The way he scored the bulk of the runs was really good, especially for a young guy like him.”
WATCH: Dane Paterson just misses out on a hat-trick as he fails to hold on to a catch off his own bowling! Robbie Frylinck survives the scare! @IOLsport #4DaySeries #COBvDOL @CobrasCricket @DolphinsCricket @DanePaterson44 @dane_piedt63 pic.twitter.com/i0H7e9FDFu— Zaahier Adams (@ZaahierAdams) October 31, 2018
The Cobras were dismissed earlier in the day for 337, with Proteas T20 seamer Robbie Frylinck claiming 5/86 to limit the home team’s lead to 112.
"STOKKE!!" Tladi Bokako uproots Vaughn van Jaarsveld's middle stump to pick up the first wicket for the @CobrasCricket! Dolphins: 74/1 Van Jaarsveld 44, Erwee 26* @IOLsport #4DaySeries #COBvDOL pic.twitter.com/0xmMqe3pUw— Zaahier Adams (@ZaahierAdams) October 31, 2018