A rejuvenated Justin Ontong wants to make a global impact in the T20-format and is determined to atone for what he described as a “very mediocre” 2015/2016-season for the Cape Cobras.

Ontong, the Cape Cobras captain in the limited formats, said he recently appointed Arthur Turner as his agent and has thrown his hat into the ring for possible participation in International T20-tournaments globally.

In June last year, Ontong was destined to represent the Barbados Tridents in the Caribbean Premier League, but he was side-lined due to a knee injury and subsequent surgery.

In the 2015-2016-season, the 36-year old right-hander was a consistent performer in the Momentum One Day Cup competition by scoring 439 runs at an average of 54.87.

“I did not score any centuries, which made it a very mediocre season. If I had converted two half-centuries into big 150’s, it could have been a good season, so the margins were small, but I did not capitalize on those four 50’s into something substantial,” he said.

“I want to contribute into making the Cape Cobras the best franchise in the country. I have children growing up, and the image I portray and the way I want them to remember me, is important,” he added.

“I am getting more involved in mentoring younger players and it is something I truly enjoy,” he added.

Ontong was dejected with his performances in the Ram Slam T20 competition, saying it was his worst performance in many years. He averaged 18.30.

To his enormous credit, Ontong’s adventurous approach and his brilliant partnerships with Dane Vilas were significant in propelling the Cape Cobras to the Momentum One Day Cup final after the disappointment of the 5-run defeat to the Dolphins in the Ram Slam T20 Challenge play-offs.

Ontong says his agent will introduce him as an option at different International T20-events, and he is keen to make an impact if he gets an opportunity.

 

 

MS Dhoni, Brendon McCullum and Michael Clarke are the captains that Omphile Ramela admires the most.

Ramela, regular skipper of the Cape Cobras in the Sunfoil Series, said Dhoni is a very creative captain and his understanding of the game amazed him.

He also enjoys the respect of his team mates. If they don’t respect you as a person on and off the field, you will always struggle as a captain, he says.

Dhoni is also smart, he added. When Ravindra Jadeja once bowled against England and turned the ball appreciably, he stood back, instead of standing closer to the stumps, which was a logical step.

“He is also very good at risk analysis,” Ramela added.

Ramela said he loved the brand of captaincy by McCullum, inspirational and barn-storming leader of New Zealand. He was adventurous and aggressive.

Clarke, retired captain of Australia, was a very good instinctive captain, Ramela added.

“He knew how to move the field and allowed the bowlers to express themselves. He was very pro-active in his field-settings and was always one step ahead of the game. He knew how to wrestle the game in his direction,” he added.

Ramela these days often do the so-called garage run, three regular work-outs in the gymnasium per week, his post-graduate studies in economics and (some nonchalant study of other captains).

The Cape Cobras’ skipper has enrolled in a masters-degree in economics at the University of Stellenbosch in 2015.

He said in the first month after the season ended, he just relaxed. But in the build-up to the structured pre-season-sessions, he does a run from his home to a garage about 5 kilometres down the road and back about once a week.

He also does engage in gymnasium sessions three times per week to keep his base strong.

Ramela, who hammered two centuries in the Sunfoil Series in 2015/2016 and finished strongly against The Unlimited Titans, will probably join the South Africa A team for the series against Australia in July.

He struck a century on debut for South Africa A against India A in 2015.

 

The flight to the Netherlands and the stay at the club Vosti in Amsterdam is intended for mental purposes.

Exorcizing the ghosts that have plagued him since his travails in India and ensuring he is focused on rebuilding his career, is why the 28-year old Stiaan van Zyl has decided to play club cricket for Vosti until August.

Van Zyl averaged 19.40 and scored a mere 194 runs in five Sunfoil Series matches for the Cape Cobras the past season, and possibly suffered a mini-crisis in self-confidence after he was dropped from the South African test team.

He was impressive in the limited-overs team, though, hammering 347 runs in the Momentum One Day Cup campaign for the Cape Cobras at an average of 57.83.

Van Zyl said he wants to regain his composure in Amsterdam, and then reclaim his place in the South African team.

Just two seasons ago, Van Zyl averaged 58.31 for the Cobras and struck 933 runs in the Sunfoil Series.

At the end of 2014, he compiled a century on test debut for South Africa.

“Having scored consistently for six seasons, things like that can happen,” a philosophical Van Zyl said about his four-day woes.

Talking about the Cape Cobras’ performance in the four-day competition, Van Zyl said the Cape champions started off tentatively and was stone last after the first half of the season.

That was a demoralizing blow to their chances, and it was aggravated by their defeat to the bizhub Highveld Lions in the Momentum One Day Cup final.

The Cobras hardly had any chance to reflect on their defeat and to steady themselves, before they were off to Potchefstroom, where they were mauled by the Lions again.

But Van Zyl says he is confident he will return to his former heights.

“I hope I will get an opportunity in the South Africa A-team that leaves for Australia, and start my campaign to recapture my form there,” he said.

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, and therefore there will be some pleasure and fun for Van Zyl as well, as his sister, Bernice, and her boyfriend, Wiaan, will be visiting him in Amsterdam before he might possibly tour Down Under.

WESTERN CAPE CRICKET is mourning the tragic passing of Lukhanya Tshiki, 22-year old brother of the Boland and Cape Cobras’ batsman Cebo Tshiki.

Lukhanya was a student at the CSA/University of Fort Hare Academy where he was studying a diploma course in Marketing Management via MSC College.

He had previously represented Border Schools at the Coca-Cola Khaya Majola under-19 cricket week in 2010 and 2011 while a student at Queen’s College.

He participated in physical fitness tests with other members of the Academy on Monday, April 18, and suddenly collapsed while his group was taking a breather, according to a statement by Cricket South Africa (CSA).

Members of the academy staff endeavoured to revive him before he was transferred to the Alice Hospital where he passed away later the same day from suspected heart failure.

“We have learned with profound sadness of Lukhanya’s passing, and wish to express our deepest condolences to his family, friends and his cricketing colleagues,” said Nabeal Dien, chief executive officer of the Cape Cobras.

Lukhanya is survived by Cebo and Khanya, and his sister, Neliswa.

Cebo represented SA Schools in 2007 and made his franchise debut for the Cape Cobras during the course of the 2015/16 season. In his last game, he scored a fighting 47 against The Unlimited Titans at Boland Park in Paarl.

The funeral service of Lukhanya is planned for the last weekend of April.

“This tragic event has sent shock waves throughout the Western Cape cricketing fraternity. We would like to ensure the family of our consistent support and availability to lend a helping hand throughout this period of bereavement,” said Dien.

 

WAYNE PARNELL of the Cape Cobras has bagged the Sunfoil Series Sizzler award for the final five rounds of the Sunfoil Series which has seen The Unlimited Titans claim the title ahead of the bizhub Highveld Lions and the VKB Knights after an intense three-way battle for four-day cricket supremacy. The Lions were the previous title holders.

The Sunfoil Sizzler award is worth R15 000.

The Sunfoil Series Player of the Season will be named at the CSA Awards Ceremony later this year.

Parnell only played the final five rounds of matches mainly as a result of injury and made a sensational return to his best form, finishing ninth on the overall averages with 337 runs at an average of 48.14 including an unbeaten century and taking 23 wickets at 20.56 including one ten-wicket haul and three five-wicket hauls.

He is clearly the leading all-rounder in domestic cricket at present ahead of Werner Coetsee of the Knights and Dwaine Pretorius of the Lions.

It was hardly surprising that the Titans had three players in the top six for the award in Marchant de Lange (third), Heino Kuhn (fourth) and Dean Elgar (sixth). Parnell’s team mate, Dane Piedt, finished second and Craig Alexander of the Sunfoil Dolphins in fifth place.

“Congratulations to Wayne on his Sunfoil Sizzler award,” commented Cricket South Africa (CSA) General Manager: Cricket, Corrie van Zyl. “He has been consistently outstanding with both bat and ball in the last five matches and this is just the form we want to see from our Proteas when they participate in our domestic cricket.

“The shortage of quality all-rounders in our cricket has been a talking point since the retirement of Jacques Kallis and Wayne’s form has been significantly encouraging in this regard.”

The South African Cricketers’ Association Most Valuable Player index (SACA MVP) is used as the measuring tool in determining the Sunfoil Sizzler of the Month.

The SACA MVP is calculated using an internationally recognised formula which takes into account every discipline in the game of cricket.  Batting, bowling, fielding, captaining and winning are all factored in within the context of each individual match. Individual player performances in pressure situations, for example, carry more weight; thus players who deliver when their team needs them most, earn more points.

The SACA MVP latest ranking standings are updated weekly on the SACA website (www.saca.org.za), and may be viewed ‘per competition’ or by having a look at the ‘overall’ standings.

 

Michael Owen Smith

Wayne Parnell will join the Barbados Tridents in the Caribbean Premier League this year after a super season in which the South African swing bowler reminded the national selectors of his prowess with bat and ball for the Cape Cobras.

Parnell captured 23 wickets in the Sunfoil Series and struck 337 runs at an average of 48.14.

His electrifying contributions with the blade in the Ram Slam T20 Challenge at the top of the order ignited the PPC Newlands crowd and he struck 237 runs.

In the Momentum One Day Cup series, Parnell nipped out 16 batsmen.

Arguably his greatest performances came in the final two games of the season in which Parnell collected three five-wicket hauls as he first stunned the Sunfoil Dolphins and then pegged back The Unlimited Titans.

“I think I developed quite a good relationship with Snakes (Salieg Nackerdien) as I opened up to him on what I want to achieve with my batting,” he said.

Parnell contributed an unbeaten 111 against the VKB Knights, his first first-class ton.

“Part of my development was to understand how to bat in certain circumstances. Obviously, when I batted with Dane Vilas and Justin Ontong, I had to play more of a holding role. When I batted with nine, ten and eleven, I had to be more attacking,” he added.

Parnell’s 12-wicket haul against the Sunfoil Dolphins had the assistant coach of the Dolphins and former South African fast bowler, Roger Telemachus, very excited.

“It was the best I have seen him bowl for a long, long while. He swung it away through the air and nipped it in and away off the seam. He also struck the right areas consistently,” he said.

Parnell will be joining Robin Peterson at the Barbados Tridents. Peterson, who finished at the summit of the Tridents’ bowling averages last season, is destined to ply his trade at the Knights next season.

Lapses in concentration, batting collapses, mental frailties and the inability to seize the key moments contributed to the disappointing season for the Cape Cobras, said Paul Adams, the coach.

The Cobras finished fourth in the Sunfoil Series, lost a semi-final play-off against the Sunfoil Dolphins after a batting meltdown in the final three overs in the Ram Slam T20 Challenge and suffered a defeat in the final of the Momentum One Day Cup competition. They dominated the 50-over domestic showpiece in the league phase, but produced a below-par performance with the bat in the final against the bizhub Highveld Lions.

Adams failed to play the so-called blame game or seek lame excuses for the fact that the Cape Cobras were mediocre in the Momentum One Day Cup final after 16 days in which no competitive game was scheduled.

“No, we had seasoned players, and the players were looking for a mental and physical break as some of them had some niggles. So we have no excuses for losing in the Momentum One Day Cup final,” he said.

Reflecting on the fourth position in the Sunfoil Series, Adams said the top-order was inconsistent and with the exception of Omphile Ramela, no other member of the top-four was able to complete a century.

Andrew Puttick, Simon Khomari and Stiaan van Zyl did not have their best seasons. Van Zyl suffered a crisis of self-confidence after the South African tour to India.

Puttick struck three half-centuries and reached the milestone of 10 000 runs, but did not perform at the high standards he set for himself in four-day cricket.

Adams said an inability to grab the key moments and clinch it, contributed to great escapes by other teams, or wins for opponents.

One example was when the Cobras failed to win the Sunfoil Series match against the bizhub Highveld Lions when the visitors were with the proverbial back to the wall and on wobbly legs with nine wickets down and still short of erasing the first-innings deficit.

The Cobras also knew they could easily have won the final Sunfoil Series match of the season by scoring the 136 runs required for the ten bonus points against The Unlimited Titans.

A collapse and mental frailty against the VKB Knights allowed the hosts at the Mangaung Oval to reach 257 for six to clinch it when the Cobras should have steadied themselves mentally in the second innings.

Adams called for a massive mental improvement by the Cape Cobras next season.

He saluted the performances by Dane Vilas, Wayne Parnell and Dane Piedt.

Vilas finished at the summit of the Sunfoil Series’ batting average after hammering 761 runs, while Parnell struck a century and two fifties and captured 23 wickets in five games at an average of 20.56.

Piedt took 39 wickets at an average of 22.33.

Adams did not support the idea of a batting camp in the off-season to address the batting woes of the top-order. “We have a South Africa A tour starting in June, the national team playing in August, and the national academy. Who will be available?,” he said.

But the Cape Cobras coach did promise the Cape Champions will come back with a vengeance to atone for their trophy-less season which was heart-breaking for the thousands of Cape-fans.

“If you want to be the best in the world, you must train like you are number two,” is one of the acclaimed quotes about the quest to be a champion.

Dane Vilas is arguably in a similar position, occupying the wicket-keeper batsman spot in the South Africa A-team and relentlessly pursuing a return to the national test squad.

Vilas was sensational with the blade in the Sunfoil Series, hammering 761 runs at an average of 69.18 which included two centuries and three half-centuries with a strike-rate of more than 78. He finished at the summit of the national batting average in the four-day showpiece.

He was also the Cape Cobras’ stand-out batsman of the four-day campaign.

The Cape champions, who won the title in two of the last four seasons, finished fourth. They slipped to a disappointing 10-run loss against The Unlimited Titans at Boland Park in Paarl on Saturday.

The hosts, who were set a modest target of 136, were dismissed for 125 as Rowan Richards wrecked their hopes with a superb 7-40.

Some of his senior opponents have admiringly observed that the Vilas of one season ago and the Vilas of 2016-vintage is chalk and cheese.

His self-belief is palpable and his repertoire of attacking strokes has made it almost impossible to bowl to him domestically when the force is with him.

“I do think some of the hard work I put in in the nets has been instrumental in my improvement,” he said.

“I always check in with Andrew Puttick (senior batsman who is only one of two batsmen in the Cape Cobras squad to have scored in excess of 10 000 first-class runs), as he is very involved with my throw-downs,” he added.

The mental route to a double century or a big hundred is one that is important, as a batsman needs to negotiate the tricky moments when he loses focus.

If a short-list of the Cape Cobras first-class player of the year is made, it won’t be too surprising to find Vilas’ name there.

His partnership of 393 runs for the fifth wicket with JP Duminy is a South African first-class record and both hammered career-best double centuries.

Asked about the shortfalls in the top-order batting, Vilas said the top-order struggled to assemble partnerships and they also could not capitalize occasionally on useful starts to record centuries.

Apart from Omphile Ramela, who finished with 592 runs at an average of 42.28, no other member of the top-four was able to strike a century during the topsy-turvy four-day season for the Cape Cobras.

 

 

The leading first-class run-scorer in the Sunfoil Three-Day Cup the past season, Zubayr Hamza, has been newly promoted to the professional squad of the Cape Cobras, along with two other rising stars from the semi-professional ranks, Jason Smith and GF Linde.

Hamza hit the headlines early in his career in assembling an unbeaten 202 against Namibia as he became the fourth youngest South African to hit a double hundred in first-class cricket.

He found himself in exalted statistical company. The trio ahead of him Johann Myburgh, Graeme Pollock and Xenophon Balaskas all went on to play senior international cricket.

Hamza struck 830 runs at an average of 59.28 for Western Province in the 2015/2016-season.

Faiek Davids, the Western Province coach, said Hamza possesses a calm exterior, is well organized and has the inner desire to perform.

He plays the ball under his nose and is strong on both sides of the crease. Hamza is quite wristy and can treat fast bowlers who have the temerity to drop it short, with disdain by employing an assured hook- or pull shot.

A product of Rondebosch Boys High, he represented Western Province and South African Schools in 2014 and just missed out on South African u.19-representation in 2015.

“Back yourself, don’t doubt your abilities and stick to the processes,” are part of his manifesto for a successful cricketing career.

Hamza struck three centuries for Western Province during his prolific 2015/2016-season, and considers the ton he compiled against Gauteng at PPC Newlands as his best.

“I was disappointed in us losing the three-day final. The visitors were a bit more disciplined in small things and just more clinical,” he added.

Hamza is a bit apprehensive about the professional ranks. “The nerves will always be evident. But once I get a taste of what is required of me, I will be fine. Performances will be key factors,” he said.

Davids is an admirer of the talent of the former SA u.19-star Smith.

“I am very excited about Jason. He is a very clean hitter and can tear any attack apart,” said Davids.

“He still needs to improve his understanding of how to go around his business,” he added. Unpacking his statement, Davids explained that Smith can get carried away a touch when he is destined for a ton and throw away his wicket in an unguarded moment.

“If he fulfils his potential, he can become of one of the better all-rounders of the Cape Cobras and later even in South Africa.

“But already he can nip it both ways off the seam and he is crafty with a lot of skill.

“If he conditions his body, he will become a frontline-bowler,” Davids confidently declared.

Smith was a member of the Wynberg Boys High school first team from 2010 to 2012. His alma mater was consistently amongst the top-five cricket institutions in the country while Smith was plying his craft there.

Smith was a member of the South African team that won the under-19 World Cup on March 1, 2014. The coach, Ray Jennings said afterwards: “All of them have the potential to make it big.”

During the past season, Smith struck 597 runs and captured 19 wickets, with his 6-49 against South Western Districts being his best innings-haul.

The undoubted highlight was Smith’s stylish unbeaten half-century for the Cape Cobras in his maiden innings at PPC Newlands where he combined with JP Duminy to power the hosts to a competitive total and a convincing win.

Smith was class personified, and one of his boundaries was an audacious reverse-sweep against the Dolphins.

“There is always room for improvement with bat and ball. I do need to do work in the gymnasium, because I am committed to add a yard of pace to my bowling and to improve my control,” Smith said.

Linde was a member of the Cape Cobras squad that won the Ram Slam T20 Challenge in December 2014 to atone for the heart-breaking 2-run loss in the final of the domestic T20-showpiece early in the same year.

The statistics of 14 wickets at an average of 15.55 in 11 matches with a best of 3-15 underlines his remarkable contribution to the all-conquering feats of the Cape champions.

A left-arm spinner who drew applause from the Cape Cobras coach, Paul Adams, about his ability to generate bounce and turn a la Claude Henderson, he can be a constant threat.

Linde said a finger fracture during the semi-professional season proved to be a blessing in disguise. It offered him the chance to remove the clutter from his mind and to improve his focus.

It was evident at the business-end of the season, as he scored 64 and took 4-37 in the ten-wicket win against KwaZulu-Natal.

In the Three-day Cup final, Linde nipped out 5-55 and 3-48.

Linde credits two former South African spinners, Robin Peterson and Adams, for their contribution to his evolution.

Peterson has never been shy of a word of encouragement. He even approached Linde a few times to share his trade secrets with the apprentice.

Davids is full of praise for Linde, and says if the young player can employ a higher, more teasing trajectory in red-ball cricket, it will add to his effectiveness and strike-rate in franchise-cricket.

“If he can take pace off it, work with his height and generate bounce, loop it above the eye-line of the batsmen and master that tactic, he will be a handful in all formats,” Davids said.

 

 

A misfiring top-order, fielding lapses and mental softness contributed to the mixed fortunes of the Cape Cobras in the Sunfoil Series, said Omphile Ramela, the captain.

“We have not been able to connect as a team. We performed in patches. A lack of intensity and a tendency to be mentally soft at crucial times cost us,” said the skipper.

The Cape champions finished fourth in the Sunfoil Series with 92.84 points.

Things could have been much different.

The champions of 2012/2013 and 2013/2014 would reflect on at least three botched opportunities to put opponents away in the four-day campaign – against the bizhub Highveld Lions and The Unlimited Titans, both at Paarl, and against the VKB Knights in Bloemfontein.

When assessing the strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT-analysis) of the four-day season, Ramela said the Cobras did not compile enough scores of 350 to 400 in the first innings.

They also dropped a significant number of catches which contributed to heart-breaking results.

A brilliant example of that feature was in the Sunfoil Series match against the Lions in Paarl where the Cobras spilled at least three catches on the final day and the Lions hung on grimly for a draw with nine wickets down. It is a match the Cobras should have won easily had they not grassed those chances.

“In the final match of the season against The Unlimited Titans, Rowan Richards bowled well to take 7-40, but we should have reached the target of 136 with five wickets down,” said Ramela.

“In the match against the Knights (in Bloemfontein) we were well placed to get a substantial lead, but with about a 100-run lead, we just capitulated and they only had to score 257. We should have hung in there and batted deep, and we did not.

“We were mentally soft a number of times and did not stay disciplined or show the focus required.

“We boast the players to win titles. The faces who have carried us to trophies have not changed. We had the Andrew Putticks, the Justin Ontongs, Dane Vilas, me, Vernon Philander, Dane Piedt, Rory Kleinveldt and we have gained Wayne Parnell who have international experience.

“So we have the quality and talent to return to the summit of South African domestic cricket,” added Ramela.

He said the Cobras required at least 10 centuries if they were to get to the top-two of the competition, and managed six, which reveals one of the structural fault-lines of the Cobras the past season.

Ramela finished the season strongly and averaged 42.28 after scoring 592 runs, while Vilas was superb with his 761 runs at an astonishing average of 69.18.

JP Duminy hammered an unbeaten 260 at Paarl and finished the season with 322 runs at an average of 161 to top the list of Cape Cobras’ batting averages.

Justin Ontong (average of 37.64) did not enjoy his best summer in the four-day competition after a sensational Momentum One Day Cup campaign.

Andrew Puttick (average 29.64) and Stiaan van Zyl (average of 19.40) did not do justice to their superb talent.

Piedt was the pick of the attack with his 39 wickets at an average of 22.33. Wayne Parnell finished the season in sensational style, capturing 23 wickets at an average of 20.56. He grabbed three five-wicket hauls in the final two matches.

Dane Paterson’s progress was curtailed by injury and rehabilitation, while Vernon Philander showed only flashes of his best form after an extended lay-off of three and a half months.