The art of reverse swing, the gift of talent spotting, the ability to empower young cricketers and the compassion for needy communities were and are part of the persona of Rushdi Magiet, one of the most decorated former cricketers in South Africa.

He has received the ultimate cricketing accolade – the life-time achievement award – on two occasions.

The 73-year old was acknowledged for his contribution to South African cricket over a period of more than four decades when he received the esteemed prize at the Cricket South Africa (CSA) awards ceremony on Tuesday 26th July.

His contemporaries and fans of Western Province remembered his exploits for the provincial team which spanned almost a decade between 1971/72 and 1980/81 in which he scored 917 runs in 37 matches and took 109 wickets with a best of 10-56.

Magiet might not have conceptualized the art of reverse swing at pace, but he almost mastered it. When he was in his pomp, he had few equals. His 109 wickets came at an average of 13.63 and an economy rate of 1.83, while his strike-rate of 44.5 was up there with the finest.

He was a member of the South African selection committee from 1991 to 2001 and was chairman of the committee from 1999 to 2001.

During that era, only Australia was able to compete with South Africa. The Baggy Greens were imperious in that era, specifically from 1995 to 2001, but South Africa, spearheaded by Allan Donald with support from Jacques Kallis, Herschelle Gibbs, Makhaya Ntini and Shaun Pollock, asked probing questions.

Magiet, the late Khaya Majola and Dr Ali Bacher were inspirational figures in rolling out the KfC Mini-cricket initiative which are part of the rhythm and heart-beat as a development sports programme in South Africa which reached even the remotest rural areas after unification in 1991.

Magiet possesses that rear eye to spot unique talent.

He told some friends when he saw JP Duminy at the age of nine at an net practice in Roeland Street that the middle-order batsman would represent South Africa one day.

When Duminy scored that superb unbeaten 50 at the WACA, followed by a magnificent 166 at the MCG in 2008 to propel South Africa to a series-win against Australia, the visionary Magiet’s prophetic words was vindicated.

In 2015, he also received a life-time achievement award from the minister of sport and recreation, Fikile Mbalula.

Magiet was a graduate in social work from the University of the Western Cape and practised in that field from 1964 to 1982.

He served as full-time administrator, selector and development manager until his retirement in 1999 and then succeeded Peter Pollock as chairman of selectors.

During the 1980’s, he was a member of Western Province’s executive and was appointed as treasurer of the Board in 1989.

CSA appointed him as match referee and he also served on the body’s restructuring committee from 2012 to 2013.

One of 21 recipients of the Mayoral medal in 2009, Magiet was honoured for his civilian work in establishing of 12 soup kitchens across the Cape Flats which fed 4000 people twice a week.

Despite physical ailments, Magiet is undaunted and is continuing the social work in touching communities who is in need of nutrition and upliftment.

“I have travelled six hours on a Monday and it was tough on my knee but I have mentored somebody else to complete the delivery and I pay him to do the work (of the soup kitchens) physically,” said Magiet.

The long-term administrator was humbled by Tuesday’s accolade: “I just feel honoured to receive the life-time achievement award of CSA. It is an acknowledgement for all the efforts that I have put in over the years to establish cricket.”

Probed about the future of South African cricket, Magiet said: “South Africa possesses a rich talent pool in sport, but we must attempt to identify those ball-players lure them to cricket. Some of them are drawn to baseball or rugby or other sports.

“Our challenge is to make it attractive for them to play the game. That is why mini-cricket is so important. It is such a popular festival. We must ensure that many of our scouts attend the mini-cricket festival.

“We have the talent to get back to the summit of test cricket. We must just have the spirit to play for one another,” Magiet added.

 

 

Dale Steyn, stalwart of the Cape Cobras and South Africa, returned from the Jamaica Tallawahs with his reputation as a spectacular strike-bowler enhanced. He captured 4-27 in his final game of the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) and finished with 12 scalps in the global T20-showpiece at an average of 14.66.

The Tallawahs may have made a telephone call to Kieron Pollard for advice about Steyn’s replacement, or perhaps they still freshly remember the remarkable 4-33 captured by Dane Paterson in the final of the2014/2015 Ram Slam T20 Challenge.

That is why they selected the Cape Cobras’ strike bowler Paterson to represent them as the competition reaches the home strait.

Paterson’s statistics is impressive. He has captured 245 first-class wickets in 72 matches at a strike-rate of 42.6. He has also nipped out 33 batsmen in 32 Twenty20-clashes at an economy-rate of 6.79.

The right-handed bowler finished with 42 wickets in the Sunfoil Series two season ago, but battled injury in the 2015/2016-season and could not quite repeat his heroics of 2014/2015.

Yet, his DNA, skills-set, brave-hearted nature and aggressive nature have not changed.

Naturally an attacker, he bowls very straight, moves the ball around and possesses that well-known fast bowler’s trait of white-line fever.

If given the opportunity, he can destroy lower orders thanks to his expert command of the Yorkers in the death overs.

Paterson was briefly selected for South Africa A last season in India, and that experience will be beneficial to the right-handed opening bowler of the Cape Cobras whilst representing the Tallawahs.

 

Dane Vilas was largely anonymous in Zimbabwe, through no great fault of his own. He hammered 48 of 30 balls in the second unofficial test against Zimbabwe A, and fulfilled the role as finisher after some compelling top-order performances by Stiaan van Zyl, Omphile Ramela, Stephen Cook and Theunis de Bruyn.

But would the hard-hitting middle-order batsman be out of place at number five, rather than walking to the crease at number six or seven?

Vilas said he won’t mind a move up the order and won’t feel out of place at number four or five. Ultimately, team dynamics is at play. The game plan and match situation dictates the approach, rather than his own statistics, he explained.

Currently the team dynamics make it almost impossible for Vilas to slot in at number five or even six. The top-six is fairly settled and each of the specialists made it almost hard to be discarded after regularly striking centuries or half-centuries.

The past season, though, underlined that Vilas should be seriously considered at number five. For the Cobras, he hammered 259 in the Momentum One Day Cup competition at a strike-rate of 126.39 and was dismissed only once.

In the Sunfoil Series, he was at the summit of the list of domestic averages, assembling 761 runs at an average of 69.18.

That tally included an unbeaten 216 for the Cape Cobras in a domestic fifth-wicket record stand of 393 with JP Duminy against the then defending champions, the bizhub Highveld Lions.

Not everybody might endorse Vilas’ thoughts about possibly moving up the order.

The former Australian batsman Keith Stackpole, a well-known household voice on Australian radio, was vehemently opposed to the wicket-keeper batsman Adam Gilchrist batting at number six for Australia.

He advocated the role of number seven for Gilchrist, saying that if he was batting at number six, he was considered a specialist batsman. At number seven, his role gave him licence to attack at will, and consequently he flourished and established himself as one of the most destructive stroke-makers in history.

Vilas has a similar, dismissive and swashbuckling style, although, good as he is, he is not nearly in the legendary class of a Gilchrist yet.

“I don’t think I would have technical issues to move up the order. I regularly face the second new ball while batting at number six, but it depends on the selectors and the team dynamics,” Vilas said.

A move up the order could realistically also be an attacking move to unnerve the bowling attack and increase the run-rate, as Vilas is batting with new-found confidence and dismissive intent.

In first-class cricket, he averages 40.93 with 12 centuries. That is not bad if you consider that he has done most of his batting at number six, seven or even eight domestically and at test level.

“Balance on a team sheet is important,” said Justin Ontong, the Cape Cobras skipper in the limited-overs format. Dane would like to be promoted up the order.  He is technically equipped, has worked hard has become very consistent, so he definitely can bat at number five,” he said.

Ontong added that the evolution of the 20-year old wonder kid Zubayr Hamza to the professional squad means that he would press for a position in the Cobras’ line-up and that he (Ontong) could come under the spotlight.

“But I won’t relinquish my position easily. I will fight all the way,” Ontong, who has assembled 10901 first-class runs,” said

 

 

 

 

Omphile Ramela might not yet be as good as Ashwell Prince was when the former South African batsman blossomed in 2008 and operated at the peak of his considerable powers.

But he possesses the same defiance, the same dogged determination to succeed against all odds, and salutes Prince for the contribution he has made to his success in the first South Africa A match against Zimbabwe A.

Ramela struck an unbeaten 101 in 328 minutes and faced 224 balls to set up a competitive total of 455 for six declared in the first match at the Harare Sport Club.

The Cape Cobras’ captain in the four-day arena said mastering the basics and working relentlessly in getting himself in tune mentally, were the cornerstones of his success.

He left well outside the off-stump, judged expertly when the bowlers were tiring and punished the half volleys or short deliveries mercilessly.

But that does not mean that he was stuck in neutral. In fact, Ramela admitted that finding a way to rotate the strike is almost more important that finding the boundaries. Instead of getting bogged down against the spinners, he could find a way to the bowler’s end.

Ramela also scored a century in the first game of the off-season in 2015/2016 when he managed a ton against India A for South Africa A.

One thing Ramela has in common with Prince, is that both put a high prize on their wicket and don’t capitulate meekly.

Ramela showed it expertly against the Sunfoil Dolphins last season and finished with 592 runs at an average of 42.28.

But he is far from satisfied with his progress. The left-hander has made it his personal mission to add volumes of runs on the tour Down Under as part of the South Africa A-squad.

 

 

 

The former American football player OJ Simpson who was later convicted of robbery and kidnapping, once famously said: “Fame is a vapour, popularity is an accident and money takes wings. The only thing that endures is character.”

The Cape Cobras’ star Stiaan van Zyl displayed plenty of the latter (character) the past seven days in Zimbabwe. After he was dropped from the national team following a lean patch in the first three tests against England and a torrid tour of India, he also initially battled in the Sunfoil Series.

The number-three batsman of the Cape Cobras scored 194 runs in the four-day competition at an average of 194 in 2015/2016.

But it only took the gifted left-hander one week to restore his confidence in the unofficial four-day games against Zimbabwe A.

He struck 73 for South Africa A and an unbeaten 43 in the first four-day match at the Harare Sport Club, and then scored an unbeaten 133 in the second match to set up a mammoth 570/6 (declared).

Malibongwe Maketa, coach of the South Africa A-team, applauded his effort, attributing it to a new mental frame of mind.

Mentally he is rejuvenated and in a different space, the coach said.

Van Zyl produced his greatest feats for the Cape Cobras and South Africa at number three, four or five, but when he was pencilled in as opener, he battled to make the adjustment to the opening role and also fell victim to the world-class off-spinner Ravi Ashwin.

Van Zyl’s new-found confidence is no surprise to most South African cricket commentators. Neil McKenzie, a former South African opener, said after Van Zyl was dropped that he is still a quality player and does have the ability to get back into the national team.

Paul Adams, the Cape Cobras’ coach, also maintained that Van Zyl needs an injection of confidence and requires a mental overhaul.

His words were prophetic, as Van Zyl used his time away from the franchise-scene wisely to get a fresh perspective on things.

 

 

 

 

 

Providing blankets and soup with bread to the needy in and around the Southern Suburbs was part of the Cape Cobras and Western Province Cricket Association’s (WPCA) celebration of Mandela Day, Monday 18th July 2016.

The players and staff teamed up and made soup at their homes ground, PPC Newlands. Thereafter, they visited various organizations in need such as Beit-ul-Aman (Home for the Aged), The OWL Haven Shelter and residents to of Kalbas Kraal , an informal settlements in Lotus River.

“We are currently experiencing such freezing cold temperatures and the Cape Cobras and WPCA players and staff wish to share the warmth with those who need support,” said Jasmiena Davids, Marketing Manager of WPCA.

“Mandela Day celebrates the potential that each individual has to transform the world. Each of us is asked to take responsibility for ourselves and act on the responsibilities we have towards others.”

The Cape Cobras were proud brand ambassadors for the Nelson Mandela Foundation in 2014, wearing the famous 46664 on their chests and sleeves when they represented South Africa in the Champions League T20 in India.

Paul Adams, the Cape Cobras coach, said: “Mandela Day is not only a celebration of Madiba’s birthday but also a commemoration of the values he represented. The Cape Cobras are happy to share more than 67 minutes with our communities. These communities form part of our fan base, who supports us so passionately.”

“The values of servant leadership, of caring, sharing and nation building were synonymous with Nelson Mandela, and we are proud to contribute to his legendary legacy in this way”, said Nabeal Dien, CEO of WPCA.

WPCA and the Cape Cobras have championed and supported several causes benefiting the poor, needy and vulnerable in society in the past. They have supported charities like Reach for a Dream, St. Luke’s Hospice and Woodside Special Care in Rondebosch.

 

 

 

 

 

Producing five-wicket hauls and entrenching his position as the Proteas’ frontline test spinner would be Dane Piedt’s premier goal when he embarks on the South Africa A tour, says Paul Adams, coach of the Cape Cobras.

Adams also endorsed Wayne Parnell as South Africa A-player and captain. He said Parnell has thrown his hat into the national ring for a test recall not only due to his left-arm swing variation which will provide assistance for off-spinners like his Cape Cobras’ colleague Piedt, but also due to his improved batting prowess.

The South Africa A team is currently in Zimbabwe and will also tour Australia shortly. Piedt, Parnell, Stiaan van Zyl, Omphile Ramela, Dane Vilas and Vernon Philander are the Cape Cobras’ players in the squad.

Parnell averaged 48.14 during the Sunfoil Series, and slammed 111, his first first-class century, in a match against the VKB Knights last season.

As a bowler, he captured 23 wickets in five matches with his 7-51 a standout-feature.

Adams said Philander is obviously also in the South Afriqueue as a possible all-rounder at number seven, although he is equipped to operate with the new ball.

Philander has averaged 28.55 at test level since his match-winning performance at Lord’s for South Africa in 2012. He averaged 51 with the bat against Australia in the 2013/2014-series in white uniform.

Adams said Philander will be focused on just continuing his rehabilitation and return to bowling fitness in the four-day matches in Australia A.

Philander nipped out five wickets in two matches for the Cape Cobras at the back-end of the Sunfoil Series in 2015/2015.

Adams emphasized the importance of Van Zyl reclaiming that mental edge and sharpness in order to force his way back into national contention. He lost confidence after being dropped from the national team.

Yet that does not deter from his class. Van Zyl has been a classy presence in the Cape Cobras’ top-order since 2007. Few fans will forget his 933 four-day runs in the 2013/2014-season, or his maiden test century in his first appearance for South Africa at SuperSport Park in December 2014.

Ramela struck a century on debut for South Africa A. “Yeah, I think the focus will be for Omphile to continue his consistency and run-scoring feats at that level,” Adams remarked.

Taking intensive individual training to the next level has been the shared motto of the Cape Cobras coach, Paul Adams, the strength and conditioning coach, Sherman Baatjes, and the Cape Cobras squad.

Baatjes has also expressed the view that the fitness, strength and conditioning of the Cape Cobras must be at a level above the required Cricket South Africa (CSA) standard for professional players.

He said he was indebted to the chief executive officer of the Western Province Cricket Association (WPCA) that the indoor centre at PPC Newlands has been revamped and modified the past 18 months so that not a single day of scheduled training was lost due to the winter rain the past month.

Baatjes said every player has been screened and the training squad has done preventative rehabilitation sessions in order to ensure that niggles and injury don’t reoccur.

The team has added a single 500 metre run to the existing schedule every week and by the end of July, the training squad will be able to complete a total of 12 runs of 500 metres each at a pace of 70 to 75 % of the players maximum (speed) capacity.

Baatjes has also adjusted pace training to match the specifications of a cricket pitch. He has introduced running at 85 to 90 % of capacity over distances of 25 metres, 50 metres and 75 metres.

These runs have assisted players in improving their fitness levels and their conditioning considerably.

One of the optimum goals is that players will be able to focus on their core cricketing skills while trusting their bodies to hold up comfortably, Baatjes remarked.

The strength and conditioning coach is a great believer in the importance of individualized training goals to match the special requirements of the players.

Consequently, the training program designed for the Sunfoil Series-skipper and South Africa A player Omphile Ramela is completely different to that for the fast bowler Dane Paterson.

Paterson and Ramela, incidentally, have been two of the real physical warriors of the Cobras.

Ramela batted a total of 1000 minutes in just two consecutive four-day knocks at the end of 2014/2015 and has again demonstrated his powers of concentration last season.

Paterson captured 42 Sunfoil Series wickets two seasons ago and has been a brave-hearted soldier last season while putting in the hard yards as enforcer of the bowling attack.

Zubayr Hamza will make the trip to Johannesburg as a short-listed nominee for CSA’s Sunfoil three-Day Cup player of the year, having slammed 830 runs at an average of 59.28.

The awards-ceremony will be hosted on 26th July.

Only 21 years of age and a member of the newly contracted professional squad of the Cape Cobras, Hamza is a man with a pedigree and a mission.

He was the fourth youngest ever to score a double century in the history of South African first-class cricket.

Faiek Davids, the Western Province coach who mentored Hamza in 2015/2016, applauds the work-ethic and scoring style of the gifted young player.

“He is mentally strong, technically strong and he knows how to score runs. Zubayr is an accumulator, but he is one of those players who gets to 20 or 30 before you know it. He is astute at penetrating the field.

“He is not a power hitter who slams sixes, but is aware of how to build scores,” David said.

Hamza oozes class and Davids saluted his immense contribution to Western Province’s cause the past two seasons. Last season Western Province was a beaten finalist in the three-day competition, and Hamza, Pieter Malan, SA Engelbrecht and Matthew Kleinveldt were the men who produced the competitive first-innings totals.

The Cape Cobras will rely heavily on Hamza to bolster the top- and middle-order in the new season, as they require back-up support for stars like Justin Ontong, Dane Vilas and Omphile Ramela to contribute to substantial first-innings scores.

“The fact that Hamza was short-listed for the award is a feather in his cap,” said Davids.

The other two players who were nominated for the same award, is Kyle Nipper and Graham Hume, both of Kwa-Zulu Natal Inland.