Most fans who have seen Keegan Petersen in the flesh on the cricket field (not only on TV or heard his shots described on radio or read about it in a newspaper-report) rave about the quality of his shot-making.

He can make it look so easy and so attractive to the senses. It is aesthetically pleasing and the purists would agree.

The Boland-player announced his arrival two seasons ago when he bludgeoned 965 runs including a superb 225 and he was named Cricket South Africa’s semi-professional player of the year.

Petersen is the first to admit that those performances created lofty expectations. Last season he produced double digits for the Cape Cobras’ franchise-team on a few occasions, but did not capitalize sufficiently to score a franchise-century.

He struck two half-centuries with a best of 54 and made 199 runs for the Cape Cobras

At semi-professional level, Petersen performed admirably, scoring 543 runs at an average of 77.57 and a highest contribution of 124 for Boland.

His recent visit to the Crompton Cricket Club in England was a delightful experience, although the elements denied him momentum and the stop-start-nature of the season was challenging.

He blasted 337 runs at an average of 33.70.

His passion and desire for the 2016/2017-season remain undimmed. He is determined to assemble a first franchise-century for the Cape Cobras and thereby banging the selectors’ door down.

Consistently performing for the Cobras is another one of Petersen’s goals. When you have the silky skills of a Petersen, it could be a double-edged sword. You can easily pierce the field, but become too ambitious too early on and perish.

An accumulator who earn his stripes by occupying the crease for hours upon hours and survive the bowling attack by an act of the will and the strength of his fitness, might eventually break down the tiring bowlers and then capitalize.

Petersen is a different type of player with a more attacking mind-set. He admits that a key to a more successful franchise season would be to improve his attacking judgement and to be more clinical in his execution.

“I know that if I want to succeed, I will have to dislodge some senior Cape Cobras’ batsmen, colleagues who are part of our family.  My challenge is to establish myself as a senior batsman at franchise-level,” he said.

 

 

 

The Cape Cobras seam bowler Tshepo Moreki had to wait more than four months for his finest performance for Oundle Town Cricket Club, as his all-round prowess propelled the team to a win in August.

He struck a lusty forty odd in that match and took 4-35 to secure the spoils.

It was an industrious association with Oundle, as he hammered 633 runs at an average of 24.35, and captured 29 wickets.

“It could have been better.  There was a lot of stop and starts due to the weather,” he said.

Adjusting to the Duke-ball takes some doing when you are in England, but Moreki looks on the bright side. Being exposed to a new environment and adjusting to the challenges developed his cricketing character, he explained.

When Moreki is bowling at his peak, he can challenge even the best domestic batsmen with an unusual action and some surprisingly hostile short deliveries.

He possesses white line fever and when the competitive juices are flowing, the former South African u.19-bowler has to be treated with extreme care.

In this regard, his friendship with the vastly experienced Cape Cobras opener Andrew Puttick has aided him, Moreki said.

Puttick and other senior batsmen have pointed out the importance of not allowing batsmen to lunge forward and to become too comfortable.

The odd surprise delivery is necessary to unsettle them.

It is the follow-up delivery that does the damage, as the batsman is not that enthusiastic to move his feet and get to the pitch of the ball.

Moreki said one of his goals is to perform in all formats, and to be more of a menace in the four-day competition.

He also wants to make his mark in the Ram Slam T20 Challenge, as he was injured for that campaign, he said.

Moreki played in two Under-19 ODIs against England in the 2012-13 season when he also made his first-class debut for Kwa-Zulu Natal.

After two decent seasons for them, he was picked for South Africa’s national academy in 2015. He toured Sri Lanka with the academy side and topped of the bowling averages in both the four-day and one-day matches.

In the Momentum One Day Cup campaign last season, Moreki nipped out 15 batsmen for the Cape Cobras. Only Wayne Parnell, with 16 scalps, was more venomous with the ball in terms of the wicket column.

Yet, in the Sunfoil Series, Moreki only achieved 12 wickets in nine games. It is an area where the young bowler is still a work in progress.

He has identified hitting the right areas consistently as his main priority in the 2016/2017-season.

“To me, it is not about bowling at 150 km/h. I want to feel that my rhythm is good and bowl it in that tricky area (to build pressure),” he added.

 

PPC Newlands, one of the world’s most iconic venues and rated number three in South Africa in terms of the quality of its pitch and its lush outfield in 2016, will boast a new drainage system when Australia arrives for the One Day International series in October.

But whether the two extra pitches that were added on the table or the drainage will save Australia’s bacon, remains to be seen.

PPC Newlands has hosted 53 test since its inception in 1889, winning 22 and losing 20.

But its die-hard fans and superb bowlers like Shaun Pollock, Makhaya Ntini, Dale Steyn, Allan Donald and Charl Langeveldt, have made life unbearable for all-comers in One Day Internationals. South Africa has only lost five games from 31 since the first game in the limited-overs format in 1991/92 on the hallowed turf.

Evan Flint, the PPC Newlands curator, said it would take three weeks to install the new drainage system. There was an excellent one in place which was installed in 2003 for the Cricket World Cup.

Yet, when he started at Newlands in 2008, the playing fields literally had to be made level, and the drainage system was severely impacted as a result.

The new system will replace the original one which was such a glorious ally at one of the homes of cricket in the Western Cape.

“The work is done in association with Cricket South Africa,” said Nabeal Dien, chief executive officer of the Western Province Cricket Association.

“The longer seasons and the advent of so many international matches at PPC Newlands (14 in the next three years) have made it pivotal for us to have all our basis covered. It will just enhance the reputation of Newlands as one of the most beloved grounds in the world.

“Last season we had a record crowd of more than 85 000 assembled for the test against England.

“We expect a capacity crowd against Australia on the 12th October,” Dien added.

A rejuvenated Dane Paterson is back to his rampant best thanks to a technical adjustment made by his bowling coach Down Under, Vincent Barnes.

The Cape Cobras’ fast bowler who won a hat-trick of Western Province trophies at the awards-ceremony in 2015 after a season in which he claimed 42 Sunfoil Series victims, produced some magic and propelled South Africa A to an emphatic eight-wicket win against Australia A at the Tony Ireland Stadium in Townsville on Saturday.

It was the fifth match of the quadrangular, one-day series in Australia.

Paterson captured 3-13 in eight overs to send the Australia A top-order into free fall.

Tabraiz Shamsi, exciting left-arm wrist spinner of the Multiply Titans, took 3-25 in eight overs.

“Dane has been one of the standout seamers on the tour so far,” said Barnes, high performance manager of Cricket South Africa and SA A coach.

“I know he has worked hard with Paul Adams (the Cape Cobras coach) in the winter. He looked a bit flat in the second game and was very inconsistent with his lines. I found a bit of a technical problem in his load-up which caused him to angle the ball into the right-handers. It was much better yesterday (on Saturday).

“He hit great areas, swung the ball up front and used his bouncers very effectively,” Barnes said.

“Dane’s great asset is his ability to adjust to the different game situations and use the ball accordingly. Control is his strength. He swings the new ball, controls the middle overs and bowls well at the death,” Barnes remarked.

Paterson is a whole-hearted performer and his menacing and aggressive approach has endured him to the Cape Cobras fans.

He creates wickets for other members of the attack with his aggression and his ability to unnerve the top-order.

In the 2014/2015-season, he picked up the most wickets in the Sunfoil Series and was also instrumental in taking the Cape Cobras to the Ram Slam T20 Challenge title by claiming 4-33 in the final against the Knights at PPC Newlands.

 

 

Ramela says lack of application of basic skills let SA A down

There is a widely held belief in sport that the legends of the game are those who are simply consistently brilliant at executing their basic skills.

That is no rocket science, and Omphile Ramela, the Cape Cobras’ captain in the four-day format, says that is where South Africa A slipped in the unofficial test series against Australia Down Under recently.

The Australians romped to a 2-0 series victory, winning the four-day matches in emphatic style.

Ramela said many batsmen had the opportunity to convert solid starts into substantial centuries, and failed to do it. He was one of the offenders, he admits in a frank assessment of his inability to capitalize on his 82 and transform it into 150.

On the whole, Ramela was satisfied with his own batting form in the four matches in Zimbabwe and Australia, although not happy.

He struck 242 runs in the four matches at an average of 48.40. It included an unbeaten 101 in the first unofficial test against Zimbabwe in Harare.

Ramela said the South African bowlers did not hunt in pairs in the series Down Under, which contributed to their lack of fire-power.

Asked about his plans for the immediate future, Ramela said he wants to tighten up his game more and grow as a player, while tapping into the expertise of the batting coach Ashwell Prince.

Prince, a former stalwart of South Africa who struck 11 test centuries while seldom meekly surrendering was a feisty and determined warrior, will no doubt aid Ramela in his quest for higher honours.

Shaun Pollock, a former South African captain, once said the key to greatness is to back yourself ruthlessly, because nobody else will. Ramela agrees, but adds: “It is not of any use to have self-belief and confidence, because somebody has got to give you the opportunity and believe in you as well.”

Luckily, in Ramela’s case, the SA A –selectors showed faith in him after he struck two centuries at the back-end of the 2014/2015-season (against the Warriors and the Titans).

He repaid them with a century on debut for South Africa A, and recently struck another ton in Zimbabwe.

“Now it is about racking up the runs in the 2016/2017-season,” he says. Volumes of runs and consistency might go a long way in assisting Ramela in knocking down the national selectors’ front door.

 

 

His contributions for the South African Emerging team the past month has been eye candy to all Cape Cobras’ supporters – 124, 50, 26*, 44, 75,134.

So well has Jason Smith batted at number four and five in the tri-nations series against the Sri Lankan Development Emerging team and the University Sports South Africa X1 that the Cape Cobras would be confident about Smith when the new ball arrives, whether it is the first or second one.

Paul Adams, the Cape Cobras’ coach, said he shared his excitement about the young former South African u.19-player a few months ago with Vincent Barnes, manager of the high performance centre. “There is something about this young man,” he said.

Smith, a hard-hitting top-order batsman, continued his big-hitting performance with the blade when he smashed 124 off 128 balls for the South African emerging team in the first four-day match against the Sri Lankan Development Emerging team.

Batting at number five, he made it look simple and accolades have been pouring in for Smith.

Adams said the Cobras inserted him already in a Momentum One Day Cup match against the Sunfoil Dolphins and he also represented the Cobras in a Sunfoil Series clash.

What Smith offers, is not only his ability with the bat, but he can also bowl a spell or two as medium-fast bowler with an array of cutters and slower deliveries that can be useful options to dismantle a batting line-up.

Adams is not too concerned where Smith and Zubayr Hamza will slot into the Cape Cobras’ batting line-up for the 2016/2017-season.

Currently, the team is blessed with several batting options in the top-six, and if  Smith and Dane Vilas are employed in the top-six, it could leave the Cobras with the option of having the fast-developing all-rounder Wayne Parnell at seven and four bowlers to follow.

This will improve the Cobras’ balance that much more in the 2016/2017-season.

 

 

Young Cape Cobras and Western Province all-rounder, Jason Smith, was not too fussed after being named Man of the Series for the South Africa Emerging side in the Cricket South Africa (CSA) Emerging Tri-Series that concluded in Pretoria on Wednesday.

The University Sport South Africa (USSA) XI cruised to a six-wicket triumph over the Emerging team in the final played at Tuks Oval.

Smith may have been unable to get his team over the line, but his aggregate of 329 runs, including two 50s and a century, ensured he finished as the top run-scorer in the competition. The 21-year-old, who made one of his half-centuries in the final, averaged 82.25 with the bat and also claimed five wickets to top the bowling averages with 15.40.

“I didn’t think anything of it (performances in the competition),” he said. “It’s always nice to do well, so I’m just glad I got to make a contribution to the team.”

Smith made his franchise debut late last season and is expected to play a bigger role for his Cape Town team this season. He also thanked Emerging team coach Shukri Conrad for helping progress his game over the past few weeks.

“I’ve been working on being tight and I know Shuks has been helping me a lot, about waking up, especially when going in early on,” he added. “So he’s been giving be a kick up the backside.

“I’m ready to accept it, so I don’t mind it all.”

 

~ Michael Owen Smith

“He has got what it takes. If he doesn’t play franchise cricket a lot more, we would be getting it horribly wrong.”

This is Andrew Wylie’s blunt and frank assessment of Zubayr Hamza, young emerging batting star of the Cape Cobras and the University Sports South Africa X1 that’s  currently participating in the tri-series against the South African Emerging players and the Sri Lankan Development Emerging team in Pretoria.

Wylie, coach of the University team and a former Boland player during the coaching tenure of Bob Woolmer and Hylton Ackerman, raved about the 20-year old Hamza.

An accumulator who goes about his business quietly but undaunted, Hamza seems like the complete package.  “You look up and suddenly realize he has scored 40 (without really smashing anything to the boundary in anger).

“Technically, he can play all around the wicket. The hallmark of a good cricketer is to understand your own game, your strengths and weaknesses, assess the conditions and adapt accordingly. He does that. I don’t see many weaknesses,” Wylie remarked.

Hamza has been one of the stand-out players in the tri-series. He has assembled 332 runs at an average of 83 and a commendable strike-rate of 84.91.

Last season, the stylish Western Province player hammered 830 runs in a first-class season for the amateur team and powered them to the finals of the Three-day Sunfoil Cup.

There is a weight of expectation on Hamza, which, if not managed well, can become burdensome.

Statistics have put Hamza in the elite company of Graeme Pollock and Ackerman (sr) as Hamza became the fourth youngest South African player to strike a double-century in first-class cricket.

Pollock and Ackerman are two of the players above him.

Ackerman has been described by the former England captain Tony Greig as one of the best young batsmen he had seen.  He was selected for the aborted tour of Australia in 1971/72 and struck 323 runs at an average of 46.14 for the Rest of the World against an Australian attack which included Dennis Lillee and Graham McKenzie in the same season while opening the batting.

Pollock was South Africa’s player of the 20th century and arguably one of the three finest left-handed batsmen of all time (the other being Sir Garfield Sobers and Brian Lara).

“Zubayr is the overall package. He can get into fifth gear easily and smash it to the boundary,” Wylie said.

Wylie was slightly surprised that Hamza has not been part of the franchise cricket squad for a longer period.

But the Maties- and University coach predicts a bright future for the young stylist. “He has shown a lot of maturity and has paced his innings well. His game awareness an tactical prowess is very good,” he added.

The final of the tri-series will take place on Wednesday 10th August.

 

 

One of the Mother City’s famous cricket nurseries, who nurtured the development of a certain Jacques Henry Kallis, recently produced another potential star in the making, Jason Smith.

A former player of Wynberg Boys’ High School and the South African u.19-team, Smith possesses that rare Midas-touch to turn dust into gold.

An example was his first franchise-match for the Cape Cobras, in which he produced a stylish half-century which propelled the hosts to a handsome victory at PPC Newlands.

In the previous first-class campaign for Western Province, he hammered 597 runs at an average of 39.80 and also captured 6-49 against South Western Districts while removing 19 batsmen.

Prior to a groin injury which side-lined him for a while, Smith was a mainstay for the South Africa emerging team in the current  tri-series also involving the Sri Lanka Development Emerging team and the University Sports South Africa X1 in the limited-overs format.

On a relatively slow wicket in the opening match at CBC Old Boys Cricket Club in Pretoria, Smith smashed 134 off 112 balls with 17 fours and three sixes to power the SA Emerging players to a 69-run win.

In his next clash, against University Sports South Africa X1, Smith used his cutters and slower varieties splendidly to restrict the varsity team to 201.

Despite his composed 75 off 98 balls with eight fours and two sixes, the University team won by 42 runs.

“His knock against the Sri Lankan attack was an outstanding effort. He has the ability to clear the field with ease, and he played with such maturity,” said an admiring captain, Marques Ackerman.

“With the ball, he was able to mix it up as well and create chances with his cutters. He assessed conditions well,” he added.

Smith subsequently suffered a groin injury in practice which curtailed his progress, but the injury is responding splendidly to treatment. He looks on course to represent the SA Emerging players against the Sri Lanka Development Emerging team on Sunday at CBC Old Boys Cricket Club.

Smith was proud of his century in the first match of the tournament.  “I got into good positions early and kept it tight from the start. The bad balls I put away.

“It was a slow wicket – quite slow and sticky at the start,” he said.

But Smith handled the attack expertly and excelled at the business-end of the innings.

Faiek Davids, his coach at Western Province, has sung Smith’s praises, but has also been sanguine and philosophical about his strengths and weaknesses.

He previously said Smith possesses all the bells and whistles of a potential excellent franchise-player, but needs to improve his conversion rate once he has struck a half-century.

“I am just happy that I have been able to spend a lengthy time at the crease for the SA Emerging players,” Smith said.

The 21-year old is at the summit of both the batting and bowling averages of the SA Emerging players, having scored 209 runs at an average of 104.5 and having taken four wickets at a miserly economy-rate.

If he can continue in this vein, the Cape Cobras will shortly have to make difficult selection posers at number seven, having Vernon Philander, Rory Kleinveldt, Wayne Parnell and the fast-evolving Smith at their disposal.

 

 

“He is a world-class bowler and he will definitely get more out of the wicket on South African tracks than was the case in Brisbane,” said the former South African left-arm spinner about the international recall of Vernon Philander.

The all-rounder Philander is one of seven Cape Cobras in the South African test squad selected for the series against New Zealand. The first test will start on August 19 at Sahara Stadium Kingsmead and the second at SuperSport Park from August 27.

Hashim Amla, JP Duminy, Dale Steyn, Stiaan van Zyl, Wayne Parnell and Dane Piedt are the other Cape Cobras in the squad.

Philander has been bowling miserly spells for South Africa A without getting much reward. He was the pick of the attack in the first innings of the first unofficial test against Australia A in Brisbane the past week, purchasing 3-52.

Harris is unconcerned about the lack of wickets. “Vernon is only getting back into rhythm following prolonged injury. He will be a perfect foil for Dale Steyn and Kagiso Rabada as he is economical and they can strike (from the other end).

“I do believe there will be more for him in the South African wickets.

“The fact that Morné Morkel is not in the squad due to injury, has been a selection relief to a degree, as they might have been left with a decision on who to drop and who to retain of the frontline-bowlers,” Harris said.

Van Zyl has made his presence felt for South Africa A upon his return to form, slamming an unbeaten 133 in the second unofficial test against Zim A at the Queens club in Bulawayo and scoring 85 in Brisbane in the first unofficial test against Australia A.

Parnell has been a superb performer for the Cape Cobras. He captured three successive five-wicket hauls in an innings at the back-end of the 2015/2016-season, including 7-51 at PPC Newlands against the Dolphins.

The test squad is: Faf du Plessis (Multiply Titans, capt), Kyle Abbott (Warriors), Hashim Amla (Cape Cobras), Temba Bavuma (bizhub Highveld Lions), Stephen Cook (bizhub Highveld Lions), Quinton de Kock (Multiply Titans), JP Duminy (Cape Cobras), Dean Elgar (Multiply Titans), Chris Morris (Multiply Titans), Wayne Parnell (Cape Cobras), Vernon Philander (Cape Cobras), Dane Piedt (Cape Cobras), Kagiso Rabada (bizhub Highveld Lions), Dale Steyn (Cape Cobras), Stiaan van Zyl (Cape Cobras)