CRICKET fans across the world are going to feel the excitement of T20 games during South Africa’s premier T20 domestic tournament. The CSA T20 Challenge 2016 is on for a whirlwind month from 12 November to 16 December.

International superstars Kevin Pietersen and Kieron Pollard are back and they will join AB de Villiers alongside current and emerging local stars who will hold nothing back as they compete to claim glory and a winner’s cheque of R2,7-million. De Villiers will play as soon as he is cleared by the CSA Medical Team with the rest of the Proteas superstars entering the fray once they return from Australia in early December. All of this promises to be must-watch cricket for T20 fans.

Fans are encouraged to “Let Loose” at the matches around the country. The experience and drama will be intensified by pyrotechnics, popular DJs and, of course, the chance to win a share of R1-million at televised games in the popular “Catch a Million” competition.

“We are ready to proceed full steam as we set the stage for another world-class tournament, commented CSA’s Head of Commercial and Marketing, Clive Eksteen.

“Our T20 tournament has always delivered amazing cricketainment and in-stadium activities. This year’s event will be even better with all our national players participating during the latter half of the tournament.

With CSA Chief Executive, Haroon Lorgat, out of the country working on the new T20 League that will be launched next season, Eksteen explained why CSA had decided not to appoint a title sponsor for this year as CSA prepares for the new League in 2017.

“As this will be the last time we play our domestic T20 tournament in its current form we decided not to appoint any title sponsor ahead of the new league we are planning for next year.

“But we are going to make sure that this year’s event will be an extra special occasion for players and fans. Whether you’re young or old, a cricket lover or a cricket newcomer come let down your hair, put your hand in the air and Let Loose in support of your favourite team.

“Let’s see which team will keep this trophy forever,” concluded Eksteen.

As in the past, the T20 Challenge will attract global TV audiences with selected matches being televised in the UK, USA, India and the Caribbean.

The T20 Challenge commences with a double-header at the Bidvest Wanderers on 12 November 2016. Come and experience the all-out emotion and entertainment of players letting loose and unleashing huge sixes and fiery deliveries like never before.

Michael Owen Smith

It was a disappointing performance by the Buildnat Cape Cobras against the Multiply Titans at PPC Newlands. Quite a few players will have to do soul-searching about their failures, said Ashwell Prince, assistant coach of the hosts.

He was approached after the Titans romped to a win by an innings and 50 runs at PPC Newlands in the Sunfoil Series clash between the defending champions and the Buildnat Cape Cobras.

The Cobras scored 235 runs in their first innings and 115 in the second as the leg-spinner Shaun von Berg finished with a match-haul of 10-113 for the Centurion-based visitors.

Prince was impressed by the effort from Stiaan van Zyl who struck 65 and an unbeaten 32 against the Titans.

He added that the stylish top-order batsman could have capitalized on one of his half-centuries the past three games. He struck 83 against the VKB Knights and 65 against the Titans.

The former South African middle-order champion said all the players and members of the management staff need to accept responsibility for the defeat and look in the mirror.

“I believe 99 percent of the game is mental, and obviously, after a string of defeats, the team will be low on confidence.

“But the only thing a cricketer requires, is opportunity. There is only one place where you can remedy things, and that is not in the board room, in the change room or the nets. You must go and fix it in the middle,” Prince said.

Prince has an intimate knowledge of how to transform adversity into triumph. In the 2008/2009-season, he was side-lined by injury and when he was set to return to the national team, he was initially overlooked for the home series against Australia.

When he was finally inserted for the third test at Newlands, Prince was told by the chairman of selectors that he will have to open the innings for South Africa because there was no other slot available.

Prince was in unfamiliar territory. He had to face the hostile Mitchell Johnson, armed with the new ball. But he responded by striking 150, one of the highlights of his glittering test career.

Prince implied that one or two players might find themselves under pressure after some low scores for the Cape Cobras, “Remember, there are some good players currently not in the Buildnat Cape Cobras squad. Pieter Malan has completed two double tons, and he is knocking on the door,” he said.

The assistant coach said Justin Ontong looked good while he was there with his 45 in the first innings against the Titans. He brings a wealth of experience to the team and he could be a key factor for the rest of the season.

The Cobras are in desperate need of a win against the Hollywoodbets Dolphins at Boland Park in Paarl as the fifth Sunfoil Series match of the season offers them an opportunity to break their duck of wins and kick-start something special.(The match starts on Thursday 3rd November).

The Cobras, winner of 10 trophies the last eight season and arguably one of the two domestic trend-setters in the 21th century (the other being the Titans) are too good a team to just fade and wither.

Therefore an inspirational performance at Paarl against the Dolphins might just be the tonic they require to transform a below-part start into something special.

SHAUN VON BERG finished with 10 wickets in the match as the Multiply Titans continued their resurgence with an excellent innings and 50-run victory over the BuildNat Cape Cobras at PPC Newlands in Cape Town on Saturday.

The reigning champions, who made a patchy start to the season with two successive losses, made it two wins in two early on day three after rolling over the struggling hosts for just 115.

Spinner Von Berg was at the heart of the visitors’ success, claiming a superb 5/25 in 10 overs to condemn the Cobras to a third loss in four matches. The 30-year-old also took 5/88 in the first innings to end with 10/113, the fourth time in his career he had claimed a 10-wicket match haul.

The home side had started the day on 37/3 and needing a further 128 to make the Titans bat again. But they lost veteran opener Andrew Puttick (27) inside the opening four overs when he was bowled by Lungi Ngidi (2/21).

Von Berg then claimed three of the remaining six wickets to fall, including that of Justin Ontong for 20.

Stiaan van Zyl finished as the top-scorer on 32 not out, but there was little support from the rest of his Cobras’ team-mates.

Titans captain Henry David also chipped in with 2/22 as his team secured an impressive 19.92 points for their efforts.

The Cobras managed 5.7, and stay rooted to the bottom of the table.

Michael Owen Smith

The Buildnat Cape Cobras’s coach Paul Adams have called for a more clinical approach to all three departments and the selectors have also made a few bold changes to the starting line-up to strengthen the Cape champions’ bowling attack ahead of the pivotal Sunfoil Series match against the champions, the Multiply Titans, at PPC Newlands.

Adams has identified the match, starting on Thursday 27th October, as a key clash for the Buildnat Cape Cobras to ensure they narrow the gap between themselves at the basement of the log and the team at the summit, the VKB Knights.

“We need to improve our bowling significantly. It is of no use to say the wicket was not conducive to seam bowling. In the previous few matches we were below-par with the ball.

“You don’t always encounter a green top. But you must align your strategies to the situation. There is something like an attacking approach while defending,” Adams said.

Adams was referring to the importance of applying pressure from both ends and putting fielders in strategic positions to dry up the runs and force opponents into fatal errors.

The Cobras have introduced the Boland opening bowler Zakhele Qwabe in Tshepo Moreki’s place while Rory Kleinveldt replaces the left-arm swing bowler Beuran Hendricks.

When Kleinveldt operates at the height of his considerable powers, he can bowl a heavy ball, and he can also swing it and seam it both ways. It will be imperative that the big fast bowler strike early by finding an immaculate length while nipping the ball both ways.

His inspirational presence could lift the bowling attack.

Dane Vilas, the Cape Cobras’ wicketkeeper-batsman, is bound to fly out to Australia on Friday and consequently, Andrew Puttick will take over the big gloves from him.

Justin Ontong, back from a hand injury, will replace Vilas.

Ontong, captain of the Buildnat Cape Cobras in the limited-overs formats, struck an attractive 70 in his previous first-class game for Boland.

“We have dropped a few chances in the slips. We need to remain switched on to ensure we grasp our chances,” Adams said about the fielding.

The Cobras have showed much improved form with the bat against the Warriors last week, with Puttick and Omphile Ramela striking centuries, while Jason Smith and Aviwe Mgijima assembled half-centuries. Their 567 for seven was achieved thanks to a 266-run opening stand between Ramela and Puttick.

This will be an important match for Stiaan van Zyl, who needs to get back into his habitual century-striking mode.

The team is: Omphile Ramela (capt), Andrew Puttick, Zubayr Hamza, Stiaan van Zyl, Dane Paterson, Jason Smith, Dane Piedt, Rory Kleinveldt, Aviwe Mgijima, Zakhele Qwabe, Justin Ontong.

MULTIPLY TITANS coach Mark Boucher believes his team are still a work in progress as they seek to build on their first Sunfoil Series win of the season last week when they face the BuildNat Cape Cobras at PPC Newlands in Cape Town starting on Thursday.

The defending champions made a poor start to the season by losing their first two matches, before bouncing back to thump the Hollywoodbets Dolphins at SuperSport Park last weekend. Now they are bracing themselves for round four in far better shape and with a lot more confidence behind them.

“It was a nice win last week, but we’re still very much a work in progress,” Boucher said. “We didn’t start the season well and we took it as an opportunity to go back to the drawing board and look at how we were going to re-approach our thinking with regard to four-day cricket.

“So there were a few things we needed to do and I think we did it fairly well last week. But by no means are we a finished product. There’s still a lot of hard work that is going to be done and needs to be done.”

Their opponents have made an even worse start to 2016/17 by their high standards. They lost in the opening two rounds before a high-scoring draw with the Warriors at the same venue last weekend.
Only 14 wickets fell in what was a run-fest at Newlands, but Boucher expects a result-orientated wicket this week.

“I think the Cobras are also under a little bit of pressure, not having won their first two games and then drawing,” he added. “I’m not sure about the wicket, but I’m sure they’ll be looking for a result wicket as well, which should set the game up nicely for both teams.

“But either way, we can’t control the conditions, we just have to go out there and adapt.”

The Cobras faced 188 overs last week and were still batting on 567/7 when the match was declared a draw.

For coach Paul Adams, it was still a relief after back-to-back defeats as they look to build on that result this week. “Our first-innings performances with the bat were one of the problem areas in the first two games, and it is a big highlight that we have set the record straight,” he said.

“We have been a bit patchy the first couple of games. What we need now, is to click in all three departments.”

Minimal changes are expected from both teams for the clash. Kyle Verrynne is expected to replace Dane Vilas behind the stumps for the Cobras as the latter is Australia bound to join the Standard Bank Proteas Test squad.

Go out and do what you love, the gravely ill PJ Puttick told his son, Andrew, before the Buildnat Cape Cobras’ opener went out to bat. And the 36-year old left-handed stylist rewarded his father for his faith in him by smashing 124 and sharing in a brilliant 266-run opening partnership with Omphile Ramela.

“On the morning of my innings, I said hi to him and he gave me a smile and a wink which I will treasure for some time,” Puttick said.

Puttick is the senior statesman in the Buildnat Cape Cobras line-up, and has played for Western Province for longer than 16 years.

He used that experience superbly well against a Warriors-attack that bowled well for long periods.

But Ramela and Puttick were defiant and blunted the attack, wearing them down and then transferring the pressure with splendid cover drives.

“I will commend the Warriors. They really did bowl well.

“I really felt that I have not had a bat in the middle for ages, because I did not spend much time batting at the Wanderers, and before that, it was the off-season, so it is great to be back,” Puttick said.

“It was great to get back into some flow and rhythm and also to give some joy back to my family,” Puttick added.
Puttick faced 320 balls and batted for 418 minutes, while his opening colleague, Ramela, toiled for 498 minutes to frustrate and ultimately defeat a valiant Warriors-attack.

“One of the most important positives that came out of this game is that we really wanted to knuckle down and make the opposition work for their wickets.

“We did make it tougher for them. It was not rollicking batting by Omphile and me but we grinded. It was very satisfying,” Puttick added.

Puttick’s word of putting a prize on their wickets is something that the Buildnat Cape Cobras’ assistant coach, Ashwell Prince, has always been an exponent of. He has implored the Cobras to not just surrender their wickets, but to protect it zealously.

An incredible knock in the face of adversity, is how Omphile Ramela, the Buildnat Cape Cobras’ skipper, described the hundred by his opening partner, Andrew Puttick, in the Sunfoil Series match at PPC Newlands which ended in a stalemate on Sunday.

Puttick, whose father is seriously ill, added 266 for the opening wicket with his captain and struck 124 in 418 minutes of stone-walling while facing 320 balls and striking 18 boundaries.
“It was a special knock. He created something spectacular for him and his father,” said Ramela about the 25th first-class century by Puttick.

Ramela underlined his credentials as one of the most-improved batsmen in South Africa the past two years. He hammered 170 and his vigil lasted 498 minutes. He hammered 26 fours.

“I think it was very important for us to lay a patient foundation with the idea at the back of our heads just to bat once,” said Ramela.

Ramela and Puttick initially played very straight, left very well outside the off-stump and occupied the crease superbly while wearing down the attack of the Warriors with their obdurate defensive work and good rotation of the strike.

Ramela only had words of praise for Jason Smith, who smashed 63 following knocks of 95 and an unbeaten 100 in his first three Sunfoil Series matches this season. “He has got so much talent. He will represent South Africa in the near future,” Ramela said with a ring of assurance.

“I am proud of the consistency of Aviwe Mgijima, having scored two consecutive half-centuries,” said Paul Adams, the coach.

“Jason walked in and was nice and positive from the start. When he spotted a bad ball, he just put it away,” he said.

“The pitch was docile, but you still have to apply yourself and that was what Omphile and Andrew did. They are the type of players that once they establish themselves at the crease, they can bat for long periods. Their patience was one of the key elements of the game,” Adams said.

“Our first-innings performances with the bat were one of the problem areas in the first two games, and it is a big highlight that we have set the record straight.

“What we need now, is to click in all three departments,” said Adams. “We have been a bit patchy the first couple of games,” he added.

The Buildnat Cape Cobras scored a massive 567 for seven in their first innings, surpassing the 525 struck by the Warriors.

The Warriors batted first and slammed 525 for seven. But the way in which Puttick and Ramela shut the door in the face of the Eastern Cape franchise, was simply remarkable.

Puttick missed the previous game because he had to attend to his gravely ill father.

He decided to play against the Warriors because he felt that is what his father would want him to do.

And the defiant way in which he and Ramela propelled the Buildnat Cape Cobras to 567 for seven might just be the turning point of the season for the Cape Town-based franchise, who next faces the defending champions, the Multiply Titans, at PPC Newlands.

OMPHILE RAMELA and Andrew Puttick both hit centuries as bat again dominated ball on the third day of the Sunfoil Series clash between the BuildNat Cape Cobras and the Warriors at PPC Newlands in Cape Town on Saturday.

Captain Ramela struck an extremely patient 170 (370 balls, 26 fours), while veteran Puttick was equally slow in notching up 124 (320 balls, 18 fours) with the pair helping their side close on 374/3 in reply to the visitors’ 525/7 declared.

Just three wickets fell all day with the Cobras looking to bat their way back into form after a tough start to the season.

The Cape side lost both opening games, but showed marked signs of improvement, thanks to the solid foundation laid by their openers.

The pair had the first hour of play off after a rain delay, but resumed on 94/0 at the start. Ramela, on 55 overnight, was first to reach his century after lunch, the ninth time in his career he had reached three figures.

Puttick followed not long after with his 25th career ton, before he was bowled by Basheer Walters (1/51) following a 266-run opening stand.

Zubayr Hamza (23) followed not long after, falling to the spin of Warriors’ captain Simon Harmer (1/117).

Ramela eventually fell with around a half-hour to go, falling to part-timer Eddie Moore (1/13) after a marathon knock of over eight hours.

Stiaan van Zyl (22) and Jason Smith (27) then took the Cobras to stumps with a first-innings deficit of 151 and the match almost certainly destined for a draw.

Michael Owen Smith

A career-best effort from Colin Ackermann helped the Warriors keep control of their Sunfoil Series clash against the BuildNat Cape Cobras after day two at PPC Newlands in Cape Town on Friday.

The right-hander made 146 (274 balls, 19 fours 4 sixes) as the visitors declared their first innings on 525/7 – their highest ever franchise-era total against their Cape rivals in the fixture.

The hosts had fought back to reach 94/0 by the close, but their slow scoring – they faced 46 overs – meant the Warriors were still in the driving seat.

The men from the Eastern Cape had started the day on 342/4 and Ackermann and Somila Seyibokwe extended their sixth-wicket partnership to 75. The former eventually fell for his highest ever first-class score – beating the 144 he scored for Eastern Province against Easterns in 2013/14. Seyibokwe went on to make 69 (137 balls, 10 fours), while Clyde Fortuin contributed 43 as the Warriors declared midway through the day.

The Cobras opening pair of Omphile Ramela and Andrew Puttick then soaked up all the pressure in reaching the close 431 runs adrift. The captain was unbeaten on 55 (127 balls, 11 fours), while veteran Puttick had faced 151 balls for his 35.

Warriors’ skipper Simon Harmer had sent down 18 of the overs, 14 of which were maidens with a mere 10 runs conceded.

Michael Owen Smith

BuildNat Cape Cobras coach Paul Adams has sounded out his senior players to step up and offer support to his impressive youngsters ahead of their Sunfoil Series round three clash against the Warriors starting at PPC Newlands in Cape Town on Thursday.

Stiaan van Zyl’s 91-run aggregate from four innings is the highest contribution from a senior player, whereas young all-rounder Jason Smith has already scored over 200 runs so far.

Other rookies like Zubayr Hamza and Matthew Kleinveldt have also shown promise – both have scored more than 100 runs in total – in what has been a bleak start to the season for one of South Africa’s traditionally stronger franchises.

“It’s been a tough start, but what we’re looking to do is to draw on is the performances of the young players,” Adams, whose side has lost both matches thus far, says “The way they’ve played has been inspiring.

“Someone like young Jason Smith, he’s showed so much calmness under pressure.

“We now need some of the senior guys to step up and support the younger players. Hopefully that will happen from here forward.”

The match is the first of three consecutive home matches for the Cobras. Adams is hoping to make that count, but is wary of the challenge posed by their Cape rivals. “We have three home games coming up now and it’s vitally important that we turn things around,” he adds. “But we do need to be watchful too.

“We need to look to improve on the basics and not allow them to get their tails up because they are a team that rides on confidence.”

Andrew Puttick is available again after missing last week because of family reasons.

The Warriors, who have added Jerry Nqolo to their squad, won their first game of the season last week by beating the champions Multiply Titans in Port Elizabeth.

“We’re obviously happier after last week’s result and that was just a culmination of all the work we had done in the off-season,” coach Malibongwe Maketa said.

Despite the Cobras’ current struggles, Maketa also insisted that they will be difficult to beat. “They’re a good team and it’s always been tough against them, so it will not be easy at all, particularly at home,” he added.

Michael Owen Smith