The new energy in the Buildnat Cape Cobras team and the focus on lifting their own performances and the importance of the senior players taking charge in critical moments, have been at the heart of the revival and resurgence in the Sunfoil Series, said Dane Vilas, wicketkeeper-batsman of the Cobras.

Vilas admitted his performances with the bat have been below his best, but he has been satisfied with his work behind the stumps. “I completed five catches in the last innings against the Multiply Titans,” he said.

Asked about his decision to represent Lancashire for two seasons, Vilas said he made the decision not purely because of the lure of the pound. “Quinnie (Quinton de Kock) has played so well that I have no real chance of getting back into the South African team.

“But my commitment to the Buildnat Cape Cobras is undimmed and unwavering. I have told Nabeal (Dien, the chief executive officer of the Western Province Cricket Association) that I will now be available for the Cobras for all games, as I will not be representing South Africa.

“Another factor in my decision to play for Lancashire is that my wife, Pippa, has family over there. Her mother and her two brothers and sister live in the United Kingdom,” he said.

In terms of the Cobras, Vilas said the team has had a renewed focus on the basics and have not concentrated too much on the other teams’ strength and weaknesses.

It is almost a cast that the Cobras know that if they can play at the peak of their considerable powers, they have the qualities to edge most teams.

“And we have our fate in our own hands. In our next game, against the VKB Knights at Boland Park in Paarl starting on Thursday 2nd February, we are clashing with the log leaders. In our final game, we are playing against the team currently holding the number two spot.

“So if we can do well against both, we can move up the order a very long way and winning the title is not beyond us,” he said.

The Cobras will know that they still have work to do. Andrew Puttick has scored 296 runs, Omphile Ramela has contributed 346 runs and Stiaan van Zyl has struck 372 runs, but all three top-order stalwarts are still to hit top form consistently.

To be fair to Puttick and Ramela, the wicket at SuperSport Park last week was very bowler friendly and arguably a nightmare for any opener.

Two Buildnat Cape Cobras batsmen, Justin Ontong and Jason Smith, have scored more than 400 runs this season.

If the top six can fire with the help of Vilas, the Buildnat Cape Cobras can put the Knights attack under enormous pressure.

Boland Park is a good hunting ground for Vilas, where he managed an unbeaten 216 last season and featured in a South African record partnership of 393 for the fifth wicket with JP Duminy.

“I thought our bowling was superb against the Multiply Titans,” said Vilas. “Rory Kleinveldt, like Justin, led the way as senior players. Rory bowled consistently in the right areas and was brilliant,” added Vilas.

“Last season I batted very well, but I did not contribute too much to winning causes. If I can contribute a half-century or two in the next two games and help power the team to wins, it would be very satisfying,” said Vilas.

Justin Ontong’s 25th first-class century was amongst the three best tons he has ever produced, he admitted, but it meant much, much more because it contributed to the Buildnat Cape Cobras’ emphatic nine wicket win against the defending champions, the Multiply Titans, at SuperSport Park in Centurion in the Sunfoil Series match.

“If we drew this match, our Sunfoil Series campaign was over, but because of this win, we are still in the run. Our next game is against the log leaders, the VKB Knights, and we are eager to make a statement in that four day match too,” Ontong said.

Ontong spent 342 minutes at the crease, faced 206 balls and struck 13 fours in his excellent 110. He also was the mainstay in what turned out to be a match-winning partnership with Jason Smith which yielded 148 runs in the first innings, as the Cobras finished with 326 for nine and created a first innings lead of 131 runs.

The Multiply Titans managed 168 in the second innings and the Buildnat Cape Cobras cantered to 41 for one and a comprehensive nine wicket victory.

“It was really a tricky wicket to bat on, because there was some grass on it, the ball was nipping off the seam and also swinging in overcast conditions. It was extremely important for me to leave very, very well, even if that meant that a few deliveries just missed the off stump.

“Jason and I played and missed, but I spoke to him and encouraged him. I told him that it is a pivotal partnership and he maybe had to curb his natural instinctive aggression, but it was a very important knock by Smith,” Ontong said.

“I decided that I would force the attack to bowl at me, instead of playing outside the off stump and get nicked off. I tried to play with the full face of the blade and hit it between mid-off and mid-on or through mid-wicket,” Ontong said.

Rory Kleinveldt, who captured 5-45 in the second innings, was the spearhead in the bowling attack. “He kept the ball in the right areas and knew that there would be nip off the seam. His experience was a key factor.

“It was important for us that the senior players stood up and that was what Rory and I did.

“The support bowling by the younger bowlers like Tshepo Moreki, Jason and Lizaad Williams was absolutely outstanding. They just followed Rory’s example,” he said.

Ontong is firm in his belief that the Buildnat Cape Cobras are not out of the title hunt, and that victories against the VKB Knights and the Hollywoodbets Dolphins could get them close to the summit of the log.

Rory Kleinveldt led a stunning bowling display by the BuildNat Cape Cobras with his five wickets paving the way for a superb nine-wicket win over defending champions the Multiply Titans late on the final day at SuperSport Park in Centurion on Sunday.

The fast bowler took 5/45 in 18 overs as the home side were skittled for a poor 168 on the final afternoon, before the visitors eased to their 38-run victory target with just one wicket down.

It was a remarkable result for the Capetonians considering the match ended up constituting 239.4 overs – with just under half of the time lost due to rain and bad light.

However, the Cobras’ first innings batting display, built around a century from veteran Justin Ontong, and two disciplined performances by their bowlers set up a win that saw them climb off the foot of the table for the first time this season.

The Titans began the final day on 20/0 as a draw looked the most likely outcome. But after a 61-run opening stand between Aiden Markram (24) and Heino Kuhn (41), they lost all their wickets for 107.

Kleinveldt’s 18th career five-for proved pivotal, but Tshepo Moreki (2/37) proved a useful foil, and so did Jason Smith after he picked up 1/17 in 11.3 overs – his wicket being top-scorer Heinrich Klaasen (54 off 133 balls, 4 fours, 1 six).

The Cobras (70.66 points), who have enjoyed a real turnaround since the appointment of Ashwell Prince as coach at the turn of the year, walked away with 18.52 points, to move ahead of the bizhub Highveld Lions (67.18).

The Titans (76.66) fell to third, although all six teams remain in the title hunt with two rounds to play.

Lizaad Williams and Tshepo Moreki shared six wickets to put the BuildNat Cape Cobras on top after another shortened second day of their Sunfoil Series encounter against the Multiply Titans at SuperSport Park in Centurion on Friday.

After only 31 overs were sent down on day one due to bad light and rain, day two saw less than 60 overs bowled due to the weather as the visitors first shot out the hosts for 195, before then replying with 100/3 by stumps.

Williams, playing in his first match of the season, took 3/46, while fellow seamer Moreki ended with an even more impressive 3/37.

There were also two wickets for all-rounder Jason Smith (2/34) on a day when he also thrived with the bat thanks to an unbeaten 33.

Before that, though, the defending champions fell apart after losing their last seven wickets for 81.
Heinrich Klaasen contributed 52 (106 balls, 5 fours, 2 sixes) of those runs as the rest of his team-mates faltered around him with the home side rolled over in just 62.3 overs.

They did come out firing with the ball as Rowan Richards (2/16) struck twice and David Wiese (1/13) claimed one wicket that left the home visitors on 37/3.

But Smith and Justin Ontong (24 not out) shared a unbroken 63-run fourth wicket stand before bad light ended play early with the Cobras well positioned just 95 runs behind and with seven wickets in hand.

Tshepo Moreki claimed two of the three late wickets to fall as the BuildNat Cape Cobras edged a weather-affected opening day of their Sunfoil Series clash against the Multiply Titans at SuperSport Park in Centurion on Thursday.

The fast bowler claimed 2/22 in six overs to leave the hosts on 114/3 after they won the toss and batted first in their round eight meeting.

Only 31 overs were possible after rain washed out two sessions, before bad light also played a part late in the evening

The hosts had dominated the opening passages of play once the game eventually got underway with Aiden Markram and Dean Elgar bossing proceedings during an 86-run opening stand.

Standard Bank Proteas opener Elgar top-scored with 43 and rookie Markram hit 32, before both were dismissed from successive Moreki deliveries in the 21st over.

Captain Henry Davids (10) then fell to Lizaad Williams with less than three overs remaining as the Cobras finished strongly.

Michael Owen Smith

“Dane Paterson is one of the best death bowlers in the country, if not the very best,” said Richard Levi, who jumped to the defence of the beleaguered Paterson after South Africa’s five-wicket loss in the KFC T20 International series decider at PPC Newlands.

Paterson conceded 38 runs in 3.5 overs, but Levi said when he bowled the final over and conceded a four off his first delivery, he had to defend 7 runs off 5 balls.

The feeling amongst the senior players and captain might have been to suggest that he should not bowl a yorker.

“It is a question of risk and reward. They obviously thought it might be better for him not to bowl the yorker and to take a chance. It did not pay off.

“His default position is to bowl yorkers.

“I still feel that he should have played in all three T20 Internationals.

“Dane Paterson is one of the very best bowlers in the power plays and at the death in South African cricket, he is possibly the best.

“He is a wicket-taking bowler and he produces the yorker consistently,” Levi said.

Paterson (27) has taken 265 first-class wickets in 79 matches, and Levi said it is not the last fans will see of this fast bowler in South African clothing, as he possesses the skills to close out games for the Buildnat Cape Cobras and the Proteas.

“Things just did not go according to plan at Newlands on Wednesday,” he said.

Levi is not the worst judge. He has represented South Africa in 13 T20 Internationals and smashed 117 off 51 balls with 13 sixes in 2012 to catapult the Proteas to an emphatic win against New Zealand.

Levi is a magnificent limited-over cricketer and will be a force to be reckoned with for the Buildnat Cape Cobras when the Momentum One Day Cup competition starts.

THE Multiply Titans and BuildNat Cape Cobras head into their round eight Sunfoil Series clash with plenty to gain from their encounter at SuperSport Park in Centurion starting on Thursday.

Victory for either team will be massive in the context of what is shaping as one of the tightest four-day seasons in recent memory.

All six teams are still in contention for the title, although the bottom-placed Cobras will in all likelihood need to win all three of their remaining games to stand a chance, starting with this weekend’s trip to the capital.

The hosts, who are also the defending champions, are presently second, but a win is likely to move them top and also put an end to the visitors’ hopes of claiming the first-class crown.

Titans coach Mark Boucher believes the team that plays most positively is likely to emerge victorious come the end of the term, particularly with more rain predicted for the next four days. “It’s very unfortunate that a lot of the Sunfoil Series has been weather-affected, which doesn’t make it easy to get wins,” he said.

“We’ve spoken about this and decided that we’re just going to go out there and try and win the competition by being very positive. Playing aggressive cricket, that’s the way we feel.

“We’ve got to back ourselves and we can’t be afraid of losing. We’d rather go out there and try and win the competition. It’s an exciting brand of cricket to play, but hopefully our skills will be able to pull us through. We can’t control the weather, unfortunately, but we can control how we play our game and our mindsets.”

The Cobras failed to win any of their first five matches of the season, before seemingly turning the corner after a change of management and the introduction of Ashwell Prince as new coach.

“We’ve always known that the Cobras are a good side,” Boucher added. “They’ve got some good individuals playing for them.

“They didn’t start of the season too well, but they’ve seemed to have turned that around a bit. We respect that fact that they’ve got a good team and we’ll give them the respect they deserve.”

The hosts have been heavily affected by national call-ups with Lungi Ngidi, Tabraiz Shamsi, Chris Morris, Farhaan Behardien and Heino Kuhn all away, although the latter is expected to be back in time for the start on Thursday.

“We’ve lost a few players, but it’s an opportunity for others to step up and do well,” Boucher said.

For the Cobras, they will be looking to build on a strong start to the second half of the campaign, which included beating the bizhub Highveld Lions and drawing with the Warriors.

Even though the odds are against them going all the way and winning the title, assistant coach Faiek Davids is adamant it can be done. “In terms of quality and talent, I believe we have the cricketers to pull off those three wins in the final three four-day matches of 2016/2017,” he said.

“This is a special team and it is on the right path.”

Titans squad: Henry Davids, Junior Dala, Dean Elgar, Heinrich Klaasen, Heino Kuhn, Aiden Markram, Grant Mokoena, Rowan Richards, Malusi Siboto, Jonathan Vandiar, Shaun von Berg, David Wiese.

Cobras squad: Rory Kleinveldt, Aviwe Mgijima, Tshepo Moreki, Justin Ontong, Andrew Puttick, Zakhele Qwabe, Omphile Ramela, Dane Piedt, Jason Smith, Stiaan van Zyl, Dane Vilas, Lizaad Williams.

Michael Owen Smith

The Buildnat Cape Cobras eye the match against the defending champions, the Multiply Titans, as a good opportunity to make up some lost ground and possibly pass some of the other Sunfoil Series contenders in the battle for line honours, said Ashwell Prince, the Cape Cobras coach.

The Buildnat Cape Cobras and the Titans will meet at SuperSport Park in Centurion in a Sunfoil Series clash starting on Thursday (26th January) at 10:00.

The Buildnat Cape Cobras fast bowler Dane Paterson is in line to make his debut for South Africa in a T20 International against Sri Lanka at PPC Newlands on Wednesday and has been replaced in the Cobras squad by Lizaad Williams.

Williams, when on song, can bowl at 140 km/h and he possesses that white line fever and aggression which had made him a more than useful operator for the South African U19team, Western Province and the Cobras.
Prince said he is seeking small improvements from the team, but, generally, he feels confident that they are moving in the right direction.

“We batted well against the Lions in Oudtshoorn. In the next match, against the Warriors at Buffalo Park, we managed 291 in the first innings on a first day when the ball was moving around and the conditions were benefiting the bowlers.

“One thing I would like to see, is that we put a high price on our wickets and make it much harder for the bowlers to dismiss us,” Prince said.

Prince dislikes the idea of soft dismissals intensely and says attacks have to earn it. Batsmen must not just meekly capitulate or surrender their wickets.

If this clinical approach is implemented by the gifted Cape Cobras top and middle-order, the Multiply Titans will have their work cut out. The Cobras have scored five centuries this season and several members of the top-order, including Omphile Ramela, Andrew Puttick and Stiaan van Zyl, are in good nick.

Prince said the bowling unit is an outstanding one. He has emphasized the importance of building pressure. That is the way in which teams win matches. You have to be able to transfer pressure to the opposition.

“When you produce one ball an over that is dispatched for a boundary, and you allow a batsman to rotate the strike by bowling both sides of the wicket, a very good batsman will not easily be dismissed.

“But when you sustain pressure, you force mistakes,” he said.

“We need to stick to our disciplines,” he said.

One excellent example of the latter was in the Sunfoil Series match against the Warriors at Buffalo Park where the hosts lost their final five wickets for the addition of only 23 runs when the support cast for the opening bowlers hardly strayed in line or length.

Prince expects the same clinical approach at SuperSport Park against the Titans starting on Thursday.
The Buildnat Cape Cobras squad is: Dane Piedt (Captain), Rory Kleinveldt, Aviwe Mgijima, Tshepo Moreki, Justin Ontong, Andrew Puttick, Zakhele Qwabe, Omphile Ramela, Jason Smith, Stiaan Van Zyl, Dane Vilas (W/Keeper), Lizaad Williams

Arguably one of the five cricketers in South African domestic cricket who has made the most dramatic strides the past three seasons, has been the Buildnat Cape Cobras’ opening batsman Omphile Ramela.

The statistics are revealing. Of the nine centuries he has struck in 95 first-class matches, seven were completed in the last three seasons.

On his 27th birthday, he scored his first franchise ton, and he massacred the Multiply Titans’ attack a week later to strike an unbeaten 202.

Two of the seven first-class centuries in the previous seasons were assembled while representing South Africa ‘A’, one on debut for South Africa ‘A’ against India ‘A’.

But Ramela’s immediate focus is not his upward curve, but the Buildnat Cape Cobras’ next three games.

“I want to contribute first and foremost to the Cobras winning the last three matches, starting with the clash against the Multiply Titans at SuperSport Park in the Sunfoil Series match commencing on Thursday,” Ramela added.

“We have had the Titans on the back foot before. The important thing for us is to strike when we have them off balance, and to win the critical moments of the match,” he added.

“We possess a fine bowling attack, one that can take us 20 wickets and win us games,” he said.

“Our batting line-up is a sound one and is quite long,” he added. Aviwe Mgijima has been a case in point, continually striking half-centuries to shepherd the Cape Cobras’ lower order while batting at number seven. Jason Smith, batting at number six, has already smashed a century at a rate of more than a run a ball.

Ramela says he wants to continue his upward curve and he still has international ambitions. In order for an international call-up to occur, he must sustain the positive growth in his batting which has secured him seven centuries the past three seasons.

“It is about sticking to my game plan and doing the basics well,” he said.

Ramela has the ability to wear down attacks and to force them to bowl at him. He knows where his off-stump is and his powers of concentration have been an important hallmark of his improvement the past three seasons.

In 2014/2015, he struck 724 runs at an average of 48.26, while he managed 592 runs last season with two centuries and an average of 42.28.

Although Ramela has already contributed 332 runs with a highest of 170 in the Sunfoil Series this season, his average has been down (36.88). The fact that he is opening has made it more challenging for him.

But the lion-hearted opener can create a quandary for the national selection committee in the next three games if he scores two double centuries and a ton.

People who believe that is wishful thinking, should just cast back their minds to 2014/2015 in which he scored three centuries in five first-class games, which included a maiden ton for the SA ‘A’ team.

It is not only about the size of the bat, but also the size of the heart of the warrior who does battle.

Differently stated, the character of a cricketer is arguably his greatest asset apart from talent and temperament.
And Ramela’s improvement the past three seasons and the way he has ground down bowling attacks, has revealed that steely determination.

Ticket-demands for the third and deciding T20 International between South Africa and Sri Lanka on Wednesday have reached fever pitch due to the news that AB de Villiers is ready to play for the Proteas in what would be the series decider at one of the most iconic grounds in the world, PPC Newlands.

De Villiers convinced the selectors of his form and fitness when he crunched an unbeaten 134 off 103 balls for Northerns against Easterns in a CSA One-day provincial game on Sunday after a hiatus of close to six months due to an elbow injury.

Mark Charlton, the Northerns coach, said De Villiers showed restraint at the start of his innings.
Once he settled, he displayed the full array of his attacking repertoire, playing sweep shots, reverse sweeps, lap shots and classical cover drives.

It was vintage AB. It was almost as if he had spent no time on the sidelines.

De Villiers has represented South Africa in 106 Tests at an average of 50.46 and in 206 One Day Internationals at an average of 53.63.

An international icon, De Villiers smashed 687 runs at an average of 52.84 for the Indian Premier League team the Royal Challengers Bangalore last season. His strike-rate of 168.79 is an indication of how he dominated all comers.
His friendly rivalry with fellow RCB-player Virat Kohli and the question as to who is the best in the world in the shorter formats, Kohli, De Villiers or Steven Smith, have produced many cricketing debates around the globe.

David Brooke, Brand Activation and Sponsorship Manager of the Western Province Cricket Association, said over 14 000 tickets have been sold for the match on Wednesday at PPC Newlands.

“I expect an avalanche of requests for tickets and we suspect that a capacity crowd will turn up in support of the Proteas.

South Africa would obviously want to turn the tables after a disappointing defeat at the Bidvest Wanderers Stadium and there are few other venues with such tangible South African patriotism as PPC Newlands,” Brooke said.

Fans who still want to purchase tickets, can do so via www.ticketpro.co.za or at the ticket office at PPC Newlands during office hours. The match starts at 18:00.