Aviwe Mgijima received the top accolade on Friday when he was named the Buildnat Cape Cobras’ Player of the Year for the 2016/2017 season. He was also a popular recipient of the Players’ Player of the Year trophy at the season-ending awards ceremony in the President’s Suite at PPC Newlands on Friday 31st March.

The veteran Justin Ontong, a former South African Test, One Day International and T20 player, walked away with the spoils as Sunfoil Series Player of the Year.

Ontong struck 593 runs at an average of 53.90 and finished fourth on the national list of batting averages. His Cobras top-order colleague, Stiaan van Zyl, hammered 709 runs while averaging 47.26 and finished 12th on the national list of averages.

Richard Levi was explosive at the top of the order in the Momentum One Day Cup competition and blasted 412 runs at an average of 51.50. His strike-rate of 136.87 was sensational.

Levi loves the short arm jab, but his extensive array of attacking shots and consistency was even more commendable, as he managed a century and four fifties during the competition before injury curbed his progress. Subsequently, Levi was a popular recipient of the award as the Cape Cobras’ Momentum One Day Cup Player of the Year.

Wayne Parnell, a member of the South African team since his international recall in the Caribbean triangular tournament in 2016, struck 159 runs at an average of 31.80 for the Cobras at the top of the order in the CSA T20 Challenge.

As a fast bowler, he nipped out six batsmen and his miserly spell came at an impressive average of 18.16. He was duly named the Cape Cobras’ CSA T20 Challenge player of the year.

Parnell has been a consistent member of the South African team that beat all-comers in the 2016/2017-season, whitewashing Australia and Sri Lanka and edging New Zealand in the land of the Long White Cloud. Parnell would cherish the team photo of the class of 2016/2017, as the Proteas have supplanted Australia as the number 1 ranked team in the world in the 50-over format.

Andy Warhol penned the immortal words: “In the future, everyone will be world famous for 15 minutes.”
The 28-year old Mgijima deserves more than 15 minutes or even 15 hours of fame. The lower middle-order batsman struck eight half-centuries during his consistent season, which is a testimony to his unwavering commitment to the Cape Cobras’ cause.

In the Sunfoil Series, he was the glue that kept the lower order together and inspired them to spirited fight-backs with a number of excellent contributions, including his best of 73 for the season.

Perhaps only one other South African batsman the past season was capable of superior feats while batting at number seven, and that is the world-class Quinton de Kock. But De Kock was privileged to have the Cobras’ number-eight batsman as a steadfast and defiant companion for many tests, Vernon Philander, at the other end for many of those innings.

Mgijima had to shepherd the tail while ensuring that the scoreboard keeps ticking over.

He struck 431 runs at an average of 28.73 in the Sunfoil Series, and assembled 246 runs at an average of 30.75 in the Momentum One Day Cup competition.

Mgijima often had to start his innings with the score on 40 or 90 for five. Lesser mortals would have been deflated by the status quo and might have raised the white flag.

Mgijima, though, did not read that meek script. He inspired Nine, Ten and Jack, read them the riot act and fought bravely. Like the former British statesman Winston Churchill who inspired his countrymen with the legendary words: “never, never, never surrender, Mgijima did not know the word surrender. He simply defied the odds and blunted classy bowling attacks.

It was his depth of spirit, his never-say-die-attitude that endeared him to friends and foe.

His career average puts the performances of the last season into perspective. He has struck five of his 11 half-centuries in first-class cricket in 2016/2017, and three of his four 50’s in List A cricket were blasted the past season.

“I wish to congratulate all the recipients of the major trophies for their well-deserved accolades,” said Nabeal Dien, chief executive officer of the Western Province Cricket Association.

“As the Western Province Cricket Association, we are immensely proud of the contributions by Aviwe. During the pre-season, he worked extensively with Ashwell Prince and his consistent excellence was reward for his work ethic, his self-belief and his commitment to make the Cobras great again.

“Richard showed his improvement during the season, and if you surveyed the hours of extra work in the nets, it would have inspired and encouraged his team mates to do the same,” Dien added.

“It is hardly surprising that Wayne was decorated again. His improvement the past two seasons was a sight to behold. Perhaps those three consecutive five-wicket hauls in the final two Sunfoil Series matches of the previous season will, in retrospect, prove to be a turning point of his whole career.

“Justin continues to defy the odds, even at the age when other players have announced their retirements, he has shone brightly,” Dien said.

“If I have one word of advice to the rest of the Cape Cobras, is that they will emulate the Mgijima spirit by not becoming complacent, but by constantly yearning for improvement and pursuing new standards of excellence,” Dien commented.

Ashwell Prince, head coach of the Cape Cobras, said he cannot endorse the performances produced by Mgijima enough, while he was incredibly proud of the way Levi demonstrated to the rest of the top-order how to approach the power play of a Momentum One Day Cup match.

He said he hopes Parnell will continue to evolve as a bowling all-rounder and that he will be a South African stand-out performer when the Proteas embark on their four-month tour to the United Kingdom in May, June, July and August.

“I also hope that our emerging young players will learn from the example of Justin Ontong and display the longevity which has made him such a star over a period of several years for the Cobras and the Western Province Cricket Association. He has been a part of a trophy-winning team of the Cobras on many occasions and at number four, has been a thorn in the flesh of most domestic opponents,” Prince remarked.

Cape Cobras Award Winners:
Sunfoil Series Player of the Year: Justin Ontong
CSA T20 Cricket Challenge Player of the Year: Wayne Parnell
Momentum One Day Cup Player of the Year: Richard Levi
Players’ Player of the Year: Aviwe Mgijima
Player of the Year: Aviwe Mgijima

The nine-wicket win by Northerns and Western Province’s failure to beat KwaZulu-Natal Inland at PPC Newlands, ended the hosts’ chances of reaching the play-offs in the Sunfoil Three-Day Cup competition and denying Province the opportunity of hosting a final like last season.

Salieg Nackerdien would have been experienced inner turmoil and heartache as they played an explosive brand of cricket, only to be pipped at the posts by Northerns, who won consecutive clashes against Free State and Northern Cape to reach the finals.

Western Province simply could not find a way past the KwaZulu-Natal Inland duo of Gareth Dukes and Kurtlyn Mannikam who scored 62 and 60 in the first innings of the deciding match to hold up the procession.

But there were enormous positives in Western Province’s stellar season.

Pieter Malan smashed 1069 runs in nine matches at an average of 59.68.

What makes this so phenomenal is that Malan struck those runs despite a labral tear in the shoulder that affected his movement and front-foot drives the whole season.

“I think some of the keys to my performances have been that I took time to entrench myself at the crease. Once settled, I made sure I capitalize on sound starts.

“Throughout the years, I have actually cut out high-risk shots that lead to my demise, and because of that labral tear, I did not play far in front of myself outside the off-stump. I let the bowlers come to me,” Malan said.

When probed about why Western Province could not reach the play-offs, Malan said Northerns deserve credit for almost a full house of points in their final three games against Namibia, Free State and Northern Cape.

“We had a break between two games, so unfortunately, unlike Northerns, who played three successive games, we did not enjoy the same amount of continuity.

“But to be fair, we battled occasionally to dismiss teams twice.

“Salieg Nackerdien took over in tough circumstances and did a splendid job with the team,” Malan said.

He was full of praise for the performance by Kyle Verreynne, who averaged 57.50 in the Sunfoil Three-Day Cup and smashed 690 runs.

“I think he is the type of cricketer who can play franchise cricket. He is a young cricketer without any thrills. He is an old-school cricketer who keeps things very simple and works so hard at his game,” Malan said.

Malan saluted the performance by the fast bowler Mthiwekhaya Nabe.

“He is a bowler with a very strong action and when his rhythm is good, he moves it around by nipping it off the seam.

“It is not necessarily a perfectly orthodox action, but it is one that he can easily repeat, and if nurtured and coached well, this is a bowler who can go places.

“Some bowlers got injured after a game or two, but not Nabe. In the final game against KwaZulu-Natal Inland he captured 4-48 and performed admirably,” said Malan.

A number of Western Province players have stepped up the past seasons. Dayyaan Galiem and Zubayr Hamza have already made their franchise debuts, while Jason Smith struck his first franchise century off only 88 balls and nipped out 20 franchise wickets with excellent support bowling.

The 18-year old swing bowler Michael Cohen finished with a match-haul of 6-49 in his maiden first-class game, and was unfortunately injured in the final first-class game against KwaZulu-Natal Inland.

If Western Province can advance a tad in the bowling department, there is no need to believe that they cannot reach a final and win it in the 2017/2018-season.

They would have been downcast after not reaching the final, but that doesn’t mean Province should dwell on their misfortunes indefinitely. They boast the talent and class to turn heartache into triumph in the 2017/2018-competition.

An explosive batting approach, an aggressive bowling attack hoping to use their firepower with the new ball to dent the progress by KwaZulu-Natal Inland and a ferocious pursuit of 10 match-winning bonus points will be Western Province’s clinical focus in their final Sunfoil Three-Day Cup match of the season at PPC Newlands.

The match starts on Thursday at 10:00.

Western Province, on 119.46 points, are just marginally behind Northerns. The latter will do battle at the LC de Villiers Oval in Pretoria against Northern Cape with their noses ahead on 122.22 points, courtesy of their recent innings win against the Free State which saw them bag 18.64 points.

If Western Province triumph against KwaZulu-Natal Inland or score three more bonus points than Northerns, the former will advance to the Sunfoil Thee-Day Cup final in a repeat of last season.

Salieg Nackerdien, the Western Province coach, said the hosts will have an ambitious batting approach and would even be aiming to score 550 runs in their first innings in order to achieve eight bonus points.

Striking with the new ball and using their swing and pace well with the new nut will be important, added Nackerdien.

In their past two games, Western Province have performed with aplomb, taking care of Easterns and Border with their gung-ho approach with the blade and thoughtful bowling.

Michael Cohen was impressive in his first first-class match against Border, bagging 6-49, but he is battling a groin injury. Travis Muller is on stand-by to replace him if he is ruled out of the most important match of the season for the hosts.

Pieter Malan has smashed 884 runs at an average of 110.50 for the hosts and is on the verge of striking one thousand runs in a first-class season.

“Pieter has extinguished the myth that he cannot face the bouncer and his professional approach to the new ball has seen him accelerate as soon as he had entrenched himself at the crease,” said Nackerdien.

GF Linde will have to play an enormously important role as left-arm spin bowler in conditions conducive to turn at Newlands.

“We know that if Northerns win (and score plenty of batting bonus points) we might not get to the final, but we must focus on what we can control,” said Nackerdien.

The absence of Dayyaan Galiem and Zubayr Hamza (who will represent the Buildnat Cape Cobras) will open the door to Derek Mitchell and Shaheen Khan, who will have to play out of their skin against KwaZulu-Natal Inland.

Western Province are a team that possesses the top- and middle-order prowess, but a few players need to stand up and play the role of senior stars with excellent performances.

One is Matthew Kleinveldt, who is a much better player than his average of just better than 35.5 suggests. The same is true of Mpilo Njoloza, who has taken 13 wickets in seven matches with a best of 4-35.

Admittedly, Njoloza had to play on very flat surfaces, but if he can reproduce the performance that saw him take a hat-trick on franchise debut, he could very well bowl Western Province into the Sunfoil Three-Day Cup final.

The squad is: Pieter Malan, Matthew Kleinveldt, Derek Mitchell, Neo Mlumbi, Kyle Verreynne, Shaheen Khan, GF Linde, Travis Muller/Michael Cohen, Mpilo Njoloza, Mthiwekhaya Nabe, Jesse Christennsen. Thokozani Peter, Carlos Koyana.

The Buildnat Cape Cobras will be travelling to SuperSport Park with the firm commitment to restore pride in the Cobras jersey.

In order to do that, a few inspirational performances are needed to help the visitors to avoid the wooden spoon by beating the table-topping Multiply Titans at Centurion in Thursday’s final round of league matches of the Momentum One Day Cup competition.

Ashwell Prince, coach of the Buildnat Cape Cobras, said one of the reasons that the Cobras found themselves on 12 points after 9 matches and at the bottom, is that the team has not responded well when their opponents blasted 300 runs.

The Cobras have been frantic in their approach, almost as if they wanted to chase down this score in the power plays. The truth, though, is that 300 has been about par for all teams in the 50 over competition.

The Cobras need a calm and measured approach when they start batting against a team bolstered by the presence of Chris Morris and AB de Villiers.

Another of the Cobras’ problem areas has been their fielding.

During a match against the Hollywoodbets Dolphins at Boland Park, there were a number of players waiting for a ball that was struck aerial. Every fielder could have caught it, but not one of them attempted to take the catch and the ball fell between them, said Prince.

Had the Cobras taken their catches against the Dolphins in Paarl, they would have moved to second on the log. Those spills in Paarl were one of the turning points of the Cobras’ campaign.

Prince said although the Cobras camp has been under fire for their catching, the hard yards in that department have been done in training and the intensity of the practice sessions have been high.

“You have got to back yourself to catch it when it is aerial,” Prince said.

The catching, which has been below par throughout the campaign as other teams have also been guilty of spilling a number of opportunities, has made life miserable for the bowling attack.

The Cobras top order as a unit requires the likes of senior members of the squad, Puttick and Vilas, to lead the resurgence of the Cobras, and the support crew require calm heads while abandoning the frantic, gung-ho approach to batting when chasing sizeable totals.

The squad is: Andrew Puttick, Andrea Agethangelou, Niel Botha, Dayyaan Galiem, Zubayr Hamza, Simon Khomari, Eddie Leie, Aviwe Mgijima, Dane Paterson, Zakhele Qwabe, Jason Smith, Dane Vilas (W/Keeper), Lizaad Williams

Northerns, Western Province and North West all face a tense weekend as they face a three-way battle for Pool A honours and a place in the final of the Sunfoil Cup Provincial three-day competition.

As things stand, Northerns lead the pool on 122.22 followed by Western Province (119.46) and North West (113.04). All three teams are at home in the final round, starting on Thursday, against Northern Cape, KZN Inland and SWD respectively. By contrast, Free State have already sewn up Pool B with something to spare but are likely to have to travel for the final which starts on April 6.

In the round of fixtures played this past weekend Easterns beat Boland by nine wickets while Northerns beat Free State by an innings and 42 runs. Gauteng and Northern Cape played out to a high-scoring draw.

There were a number of promising individual performances by young players with both Zakir Kathrada and Karabo Mogotsi scoring maiden first-class centuries while Ndumiso Mvelase fell just short with his innings of 96. On the bowling front Alfred Mothoa return his best ever match figures of 6/59.

In the CSA Provincial One-Day competition there is a similar scenario with Northerns having already won Pool A. There are three teams in contention in Pool B – Namibia, Boland and Eastern Province.

Rory Kleinveldt bowled excellently for the Buildnat Cape Cobras in the 148-run defeat, but the support crew was just not good enough against the VKB Knights, while the Cobras simply did not possess the heavy artillery with the bat to chase big totals in the absence of Richard Levi.

That was the verdict of Justin Ontong, senior player of the hosts who saw the team implode to 40 for five in chasing 301 for victory in their penultimate Momentum One Day Cup clash on Sunday at the scenic PPC Newlands.

The defeat by 148 runs saw the Buildnat Cape Cobras’ Momentum One Day Cup campaign come to a stuttering halt. They were still languishing at the bottom of the log on 12 points after 9 matches.

It could have been so much different.

“If we had taken our catches, we could have and should have beaten both the bizhub Highveld Lions and the Hollywoodbets Dolphins in closely contested matches at Boland Park,” Ontong added.

“This was a very different tournament to others in the past in which we reached the final in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016,” Ontong explained.

“The wickets were very flat because it was so late in the season, and it was not uncommon for teams to reach 300 runs or even 400. We required bowlers to take early wickets, but our ground fielding was very poor, and today underlined that as we were clumsy in the field although we did not drop any chances.

“The ground fielding and catching throughout the Momentum One Day Cup series were poor when you look at all the teams.

“But we needed somebody to step up when other teams achieved 300 or more against us. Apart from Richard (who struck 412 runs), there was nobody else who did it.

“Today was an excellent example,” Ontong said.

Kleinveldt captured 3-41 and was one of few Cobras that caught the eye at PPC Newlands on Sunday.

With Levi injured and Lizaad Williams also not declared fit, the Cobras slipped to 40 for five and they lacked the firepower in the lower middle-order to scrap and share in substantial partnerships.

For the first time in five years, the Buildnat Cape Cobras did not reach the finals.

The Cobras hosted the finals the past three years and also reached the finals in 2012/2013 when the bizhub Highveld Lions and the Cobras shared the winning spoils after the elements prevented play in the final and on the reserve-day.

The Cobras will tackle the second-placed Multiply Titans on Thursday 23rd March at 14:00 at SuperSport Park in Centurion in the final round of group matches of the 50-over domestic showpiece.

Take the game by the scruff of the neck and take responsibility by bowling the winning spell or by scoring the winning runs, would be the message of the new Buildnat Cape Cobras skipper, Andrew Puttick, to his team members when the hosts clash with the VKB Knights in the Cobras’ penultimate match of the Momentum One Day Cup series at PPC Newlands on Sunday. The match starts at 10:00.

Puttick said his approach would be to have a calming influence on his team and to be a thoughtful leader who inspires team-mates by performing from the front, where he and possibly Richard Levi might be involved in a match-winning partnership for the first wicket.

Levi is struggling with a groin injury, while Lizaad Williams’s participation is not secured yet, also due to injury. Both Levi and Williams will have to pass fitness tests if they are to be cleared to play against a team that is one of the strongest on paper in the competition.

The Cobras field a superb team as well and there are a number of all-rounders who can produce the goods with either bat or ball.

Dayyaan Galiem, GF Linde and Rory Kleinveldt fall in that category.

Galiem is a swing bowler and a hard-hitting middle order batsman, while Linde is a left-arm spinner but can also produce lusty blows with the blade to get his team over the line.

Kleinveldt can hit boundaries to all part of the ground and has improved his ability to read the match situation and to react appropriately by taking his time to settle and then to blast all-comers to different parts of the ground. As a bowler he is of the hit-the-deck-hard variety, and he can move it both ways off the seam with the new ball.

Arguably Puttick’s most important call would be before the match starts. If he wins the toss, Cobras fans can expect the left-handed opener to send his troops in to face the chin music first.

The Multiply Titans scored 400 for five after winning the toss and batting first. The Warriors smashed 305 for six, also after winning the toss and inserting themselves in recent matches at PPC Newlands.

The Cobras are aware of the importance of starting splendidly and doing the basics close to 100%. The hosts have let themselves and their supporters down occasionally with mediocre fielding and bowling which was not consistent enough in keeping the run-rate down to below 4.5 per over.

Dane Paterson will have an important role to play in the death overs.

Puttick and Dane Vilas will be vital players for the Cobras in the top order, while the consistent lower order performers Aviwe Mgijima and Kleinveldt should do the same with number seven to number eleven, shepherding the batting tail with excellent performances.

The Buildnat Cape Cobras squad is: Andrea Aqathangelou, Dayyaan Galiem, Zubayr Hamza, Eddie Leie, Richard Levi, George Linde, Rory Kleinveldt, Aviwe Mgijima, Justin Ontong, Dane Paterson, Andrew Puttick (captain), Zakhele Qwabe, Dane Vilas, Lizaad Williams

An improvement in catching technique, aggression while fielding as well as capturing wickets at regular intervals are some of the factors that could aid the Buildnat Cape Cobras in wrapping up the Momentum One Day Cup competition in style with two wins, said Andrew Puttick, opener of the Cape side.

Puttick, who hammered 652 runs for the Buildnat Cape Cobras in the domestic 50 over showpiece two seasons ago, has not abandoned all hope that the Cobras could reach the play-offs.

He said the Cobras must win both matches and check on the factors that denied them more victories in the campaign.
Taking wickets at regular intervals was one of the hallmarks of the preceding five years.

The Cobras shared the spoils 2012/2013, 2013/2014 and were finalists in 2014/2015 and 2015/2016, thanks partially to their ability to chip away at the opposition and take wickets to deny them momentum.

But the team of 2017 vintage has failed to do that, partially because of the fielding. At vital times, the team have dropped chances.

He said there has been tentativeness in the fielding occasionally.

The fielders have also been on the back foot instead of lunging onto the front foot and being more aggressive and attacking the ball.

“We have addressed this in our fielding practices. Confidence in the field and with the ball in hand is crucial,” Puttick added.

Puttick has said a very positive factor had been the batting of Richard Levi, who has flayed the attacks and knocked 412 runs at an average of 51.50.

“He has been unbelievable and has been so consistent. He has also hit bowlers off their length and unnerved them,” he said.

The Buildnat Cape Cobras’ penultimate match of the Momentum One Day Cup campaign will be the clash on Sunday 19th March at PPC Newlands against the VKB Knights. The match starts at 10:00.

Dane Piedt, the Buildnat Cape Cobras captain, has answered the SOS-call by South Africa while he was on the golf course at Paarl Valley on Monday and will arrive in New Zealand on Saturday or Sunday.

Piedt, who has captured 282 wickets in 80 first-class games and has nipped out 24 batsmen in seven tests, will possibly return to the test team in the third Test against the Black Caps at Seddon Park in Hamilton.

“I was taken by surprise,” Piedt said about the call to strengthen the slow bowling resources of South Africa on turning wickets in New Zealand.

Piedt captured 28 wickets in the Sunfoil Series with 6-87 his best and his economy rate was 3.24. In the Momentum One Day Cup series, his economy rate of 5.29 on batsmen-friendly wickets has been sound.

“I think my battle plan would be to keep it as basic as possible,” he said. ‘Basic as possible’ to Piedt is always an attacking line just outside the off stump. He can turn it quite prodigiously.

But what has made Piedt a tough customer is his ability to bowl the other one, the carrom ball, just when the batsmen are waltzing down the wicket and lining him up.

It is a part of his weaponry that he has utilized, notably in 2013/2014 when he served notice of his abilities with 45 Sunfoil Series wickets in eight matches for the Cobras.

He was selected to make his maiden appearance for South Africa against Zimbabwe in 2014 and finished with 8-152 in his test debut.

“Yes, I will be able to call on the carrom ball if the situation requires it,” Piedt said. “The team’s interests come first.”

Asked about his bowling in the Momentum One Cup campaign, the Cobras skipper said he bowled a disciplined spell on Sunday in the match against the Warriors, as he conceded 41 runs in 10 tidy overs.

The national selectors have opted for Piedt instead of Tabraiz Shamsi, who was preferred to him for the test series against Australia Down Under.

Two poor deliveries per over and mediocre bowling at the back-end of the innings when Jon-Jon Smuts put the stamp on a once-in-a-lifetime innings were the factors that hastened the demise of the Buildnat Cape Cobras, said Dane Vilas, wicket-keeper-batsman of the Cape Cobras.

Spearheaded by a magnificent unbeaten 173 from Smuts, the Warriors coasted to a 90-run win against the Cobras at PPC Newlands on Sunday in their Momentum One Day Cup clash. Smuts hammered nine fours and eight sixes in his innings. Smuts faced only 164 balls.

“I doubt whether you would see such hitting from Smuts again at the end of an innings,” Vilas remarked.

“Let us be fair to the attack, they have been toiling on very good wickets, but I feel that we have been building pressure for four balls per over, and then producing two bad balls per over.

“We have the quality, but our execution has let us down. Rory Kleinveldt has been bowling very well. Dane Paterson has not hit his straps yet, but can still strike back. Lizaad Williams was nursing a slight hamstring injury and could not play on Sunday, while Dane (Piedt) and Eddie Leie are top spinners,” the wicket-keeper batsman said.

The Warriors struck 156 runs in the final 19 overs on Sunday, as the Cobras’ death bowlers took a hammering at the hands of Smuts.

The inability of the Cobras to strike early has been an area of concern for some time this season in the Momentum One Day Cup competition.

PPC Newlands has been a featherbed of a wicket for all-comers, but the opposition has utilized it better than the Cobras.

The Multiply Titans hammered 313 for the first wicket in posting a record score of 400 at the iconic ground this season. On Sunday, the Warriors contributed 119 between Gihahn Cloete and Smuts in 24.3 overs to set up the total of 305 from the Eastern Cape franchise.

The Cobras were dismissed for 215 despite a sensational 106 by Richard Levi.

The Cape side are at the bottom of the log with 12 points after eight matches.

“We will just have to finish our campaign with a bang over the next few weeks. Luckily, we only play on Sunday so we will know then what our knockout chances are,” Vilas said.

Vilas was full of praise for Levi, who blasted 106 off 70 balls with fourteen fours and three sixes.

Levi has now struck 412 runs at an average of 51.50 in the Momentum One Day Cup series this season.
“His consistency is amazing, as he has contributed a century and four 50’s,” said Vilas.

“He possesses so much power. He deserves his form, because he has worked meticulously in the nets at extending his arc,” said Vilas.

“I do think the presence of Andrew Puttick at the other end has a calming influence on Richard. He talks to him and shares with him about his view on the different options.

“They complement each other so well.

“I don’t think there are many better opening batsmen in the country (in the domestic campaigns) than Richard.

“If you bowl straight at him, he can dispatch you with ease, but he also possesses that deft little touches to the third man boundary. He can hit it past square and grafts so hard in the nets to hit the ball straight. I throw extra balls at him at every net practice,” Vilas added.