The camaraderie in the World Sports Betting Cape Cobras camp right now is fantastic. The players are having skills, as well as strength and conditioning sessions, separated by a shared lunch and although this was not official team building, the bonding has been noteworthy, said coach Ashwell Prince.

Currently, Prince has some very senior players like Wayne Parnell,  Andrew Puttick, Justin Ontong and Qaasim Adams at his disposal and their shared experiences have been beneficial to the squad of 13, with only four squad members not available due to other overseas professional commitments.

Prince needn’t worry about the form of the players who are participating in the Specsavers County Championship in the United Kingdom.

Stiaan van Zyl, who scored 709 runs in the Sunfoil Series last season, has already scored 648 runs for Sussex at an average of 54 and a highest score on 166*.

Richard Levi has amassed 232 runs in four games at an average of 38.66 for Northamptonshire, including a best of 99. His colleague Rory Kleinveldt has nipped out 21 wickets in six games with 3-35 his finest contribution.

Probed about the off season, Prince remarked that it will be important to set individual goals, but he doesn’t want to push players into that decision as to what they want to achieve.

“It might be very important in the off season for a player to acquire a new attacking shot and work on it in the three months, like a scoop or a reverse sweep. That will give him additional options in the shorter formats like the T20 and the 50 over games,” he said.

The players have been hard at work at the indoor nets in Paarl and in Bishops and as a group their work ethic has been noteworthy.

The shared workouts and lunches have rubbed off on the camaraderie in the team, he added.

If you talk about modern-day South African school boy prodigies, the name Dayyaan Galiem will no doubt feature. The 20-year-old was in grade nine when he destroyed Bishops with a devastating spell of 7-16. He once hammered a brilliant 196 for Rondebosch Boys High School against DF Malan High School.

World Sports Betting Cape Cobras all-rounder, Galiem, featured for three years in South African Schools team, three years in the South African U19 team and four years in the Western Province U19 team.

Introduced into the Western Province senior team at a tender age, Galiem did not disappoint in his first full season in 2016/2017, scoring 268 runs at an average of 33.50 and capturing 26 wickets with a best match haul of 8-93 and a splendid average of 20.65.

But Galiem has also been hamstrung by injuries, especially in the knee and shin areas.

He is philosophical about those physical challenges. “I will not change one thing about my career,” he said.

“I think I have adapted well to bowling conditions, bowled well with the new ball and even second and third spells.

“My conversion rate with the bat is the area that I need to focus on. I need to be more clinical when I am set. I would like to win games for the Cobras and get them over the line,” he said.

“I like to get the scoreboard ticking but I have demonstrated that I can hold things together with the bat,” he said.

A demonstration of his ability to consolidate an innings came in the 2016/2017 season when he added 101 runs for the sixth wicket in a match-winning stand with Kyle Verreynne as Western Province romped to victory against Border.

“One of my goals is to score big centuries next season and to play in every game for the Cape Cobras.”

Asked about his bowling, Galiem says he can bowl at 135 km/h, but it is very important to be 100% fit and work very hard on his core fitness, his glutes and his legs, while ensuring that his rhythm is spot on.

Those who known his potential intimately, would argue that he can be a classic all-rounder who can destroy batting line-ups with his swing bowling, or rip attacks apart with his batting.

“The setbacks I have had with injuries have been good for my character-building. I want to do the best with what I have got. I want to bat for longer periods of time. Generally I like to move thing along with the bat. I have assessed my batting and I need the conversion rate to improve markedly.”

“I do believe I might be able to get my bowling up to 140 km/h, but then my rhythm must be right, the upper body strength solid and my legs pain free. Right now, it is 100%,” he said.

Galiem said it is difficult for him to put himself into a bracket. “Some people call me a batting all-rounder. Others term me a bowling all-rounder. If I had my wish, I want to develop my batting up to the stage where I can slot in at number five.

“I wish to contribute properly with the bat,” he added.

 

Observant fans of the World Sports Betting Cape Cobras will spot the difference in the bowling action of GF Linde in the 2017/2018 season.

The orthodox left-arm spinner said he knew for a while that something was wrong with his action, although it was not evident in his figures. He captured 25 wickets for Western Province at an average of 23.65 and a best match-haul of 8-177 in the 2016/2017-season.

“I basically changed my whole action while at a spinning camp in India in the off season to iron out some technical mistakes. It is basically about almost making a round circle just prior to delivering the ball.

“I knew there was something amiss, but an Indian coach addressed it and showed me how to implement the technical change,” he said.

He utilized the new action while playing for Biddestone Cricket Club in England and took a number of three-wicket hauls in white-ball cricket at an average of less than three.

“I came back to Cape Town earlier instead of August, as almost the whole squad is assembled and I wanted to work even harder on my preparation,” he said.

“I am thinking technique before I walk onto the field, but once I am on the park, I don’t give it any more thought.

“This new action will undoubtedly improve my consistency and I will land in the same areas more times,” he added.

“I feel I will be back to the old GF of 2014/2015 vintage,” he said.

Linde nipped out 14 batsmen in that Ram Slam T20 Challenge at an average of 15.50 with a best of 3-15 and was a pivotal figure in the Cape Cobras beating the Knights in the final in December 2014. It was a magnificent T20 campaign for the Cape champions and Linde was one of the Cobras’ stand-out performers with the ball.

Linde says he, like all other players, is feeling the heat to perform for the Cape Cobras. It is self-imposed pressure, because he wants to perform to bang down the door of the selectors.

“Yet, I like that pressure, because that is when I am at my very best,” he added.

Linde, when he is on song, can be a deceptive left-arm spinner. The lanky spinner can turn it, use his arm ball and create bounce, and has been favourably compared with a former South African and Cape Cobras spinner, Claude Henderson.

“This is a big season and I want to use it to throw my hat into the ring. Remember, last season, nobody’s place in the Cobras team was secured,” he said.

The 13 World Sports Betting Cape Cobras players and the management team as well as members of the Western Province Cricket Association staff, invested 67 minutes in community-uplifting activities on Tuesday on Mandela Day by handing out blankets, clothing and non-perishables for various shelters around the Southern Suburbs of the City.

Later in the day, the Cobras and their radio partners, Heart FM, joined forces at Canal Walk to help fill the Mandela Mosaic with tinned food.

The Mandela Mosaic was birthed when Canal Walk in association with LEAP Science and Maths Schools partnered to build a massive canned food mosaic of the late Nelson Mandela.

“It was a privilege for us as a group to be involved in building that mosaic in the heart of Canal Walk in the Food Court with tinned food to complete the Mandela Mosaic,” said Nabeal Dien, chief executive officer of the Western Province Cricket Association.

“It was done in support of the idea that Madiba personified – that people can touch the heart of vulnerable communities and change the world.”

Ashwell Prince, head coach of the World Sports Betting Cape Cobras, said the 67 minutes for Mandela idea was birthed on the 90th birthday of the former South African president, who was globally revered.

“On that momentous occasion in Hyde Park, he said it was time for new hands to lift the burdens now (and help alleviate the pressing needs in vulnerable communities). He added that it was in our (the next generation’s) hands.

“And this is what the Cape Cobras would like to do. We want to use our energy and resources to lift the burdens of others. We aim to give back to Western Cape communities who have supported us unconditionally through trophy-winning as well as lean periods,” he added.

“Helping others creates hope. Expressing your willingness to support others is contagious, because it challenges other citizens to do the same.

“We have 13 of our 17 professional squad members currently in training at PPC Newlands. The outreach also offers us the opportunity to bond as a team while serving others.”

World Sports Betting Cape Cobras all-rounder Jason Smith, has faced hundreds of throw-downs from coaches Ashwell Prince and Faiek Davids the past few weeks upon his return from the South Africa ‘A’ tour of the United Kingdom.

The 22-year-old’s technique has also been scrutinized on the odd occasion, while the coach, Prince, has asked probing questions about what his game plans or mental approach would be in certain situations.

That is the type of throw-downs any school boy hoping to represent South Africa, would dream about.

Prince, a veteran of 66 tests for South Africa and also a former captain of the Proteas, knows the importance of the right tactical technique and the correct approach to batting.

He is on record as saying that batsmen should cherish their wicket; put a prize on it and not surrender it meekly.

And Smith, to his eternal credit, admitted that his shot selection the South Africa ‘A’ tour to the United Kingdom was not up to scratch.

In many situations, a half volley, long hop or a mediocre bouncer deserved the boundary treatment, but instead, under-par execution gifted the fielding team Smith’s wicket.

In his final four games, he scored 18,3, 14, 43 and 33*.

Smith says although he is not overly concerned that something is amiss in terms of his technique, he wants to improve his shot selection and his attacking play.

“I am a player who likes to take the game forward. I am not someone who goes into my shell. And I don’t intend to change my style of play now that I have had a few low scores.”

But Smith says he is quietly determined to set the record straight during the triangular tour starting at the end of July (there is still uncertainty surrounding the participation of Australia ‘A’ due to commercial in-fighting between the players and authorities).

Smith is considered a potential future South African player, and in his first full franchise season scored 500 runs and captured 20 wickets in the Sunfoil Series. He smashed a century off 88 balls against the eventual Sunfoil Series champions, the VKB Knights.

There is a difference between a gung-ho approach and a tentative one. The middle ground might be a sensible approach, while not leaving a full toss or a wide half volley unpunished.

And that might be the balance that Smith is seeking.

Luckily, the 22-year-old player has very astute cricket minds around him while Prince and Davids are dong the throw-downs.

Davids, for example, has been on record as saying that if Smith can improve his shot selection, he can capitalize on 60’s and transform them to 150’s.

If he does, and produces those big centuries regularly in the forthcoming series, the volumes of runs could do wonders for his self-confidence and his evolution into a potential South African player.

“Sherman Baatjes (strength and conditioning coach of the World Sports Betting Cape Cobras) has turned the level of intensity up a notch. The guys are feeling it, but it is all for a good cause and we want to hit the ground running next season.”

This was the verdict of the skipper of the WSB Cape Cobras, Dane Piedt, who forms part of the fitness training squad in the off season at PPC Newlands.

The South African off-spinner recently formed part of a South Africa ‘A’ team that played against the England Lions.

Piedt finished with a match haul of 4-192 and an economy rate of 3.94.

He said at certain times, the team did not click. Their collapse after a bright start by Heino Kuhn and Aiden Markram and the loss of seven wickets for 60 runs put them more than 100 runs in arrears. And when they had to chase the game in the second innings, the England batsmen were freed up to play their shots, which explains why his own economy rate suffered a tad.

Piedt said he is focusing on winning games for the Cobras, instead of pressurizing himself into getting back into the SA test team. That is not his first priority. He doesn’t see himself forcing his way back into the Proteas’ starting line-up, unless there is a subcontinent tour.

Probed about his role and his success in using the X-factors (variations like the doosra – that spins in the opposite direction to an off-break, or the carrom ball – which is released by flicking it between the thumb and a bent middle finger), Piedt says he focuses on “nailing down his stock delivery.”

That delivery is one that is bowled just outside the off-stump, turns sharply and dislodges the middle-stump, usually by finding the gap between bat and pad.

Piedt said if he is to return to the form he showed when taking 45 wickets in eight games for the Cobras, one must not forget the team dynamics. Because in 2013/2014, Dane Paterson captured wickets, while Stiaan van Zyl and Justin Ontong scored heavily.

Talking about his off-season aims, Piedt emphasized that he wanted to improve his batting to become even a greater contributor down the order. A man with a best domestic four-day score of 92, Piedt assisted Aviwe Mgijima in scoring give half-centuries in the 2016/2017-season.

Expect the two to continue their excellent partnership in the 2017/2018 campaign.

Lizaad Williams is a classic example of a fast bowler who has white-line fever.

And arguably all of the world’s greatest fast bowlers of the past two decades, including the South Africans Allan Donald, Makhaya Ntini, Shaun Pollock and Dale Steyn, possessed that trait.

Almost sanguine off the park, with a love of joking and adding to the positive vibe in the change room, Williams is the opposite on the field.

He gets in a combative mood, and admits that in that respect he is a bit like Ben Stokes and Virat Kohli.

Williams, a World Sports Betting Cape Cobras’ fast bowler, likes Stokes, and says he enjoys the English all-rounder’s single-mindedness and his determination to be the enforcer.

He also told his team-mates after Carlos Brathwaite smashed four consecutive sixes off Stokes to send the West Indies to the World T20 title in 2016, that Stokes will resurrect his career.

“And that is true, because he is world-class now.”

But Williams added that the player he has idolized throughout his career is Andrew Flintoff. He wears the number 11 on his shirt like Flintoff, and enjoys Flintoff’s approach to cricket and his competitiveness.

“It is not that I want to model his action or want and try to be like him. I endeavour to be the best Lizaad Williams, but you can always learn small things from other bowlers. I am currently reading a book about Flintoff,” he adds.

Williams has steadily improved as a fast bowler the past season. Instead of just nipping it both ways off the seam, he has also swung the ball.

In training sessions, he has deliberately taken the old ball. “That is your ultimate test as a bowler. How do you perform with the old nut? I have to hit the right areas consistently, ask questions, probe and build pressure,” he says.

Williams bowls between 130 km/h and 140 km/h but he feels that he can bowl faster. Yet, that is not his greatest aim for the next season. He wants to maintain the right rhythm, understand his action and be consistent.

Asked to describe his role, Williams, a final-year BA student at the University of the Western Cape, says: “I guess I am a strike bowler. I want to be the bowler who changes the game by taking regular wickets in a six-to-seven-over opening spell. And then I want to continue to play a significant role with the old ball,” he added.

At the age of 23, Williams may be a work in progress, but many of his team-mates reflected on his new-found maturity the past season.

He has come of age. It was evident in the Momentum One Day Cup campaign in which he nipped out 10 batsmen in five games, while operating with that aggression and in-your-face-hostility that has made Stokes and Flintoff great.