CAPE TOWN. – “The Cape Cobras need to take greater responsibility as a batting unit, and address the strike-rate,”  were the parting words of the skipper Justin Ontong, before he took a flight from Johannesburg to Kimberley for the Ram Slam T20 Challenge showdown against the VKB Knights.

The visitors and the Knights will clash at the Diamond Oval in Kimberley on Wednesday. The starting time is 18:00.

The Cobras have been below-par as a batting unit in their previous three Ram Slam T20 Challenge matches.

A feeling exists amongst their opponents that once their two king-pins with the blade, Richard Levi and Ontong, are removed, there is not a substantial amount of fire-power left in the lower order to hurt their opponents.

That is not true of course, as Wayne Parnell and Rory Kleinveldt have the range of shots and the pedigree to produce half-centuries.

Omphile Ramela was the batsman of the match in the Ram Slam T20 Challenge final last season with a splendid 34-ball 54. The stylish left-hander has not yet hit his straps in this format this season.

Andrew Puttick has had his moments, but is consistent without having produced substantial innings at a strike-rate of 120 or more.

“As a batting unit, we need to take greater responsibility. There are also moments in which we can improve our bowling, while we need even higher standards in the field, as it wins you matches,” said Ontong.

“I am happy with our seam bowlers, but we can be shrewder in certain situations.”

“We need better strike rates with the bat. Apart from Richard there are other senior players who can step up. We should not be making any more excuses.

“The conditions are very dry, and there have been heat waves in Gauteng, which aids the spin bowlers. We must ensure that we don’t allow too many dot balls in the middle period,” Ontong said.

Asked if the Cape Cobras will insert Parnell in the top-order, Ontong said Parnell might be utilized from the 15th over onwards when the ball is softer and explosive power is required to accelerate the innings at the business-end.

He did acknowledge that Parnell could ignite the top-order when given a chance there.

“I was happy to have contributed with the ball against The Unlimited Titans, but I have been selected as batsman, and I must make a bigger impact with the bat,” Ontong admitted.

The Cape Cobras have scored one win in three Ram Slam T20 matches, but a win against the VKB Knights and a victory against the Sunfoil Dolphins will propel the Cape champions back up the log to the summit.

The greatest challenge for the Cobras is for their middle-order to play with greater controlled aggression at a strike-rate of 120 or more in order to secure momentum at the back-end of the innings.

The Cobras squad is: Justin Ontong (capt), Siya Simetu, Wayne Parnell, Lesiba Ngoepe, Richard Levi, Andrew Puttick, Omphile Ramela,  SA Engelbrecht, Keegan Petersen, Rory Kleinveldt, GF Linde, Dane Paterson, Mthokozisi Shezi.