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.