An improvement of 10 to 20 percent by the Buildnat Cape Cobras, top order centuries and a better strike rate with the ball in the power play, are part of Ashwell Prince’s wish-list for the two Momentum One Day Cup clashes over the next six days in Paarl which could entrench the Cobras’ position high up on the log.

The Cobras and the bizhub Highveld Lions will be at loggerheads at Boland Park in Paarl on Friday (starting time: 14:00).

The Cape champions will host the current table-topping team, the Hollywoodbets Dolphins, next Wednesday, also at Boland Park. The picturesque ground is traditionally a fortress for the Buildnat Cape Cobras.

“We have our bases covered for the match today. We might include two spinners if the conditions are dry, but if not, we have enough other fire-power with the seam bowlers,” said Prince.

The coach said the team needs to improve by 10 to 20 %.

The batsmen have performed well in their previous matches. Richard Levi has been dynamic up front, picking up two man-of-the-match-awards, while the rest of the top- and middle-order have also done well.

But Prince adds an important cautionary note. “Our opponents have struck four centuries, while we have not notched up one ton. We need to change that,” he said.

“The top- and middle-order have had opportunities to perform (and capitalize on good fifties to convert that into centuries),” he added.

He also wants the new-ball bowlers to strike more in the power play.

The Cobras have been dealt a body blow as they are without Dane Paterson and Wayne Parnell, but the hosts won’t see it that way. The primary goal of the Cobras, apart from winning trophies is to produce players who will represent South Africa, and the invaluable experience that Paterson will gain from being in New Zealand might just benefit the Cape team later in the Momentum One Day Cup competition once Pato, as he is affectionately known, is back in the Mother City for the last four games of the Momentum One Day Cup competition.

Prince said the Lions have been without experienced batting stars like Temba Bavuma and Stephen Cook, while injuries have also dented their progress. But he won’t read too much into that. “The younger players will come into the team, hungry to perform,” he said.

The form of Rory Kleinveldt and the pace and aggression of a rejuvenated Lizaad Williams could be a bonus for the Cobras. Kleinveldt captured 4-48 in his previous match.

Williams knows the Paarl wicket well and has been overlooked on many occasions due to the presence of several front-line South African bowlers in the Cobras-squad. He still will have a point to prove in front of his passionate home supporters.

Stiaan van Zyl might be an ace with the ball for the Cobras, because in slower, dry conditions, his cutters could just be a factor.

Currently, the Cobras are third on the log with seven points, three behind the Multiply Titans and six behind the Dolphins. If they strike twice in six days at Paarl, they will move closer to the top in their feverish quest to repeat their heroics of the previous three seasons in which they hosted the final.

The Buildnat Cape Cobras squad is: Dane Piedt (Capt), Rory Kleinveldt, Richard Levi, George Linde, Aviwe Mgijima, Justin Ontong, Keegan Petersen, Zakhele Qwabe, Omphile Ramela, Stiaan van Zyl, Dane Vilas (W/K), Lizaad Williams

Commendable focus and intensity contributed richly to the resurrection of the Buildnat Cape Cobras, who finished third on the Sunfoil Series log with 94.76 points and won three of their final five matches in the 2016/2017-competition.

They were also denied a possible win against the Warriors at Buffalo Park when the elements thwarted their pursuit of an extra ten points.

Ashwell Prince, the Buildnat Cape Cobras’ coach, saluted the back-to-back centuries by Stiaan van Zyl, who slammed 108 and an unbeaten 101 in the final Sunfoil Series match of the season against the Hollywoodbets Dolphins at Kingsmead. The clash ended in a stalemate as the Cobras struck 291 for seven.

“We tried to secure five bonus points with the bat and four with the ball to ensure that the VKB Knights and the Multiply Titans had to win their matches to prevent us from clinching the title. When the Knights secured the Sunfoil Series title on Saturday, it was all over for us. The wicket was just too placid and my bowling attack had gone through a lot the last few weeks,” said Prince.

Prince did not mince his words about the wicket. “It was a slightly disappointing track. I thought it could have been more of a result-wicket,” he added.

The former South Africa batsman had high praise for Van Zyl. “It is an enormous pity that Stiaan would be remembered for his failure as a South African opener in India, where, frankly, all the other South African batsmen and the Indian stars also did not score runs.

“I would rather remember him for the century he scored on debut for South Africa,” he said.

“I played 66 tests for South Africa, and I would have rather paid money to see Stiaan bat than to see myself bat.

“I believe he and Andrew Puttick have the credentials to play international cricket, not for South Africa, but anywhere in the world.

“In fact, guys like Andrew, Stiaan and Justin Ontong can play for the Buildnat Cape Cobras as long as they have the hunger and the will to perform. They are that good,” he said.

Puttick struck a 26th first-class ton, a solid 116 in the final match of the season and added 55 in the second innings.

Prince said Jason Smith is a genuine all-rounder who can swing the ball both ways and also play the holding role.

“You don’t need to bowl 150 km/h to be effective. Look at Vernon Philander. But it is not that I compare Jason with Vernon. It is just that Jason is really a very skilled bowler,” he added.

“Aviwe Mgijima performed very, very well for us, by scoring five fifties in the season. And we must remember that he batted at number seven. Mostly, you bat with the number six and you have to shepherd the tail.

“He has established himself very well in the team,” he added.

Prince said the main reason why the Cobras transformed the season from a bottom-of-the-log position to third on the log, was that they secured better focus on and off the field.

During training, he also asked the players to give 100% and to focus on batting for those 45 minutes as if they are emulating a match situation.

That intense focus in the training to emulate the match situation, was an important factor.

“One thing I was proud of, was that the players left everything out on the field.

“I have told the team that what separated them from international players is not skill or ability, but confidence.

“Somebody like a Puttick and a Van Zyl can do what international players can achieve,” he added.

Another positive factor of the Cobras revival which contributed to wins against the VKG Knights and the Multiply Titans, was the superb bowling by the support staff.

When Rory Kleinveldt did not take 5-45, it was Dane Piedt who captured 6-87 or the new kid on the block, Kyle Simmonds. And don’t forget about the aggressive spell by Dane Paterson at Paarl when he took 3-39 to restrict the Knights to 153, a solitary first-innings run lead against the Buildnat Cape Cobras.

Piedt finished the campaign with 28 wickets, Paterson nipped out 23 batsmen and Smith captured 20 scalps.

Ontong, with 595 runs at an average of 53.90, was a standout-batsman, while Van Zyl finished with 709 runs at an average of 47.26 which included three centuries to finish the campaign as the top run scorer for the Cobras.

Puttick struck 477 runs and blasted two tons.

The Cobras will start the Momentum One Day Cup competition with some confidence, and will be bolstered by the return of Richard Levi.

Van Zyl and Ontong have shown with their recent form that they are attacking one-day options and can easily bat at a strike-rate of 90 or more.

The unbelievable mental application and positive mind-set were at the heart of the Buildnat Cape Cobras’ sensational 6-wicket win as the hosts chased down 237 in 43.3 overs to romp to a six-wicket Sunfoil Series-win with two overs to spare against the bizhub Highveld Lions on Sunday, said an upbeat Ashwell Prince, coach of the Cobras.

The Cobras finished with 239 for four in 43.3 overs of magnificent, adventurous ball-striking.

Set a target of 237 in the second innings, the Cobras pummelled the visitors thanks to a 74-run opening partnership between Omphile Ramela and the centurion Wayne Parnell, who finished with 103 off 131 balls, and a 125-run stand for the second wicket with Stiaan van Zyl.

“I thought Wayne was unbelievable. He scored his runs all around the wicket. His straight hitting was superb and he was great against the spinners. When I came to him and asked him if he was prepared to do it, he responded very positively to it,” Prince said.

The coach was particularly proud of the way the Cobras showed their defiance.

“You must remember that the Cobras toiled for 164 overs in the sun in the Lions’ second innings on a wicket on which the bounce was true. Even when they dropped a few chances after the Lions were nine down, they refused to give up,” he added.

“Stiaan’s knock was unbelievable. He hit the ball a mile and struck it crisply. People label him a four-day player, but you should have seen him today (striking 64 off 65 deliveries),” he added.

“Omphile did a great job for us. Initially, he was the aggressor while Parnell was finding his feet. Omphile scored more than 100 runs in the match, which is every satisfying.”

The match will do much to restore the Cobras’ self-belief after they languished at the bottom of the Sunfoil Series log with three losses from five matches in the first half of the domestic four-day showpiece.

Ironically, the Cobras had the Lions in dire straits in the corresponding match at Boland Park last season, just to allow the visitors to escape because of some sloppy fielding lapses.

The Cobras were not to be denied in 2016/2017, and their win must rate as one of the finest four-day performances of the past two seasons on any domestic ground.

Prince was proud of his bowling attack. “Tshepo (Moreki) bowled a very aggressive spell on Saturday afternoon. He bounced and tried to unsettle the tail-enders. Although it did not yield a result, it was still a great effort,” he added.

The Cobras collected 17.46 points for their gigantic effort, while the Lions had to be content with four points.

Wayne Parnell struck a century as the BuildNat Cape Cobras began life under Ashwell Prince by breaking their Sunfoil Series duck with a six-wicket victory over the bizhub Highveld Lions late on the final day of their clash at the Recreation Ground in Oudtshoorn on Sunday.

The Standard Bank Proteas all-rounder finished unbeaten on 103 (131 balls, 7 fours, 2 sixes) enabling the hosts to chase down their 237-run victory target with less than three overs to go.

Stiaan van Zyl also played a key role with his brisk 64 (65 balls, 7 fours, 1 six) as the Cape side finally managed a four-day win in 2016/17 – in what was their sixth match of the term.

Their poor results had lead to a change in a management and former Proteas batsman Prince appears to have made an immediate impact, inspiring his team to a victory at a venue that was hosting its first franchise match ever.

But the Lions can be credited for putting up a brave showing on the final day, with their last three wickets adding 149 that gave them a fighting chance.

Having resumed day four on 247/7, Bjorn Fortuin proved the anchor with his 72 (179 balls, 7 fours) as he shared in stands of 39, 79 and 31 with Wiaan Mulder (25), Hardus Viljoen (46) and Aaron Phangiso (8 not out) respectively.

That left the hosts 46 overs to get to their winning target and they were given a strong enough start of 74 in 14.3 overs by Omphile Ramela (36) and Parnell.

Then came the key second wicket stand of 125 that put the Cobras on course for victory, with the runs from Van Zyl and Parnell scored at 5.39 to the over.

Despite three wickets in the closing six overs, the hard work was already done, allowing the host to take a full haul of 17.46 points for the win.

They remained bottom of the standings, but now within 10 points of the Lions (54.14) and just over 20 behind the top of the table Multiply Titans (64.74).

The Buildnat Cape Cobras have the potential to beat every team in the country, but ultimately, names on paper won’t cut it. The mental attitude on the field, the appetite for a fight to rally when one is with their back against the wall, is the trait necessary for the Cape Town-based team to move up the log in the Sunfoil Series, said the newly appointed coach, Ashwell Prince.

The Cobras will host the bizhub Highveld Lions at the Recreation Ground in Oudtshoorn starting on Thursday 5th January.

“The keys for us are simply improved performances. We have been sub-standard so far this season.

“What we need, is for players to perform up to the class they have displayed throughout their careers,” he added.

“Having the inner drive and the hunger to do well will be important for each player,” he added.

Prince said a lack of centuries was not the only weak spot in the Cobras’ armour during the first half of the competition. “We also did not bowl that well and have only taken one or two five-wicket hauls,” he added.

Prince said he only met with the team on Monday, but plans to have a sit-down session with each individual player in the squad over the course of the next two weeks about their own plans, dreams and potential.

The new coach underlines the importance of seeing the new picture. “If we win against the Lions this weekend, we are just a victory away from the team that is at the top of the log,” he said. “And if we can win another one, we are back in the competition,” he added.

The Cobras will be bolstered by the return of Wayne Parnell and Dane Piedt, two test players with the ability to win matches almost single handedly for them.

Parnell was part of the thirteen-man Standard Bank Proteas’ squad for the first Test against Sri Lanka.
Piedt captured 39 wickets last season at an average of 22.33.

Parnell nipped out 7-51 in a match at PPC Newlands against the Hollywoodbets Dolphins.

Watch out for the left-arm swing bowler to repeat these performances and to challenge the Lions’ top-order during the weekend.

Prince, though, warned against the Cobras relying too much on the names on the paper. “It is about more. It is about our appetite for wins. It is about the mood, the hunger and the mental approach on the field,” he added.