A slight change in his style of attacking play at the infancy stage of his innings against the moving Duke ball and a more circumspect and watchful approach has aided Stiaan van Zyl at his adopted home in Sussex, England.

Van Zyl was brimming with confidence while speaking from Brighton and Hove in East Sussex about his success in county cricket. The World Sports Betting Cape Cobras batsman is on the brink of 1000 runs in his debut season for Sussex.

“I have four matches left and there is a real chance of me scoring the remaining 300 runs (283 to be exact) to get to 1000.

“I think one of the keys was that I realized that the (Duke) ball is moving around quite a bit early on and that I should not drive too much, but rather cut and pull. If you can occupy the crease for the first 30 or 35 overs, things become very pleasant for batting,” Van Zyl said.

“You have to stick to the basics and accelerate later,” the number four batsman added.

“I did most of my scoring against the newer ball against the short stuff.”

Van Zyl said when he represented South Africa, he sometimes had the feeling that things were on a knife’s edge and that he could lose his place soon.

But he was more assured about his position at Sussex. “The coach, Mark Davies, has backed me 110% and he is very positive,” he said.

Van Zyl has also been in some excellent partnerships with Luke Wells in first-class cricket, as well as with Chris Nash in List A cricket.

A natural attacking batsman whose cover drives and straight drives are his signature shots, Van Zyl is a player who can score all around the crease.

Although his cutting, hooking and pulling are splendid, it is his majestic driving on the up at any stage of his innings which has put bowlers on the back foot and has endeared him to domestic South African crowds.

Talking about Brighton and Hove, Van Zyl said it was like the Mother City without Table Mountain and he enjoyed the camaraderie of the team.

“I often go for a swim because my place is only two minutes away from the sea. There are many restaurants literally on my front door step,” he added.

Van Zyl was in prolific form with the blade in the second half of the Sunfoil Series for the WSB Cape Cobras last season after a sedate start to the four-day campaign.

“I enjoyed Ashie (Ashwell Prince). He is very straight forward and honest with us, and that is all a player wants,” he added.

He admitted he lacked a bit of confidence initially after coming back from the national team, but flourished at the business end of the four-day domestic showpiece, striking 709 runs which included three centuries.

As the Cobras’ leading run-scorer in the longer format, Van Zyl is keen to make an impression for the Cobras.

Remarkably, at only 29, Van Zyl is closing in on 10 000 runs, having scored 9118 runs with four county matches and the whole of the Sunfoil Series still at his disposal to complete the sensational milestone by autumn 2018.

But right now, having amassed 717 runs at an average of 47.80, Van Zyl is relishing the challenge to finish his county season with a bang and put his name on the honours board as a South African who has compiled 1000 runs in his maiden season for Sussex.

The WSB Cape Cobras managemenot team will feel more at ease with Van Zyl in splendid form. He and Justin Ontong have shared in many match-winning stands for the Cape Champions.

In 2013/2014 Ontong struck 927 runs and Van Zyl hammered 933 to propel the Cobras to the four-day title. When both are on song, the PPC Newlands-based team has a realistic chance of gunning for glory again, like they did in 2014.

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 Hollywoodbets Dolphins and BuildNat Cape Cobras ambled to a draw on the final day of the Sunfoil Series competition Durban on Sunday.

With both sides out of the title hunt, there was little to play for on the final morning at Sahara Stadium Kingsmead, unless the hosts managed to claim the final five wickets quickly to set up a chase.

But that did not happen as the visitors advanced from their overnight 156/3 to 291/7.

Van Zyl reaching his 21st career ton was the main highlight as he ended unbeaten on 101 (263 balls, 9 fours). The left-hander also made 108 in the first innings.

There may have been one passage of play on the final morning that would have raised victory hopes for the hosts and that came when they claimed a second wicket inside the first hour when the lead was still inside 250.

But partnerships of 55 and 42 for the sixth and seventh wickets with Aviwe Mgijima (32) and Dane Piedt (25) ended all prospects of a result as the two captains shook hands midway through the afternoon session.

For the home side, it was another fine day with the ball for Senuran Muthusamy as he took another two wickets to end with 4/116 and a career-best 9/183 with his slow left-arm spin.

The result meant the Cobras (94.76 points) ended the season in a credible third having been last at the halfway stage, while the Dolphins (91.67) finished fourth.

An 18th first-class century from Stiaan van Zyl preceded by a splendid bowling display by the BuildNat Cape Cobras left them in a commanding position after two days of their Sunfoil Series clash against the table-topping VKB Knights at Boland Park in Paarl on Friday.

Van Zyl hit 106 (192 balls, 17 fours) as the hosts reached the close on 259/7 having remarkably secured a first innings lead earlier in the day when they bundled out the visitors for a paltry 153.

Dane Paterson (3/39) and Kyle Simmonds (3/42) shared the plaudits with six wickets between them, but all the bowlers excelled, including Dane Piedt and Jason Smith, who took 2/41 and 2/17 respectively.

The Cobras had been shot out for 154 on the opening day, but they looked set to surrender a lead when the Knights resumed overnight on 137/6.

But the last four wickets fell for just 16 leaving the home side high on confidence heading in to bat.

Although they did experience some jitters when the in-form Duanne Olivier (3/44) rocked their top order, Van Zyl’s display ensured there was no repeat of their first-innings mistakes by helping establish a 260-lead by the end of day two.

After slipping to 22/2, the former Proteas’ batsman dropped anchor and was well backed up by Justin Ontong (43), with whom he shared a third-wicket 74-run stand, while a further 92 came for the fourth wicket alongside Smith (44).

Dane Vilas (38) was still there at the close as the Cobras ended in control.

The Buildnat Cape Cobras are just one victory away from the top-three teams in the Sunfoil Series. “We have so much talent. It is about doing the basic things well,” said an elated Wayne Parnell, hero of the Cobras after their six-wicket win against the bizhub Highveld Lions.

“There is no way that such a talented team should be at the bottom of the log,” he added.

Parnell scored an unbeaten 103 off 131 balls to power the Cobras to their first Sunfoil Series win of the season.

“At the start of my innings, it was all about building a partnership with Omphile Ramela and about rotating the strike well. Substantial partnerships aided us well,” he said.

Parnell has now hammered two Sunfoil Series-tons in two seasons and has shown that he possesses the qualities to bat at number eight for South Africa.

“I don’t want to get ahead of myself. Wherever I am needed, I will try and score runs.

“This win will boost our confidence and it is just about starting all over again on Thursday,” he said.

“We dominated the four days and even when they were batting well, we as a bowling unit restricted the Lions to an average of 2.1 runs per over at the start of the last day,” he added.

Stiaan van Zyl, number three batsman of the Cobras who struck 64 off 65 balls, said his mindset during the 125-run partnership with Parnell was to play with freedom. Occasionally, he stood leg-side of the ball and sometimes he used his feet to the spinners.

Van Zyl said what made Parnell’s innings special, was his aggressive nature. He actually likes the new ball and enjoys taking the attack to the spinners.

Parnell averaged 48.40 with the blade in the Sunfoil Series last season, an indication that he is growing In stature as a batsman.

The Buildnat Cape Cobras’ next Sunfoil Series match begins on Thursday 12th January at Buffalo Park in East London. The match starts at 10:00.