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Participating in the USSA week in December and striking two half-centuries bolstered Zubayr Hamza’s confidence and he is still on course to become the 100th Protea to be selected since South Africa’s reintroduction into the international fold in 1991/92.

Hamza, 23-year-old number-three batsman of the World Sports Betting Cape Cobras, was selected in a 13-man squad for the three-match test series against Pakistan starting at SuperSport Park in Centurion on 26th December.

Linda Zondi, convenor of the CSA national selection panel, described Hamza as one of the standout cricketers in domestic cricket over the past year and carried that form into the South Africa ‘A’ tour to India where he averaged 52 in the four-day series.

Hamza scored 59 in the win for the University of the Western Cape against the NMMU and added an unbeaten 59 against the University of Cape Town.

“Not only are there a number of provincial players in the USSA week, but it also gave me opportunity to spend time in the middle,” Hamza said.

Reflecting on his career to date, Hamza acknowledged the match against the Warriors when he was drafted into the side after injury to Simon Khomari, as a turning point of his career in 2017/2018.

He immediately struck 111 and added 237 runs for the second wicket with Pieter Malan against the Warriors.

In the 2017/2018 season he finished with 828 runs at an average of 69, having only scored 151 runs in four games in the previous season.

Hamza heaped praise on Ashwell Prince and said he explained to the players what is expected at this level and also what the psychological expectations are if you are to represent South Africa.

As a combination, Prince, coach of the World Sports Betting Cape Cobras, and Faiek Davids, assistant coach of the World Sports Betting Cape Cobras, have had a big impact on his career.

Davids was the one that showed confidence in him and selected him for Western Province, while Prince, who played in 66 tests for South Africa, was instrumental in improving the mental aspect of his game. “Ashwell elevated the mental part of our game, having played for South Africa for a long time and knowing what is expected to be successful at that level.”

There is also a special “vibe” in the World Sports Betting Cape Cobras team under the coaching of Prince and Davids, he added.

Andrew Puttick, batting consultant of Western Province and the World Sports Betting Cape Cobras, said, “contrary to articles floating around, which gave me credit for Zubayr’s evolvement, I have not worked with him much this season, the great work has been done by Coach Ashwell Prince and his assistant Faiek Davids and as Zuby stated, there have been massive contributions from Shukri Conrad during his time at the Academy and from SA ‘A’ coach Russell Domingo.”

“I am very proud of this selection of Zubayr into the South African squad and I’m equally chuffed with the impact that the coaching staff of Ashwell and Faiek has had in his selection for the 13-man squad of South Africa,” concluded Nabeal Dien, chief executive officer of the World Sports Betting Cape Cobras.

“It is a brilliant selection. Zubayr Hamza made a statement with the bat last season and also grabbed the opportunity on his (first) away South Africa A tour to India,” said Dane Piedt, captain of the World Sports Betting Cape Cobras, about Hamza’s inclusion in the South African squad of thirteen for the test series against Pakistan.

“He’s got a good head on his shoulders and a sound temperament to win or save matches for his team,” said Ashwell Prince, coach of the World Sports Betting Cape Cobras.

“Last season we had to chase a score beyond 200 and Zubayr struck 108 not out against the Hollywoodbets Dolphins to win us the game. This season, we were in early trouble against the VKB Knights and he struck 57 to steady us and win us the game.

“Last season, he scored a century against the Warriors and with Kyle Verreynne, saved us the game,” Prince said.

Those performances under pressure convinced Prince that he’s got what it takes to play for South Africa.

The 23-year-old Hamza struck two centuries and three half-centuries in the last five Sunfoil Series matches last season and assembled 156 runs at an average of 52 against India A this year in his maiden away SA A tour.

“He plays well against spin and he is very versatile – he can open, play at number three or six. I said four months ago he is ready to play for South Africa and nothing has changed,” Piedt said.

“I was speechless when I learned of my selection. I was overjoyed and phoned my parents and thanked the Almighty,” Hamza said.

“If selected, I would try and keep it as simple as possible,” he added.

“The past three years, Shukri Conrad at the Academy made a massive difference to me and then Faiek Davids and Ashwell Prince at the World Sports Betting Cape Cobras and Russell Domingo at the SA A team played big roles.

“Russell spoke to me a lot of what is expected at the highest level and encouraged me.”

He said he wants to keep his confidence and self-belief and take pride in wearing the Proteas badge. The purpose is to embrace the challenge of representing the country and playing for 50 million South Africans while keeping his cool.

He matriculated at Rondebosch High School and played for SA Schools before breaking into the Western Province U19 group and then onto the provincial scene.

A great future beckoned for Hamza when at the age of 17 he became the fourth youngest South African to score a double century at first-class level.

In 2016, he was nominated as the provincial Three Day Cup player of the year at the CSA awards, but he has since broken into the Cape Cobras line-up.

This season he averages 31.87 and has scored 255 runs in the Four-Day Domestic Series.

“He is humble, has a solid technique and he keeps his feet on the ground. But ultimately, it’s his ability to win it or save it when under pressure because of the big match temperament that tells me he is ready to play for South Africa,” Prince said.

Zubayr Hamza, the 23-year-old World Sports Betting Cape Cobras batsman, has been named as a potential new cap in the Standard Bank Proteas squad for the three-match Test series against Pakistan which starts at SuperSport Park, Centurion, on December 26.

The other matches will be played at PPC Newlands from January 3 and at the Bidvest Wanderers from January 11.

Cricket South Africa (CSA) announced a 13-man squad for the series today that also features the return of VKB Knights fast bowler Duanne Olivier in place of the injured Lungi Ngidi. Olivier was part of the squad for the previous home Test series against Australia and has represented the Proteas in five Test matches.

“Zubayr has been one of the standout cricketers in domestic cricket over the past year and carried that form into the South Africa A tour to India where he averaged over 50 in the four-day series against tough opposition and under toughconditions,” commented CSA National Selection Panel (NSP) convener Linda Zondi.

“Before that, he had an outstanding season in the four-day franchise competition where he scored 823 runs, including three centuries, at the impressive average of 69.

“His selection is part of our vision for the future as we start to feed new players into the system. It is inevitable that some of our senior players will start thinking of retiring in years to come and it is vital that we have a good succession plan in place,” explained Mr. Zondi.

“As unfortunate as Lungi’s injury is we are blessed to have outstanding depth in our fast bowling resources. Duanne has impressed on his previous appearances for the Proteas and has had a good franchise season to date with 20 wickets in his five matches at an average of 22.80.

“Tladi Bokako will work with the squad as a learning experience during the series in a continuation of the initiative we started with Kagiso Rabada and continued with Matthew Breetzke earlier in the season. He has had a good debut season for the Cape Cobras with 21 wickets at 26.33 to date.

“We will continue to identify young players with the potential to become future Proteas,” concluded Mr. Zondi.

If Hamza gains selection in the final XI he will become the 100th player to represent the Proteas in the five-day format.

Standard Bank Proteas Test squad: Faf du Plessis (Multiply Titans, capt), Hashim Amla (World Sports Betting Cape Cobras), Temba Bavuma (bizhub Highveld Lions), Theunis de Bruyn (Multiply Titans), Quinton de Kock (Multiply Titans), Dean Elgar (Multiply Titans), Zubayr Hamza (World Sports Betting Cape Cobras), Keshav Maharaj (Hollywoodbets Dolphins), Aiden Markram (Multiply Titans), Duanne Olivier (VKB Knights), Vernon Philander (World Sports Betting Cape Cobras), Kagiso Rabada (bizhub Highveld Lions), Dale Steyn (Multiply Titans)

PAKISTAN TOUR TO SA 2018/19

December 26-30: 10h00, 1st Test match, SuperSport Park, Centurion

January 3-7 : 10h30, 2nd Test match, PPC Newlands, Cape Town

January 11-15 : 10h00, 3rd Test match, Bidvest Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg

A key half-century by Kyle Verreynne calmed the nerves of the World Sports Betting Cape Cobras and ensured they began the new 4-Day Domestic Series season with a tense four-wicket win over the VKB Knights in Cape Town on Thursday.

The young right-hander made an attacking unbeaten 51 (59 balls, 7 fours) after his side had hit early trouble, eventually getting them past the 194-victory target with the help of Rory Kleinveldt (19 not out).

There was also an important 57 (127 balls, 5 fours) from Zubayr Hamza, but in between his slower innings, the wickets kept falling until Verreynne made his mark.

Day four began with the Knights well poised on 240 for three – and with a 99-run lead. They continued to build on that through new captain Pite van Biljon, who added to his century in the first innings with 57 (99 balls, 10 fours) second time around, and Rudi Second (23). The pair extended their fourth wicket partnership to 59 when Tladi Bokako (2/64) intervened to remove the latter.

The visitors continued to look good when they crossed 300 at only five down, but some excellent bowling by Dane Paterson (4/68) proved to be their undoing as they slipped to 334 all out.

Ottniel Baartman (3/39) led a strong early fightback with the ball for the Knights as the Cobras were reduced to 59 for three.

But Hamza and Verreynne took them past the 150-mark at only four down, and, even though two more wickets fell, there was enough in the tank to give the hosts a winning start at PPC Newlands.

A second pre-season century by David Bedingham and an attacking 91 by Zubayr Hamza were the standout performances of a two-day match involving the World Sports Betting Cape Cobras and the Mpumalanga Titans in Johannesburg on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Bedingham scored his runs quickly, retiring on 100 after hitting 15 fours and three sixes.

Hamza’s stylish 91 came off 133 balls, an indication of his attacking stroke play at number three.

Ashwell Prince, head coach of the World Sports Betting Cape Cobras, was pleased about the innings of the visitors, and especially the time in the middle.

Prince underlined that the match against Mpumalanga Titans was not franchise cricket and not even a first-class match, but the time spent in the middle was precious and good preparations for the opening match of the season against the VKB Knights starting on October 1 at PPC Newlands.

Bedingham’s century, along with his previous pre-season century in a pre-season match during the recent trip to Durban, where he struck 101, has demonstrated the top-order batting depth at coach Prince’s disposal this season.

On Wednesday, the Mpumalanga Titans scored 319 in 89.1 overs.

Spinners Dane Piedt and George Linde were the most successful bowlers. Piedt captured 3-27 in 19.1 overs, while Linde finished with 3-46 in 13 overs.

“I have been bowling well. I am in a good space. All I want to do is contribute at the end of the day,” Piedt said.

“George was a bit more consistent than he was in the past. He is reaping the rewards for the hard work in the off-season,” he added.

“Bedingham is a solid batter, and he hits the ball very cleanly. He is potential test quality but he needs to put in the hard work first,” Piedt said.

On Friday and Saturday the World Sports Betting Cape Cobras will play in an inter-squad match at Wits University.

Get as close to the ball as possible and play it at the last moment – this has been the successful credo employed by the latest South African centurion – and it is a game plan that World Sports Betting Cape Cobras opening batsman Pieter Malan wants to borrow from Theunis de Bruyn when he represents South Africa ‘A’ in India in July and August.

Malan is one of two top-order batsmen from the World Sports Betting Cape Cobras who will represent South Africa ‘A’ against the India ‘A’ team in India. The other batting representative is Zubayr Hamza, while spinner Dane Piedt and fast bowler Mthiwekhaya Nabe complete the group of representatives from Cape Town heading over to India on Tuesday as part of the four-day squad.

Malan said he has taken some learnings about spinning conditions by watching the centurion De Bruyn score 101 in the second Test against Sri Lanka in Galle. It was De Bruyn’s first test ton.

“I don’t have a definite game plan whether to play on the front foot or back foot, but I know I must be clear in my decision making whether to go forward or backwards and commit myself with definite movement,” said Malan.

Although the conditions are tough and he has not played in India, he has played against spinners of international class which has helped him. The past season he represented the Cape side against Shaun von Berg and Tabraiz Shamsi – both of whom were in the Proteas touring test squad to Sri Lanka.

Hamza is looking forward to the tour but expects tough conditions: “It was beneficial to me that I went on the bowling and batting camp in India recently. I expect the conditions to be tough and I’ve decided that I want to get as close to the ball as possible when delivered by the Indian spinners. Or if I want to get out of the way, I need to be as far as possible from the ball.”

Malan and Hamza were part of the South Africa ‘A’ team that played against an Australian touring team last season and both have been heavy scorers for the World Sports Betting Cape Cobras.

Malan struck 892 runs at an average of 55.75, while Hamza hammered 828 runs at an average of 69 in the Sunfoil Series.

Malan also compiled 615 runs in the Momentum One Day Cup competition last season.

Ashwell Prince, the head coach of the World Sports Betting Cape Cobras, said he spoke to all the players on Monday and motivated them to adjust their game plans to the subcontinent as they will play half of their cricket against Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and India if they represent South Africa one day.

“We should not wish those conditions away, but formulate a game plan that makes us successful in foreign conditions,” he said.

“It is about learning as much as you can and adding to your skills set of playing spin to the rest of your game,” Prince said.

He said India has become the nation that has improved the most in foreign conditions while other nations, including South Africa, have gone backwards in foreign conditions recently.

Pieter Malan and Zubayr Hamza both recorded franchise-best scores as the WSB Cape Cobras battled back on day three of their Sunfoil Series clash against the Warriors at St George’s Park in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.

The pair shared in a superb 214-run second wicket stand to help the visitors reach 387 for eight declared, before reducing the host to 71 for two at the close, a lead of 136.

Day three was mainly about the performances of Malan and Hamza, with the former going on to make 124 (237 balls, 15 fours). It was a 24th time in first-class cricket the opener had recorded a three-figure score, but only the second time in the franchise competition.

For Hamza, his 111 (182 balls, 17 fours, 1 six) was a maiden century at this level surpassing his previous best score of 68 and his sixth ton overall.

After they departed, veteran Justin Ontong made 59 (71 balls, 9 fours), but there was not too much else from the Cobras batsmen.

Standard Bank Proteas spinner Tabraiz Shamsi managed one for 137 in 35 overs on debut for the Warriors, whose captain Jon-Jon Smuts picked up four for 38.

But his side then slipped to 23 for two thanks to a Dane Paterson (2/8) double strike, before Lesiba Ngoepe (23) and Yaseen Vallie (22) took them to the close in a solid position.

A maiden franchise century by Jerry Nqolo helped the Warriors build a strong first innings total but the WSB Cape Cobras fought back late on day two of their Sunfoil Series clash at St George’s Park in Port Elizabeth on Friday.

The all-rounder made an unbeaten 105 (172 balls, 11 fours, 1 six) as the hosts declared on 452 for six, before the visitors replied with 161 for one – trailing by 291.

Nqolo, whose previous best score at this level was 64, shared in a Warriors record 185-run sixth wicket partnership with Clyde Fortuin, who was eventually the last man out for 92 (146 balls, 14 fours, 1 six), his own career-bestshowing with the bat.

It was a good effort from the home side after they had begun the day on 263 for four. Captain Jon-Jon Smuts made 49, with the pick of the bowlers being his opposite number Dane Piedt with three for 86.

But the visitors replied strongly after the early loss of Andrew Puttick (18) to Sisanda Magala (1/34).

Zubayr Hamza was not out on 75 (105 balls, 12 fours, 1 six) with Pieter Malan on 63 (126 balls, 6 fours) keeping him company as the pair shared an unbroken stand of 124 to take their side to the close in a decent position.

 

The second pre-season two-day fixture between the WSB Cape Cobras and the Warriors that was played at the Recreation Ground in Oudtshoorn ended in a draw on Wednesday.

Both coaches, Ashwell Prince from the Cobras, and Malibongwe Maketa of the Warriors will be satisfied with their first outdoor outings of the season ahead of the Sunfoil Series that will kick-off on 19 September 2017.

It was a match where various overs were lost on the first day due to a delayed start and bad light that brought an early end to the proceedings.

The Cobras, who batted first, posted 269/5 before they declared their innings after 72.2 overs but not before three of the top order batsmen reached half-centuries.  Zubayr Hamza, who was promoted to open the batting, needed 96 balls for his 50 (7×4) whilst Kyle Verreynne (70; 119 balls, 1×6, 9×4) and Aviwe Mgijima (61; 96 balls, 7×4) were involved in a partnership of 101 runs (165 balls) for the third wicket.

Jason Smith, who scored a half-century in the first match, was again impressive with the bat with an unbeaten innings of 37* (43 balls, 8×4).

The Warriors workhorse, Sisanda Magala, was rewarded with figures of 3/59 (in 14 overs).

Bad light also had the final say on the second afternoon when the umpires called off the game at 4.30 pm with the Warriors ending on 262/6 (62 overs). Lesiba Ngoepe, who was impressive with an aggressive 62 (from 67 balls; 11×4), was well supported by Gihan Cloete (51; 107 balls; 9×4).

Summarised scorecard:

WSB CAPE COBRAS 1st innings 269/5 decl.  (Zubayr Hamza 50, Kyle Verreynne 70, Aviwe Mgijima 61, Jason Smith 37*, Sisanda Magala 3/59)

WARRIORS 1st innings 262/6 (Edward Moore 43, Lesiba Ngoepe 62, Gihan Cloete 51, Jon-Jon Smuts 47, George Linde 2/46).

Result: Match Drawn