CAPE Cobras coach Ashwell Prince believes the avalanche of runs scored on the opening weekend of Sunfoil Series cricket may be detrimental to South African cricket in the long term.
Twelve centuries were struck across three matches played in Centurion, Johannesburg and Bloemfontein. There were eight alone in only three innings at the Manguang Oval in the clash between the VKB Knights and the Cobras – a match that yielded 1349 runs.
“It is difficult to comment on the other pitches, but the one that we played on was definitely not good for SA cricket. It was a flat pitch to start off, they had two spinners and it didn’t even break up enough for the spinners to come into the game,” Prince (pictured) said.
“We were saying that you could bat for another week on that pitch. That’s how solid and compact it was in terms of how it was rolled. For me, it can’t be good for cricket. If a pitch is bare, then at least the spinners must come in and play a big role, and even they couldn’t play a role. I think bat dominated way too much in our fixture and we would like to play on pitches that offer the bowlers more.”
If there was anything to take from the bowlers’ graveyard, it was the fact that the Cobras’ bowling unit would have put a good amount of miles in their legs early on in the season. For a unit that is relatively young, especially in the absence of senior bowlers such as Vernon Philander and Wayne Parnell, it can only bode well ahead of the trip to Port Elizabeth this weekend where the Cobras face the Warriors.
“I am pretty sure the bowlers would have learnt a lot from that outing,” Prince said. “If you didn’t have a clear plan you were staring down the barrel. Both teams were batting comfortably at four runs to the over. That’s how good the pitch was. It was a fast outfield too. At times, there were individuals who were going at six runs to the over if you weren’t hitting your areas.”
The Cobras are forced to make two changes to their line-up this week. Both are in the batting department with Hashim Amla and Temba Bavuma joining the Proteas for the first Test against Bangladesh in Potchefstroom, starting tomorrow. Young all-rounder Jason Smith returns to the line-up, while left-hander Simon Khomari is also recalled.
Plenty of eye-balls will be on 22-year-old Smith. The former Wynberg Boys’ High School prodigy had a major breakout last season when he struck 95 and a maiden franchise century in the first two Sunfoil Series games of the season. He also contributed 20 wickets in the four-day competition.
Unfortunately, though, his performances dipped towards the end of the season and the lean run continued through the winter for the South Africa ‘A’ team where much was expected of him.
There’s no doubt that he would have noticed his fellow South Africa Under-19 World Cup winners Aiden Markram and Andile Phehlukwayo join fellow “Class of 2014” graduate Kagiso Rabada in the Proteas Test squad this week.
Equally, he would have seen Highveld Lions all-rounder Wiaan Mulder surpass him in the queue after the teenager was placed on Proteas standby for the injured Parnell.
Prince will be hoping all these movements will awaken the fire inside Smith ahead of the trip to St George’s Park.