No less than four changes have been made to the Cobras’ troubled young side against the Dolphins on Thursday.
With Paul Adams’ role as coach in a spot of bother, there are four new additions to the Cobras first XI as they try to salvage some positives out of an awful start to their Sunfoil Series campaign.
SA U19 all-rounder Dayyaan Galiem receives a call-up to a depleted Cobras side after impressing for Western Province in the Provincial One-Day Challenge as well as the Sunfoil Series 3-day cup.
With figures of 2-49 and 65 runs scored in his last one-day outing against Boland, the 19-year-old is expected to be one of the spearheads of the bowling attack, replacing Rory Kleinveldt who has been left out for undisclosed reasons.
With Omphile Ramela serving a two-match suspension, the Cobras have turned to 27-year-old Pieter Malan, who has scored 489 runs and smashed two double-centuries in the Sunfoil Series 3-Day Cup at an average of 144.50. The ex-Titans player will partner Boland opener, Cebo Tshiki, at the top of the order in place of the absent Andrew Puttick who has been left out due to the passing of his father, PJ Puttick, on Sunday.
‘Although the brave-hearted Andrew wanted to play, we felt the compassionate leave is needed and that he should spend time with his family,’ said Nabeal Dien, chief executive officer of the Western Province Cricket Association.
Zubayr Hamza has also been left out of the squad in favour of Boland batsman Keegan Petersen, who hammered an unbeaten 115 against Western Province on Sunday. The 23-year-old will take over the wicketkeeper duties from Puttick.
The Cobras have fielded two players under the age of 25 in this Sunfoil Series so far, so this will be seen as an opportunity to inject some young talent into the side at Boland Park on Thursday.
‘This Cape Cobras team boasts fresh young faces, but we are committed as an organisation to reward form and the Western Province team has been full of confidence while coasting to emphatic victories,’ said Dien.
‘Our aim with the changes is to utilise the exuberance of youth to transform the Cape Cobras and help them return to their trophy-hugging ways.’
Ontong, who fills in as captain for Ramela, is excited about the new squad available to him.
‘I am very excited about the team. The players who have just been selected, deserve to be pencilled in. Right now the Cobras are not operating at the peak of their powers. I have great expectations of what Pieter, Dayyaan, Keegan and Cebo can achieve,’ said Ontong.
‘Cebo has been working hard in the winter and he looked very confident in the nets today. But he also knows what is required: he needs to put up the numbers,’ Ontong added.
Cape Cobras team: Justin Ontong (c), Pieter Malan, Cebo Tshiki, Stiaan van Zyl, Jason Smith, Keegan Petersen (wk), Aviwe Mgijima, Dayyaan Galiem, Zakhele Qwabe, Dane Paterson, Dane Piedt.
Photo: Anesh Debiky/Gallo Images