If you should see Mthiwekhaya Nabe batting higher in the order than teammate Janneman Malan, then you’re either watching a dream sequence in a Hollywood movie, or Malan has been injured, writes SIMON LEWIS.
The latter was, unfortunately, the case when Nabe made a rare appearance at No 10 for the Cobras against the Knights in Bloemfontein on Sunday. The Cape Cobras bowler had only scored 55 runs in his previous 20 innings in first-class cricket (made from 24 first-class matches!) when he went in to bat.
His previous highest score in first-class cricket was 12, and he faced just 132 balls and hit nine fours and a single six during his career with the bat. The Knights would have been forgiven for seeing a walking bonus point striding out to the wicket, but something must have clicked for Nabe as he took strike with the Cobras on 328-8.
Cobras captain Dane Piedt was looking good on 42 after adding 47 runs for the eighth wicket with Lizaad Williams (18) to enable the visitors to sneak past the Knights’ first innings total.
Piedt no doubt shared some words of encouragement to try and bolster Nabe’s confidence so that the 23-year-old could hang around long enough for Piedt to pick up his 12th first-class half-century. Thoughts of bettering his highest first-class score of 92 would not even have been a twinkle in the captain’s eye.
That’s when the magic happened, as for the 90 minutes that followed Nabe all but matched the more accomplished Piedt’s rate of scoring. The pair added a 4-Day series record 132 runs for the ninth wicket, breaking the previous mark of 129 runs set by Simon Harmer and Ayabulela Gqamane for the Warriors against the Titans in 2012-13.
Piedt scored 72 of those runs off 74 balls, while Nabe scored a superb 60 off 77 balls. After Piedt departed for 114, Nabe had the unique opportunity to welcome Janneman Malan to the crease and update him on the state of the wicket and which bowlers to watch out for.
Nabe added eight more runs to his score before being caught by Shadley van Schalkwyk off the bowling of Thandolwethu Mnyaka for 68 (87 balls, 9×4, 1×6, S/R 78.16), a quite extraordinary inning from a wonderful young cricketer.
Not only did Nabe improve his highest first-class score more than fourfold, he also doubled his career fours and career sixes in the innings. Last, but not least, his career average also spiked from 7.85 to 15.36, just below Piedt’s own average prior to his maiden century.
Mthiwekhaya Nabe’s first-class batting stats
After his innings, Nabe admitted that his forearms had been stiffening up as he wasn’t used to batting for so long, but he clearly enjoyed the experience as he went back out with the ball and snapped up the wicket of Grant Mokoena in the Knights’ second innings.
Footage & photo: Cricket South Africa