Cape Cobras captain and all-rounder Justin Ontong says he still has ambitions to play T20 cricket for South Africa.
Excelling for the Barbados Tridents in the Caribbean Premier League (CPL), which starts in June, might just open a few South African doors for Ontong (35).
Representing the Tridents will offer him an opportunity to showcase his T20-talent, which might get him noticed for South Africa’s squad for the ICC World Twenty20 tournament in March 2016 in India.
Ontong recently captained South Africa in a T20-International against the West Indies, but the middle-order batsman stressed the importance of improving his batting in limited-overs cricket.
‘I did not put in the type of performances in the limited-overs formats that I hoped for,’ Ontong said in reflecting on his contributions in the Ram Slam T20 and Momentum One Day Cup competition in 2014/2015.
‘Especially in the Ram Slam T20, I had only a few chances, but I want to fine-tune my performances more. I would like to focus more on my limited-overs game and sharpen my skills.’
Ontong scored 479 runs in the Sunfoil Series at an average of 59.87, following a prolific 2013/2014-season in which he bludgeoned 927 runs in the four-day competition.
‘I hope the national selectors have not forgotten about me,’ he said in reflecting on his chances to get into the South African squad for the tour of Bangladesh.
‘At my age, it is about enjoying the game and grabbing the opportunities when they come.’
In the Momentum One Day Cup competition he struck 173 runs at an average of 28.83.
Ontong said Robin Peterson will be joining him for the Tridents in the CPL.
He said he was thrilled that most of the senior bowlers of the Cobras will have an opportunity of recuperating and doing fitness work in the off-season in order to get ready for the summer of 2015.
Probed about Mpilo Njoloza, who took a hat-trick in his final four-day match of the season, Ontong said he was impressed.
‘He has many skills, and he is nippier than you think. He also swings it both ways. He has had trouble with his knees, so we need to get him stronger and fitter in the off-season.’
Ontong hinted that Njoloza can press for a more permanent spot when he has fully developed his craft and is operating at the peak of his powers.
‘He is definitely one for the future. He can offer healthy competition to all the other bowlers in the squad,’ he added.