The Cobras squeezed into the playoffs on Sunday by virtue of the Warriors losing their final league match to the Lions at the Wanderers. Chasing a paltry 124 for victory to ensure qualification which would have eliminated the Cobras, the batsmen from the Eastern Cape folded under the pressure.
Lions opening bowler Dewald Pretorius created the early havoc when he ripped through the Warriors top-order with three scalps within the powerplay. Christiaan Jonker resurrected his team’s hopes with a 30-ball 45 (2x4, 4x6), but ultimately he could not show the calmness required when he miscued an attempted drive down the ground off leg-spinner Eddie Leie.
The Proteas T20 tweaker proved to be the Warriors’ nemesis when he claimed a further three wickets to wrap up the match for the home side.
“I couldn’t watch. I was cutting the grass, then I went to the shop,” Cobras coach Paul Adams exclaimed. “Every time I did watch, I just saw Jonker smash a six! I decided mowing the lawn was the best option for the remainder of the game.
“I only heard the result when my wife shouted from the lounge that the Lions had won the game. She was ecstatic! I think it’s a massive life-line for us.”
Not much luck has gone the way of the Cobras thus far this season. After squandering two opportunities this week to book a home playoff, they seemed like a team that were destined to miss out on the knockout stages.
Although injuries to key players have played a pivotal part in disrupting the Cobras campaign, they have not played the standard of cricket they are capable of either.
The bowling unit has been impressive throughout, but the batting has left a lot to be desired. There are too many players out of form in the top-order at the moment, which has forced the team to rely on a couple of individuals to produce an innings of brilliance.
They have routinely come from regular opener Richard Levi and towards the back-end of the competition from all-rounder Wayne Parnell, who was promoted when Levi was concussed last week.
The fielding has also left a lot to be desired. Crucial catches have gone down at various times, which have placed the Cobras under immense pressure. There is no place for let-offs like these in a knockout fixture, especially against a Dolphins side that will have English superstar Kevin Pietersen back in the ranks for the one-off contest.
“We know we have to improve. We haven’t been playing good cricket. But at the same time, we continuously get thrown a curve-ball. Justin Kemp was laid down with flu last Friday and now Lesiba Ngoepe has rolled his ankle. I am not making excuses, but there hasn’t been one game where we haven’t picked up an injury this entire season,” Adams lamented.
Ngoepe’s misfortune will open the door for Cobras four-day captain Omphile Ramela to return to the line-up. After starring in last season’s final, Ramela has not enjoyed the most fruitful seasons thus far and will look to prove his doubters wrong.
Original source: Cobras coach mows lawn, makes playoff