Cobras coach: Ontong wants Smith to learn

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It probably depends on the kind of environment you identify with, as well as the type of upbringing you had.

Part of Cape Cobras coach Paul Adams’ responsibilities is to unearth new talent, and provide sufficient game time for those players.

It is with this premise in mind that the huge decision to leave out captain Justin Ontong for Friday’s T20 Challenge clash against the Warriors at Newlands was made.

It was a massive call to make by Adams, especially considering the fact that the Cobras had yet to taste victory this season, and that there were only two experienced batsmen remaining in Richard Levi and Kieron Pollard, who was the captain for the night.

Ontong is in good touch, having scored a career-best double hundred in his last Sunfoil Series game against the Dolphins.

He missed out in the first T20 Challenge game against the Knights with just five, and perished in the cause of getting quick runs in the closing stages of the innings against the Titans on Wednesday.

But the returning Wayne Parnell had to be accommodated somehow as he offers exciting possibilities with both bat and ball. And the 36-year-old Ontong made way.

“Justin felt that to keep the balance of the team, he will stand aside. He is always giving everything back towards the team. He also wants to see Jason (Smith) improve and learn from experience. It shows our belief and potential in the pipeline,” Adams told Independent Media on Saturday.

The Cobras’ luck turned as they pulled off a 12-run win, with Parnell contributing 61 off 51 balls with the bat, and Pollard a quick-fire 50 off 27.

Ironically enough, young all-rounder Smith – who would’ve probably been the man axed for Parnell if Ontong had to play – played a poor sweep shot off part-time spinner Colin Ackermann, getting a top-edge that looped into wicket-keeper Clyde Fortuin’s gloves to score just eight, having come in at No 4.

The former SA Under-19 star wasn’t required to bowl either, with spinners George Linde and Nkululeko Serame taking three and two wickets respectively, along with Rory Kleinveldt’s impressive figures of 2/16 in four overs.

Smith also battled to get the ball off the square against the Titans in Paarl on Wednesday, eventually ending with 38 off 41 balls as a No 3.

Ontong’s presence at the crease earlier in Paarl and at Newlands may have seen the Cobras score 15 to 20 runs more.

But the bigger picture is that the 22-year-old Smith is out there playing at the highest level of domestic cricket, in the hope that he will soon be able to challenge for a place in the Proteas squad.

That is why Adams is unlikely to tinker with his team for Sunday’s game against the Lions in Potchefstroom (2.30pm start).

“We need to keep it up now. Parney and Pollard showed their experience and set it up for us. But we must improve on our last four overs of batting (when the Cobras scored just 19 runs and lost four wickets against the Warriors),” Adams said.

But while Parnell did well to get his 61 off 51 balls (8x4) as an opening batsman, fellow opener Richard Levi is under some pressure to get on the board as a senior player. Levi is hard to stop when he gets going, but fell for just eight on Friday, five against the Titans and 25 in the Knights game.

ashfak.mohamed@inl.co.za

@ashfakmohamed

Independent Media

Original source: Cobras coach: Ontong wants Smith to learn

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