Earnest discussions were being held in the Cobras dressing-room during the mid-innings break after regular opening batsman Richard Levi had suffered a freak accident while fielding. Adams originally pondered sending in Robin Peterson, but was hesitant given that the left-arm spinner was playing in only his first match since recovering from a hand injury.
Enter Parnell. “I saw Gogi (Adams) chatting with Robbie and then he came to me. It was going to be one of us. I then said: ‘Leave it to me coach. I’ve got this’. It wasn’t cocky or anything.
“I just felt that I had been hitting the ball sweetly in the nets for a while and I had the experience of doing it before. I’ve done the job previously for both the Proteas and the Warriors in limited-overs cricket,” said the Cobras hero.
Parnell’s batting has long been an under-rated part of his game. He was a genuine all-rounder when he led the South Africa Under-19 team to the ICC U19 World Cup final in Kuala Lumpur back in 2008 and also has two List A centuries to his credit.
The way he picked the length to drive over and through the covers at the Wanderers against the Lions pacemen was top-drawer, while his footwork against the spinners was equally impressive. Even his usually miserly Proteas teammate Aaron Phangiso was not able to contain the rampant Parnell.
“From the start Putters (opening partner Andrew Puttick) and I had a chat. I knew that Hardus (Viljoen) was the major threat with his pace and inconsistent bounce. I told Putters that we needed to see him off and then we would be well on track to post 50 within the power-play.
“We also knew they place plenty of emphasis on their spinners, but I told Putters that as were both left-handers we had an advantage. Because they had two left-arm spinners there was always going to be a small boundary which we could target.”
The planning certainly reaped dividends with the Parnell clearing the fence on five occasions and striking a further nine boundaries. Even the good fortune of being caught off a no-ball when just on 20 cannot detract from the high-calibre entertainment the 26-year-old provided. In fact it was almost an injustice when Parnell was not able to celebrate his maiden century in T20 cricket when he was caught just one run short of the milestone.
“I could have pushed the single, but for me the team always comes first. I never wanted to take the match into the last over. I was high on confidence after striking Phangi (Phangiso) for two successive sixes. When he threw the ball up again I backed myself to clear the boundary. Unfortunately I did not make a good connection and sliced the ball to point. I wouldn’t do it differently, though, if I had to be in the same position again,” explained Parnell.
The victory over the Lions entrenched the defending champion Cobras’ second position on the T20 log behind the runaway leaders, the Titans.
But will Parnell be at the top of the order again when the Cobras face his former team, the Warriors, in a crucial encounter in East London tomorrow evening?
“I’ve put my hand up now,” he said. “But it is not my decision on the way forward. Obviously I would like to bat up front because it offers me the opportunity to make a contribution to the team’s cause... whatever is best for the team ultimately.”
The preliminary prognosis on Levi was that he’d suffered a mild concussion. He flew back to Cape Town at 2pm yesterday and will undergo a full assessment today. It is unlikely that Levi will be part of the Cobras travelling squad to East London. - Cape Argus
Original source: Leave it to me coach – Parnell