WSB Cape Cobras coach Ashwell Prince has been counting the cost of some of their catching after the opening half of the Sunfoil Series season as they headed to the four-day break with five draws from five matches.
The Cape side are fourth on the table with their 64.14 points putting them a little over 15 points behind the leading Multiply Titans (79.68), who are also the only side to have won a match out of the 15 played by all the franchises in 2017/18.
For Prince, it has been a case of several near misses and he felt there were times since the season began in late September that they could have seized the initiative had they held on to the ball.
“Especially when the pitches have been fairly flat, which has been most of the time in the early season, it’s been hard,” he lamented. “Chances are difficult to come by and on the few occasions that you do create them, if you want to build any sort of pressure on the opposition, then you have to take those chances.
“Area of concern have been behind the wicket and in the slip cordon areas, but anywhere for that matter. You can’t afford not to take opportunities. So that has been disappointing.”
Apart from that, the Cobras coach has been generally satisfied with their play. With his 446 runs, opener Pieter Malan is amongst the leading batsmen, while the bowlers, like most in the competition to date, have all found it difficult. Their leading bowler thus far is captain Dane Piedt, who has 11 wickets.
“I'm satisfied with the way we’ve gone in some areas and disappointed how we’ve gone in others,” Prince says. “I think our batting has been good, our bowling could have been slightly better, but certainly our catching could have been a lot better.”
The competition is now on a break and will only resume again in February, when Prince expects things to get easier for bowlers – and forecast more results in the next set of 15 games.
“I think we can expect to see livelier pitches in the second half of the competition simply because we will be right out of the winter,” he adds. “I'm hopeful that will happen and it will surely help the seam bowlers a bit more.”
As for their own prospects, the former Proteas batsman is still giving all six franchises a chance of winning the competition. There are only a little over 23 points separating the Titans and the bottom-placed bizhub Highveld Lions.
“We’re still confident that we can challenge,” Prince concluded. “There’s only been one result so far after half the matches, so I'm sure every other team is sitting in the same position thinking they can challenge.
“I mean if you get two or three wins in a row, that will catapult you way up in front of everyone else. So I'm sure everyone is thinking that way.”
The Franchise focus now shifts to the shortest format, with the T20 Challenge scheduled to begin this Friday, November 10.
The Cobras will play the Hollywoodbets Dolphins in the opening round.