The Cobras have lost two stalwarts who helped to set up their Sunfoil Series title in 2013/2014. Dane Piedt, international off-spinner of the Cobras, is still on the mend after a shoulder operation. He captured 45 wickets in eight matches in the 2013/2014-campaign.
Stiaan van Zyl scored 933 runs in the previous season and is part of the South African squad for the opening test against the West Indies at SuperSport Park in Centurion. Consequently, he won’t be available for the Cobras in the opening local four-day match.
Ontong remained up-beat that the Cobras could replace Van Zyl and Piedt and still feature strongly in the domestic four-day showpiece.
“I do think one major factor that helped us to win the Sunfoil Series is that he played with so much intensity. We also batted at a reasonable tempo to give our bowling attack enough time to capture wickets in a second innings.
“We also had two or three batsmen who scored big runs last season, like Stiaan, Andrew (Puttick) and me, while we had two or three bowlers who captured the wickets, and others who played around them,” added Ontong.
Ontong averaged 71.30 in the 2013/2014-season, while Puttick smashed 739 runs. Yaseen Vallie was another who blossomed, with 582 runs.
Puttick was splendid during the Momentum One Day Cup competition, managing 394 runs in five matches.
“I think Richard Levi is also very desperate to do well for us,” said Ontong, who added that the squad for the Sunfoil Series match against the Lions will only be selected on Wednesday.
Levi’s previous match for the Cobras in a four-day match was in the final fixture of the 2012/2013-season against the Chevrolet Knights.
He was prolific in this season’s Ram Slam T20 Challenge, scoring 392 runs at an average of 39.20.
Ontong said GF Linde is an exciting young spinner and has shown that he has the ability to dismiss teams. The left-arm spinner nabbed 14 wickets in the Ram Slam T20 Challenge in November and December.
The Cobras coach, Paul Adams, spent some time during the net practice on Tuesday to address Linde’s line against the left-handed batsmen.
Dane Paterson took 28 wickets for the Cobras in the 2013/2014-season, as well as 39 for Western Province.
Asked if he could make the step up again, Ontong was confident: “Self-belief is important, and he has got it following the success in the Ram Slam competition.”