Ontong said in the case of an emergency call from his wife, he will be replaced by SA Engelbrecht, who will be allowed to bat and bowl in Paarl.
“The same thing happened when Stephen Cook’s wife gave birth in Potchefstroom, and he was replaced by Devon Conway in the Sunfoil Series match against the Cobras,” said Ontong.
Ontong said instead of being demoralized and paralyzed by their position at the foot of the Sunfoil Series log, the Cobras are keen to launch their campaign by improving their unconvincing cohesive batting performances in the first innings.
“We have played at 80 % of our abilities as a batting unit, especially in the first innings. We are yet to compile scores of 450 or 500 like the previous season,” he added.
It was a frustrating season for the skipper and the team. Ontong was run out in the final two Momentum One Day Cup matches and had a disappointing Ram Slam T20 Challenge campaign.
The experienced skipper smashed 927 runs in the Sunfoil Series campaign in 2013/2014 and was an automatic choice to lead the South Africa A team.
“I am hitting the ball well in the nets, but I need to get going again,” he added.
Stiaan van Zyl, who made his South African test debut against the West Indies, was another stalwart during the 2013/2014-competition who has not quite recaptured his devastating form. He hammered 933 runs for the Cobras last season.
Ontong said the Cobras are striving to recapture the attacking brand and magic formula that propelled them to two consecutive Sunfoil Series titles in 2012/2013 and 2013/2014.
They will be bolstered by the return of arguably their best bowler the past three weeks, Rory Kleinveldt, and the dynamic wicketkeeper/batsman Dane Vilas.
Paul Adams, the coach, said the encouraging improvement by the off-spinner Dane Piedt in the second innings of the Sunfoil Series match against the Chevrolet Knights is a step in the right direction.
Rob Walter, the Titans coach, said they have to win three of their last four matches if they want to have a realistic chance of walking away with the four-day spoils at the expense of the table-topping bizhub Highveld Lions.
The Wanderers-based franchise currently boasts 89.12 points. The Titans are 17 points adrift on 72.06.
The Titans only managed one century in two seasons in 2012/2013 and 2013/2014, but have already struck five in the current season (three by Roelof van der Merwe and two by Heino Kuhn).
They will have to continue this trend in order to establish a substantial first-innings total if they want to stay in touch with the Lions.
Theunis de Bruyn will open the innings for the Titans with Dean Elgar, as Kuhn is nursing a back injury.
De Bruyn has pleasant memories of the Paarl, where he compiled an unbeaten 202 in his first match for South Africa A against a England Lions line-up recently.
Albie Morkel’s stomach muscle injury is still on the mend, while Marchant de Lange’s hamstring is in the process of recovery, but he needs another week before he will be back in the middle.
The Cobras will be without two vastly experienced middle-order stalwarts, Robin Peterson (side strain) and Justin Kemp (swollen ankle). Beuran Hendricks (hamstring-niggle) is also not available.
The Nashua Cape Cobras squad is: Justin Ontong (capt), Sybrand Engelbrecht , Rory Kleinveldt, Richard Levi, Travis Muller, Dane Paterson, Keegan Petersen, Dane Piedt, Andrew Puttick, Omphile Ramela, Mthokozisi Shezi , Stiaan Van Zyl, Dane Vilas.