Opinion: Schierhout, Matthews, Mahima, Ward – what’s left for Linde-less Cobras?

File image: Ben Ward.

The impatience with left-arm and leg-spinners has arguably been a large part of the Cape Cobras’ failures this season.

Primrose Cricket Club spinner David Schierhout was selected for the Cobras’ opening fixture of the 2020-21 4-Day Franchise Series. Schierhout bowled just 14 of the hosts’ 150-plus overs – and took a wicket in each innings – in defeat to the Titans at Newlands. He wasn’t selected again.

File image: David Schierhout.

The Cobras’ eagerness to find the right fit for a spinner to turn the ball away from right-handers in the absence of left-armer George Linde, whose Proteas’ commitments are increasing, continued with the selection of Cape Town Cricket Club leg-spinner Dyllan Matthews.

Matthews was the fourth-change bowler – and afforded a mere 12 of the 125.3 overs during the Dolphins’ first innings at Kingsmead. He didn’t bowl at all in the second innings. Matthews hasn’t been selected since.

File image: Dyllan Matthews.

The start of the One-Day Cup brought the inclusion of another left-arm and leg-spinner, this time Boland’s Siyabonga Mahima and Ben Ward, respectively.

Mahima fared decently on debut in defeat to the Lions in Potchefstroom, taking the key wicket of Proteas batsman Reeza Hendricks en route to figures of one for 32 in 8.2 overs. He didn’t play the next match due to injury.

File image: Siyabonga Mahima.

Ward replaced Mahima in the XI and bowled five wicketless and expensive overs as the Cobras lost to the Warriors. He hasn’t immediately aligned with Cobras head coach Ashwell Prince’s anticipation.

“Ward had some excellent performances for Maties in the Varsity Cup, which was played at the same ground, Senwes Park, in a similar type of tournament where the fixtures are congested. The square gets a lot of traffic on it, so spin comes more and more into play,” said Prince prior to Ward’s debut.

Ward was dropped and Mahima returned for Friday’s fixture against the Lions.

Off-spinner Imran Manack is proving a promising replacement for Cobras veteran Dane Piedt, who has relocated to the United States. Manack has strung together four successive appearances to Schierhout, Matthews, Mahima and Ward’s one each.

Four of the 2020-21 4-Day Franchise Series’ top wicket-takers were wrist- or left-arm spinners – Shaun von Berg, Senuran Muthusamy, Tabraiz Shamsi and Linde. The top wicket-taker in the ongoing One-Day Cup is a left-arm spinner – Jon-Jon Smuts.

The Cobras’ bid to match and better the success enjoyed by other franchises with left-arm and wrist-spin is evident. However, they would do well to exercise faith and patience in the upstart spinners selected.

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2 Comments on "Opinion: Schierhout, Matthews, Mahima, Ward – what’s left for Linde-less Cobras?"

  1. Richard horton | January 27, 2021 at 7:11 pm | Reply

    What about Luke stevens – a left arm spinner playing in the premier league / there are others – Luke is not even in the amateur team – furthermore there young spinners like Josh Breedt – leg spinner – young batters Matt De Villiers / Gavin Kaplan both in the 60’s and young quicks like Fumba / Bedja / Tas Lukas from Durbanville that aren’t even getting a chance in the amateurs – these talented guys
    He topped the 2nd division as an allrounder 2 yrs ago then in his first yr in the premier league he took 48 wkts ending 4th in the league
    Schierhout took 19 wickets in the 2nd division and came 19th in the 2nd league?? Averaging just more than a wicket per game
    I do not understand the selection process obviously
    Furthermore in the cobras current Team – only hamza and Malan played club cricket last year – 3 and 1 game respectively. Can’t find any of the other 9 in any club for premier or 1A – why play club cricket and do well ?
    We love club cricket and it is a very strong set up and should be the feeder in the western cape – so why do we not choose the talent that is available from our main feeder ??

  2. It’s so important for a young leg-spinner, in particular, to feel as though he has the absolute confidence of his captain and coach in successfully showcasing a difficult art. In the case of Dyllan Matthews, who’s a very talented leg-spinning all-rounder, being used as the sixth bowling option (and not at all in the second innings) will not instil a great deal of confidence in him for someone that hadn’t played a first-class game in nearly 13 months and hasn’t played franchise cricket in over two and a half years.

    I appreciate as coach and captain sometimes your focus is on the short-term, if Matthews was viewed as a risk they may have been reluctant to use him extensively in the game if it hindered their immediate chances of winning this game. However, sometimes if you believe a player has real talent and will develop into a real performer at this level you surely need to take a chance and put some faith in the youngsters.

    Would love to know what field Matthews and Ben Ward bowled to and whether they had the confidence to choose who they wanted where?

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