McKenzie to become a Cobra?
Neil McKenzie (Gallo Images)
Cape Town – The Cape Cobras are the favourites to win the SuperSport Series this year, but have already set about building a team for next season.
They have acquired two new players and are close to signing another big fish in Neil McKenzie from the Highveld Lions. Young Lions wicketkeeper
Dane Vilas, 24, and Johann Louw, who will play for the Cobras on Friday in a friendly match
against English county Hampshire on Friday, are signed to play for the Cobras.
Louw, 30, was deemed surplus to company requirements by the Dolphins earlier this season, the Durban franchise having made the call to to concentrate on young players for the future.
McKenzie, axed as Lions captain earlier this season, is still considering the Cobras’ offer of a two-year contract, but the former Proteas opening batsman does own a house in the Cape.
The decision to lure the new players to the Cape will obviously raise questions about the futures of some of the current players, with wicketkeeper Ryan Canning and opening batsman Alastair Gray probably the players in biggest danger of losing their contracts. Both players only played for the Cobras’ four-day side this year.
Vilas may not be in Canning’s class as a wicketkeeper, but he is a dynamic batsman that will add value in all versions of the game.
He struggled for the Lions in the franchise competitions, but it was a different matter in the amateur series. He ended top of the list with an average of 95.50 runs in his four games.
It’s fairly ironic that Canning may lose his place to Vilas, though. Thami Tsolekile moved to Johannesburg at the start of the season because Canning had taken his place. Vilas then lost his place at the Lions because of Tsolekile’s arrival and now Vilas may take Canning’s place.
Cobras coach Shukri Conrad confirmed on Tuesday that Vilas and McKenzie, should they come to the Cape, would be released to play for the Lions in the Indian Champions League should they want to call on their services.
The Cobras currently lead the SuperSport points table with 94.44 points and just have to win one of their remaining two four-day games to secure the title.
They take on the Dolphins at Newlands from next Thursday before ending their campaign against the Warriors.