T20 Domestic Cup

Cobras lose Narine for final

2014-02-03 07:40
Sunil Narine (Gallo Images)
Cape Town - Under normal circumstances, the unavailability of your prize overseas recruit for a major final would be considered a perplexing and unfortunate state of affairs.

But the Cape Cobras losing Sunil Narine, their wily and extremely watchable off-spinner from the West Indies, for Sunday’s now-confirmed home RAM SLAM T20 showpiece against either the Dolphins or Titans at Newlands (14:30) is not quite the train smash it may seem.

The 25-year-old Narine was a slightly late starter in the competition, but ended up making six appearances for the clear winners of the round-robin phase, and played a crucial role in the Cobras’ dominance with his 10 wickets at 13.70 and economy rate of 5.95.

But now, CEO Andre Odendaal explained to Sport24 on Sunday, he has to return home to play a match for Trinidad and Tobago in the Caribbean’s Nagico Super50 limited-overs competition in order to qualify for ongoing West Indies selection.

“Sunil would have still been available for us had we been one of the teams in Wednesday’s semi-final playoff (Dolphins v Titans at Kingsmead, 18:00),” Prof Odendaal said.

That might have been important because first prize, financially, in the domestic T20 competition is still to become one of the two finalists and thus qualify for the highly lucrative T20 Champions League.

In that regard, Narine can be said to have done his job, with the Cobras already confirmed as one South African entrant and simply waiting to see who joins them in the local final and then the Indian-staged competition later in the year.

While domestic pride obviously remains on the line in Sunday’s final, it is not nearly so important now that Narine be around for it, from a Cobras point of view.

They will, in fact, be without a significant tally of their biggest names because many from their ranks will be committed to Test-squad preparations for the first clash with Australia at Centurion - these include Graeme Smith, JP Duminy, Hashim Amla, Vernon Philander, Robin Peterson, Rory Kleinveldt and Dale Steyn.

But Prof Odendaal said that young left-arm seam sensational Beuran Hendricks, who is to aid the national squad in their warm-up phase but not as an official member of the group, would be in the Cobras’ team next Sunday.

Hendricks is the already record-grabbing, runaway leader in the RAM SLAM T20 wickets column with 27 at only 9.77 - that is almost double the next best tally of 14 achieved by the Titans’ Pakistani star Saeed Ajmal.

Other players who will be available for the Cobras, who won eight of their 10 round-robin matches, in the showpiece include captain Justin Ontong, Richard Levi, Stiaan van Zyl, Dane Vilas, Justin Kemp and Aviwe Mgijima.

Prof Odendaal said it had been “absolutely wonderful” watching the Cobras progress to the final and the Champions League.

“The last month or so has been such a pleasure ... it is a happy bunch of players and some of the skills they have exhibited have been phenomenal. There’s been a relaxed, but always focused vibe.

“Yes, we will be minus the big guys and now tackle the final with a few young players, but that is not too much of a (drawback) because growth from within our fold has been a pleasing hallmark.”

The home victory over the Warriors on Sunday to secure the final berth was watched by a crowd of some 10,000 and Prof Odendaal hopes for a full house or at least close to it at Newlands next weekend.

He said the franchise was back in a “good space” after the furore and financial repercussions of the traditional New Year Test at the ground not taking place this season.

“Thanks to Cricket South Africa’s (alternative plans) with the Pakistan limited-overs matches and then the Festival of Cricket we pulled back a fair bit of what we thought we would lose from the Test.”

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

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