Hamza, Smith and Linde promoted to Cobras ranks

2016-04-11 16:14
Cricket bat (Gallo Images)

Cape Town – The leading first-class run-scorer in the Sunfoil Three-Day Cup the past season, Zubayr Hamza, has been newly promoted to the professional squad of the Cape Cobras, along with two other rising stars from the semi-professional ranks, Jason Smith and GF Linde.

Hamza hit the headlines early in his career in assembling an unbeaten 202 against Namibia as he became the fourth youngest South African to hit a double hundred in first-class cricket.

He found himself in exalted statistical company. The trio ahead of him Johann Myburgh, Graeme Pollock and Xenophon Balaskas all went on to play senior international cricket.

Hamza struck 830 runs at an average of 59.28 for Western Province in the 2015/2016-season.

Faiek Davids, the Western Province coach, said Hamza possesses a calm exterior, is well organized and has the inner desire to perform.

He plays the ball under his nose and is strong on both sides of the crease. Hamza is quite wristy and can treat fast bowlers who have the temerity to drop it short, with disdain by employing an assured hook- or pull shot.

A product of Rondebosch Boys High, he represented Western Province and South African Schools in 2014 and just missed out on South African U19-representation in 2015.

“Back yourself, don’t doubt your abilities and stick to the processes,” are part of his manifesto for a successful cricketing career.

Hamza struck three centuries for Western Province during his prolific 2015/2016-season, and considers the ton he compiled against Gauteng at PPC Newlands as his best.

“I was disappointed in us losing the three-day final. The visitors were a bit more disciplined in small things and just more clinical,” he added.

Hamza is a bit apprehensive about the professional ranks. “The nerves will always be evident. But once I get a taste of what is required of me, I will be fine. Performances will be key factors,” he said.

Davids is an admirer of the talent of the former SA u.19-star Smith.

 “I am very excited about Jason. He is a very clean hitter and can tear any attack apart,” said Davids.

 “He still needs to improve his understanding of how to go around his business,” he added. Unpacking his statement, Davids explained that Smith can get carried away a touch when he is destined for a ton and throw away his wicket in an unguarded moment.

“If he fulfils his potential, he can become of one of the better all-rounders of the Cape Cobras and later even in South Africa.

“But already he can nip it both ways off the seam and he is crafty with a lot of skill.

“If he conditions his body, he will become a frontline-bowler,” Davids confidently declared.

Smith was a member of the Wynberg Boys High school first team from 2010 to 2012. His alma mater was consistently amongst the top-five cricket institutions in the country while Smith was plying his craft there.

Smith was a member of the South African team that won the under-19 World Cup on March 1, 2014. The coach, Ray Jennings said afterwards: "All of them have the potential to make it big."

During the past season, Smith struck 597 runs and captured 19 wickets, with his 6-49 against South Western Districts being his best innings-haul.

The undoubted highlight was Smith’s stylish unbeaten half-century for the Cape Cobras in his maiden innings at PPC Newlands where he combined with JP Duminy to power the hosts to a competitive total and a convincing win.

Smith was class personified, and one of his boundaries was an audacious reverse-sweep against the Dolphins.

“There is always room for improvement with bat and ball. I do need to do work in the gymnasium, because I am committed to add a yard of pace to my bowling and to improve my control,” Smith said.

Linde was a member of the Cape Cobras squad that won the Ram Slam T20 Challenge in December 2014 to atone for the heart-breaking 2-run loss in the final of the domestic T20-showpiece early in the same year.

The statistics of 14 wickets at an average of 15.55 in 11 matches with a best of 3-15 underlines his remarkable contribution to the all-conquering feats of the Cape champions.

A left-arm spinner who drew applause from the Cape Cobras coach, Paul Adams, about his ability to generate bounce and turn a la Claude Henderson, he can be a constant threat.

Linde said a finger fracture during the semi-professional season proved to be a blessing in disguise. It offered him the chance to remove the clutter from his mind and to improve his focus.

It was evident at the business-end of the season, as he scored 64 and took 4-37 in the ten-wicket win against KwaZulu-Natal.

In the Three-day Cup final, Linde nipped out 5-55 and 3-48.

Linde credits two former South African spinners, Robin Peterson and Adams, for their contribution to his evolution.

Peterson has never been shy of a word of encouragement. He even approached Linde a few times to share his trade secrets with the apprentice.

Davids is full of praise for Linde, and says if the young player can employ a higher, more teasing trajectory in red-ball cricket, it will add to his effectiveness and strike-rate in franchise-cricket.

“If he can take pace off it, work with his height and generate bounce, loop it above the eye-line of the batsmen and master that tactic, he will be a handful in all formats,” Davids said.

Read more on:    cobras  |  cricket

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