Johannesburg - Cape Cobras coach Paul Adams has heaped praise on spinner Dane Piedt, in the wake of claiming the domestic four day title for the second season running at the Wanderers on Sunday.
The Cobras were ruthless in their final game as they beat the Lions by an innings and 165 runs, with Piedt returning match figures of 7/97 as the spinner ended the season with a massive haul of 45 wickets.
"To sustain the drive to win right through the season shows the quality of players we have and what they want to achieve," said Adams after the match.
"Young Dane Piedt has really stood up this year, it was magnificent to see as a spinner how he made it count this year." Adams said the 24-year-old had made huge strides in his game this year.
"I've known Dane since he was under 19. I've really worked hard with him, and it's a massive feather in his cap how he's come through this season with hard work.
"When a spinner is a match-winner, and takes five-fors in the last innings of the game, that's what you want to see.
"It's great to not crumble under the pressure of being the one relied on to get those wickets, and he's managed to pull off a couple of those performances this season." The coach speculated there could be a birth in the Proteas team for Piedt.
"There's a lot of talk about spin bowling in South Africa, and that position is very open.
"There's a big challenge coming this winter, there's eight tours. For Dane to achieve what he has, he has put his hand up there as a spinner."
Cobras captain Justin Ontong was also a key driving force in the Cape side, ending second in most runs scored in the season with 927 - six behind teammate Stiaan van Zyl.
Adams said the performance of his captain was pivotal.
"Ontong has been a leader to achieve what he did.
"He's often come in when we lost quick wickets, he's come in and scored most of the runs. The way he's handled pressure, it puts the pressure back on the opposition. Stiaan has been the class act that he is, controlling innings and keeping the batting structure together - along with (Andrew) Puttick.
"When you have your top three guys gunning for most runs scored in a season, it means you'll always be near the top of the log."
Ontong, meanwhile, said it was fitting to win in style in the last game of the season.
"This is what we play cricket for," said Ontong.
"We've been competitive in all the competitions, and it shows the character of the team.
"Keeping up that intensity and finishing off with a win like this, showed what this team is made of."
While they defended their title with apparent ease, Ontong said the current season was tougher than their previous campaign.
"We had very short games last season.
"We played two and half, three day games last season.
"This year it was really hard work going into four days.
"The stamina, longevity and patience the guys have shown was the key.
"That's why Piedt was so good, he'd just sit at one end and create pressure.
"It was really hard fought this season, despite it looking like it was comfortable in the end."