Cape Town - In the 2012/13-season, two seam bowlers claimed the most scalps in the Sunfoil Series, but this weekend, two spinners will be fighting for the spoils as the most successful wicket-taker in the domestic four-day showpiece.
Kyle Abbott captured 49 wickets at an average of 15.36 in 2012/13 and received his national call-up in the same season against Pakistan. Johann Louw was in hot pursuit of Abbott, finishing with 45 scalps at an average of 17.82 for the Cape Cobras.
But in a complete reversal of the previous season, two spinners, Dane Piedt (38 wickets at an average of 21.05) and Simon Harmer (38 wickets at an average of 33.00), are at the summit of the wicket-taking domestic bowlers.
There will be a Highveld-shoot-out from Thursday to Sunday to determine who are the major wicket-takers this season.
Harmer and the Warriors will clash with the Titans at SuperSport Park, while Piedt and the Cape Cobras will meet the embattled Highveld Lions at the Wanderers in Johannesburg.
Neil McKenzie, arguably the most senior statesman of the Sunfoil Series, said there has been an improvement in the pitch-preparations of the most wickets except for the Highveld in the 2013/14-season, where there has been a slope and where there has been too much grass left on the wicket.
“Wickets generally should move around a bit on the first day, be flatter on day two and then deteriorate and offer something for the spinners on the last day,” said McKenzie. “Generally this has been the case this season,” he added.
The statistics support McKenzie’s view. In 2012/13, 13 of the 27 Sunfoil Series match finished within three days. In the 2013/14-season, only four of the 25 clashes did not reach the fourth day.
Probed about the best bowlers in the competition in the Sunfoil Series this season, McKenzie said Piedt was one of the standout-performers and is a vastly improved spinner.
“But you also have to understand that he performed in arguably the best attack in the country. Somebody like Justin Kemp doesn’t always get the reward he deserved. Other bowlers also performed well in the Cobras set-up, like Rory Kleinveldt and Beuran Hendricks.
“Harmer did well in the Warriors-team,” he added.
“Kyle was the best of the seam bowlers in the competition. He was the pick of the fast bowlers and that’s why he got the national call-up.”
McKenzie said he will continue to represent the bizhub Highveld Lions next season. “I still have the hunger to perform, and I still feel wanted,” he said.