SOUTH AFRICA’s triple domestic champions, the Cape Cobras, are set to bolster their squad with the signing of Australian spinner Brad Hogg for the upcoming Twenty20 series.
It is believed the Cobras, who start their Twenty20 title defence with a rematch of last season’s final against the Warriors in Port Elizabeth on February 15, are close to finalising a deal with the left-arm chinaman bowler.
The Cape Times understands Hogg was sought after last year’s Twenty20 whizzkid Michael Rippon injured a shoulder in a recent club game. Rippon, 20, also a slow left-arm chinaman bowler, was the joker in coach Richard Pybus’s pack last year as the then-teenager sped through his four overs before the oppostition had enough time to analyse his action and variations. The injury is set to keep the former Rondebosch Boys’ High learner on the sidelines for at least six weeks.
Hogg’s arrival in Cape Town, though, would be a significant coup for the Cobras. Although he is Rippon’s senior by 21 years, Hogg is not another one of Pybus’s ageing recruitments like 37-year-old duo Charl Willoughby and Charl Langeveldt recently were in the SuperSport Series.
The Aussie, who has played seven Tests and 143 one-day internationals, was earlier this month recalled for a Twenty20 international comeback against India on the back of some excellent form for the Perth Scorchers in the newly-formed T20 Big Bash League.
Hogg was the leading spinner in the competition with 13 scalps, but will also add great value to the Cobras’ brainstrust as he masterminded the Scorchers’ run to the inaugural final, which they lost to the Sydney Sixers.
He was also by far the most economical bowler in the tournament, conceding just 5.61 runs per over – a phenomenal achievement in T20 cricket.
Hogg will be the Cobras’ second overseas signing for the competition, with last season’s Man of the Series Owais Shah also returning to Newlands. The Englishman was a cult hero in Cape Town last season, and the “Shah of Newlands” showed the faithful he was no one-off success by playing a starring role in the 1-Day Cup final earlier this season.
Pybus will need his two big names to fire from the outset as the Cobras will have a much-depleted squad to call on during their title defence.
The Proteas will be unavailable due to the tour to New Zealand, which will include another of last season’s success stories in Richard Levi. The swashbuckling opener has been rewarded for his domestic form and will miss the early part of the tournament due to international commitments.
The other half of the dangerous Cobras opening partnership of last season, Herschelle Gibbs, will also be unavailable at the start as he will still be playing in the lucrative Bangladesh Twenty20 series. Gibbs has enjoyed good form recently, playing superbly for the Scorchers alongside Hogg, and also picked up another Indian Premier League deal earlier this week after missing out last season.
Pybus, however, won’t be sidetracked with thoughts of the Twenty20 and Champions League qualification just yet, especially with the crunch final round of SuperSport Series fixtures this weekend.
The Cobras are away to the Highveld Lions at the Wanderers this weekend, while the second-placed Titans are at home to the Dolphins at SuperSport Park. Only 0.68 points seperate the two top teams.
The margin between the two teams is just a slender 0.68 points, with not even an outright victory for the Cobras ensuring the SuperSport Series title remains in Cape Town for the third consecutive season. The Cobras require a solid haul of both batting and bowling points, and in the process hope the Dolphins foil the Titans at Centurion.
Article source: http://www.iol.co.za/capetimes/cobras-line-up-hogg-1.1228839