For over a century of first-class and test cricket it was the primary duty of captains to avoid defeat before contemplating the chance of victory.
However, in the last few years, captains have been prepared to lose a match in order to win it. The Cobras’ thrilling victory over the Warriors last weekend was a wonderful example of this.
Paul Adams’ men find themselves at the summit of the Sunfoil Series log after winning two of their first three matches.
The most recent of those results was a thrilling 18-run victory over the Chevrolet Warriors in Paarl. Adams had no hesitation in confirming that it was his team’s policy before the season to “go for the win” whenever they could and to “keep opposition sides interested”.
“It’s important to always believe you can win the match,” Adams told supersport.com.
The Warriors held a slender advantage of just four runs after the first two innings – 266 all out to the Cobras' 262.
Alistair Gray’s knock of 125, accompanied by Stiaan van Zyl’s 75, helped the Cobras to 282 for five at the close of play on the third day.
Adams said that a few of the Cobras players believed they had enough runs to declare overnight but he and Cobras captain, Justin Ontong, thought a target of 300 was more realistic.
“We thought about the overall match run-rate and also wanted a second new ball if we needed it late on day four,” Adams said.
Ontong and Adams decided not to declare overnight and added an extra 15 runs on the final morning before declaring at 297 for eight, setting the Warriors 294 for victory in 90 overs.
Adams admits to be worried by the Warriors' flying start: “They were cruising, but we knew if we bowled in good areas and got their key batsman out, we would win the match”.
The Cobras coach admits to being “stressed” at tea with the opposition apparently in complete control at 205 for three needing just 89 further runs with seven wickets in hand.
“We decided just to swing the bowlers around after tea and it seemed to do the trick”. The Cobras went on to bowl them out for 275.
Would the novice coach be so bold again? “Yes, it’s important to win matches early on in the four-day season so you’re not playing catch-up later on.
"The risk makes it all worth it – you just have to have the players to do it, which we do. We have our strategy in place and sometimes games fall into our laps, other times we have to work hard for it.”
The future of four-day cricket looks bright for South African cricket if Adams’ theory of being prepared to lose a match in order to stand a chance to win continues, and it seems it will.
“The young players in the side can learn from experiences like this (Warriors match) and it can help turn them into real thinking cricketers.”