SA20 League: Sky is the limit for Rickelton, says Pollard

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Photo Credit: SA20 League

MI Cape Town captain Kieron Pollard says the “sky is the limit” for in-form opener Ryan Rickelton.

The left-hander delivered his fourth consecutive half-century at a rousing Newlands on Friday evening to drive MI Cape Town to an eight-wicket victory over Paarl Royals in the Cape derby.

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Rickelton struck 94 not out off 52 balls (7×4, 6×6) and although he had the benefit of being dropped on two occasions, as they say in the classics “the harder you practice, the luckier you get.”

The 27-year-old is certainly working hard behind the scenes, and relishing the freedom that the new MI Cape Town leadership of coach Robin Peterson and captain Kieron Pollard is providing him.

Rickelton has been told to express himself in the way he sees fit, which was further emphasised by Pollard.

“He has been fantastic (Rickelton). We’ve given him that platform to perform and succeed. Sky is the limit,” the big West Indian said.

Rickelton, who has now moved to the top of the batting leaderboard with 337 runs at an average of 112.33 – which is just 54 runs shy of last season’s leading batter Jos Buttler’s overall tally – believes his form is due to a complete change of mindset.

“I’m not afraid to get out – that’s the big thing!” he said. “Chuffed to get the win for the team. Got a bit of luck , but I’m working hard about what I want to do. I’m trying to simplify, staying still at the time of delivery.”

After last season’s disappointment where MI Cape Town failed to secure a place in the playoffs, there is certainly a fresh feeling of positivity streaming through the blue and gold dressing room.

It is not just the form of openers Rickelton and Rassie van der Dussen, who is second on the run-scorers list, but also the way the team has responded to disappointment and defeat.

MI Cape Town have lifted themselves immediately in the next game after suffering a defeat in the previous match on each occasion thus far, showing they do not linger on the negatives for too long.

Left-arm wrist-spinner Thomas Kaber is visible proof of this new positive approach from MI Cape Town.

The 31-year-old was a left field pick from Cricket SA’s Division 2 at the auction, but coach Peterson has always enjoyed a joker up his sleeve. This was even more so when regular captain Rashid Khan was ruled out through injury.

But every gamble has the potential to not work out as intended, and it seemed Petersen seemed to have got this one wrong when Kaber ran into arguably the best player of spin in the world Heinrich Klaasen on his Betway SA20 debut and conceded 15 runs off his solitary over.

Kaber missed MI Cape Town’s next matches with the Newlands-based side reverting to the left-arm orthodox spin of George Linde.

But Peterson was playing the waiting game and unleashed Kaber against the Royals, and the 31-year-old repaid his coaches’ faith in bucket loads with a match-turning performance of 3/20.

“He played the first game (Kaber), but was unfortunate – the Klaasen effect. He only got one over. We talk about resilience. The way the guys held their nerve (after Roy assault) was great,” said Pollard.

MI Cape Town will be eager to complete the double when they face the Royals in the second derby of the weekend on Sunday at Boland Park (3:30pm SAST). Buy tickets now!

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