Cape Cobras, who will end this season without any silverware, will lose two of their most experienced players for the 2016-17 summer. Veteran allrounder Justin Kemp will retire at the end of this season while left-arm spinning allrounder Robin Peterson will move to Knights. Cobras have also chosen to cut Shaheen Khan, Mthokozisi Shezi and Sybrand Engelbrecht from their contract list.
Having played first-class cricket for two decades, Kemp, 38, added a wealth of experience to the franchise. He has featured regularly for Cobras since his last international appearance in 2007. Peterson also contributed heavily to the franchise as his international career waned. The loss of both players will leave Cobras without substantial experience.
“Justin was one of our kingpins in the middle-order with the bat,” Nabeal Dean, Cobras CEO said. “As fourth seam bowler, he grabbed wickets or generated so much pressure with his economic and probing bowling that benefited his colleagues. As a fielder, he set unprecedented standards for other members of his team. Robbie P was one of our finest players amongst a galaxy of international stars the past seven years. He performed several admirable feats for us.”
While Kemp will settle into life after the game, Peterson still believes he has a bit more to offer, but had struggled to find a regular place in a Cobras XI laden with other spin options. “The emergence of Dane (Piedt) and the constant evolution of GF Linde make Robin’s decision to join the Knights understandable and he leaves the franchise with our blessing and best wishes,” Dean said.
Khan and Shezi, meanwhile, will head back to Kwa-Zulu Natal, where they began their cricket careers. Khan had already been on loan there for half of this season after recovering from a stress fracture of the back. But perhaps most surprising is the omission of Engelbrecht from the list of contracted players.
Engelbrecht is a promising batsman who averages a shade under 40 in both first-class cricket and List A cricket, but he has struggled to find a regular place in a Cobras line-up laden with international stars such as Stiaan van Zyl and JP Duminy. He has had a difficult season, in which his bowling action was declared illegal and needed to be remodeled, but he worked his way back. He had spent most of the 2015-16 season playing for the Western Province provincial side and has indicated he will continue playing there next summer, in the hope of earning a franchise place.
“We are grateful that Sybrand has indicated that he still wants to be involved with the semi-professional team as he pursues a future professional contract with the Cape Cobras again,” Dean said. “We always have mixed feelings when losing players of the quality of Sybrand, Shaheen and Mthokozisi. We wish to thank them for their great service to our franchise and province, and wish them well with future endeavours.”
Cobras are yet to announce any additions to their squad. They currently lie second from the bottom in the first-class competition table, with just two wins from eight matches. Cobras, however, performed better in the one-day cup, where they were losing finalists and the twenty-over competition, where they were beaten in the semi-final.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo’s South Africa correspondent
ESPN Sports Media Ltd.