What does Gary Kirsten, Jacques Kallis, Ashwell Prince, Graeme Smith and Michael Cohen have in common? They were all recipients of the first-class-cricketer-of-the-year award of the Western Province Cricket Association (WPCA).
Cohen captured 9-70 in his last first-class match of last season, against South Western Districts, and took 26 wickets for WP in six matches in the Sunfoil Three-Day Cup competition the past season.
“At 19, this was my first complete season since writing matric,” Cohen said.
“I managed to take in excess of 50 wickets over the course of the season in games for Western Province, Cobras, CSA Invitational X1’s and South African men’s emerging side,” he added.
“Highlights (of the 2017/2018 season) would have to include my first five-wicket haul at franchise level, the pink ball day/night game against Zimbabwe, 4-for against Bangladesh, and definitely having the opportunity to play alongside stalwarts of the game such as Justin Ontong and Andrew Puttick,” he adds.
Cohen has nipped out 40 wickets in 10 first-class matches at an average of 22.67 and a strike rate of 33.9.
In the corridors of WP cricket, there is great respect for the brilliant mind of Cohen and his tremendous talent, but there is also cautious feedback that he should not over-analyse the game too much as he possesses express pace and the ability to swing it both ways through the air and nip it away off the seam.
Yet there are different types of fast bowlers – you have the fiery pace merchants who have a genuine dislike of batsmen and who doesn’t mind hurting them occasionally. Then you also meet fast bowlers who dismantle batsmen with the way in which they construct every over – they outmanoeuvre them instead of trying to knock them off their pedestal, literally.
Cohen is in the latter category – the thinking man’s fast bowler – and says that successively setting up batsmen gives him tremendous pleasure.
If World Sports Betting Cape Cobras fans are summoned to share two things about Cohen that are not universally known, they would do some head-scratching.
But only Cohen, his team-mates and the coaches of WP knows the following:
Cohen matriculated with seven A’s. While still a toddler and a younger player, he idolised Wasim Akram and spent hours studying his bowling.
He holds the opinion that Wasim was the best left-arm fast bowler of all time, an opinion shared by many.
In fact, when ESPN Cricinfo selected a best-ever eleven players, he was in the world team alongside Shane Warne, Malcolm Marshall and Dennis Lillee.
Asked about his goals for the season, Cohen says “winning tournaments at the highest level possible”.
An undergraduate in bachelor of accounting sciences, Cohen says taking five-wicket hauls will always be special, but winning matches is more important.
Cohen has a knack of producing the goods when he steps up a gear. He nipped out 6-49 in his first first-class match, and took 5-107 for the World Sports Betting Cape Cobras when he was first picked for the franchise team.
And when he played for a CSA Invitational team against Zimbabwe, he finished with a match-haul of 5-77.
Having just received the prize as first-class cricketer of the year at the amateur breakfast awards at PPC Newlands, it would be a fresh incentive for the semi-professional cricketer to throw his hat into the franchise ring and challenge the World Sports Betting Cape Cobras bowlers for a place in the franchise team.