The Warriors head into a new Momentum One-Day Cup cricket campaign today with some fresh faces eager to make an impact.
Warriors caretaker coach Rivash Gobind said this week he would back the players he thought had the necessary skill and mind-set to succeed for the Warriors. And in his first assignment at the helm he has been true to his word, bringing in three new players.
Admittedly, Matthew Breetzke has been within the Warriors set-up before but he will likely make his white-ball debut tonight. The other two changes in personnel are Border players Marco Marais and Clayton Bosch.
Right-handed batsman Marais has been in sensational form for Border, scoring three hundreds and three fifties in his last 10 games for Border. One of the hundreds was a spectacular, record, unbeaten triple century scored against Eastern Province four weeks ago.
Medium-fast seamer Bosch has been among the wickets and runs for Border, with his most recent outing against Boland producing seven wickets for 24 runs in the three-day match and an unbeaten 72 in the one-day encounter.
Of the squad that did duty in the Ram Slam T20 Challenge out go Colin Ingram, Jerry Nqolo, Solo Nqweni, Kelly Smuts and Basheer Walters.
Gobind said the Warriors would be chasing a fast start to a competition unlike the one they had in the T20 tournament.
“It was disappointing to not win it [the T20]. We put ourselves in a good position towards the back end to really challenge for it.
“I think the way we started wasn’t up to our normal standard and there were a few reasons for that.
“But I think we regrouped quite nicely in the middle and we put in strong performances towards the back end. The simple thing that happened was towards the back end our big players really stood up.
“Birchy [Andrew Birch] won us a few games in the last over, Ingram and Jon-Jon [Smuts] got some runs and [Sisanda] Magala bowled beautifully.”
The Eastern Cape franchise made the final of the One-Day Cup last season and were impressive during that campaign. But Gobind was not dwelling too much on the past.
“The nature of sport is if you look too far in the past you get cleaned up before you wake up. As much as we’ve learnt some lessons from that campaign, the reality is we still didn’t win it.
“So, we need to take all the good stuff out of that but as a group we can’t be thinking that last year we got to the final and so it will just happen again.
“You saw the way the T20 panned out. The Titans were the runaway guys, but up until the last round of games, all six teams were pretty much in it. I see it being pretty much the same for this 50-over competition,” said Gobind.
The Warriors beat the Lions twice in the T20 competition and have had the better of them in recent seasons. But Gobind was not letting the squad get too far ahead of itself.
“They’ve got some good guys there. The core of that squad has been together for a while now. Their mix of youth and experience is quite a good one. You’ve got guys like Wiaan Mulder there who is a Protea already.
“I think Stephen Cook will probably come back into the mix and he adds a lot of value to their team.”
The Warriors squad for today and Friday [against the Cobras] is:
Gihahn Cloete, Matthew Breetzke, Jon-Jon Smuts (capt), Colin Ackermann, Yaseen Vallie, Christiaan Jonker, Lesiba Ngoepe, Andrew Birch, Sisanda Magala, Aya Gqamane, Clayton Bosch, Anrich Nortje, Marco Marais