Warriors in fiery combat mode
Smuts and his men face tall order against Titans
The Warriors kick-start a new campaign for silverware when they play the Titans in the opening game of the CSA T20 Challenge in Centurion on Friday evening.
The Eastern Cape franchise have a testing start to their campaign facing defending champions, the Titans, before travelling to play the Knights in Kimberley which will be followed by another away game against the Cape Cobras in Paarl.
Captain Jon-Jon Smuts’ team will play their first home game against the Highveld Lions in East London on April 14.
Nonetheless Smuts says the team are upbeat about their chances in a competition they normally excel in.
“Who doesn’t like T20 cricket? It’s a really exciting format to play in and it’s again something where you can go out and express yourself and have a bit of fun,” said Smuts.
“For me personally it’s a format I really enjoy and I know that the Warriors team really like playing it.”
The Warriors will also be keen to make amends for their topsy-turvy performance in the Momentum One-Day Cup where they were easily knocked out by the Dolphins in the semifinals stage.
Smuts’ side enjoyed a great start to that tournament going five matches unbeaten to lead the log through the halfway stage. But they then lost four games on the bounce before picking themselves up to thrash the Cobras by nine wickets at St George’s Park in their final round-robin game.
But the playoff loss at Kingsmead will not have sat well in the camp and the T20 Challenge will present another opportunity to win a competition.
Smuts will lead an exciting side that is expected to include Sinethemba Qeshile, Lutho Sipamla and Matthew Breetzke.
The trio of 20-year-olds will be keen to repeat some of the fine performances they delivered in the One-Day Cup.
Titans batsman Tony de Zorzi says their team were relieved to have won the Momentum One-Day Cup last week following their disappointing run in red-ball cricket this season.
“The guys were excited after winning some silverware after a tough four-day competition,” said De Zorzi.
“But we looking forward to winning another trophy. I think a lot of guys are excited to do that with the young guys coming in. There is a lot of confidence in the camp but our feet are still on the ground.”
The tournament will also provide some final opportunities for players to impress Proteas coach Ottis Gibson and his fellow national selectors before the SA World Cup squad is announced on April 16.
This weekend’s fixtures are:
Friday: 6pm, Titans v Warriors (Centurion); Saturday: 6pm, Dolphins v Knights (Durban); Sunday: 2.30pm, Lions v Cobras (Johannesburg)...