EVEN though South Western Districts (SWD) have shown some patchy form this season, Eastern Province cricket coach Chris Esau is preparing his troops for a stiff examination in Oudtshoorn, starting today.
The neighbours meet in what promises to be a keenly contested CSA Provincial three-day game and the heat will be on in more ways than one.
Besides the pressure of trying to establish themselves on the log, Esau said he believed they would be in for a few hot days in Oudtshoorn, which will test the stamina and concentration of both sides.
Neither team have fired on all cylinders this season, although EP have the inside track on the log, lying in second position behind Boland with 48.62 points, while SWD languish in mid-table on 23.66 points.
The Southern Cape team were unfortunate to have much of their three-day clash against KwaZulu-Natal Inland last week washed out by rain.
Despite their loss two weeks ago to Boland, Esau said he rated the SWD line-up highly and felt that, on their home ground, they would be a formidable combination.
“SWD are a very good side,” Esau said yesterday. “They have a few new players in their ranks this season and it may be taking a while for them to gel. But at home they are a formidable team and we are expecting a tough encounter.”
With two wins from four three-day matches, EP are well-placed on the log and Esau praised his bowlers.
“Our bowlers have really saved us big time this season,” Esau said. “Our batters are averaging in the low thirties so while there have been some good innings, we haven’t fired on all cylinders yet.”
After a frustrating trip to Maritzburg, SWD will be aiming to re-discover their winning touch and will be recalling memories of the innings defeat they inflicted on EP in Port Elizabeth last season.
But SWD chief executive Albertus Kennedy knows it will not be so easy this time.
“This is a key match for us as we look to get back into the swing of things, but EP will be looking to set things right after last year.”
The three-day game starts today at 10am at the Rec ground.
The teams are:
SWD: Ross McMillan (capt), Luthando Mnyanda, Adrian McLaren, Christiaan Jonker, Glen Addicot, Waldo Lategan, Pieter Stuurman, Kobus Scholtz, Marcelo Piedt, Reece Williams, Gurshwin Rabie. 12th man: Glenton Stuurman.
Additions for the one-day squad are: Gareth Dukes, Phaphama Fojela, Christ van Schalkwyk, Brendon Louw.
EP: Kelly Smuts, Warren Bell, Michael Smith, Arno Jacobs, Peter Furstenburg, James Price, Lee-Roy Walters, Lyall Meyer, Lionel Vaaltyn, Ntladi Bukako, Siviwe Gidana, David White, Sisanda Magala, Akhona Kula.