THERE is plenty at stake in tonight’s Ram Slam T20 Challenge playoff cricket match between the Chevrolet Warriors and the Titans at Buffalo Park. Not only will the winners oppose logleaders Lions in the final on Sunday at the Wanderers in Johannesburg, but the team who win tonight will automatically qualify to play in the lucrative Champions League.
“We love playing in East London,” said Warriors skipper Davy Jacobs during a practice session at the Buffalo Park nets.
“There’s a good wicket here and the nets are good as well, so we usually have a great practice here.”
Should the Warriors advance, can they do well at the Wanderers?
“The conditions are good there and our bowlers can do something special with the ball, and it’s the best place for batting,” he said, although emphasising that the franchise would take one match at a time.
Will the inclusion of Herschelle Gibbs for the Titans have an effect on the game? Jacobs admitted the former Proteas and Cape Cobras opening batsman could be the dangerman with the bat as he had the capacity to destroy any bowling attack.
“He’s a special player of course but everything depends on the day.”
Warriors coach Piet Botha is currently unable to speak having lost his voice, and assistant coach Adrian Birrell stepped in.
“The highlight of our season so far is definitely getting through to the T20 semi,” Birrell said.
“We deserve the place in the semi – we’ve played well, playing 10 matches and only losing three.
“Christiaan Jonker and Ashwell Prince have dominated, getting us off to good starts throughout. Jonker, in particular, has done well and is making a name for himself.
“We also have depth in both batting and bowling,” Birrell said. “
“I’ve done some stats and the Warriors are the top fielding side in the competition, so they build up pressure when we bowl.”
Will the fact that the Warriors win 80% of their games in East London have any influence in the match?
“It’s an added advantage, yes, and mentally this is good for the team.”
Gibbs has plied his trade in Australia this summer when he represented the Perth Scorchers in the Australian Big Bash competition. Although he has not played any competitive cricket since mid-January, he is expected to get the Titans off to a fast start in their innings.
With so much rain falling in East London this past week, the pitch could play low and slow which would be an advantage to the Warriors as the Titans like the ball coming on to the bat.
So although the Titans appear to be the favourites, conditions could even things out and, in the end, be an advantage to the Warriors.
Bowlers like medium-pacer Aya Gqamane and fast men Rusty Theron and Wayne Parnell could play a key role for the Warriors, and all of them could prove deadly if the pitch is low and slow.
Although showers are forecast for today, hopefully this will not affect the match.
A hard-fought tussle is on the cards and everything points to a sellout crowd attending the game.
Spectators, of course, can expect plenty of action throughout the three hours’ duration.
A run out, a magnificent catch, a great spell of bowling or a quick 40 or 50 can all have a bearing on the result.