The Warriors head into the start of the cricket season in East London today with a skip in their step and determined to land some early and telling body blows.
The confidence gleaned from Eastern Province winning the Africa T20 Cup in Oudtshoorn at the weekend was there for all to see at a Warriors presser earlier this week.
Jon-Jon Smuts, Colin Ackermann, Clyde Fortuin, Sisanda Magala and Edward Moore were all part of that triumphant Eastern Province side and the belief within the camp is that the winning feeling is bound to flow through to the Warriors when they come up against the Dolphins in their opening Sunfoil Series match at Buffalo Park today.
The Eastern Cape franchise have been promoting their brand of “No Fear” cricket for some time and they believe EP have borne the fruits of that mantra.
“We ’ve been driving ‘No Fear’ for a long time now within the two squads and Border. We want the players to go out there and showcase their skills without fear.”
“We feel the players are at their best when they are playing with the least baggage and focusing on the ball,” coach Malibongwe Maketa said this week.
“For us, to see it work with Eastern Province, we know that the formula works. ”
“Now we need the Warriors to refine it, which I thought we did well last season in terms of white ball cricket. “We will definitely try and feed off the EP victory.”
For the first time in recent years, the Warriors have a settled squad and although the loss of Colin Ingram due to recovery from a knee operation is a blow, there is enough talent within their ranks ready to make the step up.
“We believe we have the best young players around the country.
“Some of them joined us from Cape Town a season ago. We are starting to build something really special. “We were together the whole of last season and this season we want to make sure we kick on and build from those experiences,” he said.
“We finished off last season with two great wins in the Sunfoil Series and this season we want to make sure we throw the first punch.”
In the last few years, the Warriors have struggled to adapt to the disciplines of multi-day cricket and those two end of season victories over the Knights and Lions will be fresh in the memory of the players.
“In the past few seasons we have not actually done too well in red ball cricket. Off-season, that has been our main focus – to get our guys to concentrate on executing their skills for longer periods of time,” Maketa said.
The Warriors have not had ideal pre-season preparation as a squad because of the scheduling of Border and Eastern Province’s Africa T20 Cup fixtures.
“But maybe it’s not a bad thing because some of the players are confident coming off a great win,”Maketa said.
At least one new face could feature in the starting lineup today in the form of Border seamer Phaphama Fojela.
“We ’ve got Fojela joining us from Border. He has really bowled well and he knows conditions quite well there. We also have a fresh Andrew Birch and a fresh Basheer Walters. We have tried to cover our bases. We also have Simon [Harmer] in terms of spin.”
The squads are: Warriors: Colin Ackermann, Andrew Birch, Clyde Fortuin, Phaphama Fojela, Simon Harmer (capt), Sisanda Magala, Edward Moore, Lesiba Ngoepe, Jerry Nqolo, Michael Price, Somila Seyibokwe, Yaseen Vallie, Basheer Walters Dolphins: Imraan Khan, Sarel Erwee, Khaya Zondo, Daryn Smit, Morne Van Wyk, Vaughn Van Jaarsveld, Sibonelo Makhanya, Tsephan Dithole, Mthokozisi Shezi, Keshav Maharaj, Robert Frylinck, Craig Alexander, Rabian Engelbrecht