After promising start, team determined to bring silverware home for supporters
The Warriors take their next step en route to trophy glory when they host the Knights in a CSA T20 Challenge cricket match at St George’s Park tonight (6pm).
The Eastern Cape franchise is riding the crest of the wave, having dispatched the Lions at the same venue in emphatic fashion on Friday.
It has been six years since the Warriors last held aloft a piece of South African domestic silverware and there is renewed hope that this could be the year they finally bring a trophy home.
They have been impressive in the competition, having won three of their four matches to hold second position behind the Titans with two games in hand.
Coach Malibongwe Maketa has been hesitant to identify anyone specific as having been key to success, saying rather that it has been a team effort.
Indeed, it has for the most part, but there is no doubt that Christiaan Jonker and Jon-Jon Smuts have played major roles in the campaign so far.
Jonker, know as “The Finisher”, has been devastating with the bat in the most recent games.
On Friday night, he clubbed 49 not out off only 18 balls to ease the Warriors to their victory target of 153 with more than two overs to spare.
He is bound to play a massive role again tonight.
Captain Smuts could easily be described as the competition’s most valuable player. Not only is he successful and explosive at the top of the order with the bat, but he is also among the leading bowlers, having conceded fewer then six to the over so far.
“It’s been a good start,” the coach said. “We wanted to really, really make sure we started well and I think we have.
“From here, it’s about taking it game by game and making sure we build on what we’ve already done.”
Colin Ingram has been named in the squad for tonight, but faces a late fitness test.
The Knights, who have only won one match in five so far, will be without star Proteas batsman David Miller. He has a calf injury and failed to pass his fitness test ahead of the game.
They will rely heavily on the likes of captain Theunis de Bruyn, Marchant de Lange and Duanne Olivier.
“I don’t think their results are a fair reflection of the quality squad they are,” Maketa said.
“We know it’s going to be tough because that’s how our games against them always tend to go, so we’re looking forward to the challenge.”
Knights coach Nicky Boje conceded things had not gone according to plan thus far, but refused to give up hope in the race for the playoffs.
Jon-Jon Smuts (capt), Colin Ackermann, Andrew Birch, Gihahn Cloete, Clyde Fortuin (w/k), Aya Gqamane, Colin Ingram, Christiaan Jonker, Sisanda Magala, Lesiba Ngoepe, Solomzi Nqweni, Somila Seyibokwe, Basheer Walters, David White
- The “Win a Million” catching competition will be in play at this game and fans will have a chance of winning their share of R1-million.
Also, fans downloading the Warriors App will receive a free ticket and one lucky spectator could win up to R6 000 if he or she catches three balls hit by the Warriors’ 12th man.
In addition, the Warriors will donate R1 000 for every catch taken to The Herald’s Christmas Cheer Fund.