Warriors armed for Knights

Smuts’s men ready to chase down anything in-form Proteas batsman Miller dishes out

The Warriors will not allow themselves to be intimidated when in-form Proteas batsman David Miller strides to the crease at St George’s Park tomorrow evening (6pm).

Miller will be looking to continue his bludgeoning ways when he turns out for the Knights against the Warriors in the much-anticipated opening Ram Slam fixture of the season.

Two weeks ago, the strong lefthander blasted the fastest-ever T20 international hundred off only 35 balls against Bangladesh.

But the Warriors are firm in the belief that taking care of their processes rather than focusing on individuals is key to them landing the first knockout blow tomorrow night.

“The Knights are a very good side, very disciplined. They have got some really good players in David Miller and Theunis de Bruyn and Ryan McLaren might be coming back for them as well,” Warriors captain Jon-Jon Smuts said yesterday.

“They are going to be a tough side to beat. But it’s about taking care of what we do really well.”

Smuts will be one of the bowlers charged with curbing Miller and his teammates.

The reason the Warriors have done so well in white-ball cricket is because they have so much variety in their attack.

It also helps that three of their top order batsmen in Colin Ackermann, Colin Ingram and Smuts himself are perfectly adept at bowling spin in limited overs cricket.

“In the franchise, I think we are very blessed with the number of all-rounders we have.

“Even some of our seamers are very capable with the bat at the back end. So we’ve been very blessed that we can find 20 overs from almost eight bowlers,” Smuts said.

“That’s a very big trump card for us and for me as a captain it’s great because you can throw anyone the ball at any stage and you kind of know what you are going to get out of them.

“Variety plays a big part in our attack and playing in the conditions we do in PE and East London suits our attack. Over the last three years, especially in white ball cricket, we’ve really learnt well how to play at home.

“We lost a five-over game in East London, but apart from that, I don’t think we lost a game at home the entire season.

“If you can win at home, it takes the pressure off having to win those three or so games towards the end of the competition, where you need to qualify.”

Smuts has been a star performer with both bat and ball for the Warriors for a number of seasons now.

“He was rewarded with national T20 colours last season but was then not picked for the Bangladesh series.

He realises he needs to keep kicking the selection door down and is more determined than ever to get back into the Proteas team. “I’d love to throw my name in the hat for the World Cup but that’s a long, long, way away.

“For me, all I can focus on is to put performances in for the Warriors and the national side will take care of itself. If it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be – if it’s not, it’s not.

“We’ve got something good going here and we’ve come close over the last few years. “We want to keep building on that and hopefully we can take it one step further this season.”

And what does Smuts make of the new R27-million St George’s Park floodlights?

“We played two inter-squad games over the past two nights and the lights are world class, it’s amazing. We don’t have the advantage of bad lights any more,” he said, laughing.

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