EP coach Piet Botha says it was a season of inspired performances
Eastern Province coach Piet Botha praised his side’s excellent season as they shared the CSA Provincial Cup title played over four days against Northerns.
EP and Northerns played to a draw at St George's Park on Sunday after the visitors had been set a target of 291 to get in two sessions after much of the morning session had been lost due to bad light.
The home team gave a good account of themselves over the duration of the match to ensure they did not leave the Old Lady empty-handed.
“We played exceptional cricket. Once again we played well in the first innings which is something we have been doing right the entire season in building good first innings scores and we did that again in the final which gave us a chance to win the game.
“They trained with us and the fact is it helps the overall depth of the squad because to lose important players halfway through the season, and still push through and reach the final and achieve what they did in the final, bears testament to the depth we have developed in the province, which bodes well for the future,” he added.
“Unfortunately, we got caught by bad light for a majority of the game. I think it is just the time of the year that caught up with us, playing the game so late in April, so we never got past 5pm on one of the days,” Botha said
The coach said he was proud of the way his side had performed this season, especially with the recent call-ups of a number of promising young players making the step up to the amateur side.
“I am extremely happy about the season. The guys have performed exceptionally well, the fact that we are the only team to be unbeaten in 11 matches is a feat not many teams have achieved in the past and it is a testament to the consistent cricket the guys have been playing,” he added.
“If we think back to all the matches, even the drawn matches, we were in dominant positions, only one game in Bloemfontein where we had to fight to stay in the match, which we did.
“So compliments to the players, it takes a whole squad to win a trophy, and everyone played a major role in one of the matches at some point,” Botha explained.
A number of players have been called up to represent Warriors including the likes of Thomas Kaber, Onke Nyako and more recently Jade de Klerk, to name but a few, which gave Botha the opportunity to incorporate some new blood into the squad.
“The positive thing for me is halfway through the season, certain players got called up to the Warriors, which forced us to draft in players who were not part of our squad at the beginning of the season.
With the influx of youngsters coming into the side, Botha said the more senior statesmen in the side were instrumental in helping them to get used to the environment within the squad.
“At the beginning of the season when we sat down and set out our standards and values of the squad. It was up to the senior players to uphold those traditions.
“So as the young players entered the squad, it was our senior players who helped them to understand what the standards and values are that we play for. They received a lot of assistance [from our senior players] and that helped them integrate fairly smoothly into the side,” he added.
Botha said players would now have some downtime, to catch up on some rest. However, many will still be involved with the South Africa A side while some will head overseas to get in some game time ahead of the preseason...