Knights challenge the champions
Chevrolet Knights coach Sarel Cilliers is expecting the Nashua Titans to have a full go at his team when the two sides launch the new Sunfoil Series season at the De Beers Diamond Oval in Kimberley on Thursday.
The men from Pretoria are the defending champions having clinched the title on a dramatic final weekend of the last campaign, when they pipped the Nashua Mobile Cape Cobras to the title.
The Titans have been one of the more consistent overall teams in South Africa during recent seasons and Cilliers expects little to change in 2012/13, starting with their clash in the diamond city.
“We expect nothing different from them and are aware that they will come full go at us,” he said. “They play their cricket hard and have worked out their four-day game quite well.
“They look like a set unit, so we expect a full-on match on Thursday and look forward to that challenge.”
The Knights have enjoyed the better of the build-ups to the game following successful training camps in terms of weather in Potchefstroom and their home city of Bloemfontein, when they played warm-up games against North West and the Chevrolet Warriors.
“We were fortunate to play those two four-day games in preparation,” Cilliers explained. “It went quite well and allowed the bowlers to clock overs in the middle which they needed to and the batters got plenty of runs.
“So at this stage, I’m quite happy that things went according to what we planned.”
Cilliers said they had no injuries to report, meaning both batsman Rilee Rossouw and all-rounder Obus Pienaar had overcome pre-season niggles.
The defending champions were also injury free ahead of the clash, although a host of their players are away with the Proteas at the ICC World Twenty20 – the ones absent being AB de Villiers, Faf du Plessis, Farhaan Behardien as well as Albie and Morne Morkel.
However, national batsman Jacques Rudolph is available.
Their coach, Matthew Maynard, admitted that the Knights were probably better prepared after their own training was hampered by rain, including a lot of wet weather at a camp in Ingonyama, near Nelspruit.
“They’re very strong and had a few practice games, so they probably a little more prepared,” the Welshman said. “They’re a very experienced side, we had some tough battles against them last year and expect the same in this game.”
He added that he expected teams to come out even harder this year against his champion side, who will be captained by batsman Henry Davids.
“There’s no extra pressure, but we’re now a hunted side, so it’s a small change of mindset as the opposition will be even more determined to beat us.”