Titans and Warriors seek consistency
The Nashua Titans host the Chevrolet Warriors in the latest round of Sunfoil Series matches at Supersport Park in Centurion from 3-6 January, with both camps reeling after innings' defeats.
The Nashua Titans lost by an innings and 247 runs against the Sunfoil Dolphins, while the Chevrolet Warriors were beating inside two days by the Nashua Mobile Cape Cobras, by an innings and 50 runs.
"The Dolphins played really well, but to be honest, we made it easy for them, and all the guys are down about that," said Matthew Maynard, coach of the Nashua Titans, regarding their defeat to the men from the East Coast.
"We just have not played as a unit this year, our bowling's been off, our batting's been off and our fielding too. I've said it before, but I have never been one to worry about results, it's more about the performance, and our performance levels have not been good enough," added a disappointed Maynard.
The Nashua Titans welcomed the return of right-arm fast-medium opening bowler, Ethy Mbhalati, after a hamstring injury that ruled him out for eight weeks.
"He (Mbhalati) bowled a very good first spell and his second spell was impressive as well, but with the limited amount of training he has had, because of his hamstring, he became fatigued very quickly, which from my point of view, is understandable," stated Maynard.
Maynard will be hoping for a better performance from his other bowlers in the up-coming fixture. "Ethy had some good back-up from David Wiese but CJ (De Villiers) and Rowan (Richards) were just a little bit off," remarked Maynard.
In their previous encounter at Axxess St George’s, in Port Elizabeth, at the end of September, it was the Chevrolet Warriors who triumphed by 161 runs, thanks to second-innings centuries from openers Michael Price and Davy Jacobs.
Starting their second innings with a lead of 60 runs, the opening pair compiled a first wicket partnership of 201 runs, which effectively put the game out of the Nashua Titans' reach.
"One area we did identify was the opening partnership, and it is pleasing that it has worked out with myself and Michael, as we have put together a lot of good partnerships," Davy Jacobs, the Chevrolet Warriors captain, said in an interview on Tuesday.
But the men from the Eastern Cape have had some indifferent results of late, coming from behind to beat the bizhub Highveld Lions by 10 wickets, then following up with an innings defeat to the Nashua Mobile Cape Cobras.
"From a massive win to a massive loss, we are just lacking consistency. The things we did really well in Johannesburg, we were not able to repeat in East London. The conditions were different, and the Cobras used those conditions much better than we did," said Jacobs.
The Chevrolet Warriors, after their loss to the Nashua Mobile Cape Cobras, have fallen 23.96 points behind the men from the Western Cape.
With teams averaging 18 points from outright victories in this seasons' competition, the Chevrolet Warriors will have to win at least three of their remaining four games, and hope the Nashua Mobile Cape Cobras slip up, if they are to have any hope of winning the Sunfoil Series.
"It is possible to catch them, but you can only control what you can control. We must just focus on one match, one session, one hour at a time. The old saying of 'one session can win you the game' rings true, and we must just be ready when that time comes and grab it," Jacobs said.
Jacobs has eluded to consistency throughout, and reiterated the point again. "To win a four-day competition is very difficult. In a T20 or one-day match, one or two guys can have a great day and win you the game, but in four-day cricket, you need a consistent team performance to win this competition.
"We are still finding our way as a four-day team, but we are getting there, we are getting close," added Jacobs.
One of the rising stars is the Chevrolet Warriors allrounder, Ayabulela Gqamane. The 23-year-old from King William's Town, in the Eastern Cape, claimed nine wickets in five matches at a cost of just over ten runs per wicket for the Chevrolet Warriors in the Momentum One-Day Cup.
Now Aya, as his teammates call him, has grabbed 14 wickets in two Sunfoil Series matches at an average of 9.50.