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Cricket | Ram Slam T20 Challenge

Warriors target fast start

The Chevrolet Warriors will be looking to make a fast start to the RAM SLAM T20 Challenge in an attempt to secure a possible semifinal place as quickly as possible, coach Piet Botha said.

The Warriors did not enjoy a great run in last year’s domestic T20 competition, winning just four matches and finishing above only the Impi, a composite team.

Botha lamented the fact that the Warriors had made such a poor start to last year’s campaign while pointing to the bizhub Highveld Lions’ run which saw them win their first four games on their way to the final.

Botha explained that the congested nature of the competition made a winning start vital for any play-off place.

“It happened to us last year when we lost our first three games while the Lions won their first four games and were just about in the semifinals,” Botha told supersport.com.

“It is important that we improve our home form, especially in Port Elizabeth. We have done okay in East London but winning our home games will be key so we need to improve in Port Elizabeth,” he added.

The team from the Eastern Cape will pin much of their hopes of compiling competitive totals on the shoulders of Davy Jacobs and Colin Ingram, although Ingram may be lost to them if he is called up to the Proteas’ limited-overs squad to take on Pakistan.

“It might only be 20 overs but you still have to start well with the bat and Davy has a lot of experience at the top of the order which will be key for us. Colin Ingram too, although he is probably in the running for the ODI series against Pakistan so I don’t know how many games he will play for us. But if they can have good tournaments we can do well,” said Botha.

The Warriors boast a well-balanced bowling attack with left-arm quick Wayne Parnell, offspinner Simon Harmer, seamer Andrew Birch and veteran paceman Makhaya Ntini all in the mix.

The return to full fitness of seamer Rusty Theron provides the Warriors with one of the best ‘death’ bowlers in the country. The signing of England international left-arm spinner Samit Patel provides the attack with yet more variation.

“Wayne (Parnell), being a left-hander, brings good variation, and Simon Harmer is improving all the time. We will also have Rusty back and he is a T20 specialist and he will round off a very good attack,” Botha explained.

Young allrounder Ayabulela Gqamane will be in the spotlight after an impressive debut season in the four-day Sunfoil Series and Botha said that his young charge had fitted into the team with aplomb.

“He was probably our standout bowler (in the Sunfoil Series). Thirty-one wickets in six matches is a good return. More importantly he brings energy and passion which is something we look for at the Warriors. He has a lot of character.”

The Warriors open their RAM SLAM T20 Challenge campaign on Sunday, February 17 against the Chevrolet Knights in Kimberley.


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