Warriors in savage form for Eagles clash
The Warriors start their Standard Bank Pro20 campaign with a new-look squad for the match against the Eagles in Bloemfontein.
With both captain Zander de Bruyn and HD Ackerman unavailable serving bans after being found guilty of slowing the bowling rate and dissent respectively, Arno Jacobs takes over the reins of a most interesting combination.
As well as De Bruyn, gone from the squad that travelled to Kimberley to play the Eagles last weekend in a SuperSport match, are fast bowler Mfuneko Ngam and Burton de Wett and the selectors must be congratulated for going for youth with three exciting young players.
Hard-hitting top-order batsman Michael Smith, 26, a former Border batsman now playing for the Eastern Province, has been in sparkling form with the bat this summer with two centuries and a highest score of 179 not out. It was only a matter of time before his recall to the Warriors.
Corbyn Dolley, 19, is an off-spin bowler with plenty of promise, but is relatively inexperienced with only one first-class match under his belt. He has, however, the knack of keeping the batsmen quiet, a most important factor for any bowler in a limited-overs match.
Andrew Birch is a 21-year-old allrounder who represented SA Schools three years ago. He is a pacy right-arm seamer and useful batsman and could be a surprise packet in the squad. In only two first-class matches for EP he has captured 13 wickets (average 14.84).
The Eagles are without World Cup players Roger Telemachus and Loots Bosman, which will be a bit of a relief for the bowlers in the Warriors team, as both have huge reputations as big hitters.
The Free State-based team have had their name etched on the Pro20 trophy twice in 2004 and 2005 and they will be keen to make it three out of four seasons. Their team is ideally suited for this type of game, with stroke-makers of the calibre of Boeta Dippenaar in prime form with the bat of late Morn้ van Wyk, Davey Jacobs and allrounder Johan van der Wath, while off-spinner Thandi Tshabalala is among the top wicket-takers in Pro20 cricket, usually coming on late in the innings and cleaning up the tail.
With only a single round of matches to be played this season, both sides will be keen to stamp their authority on this opening match of the campaign, but whoever wins, the game is sure to be a wonderful spectacle of hard-hitting batting, aggressive bowling and magnificent fielding.