Photo Credit: Cricket South Africa
Six Gun Grill Cape Cobras coach Ashwell Prince says his players are raring to go ahead of their 2020/21 season opener against the Momentum Multiply Titans in the 4-Day Domestic Series at Cape Town from Monday.
The new South African cricket term is finally being launched after an extended break that was forced by the COVID-19 pandemic.
It means the November start will be one of the latest ever beginnings of a campaign and Prince says they cannot wait to get the season started.
“We’re all excited about getting the season underway,” he said. “It’s been a difficult time on the sidelines, through the lockdown, so it’s been a pretty long pre-season. I don’t think the players would have had one that long before.
“So we’re all very excited about the season coming up. Everyone is fit and raring to go. We have unfortunately picked up one big injury, which is a blow after Jason Smith picked up an ankle injury, but we still have 17 players and we’ll be putting out a competitive team.”
The format of the season has been changed this time around, with the six teams now divided into two groups – the third team alongside the Cobras and Titans in Pool A is the Warriors – with the fixtures cut from 10 to seven. The Pool winners will also have an additional game via a five-day final.
“At the end of the day, everybody plays the same amount of games so it’s seven games and a final if you get there,” Prince said. “From that perspective, I think everyone is looking to start well and top their group come the end of the season because you want to get into the final.”
Another change forced by the coronavirus is that only the six premier venues will be used in the country for the season, meaning all Cobras games will strictly be hosted by Six Gun Grill Newlands.
“It does help to play at Newlands,” Prince added. “We haven’t played a lot of four-day games here in the last few years, so it will be nice for the guys to be based here.
“Like I said, first-class cricket by the Cobras in the last few years has taken place more in Paarl and Oudtshoorn.
“At Newlands you know what you’re kind of going to get in terms of the surface. You want to have a good contest between bat and ball and I think that’s what you’ll get here, based on history.”
Titans coach Mandla Mashimbyi, meanwhile, says his players are also more than ready to begin the new term.
“The boys are in a great headspace,” he stated. “It’s a privilege to wear this shirt, and they want to add their chapter to the history books.
“The challenge is picking a side, but it is a long and demanding season ahead of us. Hopefully our depth will hold us in good stead when we get into the latter part of this season.”
“We all know how difficult this period of time has been, and we have all made some significant sacrifices, and many have also lost some very special people. It’s been hard, but it’s now time to get out on the field, and make some fonder memories to end this difficult year.”
The Titans have two former Cobras on their books in Lizaad Williams and Thando Ntini, with the pair both available alongside new recruits Sibonelo Makhanya and Okhule Cele.
The home side, meanwhile, have three ex-Titans in their squad for the season – Tony de Zorzi, Corbin Bosch and Tshepo Moreki.
The Cobras squad for 2020/21 is: Pieter Malan, Zubayr Hamza (capt), Janneman Malan, Kyle Verreynne, George Linde, Tony de Zorzi, Corbin Bosch, Jason Smith, Nandre Burger, Aviwe Mgijima, Calvin Savage, Imraan Manack, Ziyaad Abrahams, Tshepo Moreki, Onke Nyaku, Akhona Mnyaka, Isma-eel Gafieldien, Jonathan Bird.
The Titans squad for 2020/21 is: Theunis de Bryun, Khwezi Gumede, Dean Elgar, Lizaad Williams, Gregory Maklokwana, Quinton De Kock, Thando Ntini, Dayyaan Galiem, Aiden Markram, Grant Thomson (capt), Matthew Arnold, Heinrich Klaasen, Junior Dala, Kablelo Sekhukhune, Lungi Ngidi, Rubin Herman, Faf Du Plessis, Neil Brand, Henry Davids, Ryan Cartwright, Sibonelo Makhanya, Okhule Cele, Diego Rosier, Tabraiz Shamsi.