Warriors coach Malibongwe Maketa is hoping to build on the encouraging start they made to the season last weekend when they host the WSB Cape Cobras in round two of the Sunfoil Series at St George's Park in Port Elizabeth starting from Thursday.
The men from the Eastern Cape were held to a draw by the bizhub Highveld Lions in Johannesburg, a match they dominated for long periods, before the sides could not be separated on the final day.
“It was a great start for us in terms of the positives, especially on what we produced last season,” Maketa said. “We’ve been calling out for guys to score hundreds and they did that in Jo’burg.
“I was also pleased with the bowlers, who delivered in partnerships which helped us create pressure.
“So it was great to see, it was very encouraging and now we’ll hope to come back home and build on that against the Cobras.”
There were centuries from Eddie Moore and new captain Jon-Jon Smuts, while David White came close to making three figures. The likes of Lesiba Ngoepe, Gihahn Cloete, Sisanda Magala, Andrew Birch and Anrich Nortje also impressed.
Maketa hoped these players would be able to produce another strong showing against their Cape opponents. “We always enjoy the challenge of playing against a strong franchise like the Cobras and it will be great if we can go on and deliver against them,” he added. “A lot of people will judge us by the way we perform against them and that is exciting for us.”
Tabraiz Shamsi joined the Warriors on loan from the Titans this week and is available for selection, while South Africa Under-19 star Matthew Breetzke is also in the squad.
The Cobras, meanwhile, began their season by being shot out for 159 on the opening day of their clash against the VKB Knights last weekend, before clawing their way back into the contest and eventually coming away with a draw.
Coach Ashwell Prince wants his team to build on their fightback in Bloemfontein. “I don’t think we started the season well on day one, but there we only improved and we’ll be hoping to take the positives from that to PE,” he said.
Prince also has no intention of taking the Warriors lightly. “I think the Warriors are always underestimated and you see comments like a team with no big stars, but I think they do have plenty of experience in players like Jon-Jon Smuts, Andrew Birch, Magala has become a very good cricketer for them as well as Basheer Walters.
“So they’re a good team and we certainly won’t be underestimating them. In saying that, we’re also confident in our own team.”
Hashim Amla and Temba Bavuma miss out for the Cobras due to Standard Bank Proteas commitments.
The Warriors squad is: Andrew Birch, Tladi Bokako, Gihahn Cloete, Clyde Fortuin, Matthew Breetzke, Sisanda Magala, Eddie Moore, Lesiba Ngoepe, Anrich Nortje, Jerry Nqolo, Lutho Sipamla, Tabraiz Shamsi, Jon-Jon Smuts (capt), Yaseen Vallie.
The Cobras squad is: Dayyaan Galiem, Zubayr Hamza, Simon Khomari, Pieter Malan, Aviwe Mgijima, Tshepo Moreki, Justin Ontong, Dane Paterson, Andrew Puttick, Dane Piedt (capt), Jason Smith, Kyle Verreynne, Lizaad Williams.