The rationalisation of the new six-team cricket structure will cause agony and distress, but the change was long overdue.

Western Province chief executive Arthur Turner is elated, but said it would mean cutbacks in staff. Players will lose jobs.

The new format is still to be fleshed out, but Turner suggested six first-class teams with B sides, underpinned by amateur cricket.

"Sustainability would be a key issue. Aspects like stadium and staff infrastructure, trophies won and international players produced would probably come into it," Turner said of the tendering process.

Guidelines on the system for 2004/5 is expected after the UCB board meets on September 27.

The Supersport Series for this season starts on October 17. Defending champions Easterns are at home to Free State and WP travel to Centurion to face Northerns. Boland host KwaZulu-Natal.

WP will need a captain for the early part of the season because skipper Gary Kirsten has decided to prolong his international career and will be out of the country.

Ashwell Prince and Thami Tsolekile could be out of the loop too if South Africa 'A' are playing.

WP have captaincy experience in the shape of Neil Johnson and B team captain Jonathan McLean.

Boland coach Deon Muller was elated with the high levels of fitness recorded by his players at the University of Stellenbosch.

The Boland squad are also attending weekly sessions with sports psychologist Justus Potgieter.

Boland have acquired batsman Rashaad Magiet and wicketkeeper-batsman Wesley Euley from Western Province, as well as batsman Mark Sanders from KwaZulu-Natal.

"Henry Davids, after a stint at the national academy, is having a minor eye operation soon, but he should be available for our pre-season tour, which starts on September 26 in Port Elizabeth," said Muller.