JOHANNESBURG – The Tshwane Spartans now need to match the good times they are having off the field - that includes braais and golf - and transfer those onto the field as they seek to make an impression in the Mzansi Super League.
Theunis de Bruyn said yesterday that spirits remain high in the Spartans camp ahead of today’s match against the Jozi Stars, despite their struggles so far in the competition that has seen the team led by AB de Villiers win just one of their first four matches.
“We’ve played 80 percent of the game very well, been on top and then in a 10-minute period we’ve lost it completely,” De Bruyn said by way of describing the Spartans’ troubles thus far. Two of their matches have been affected by rain, with last Sunday’s seven-run loss on the Duckworth-Lewis Method against the Nelson Mandela Bay Giants particularly painful as the umpires took the two teams off the field immediately after De Villiers was somewhat dubiously given out lbw.
On an individual basis the Spartans are doing fine - De Bruyn and Gihahn Cloete feature high on the run-scoring charts and in De Bruyn’s case he has one of the better averages in the tournament - but it’s as a collective that De Bruyn feels the team has let themselves down.
“If the team gels in the next few days you never know what can happen. I still feel the emotion in the change-room is good. The guys are still very keen to perform.
“I wouldn’t say we haven’t gelled, we’ve had a great time off the field, it’s now a matter of time before we start doing it on the field,” De Bruyn added, citing how well the table topping Cape Town Blitz had bonded very quickly.
Those 10 minutes where the Spartans have lost games is where De Bruyn says the team’s focus must lie when they tackle the Stars at Centurion.
“We are talking about an over that could go for 15 rather than losing two wickets. The team hasn’t performed and the individual performances haven’t been good enough to carry the team. We need a team performance,” he said.
De Bruyn is right, in Paarl, where the Spartans won their only game, the batting fired and the bowling let them down; the bowling was outstanding last Sunday against the Giants, while the top-order batting didn’t fire before the storm hit. The loss of Lungi Ngidi has been a big blow, but his replacement Corbin Bosch performed superbly against the Giants and looks like being a player the Spartans will rely on heavily as they challenge for a playoff spot.
“If we get a sniff (today) we must make sure we are clinical. Whoever has got the responsibility on the day to make sure you’re not giving it away, don’t shy away make sure you’re pulling it through for the team,” De Bruyn said.@shockerhess