Proteas pack Four-Day Series teams as competition returns
JOHANNEBURG - The Four-Day Series returns on Sunday, with a number of Proteas present, as South African cricket seeks to wrap up a disjointed season that has been massively impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Some of the upheaval was not of Cricket SA’s making with England choosing to high tail it out of the country and not fulfilling the One-Day International fixtures on their tour here last November, while Australia didn’t even bother coming at all for what would have been three Tests this month.
It has been left to domestic franchise cricket to fill the void, but this season that hasn’t been easy. The Four Day competition was postponed last December when players in two matches tested positive for Covid-19, one of those games involving the Titans and Dolphins was halted after the first day.
With no Australia tour, the resumption of the tournament, takes place with a number of Proteas present. That adds a boost to the competition, as it heads to its conclusion - which will be a five-day final at the end of the month.
The top two teams in the respective pools meet in what is arguably the most intriguing match of the penultimate round of league fixtures. The Knights face the Titans in Centurion with the latter looking to recover from the disappointment of not even qualifying for the playoffs of the T20 Challenge that finished last week. The Titans coach, Mandla Mashimbyi says they have already left that disappointment behind them and intend focussing on picking up the last trophy available this season.
“All the focus for now is on the Knights on Sunday and how to prepare for that,” said Mashimbyi. “It doesn’t help looking back at what happened in Durban. If you focus on that, that will be a recipe for disaster, so it’s important to channel our energies in the right direction.”
The Knights have relied on very good form at home in Bloemfontein to open up a gap on the Lions and Dolphins in Pool A. “We have a good vibe around the group at the moment and we’re now going back to a format where we’ve done well this season,” said the Knights coach, Allan Donald. “The players are comfortable with it, so we’re looking forward to it.”
The only two teams to have tasted championship success this season, the Dolphins and Lions, meet at the Wanderers, where the loser will be out of the running to top the pool.
The winless Cape Cobras host the Warriors in Cape Town.