Cape Cobras coach Ashwell Prince expects the injection of the Proteas into the RamSlam T20 Challenge to significantly bolster the strength of the competition.
The Cobras’ opening game comes against the Dolphins in Centurion today (12pm).
The clash is the first half of a double-header at the venue with the hosts, the defending champion Titans, playing the Highveld Lions later in the day (4pm).
Several national players are set to be on show, amongst them the likes of AB de Villiers, Hashim Amla, Keshav Maharaj, Kagiso Rabada and Quinton de Kock.
Along with Amla, current internationals like Temba Bavuma, Dane Paterson, JP Duminy, Vernon Philander and Wayne Parnell are likely to feature for the Cobras, and Prince is looking forward to it.
“It’s going to be exciting with all the internationals available to play, it will make the teams and the competition stronger,” he said. “And just like the four-day Sunfoil Series, I don’t think there’ll be any easy games, so it’s going to be exciting and we look forward to it.”
Both sides missed out on the playoffs last year, with the Cobras ending fourth and the Dolphins fifth.
Coach of the KwaZulu-Natal side, Grant Morgan, is hoping for a far better outing this time around, especially with the likes of Tahir, Andile Phehlukwayo and Keshav Maharaj in their ranks.
“Last year we did okay,” he said. “We could have made the play-offs going into the last week, even though we had a slightly messy campaign.
“We’re always competitive and you’ll find that even games we lose, we always have good performances. We’d like to think that our T20 campaign was the most disappointing of all last year, although we do line up nicely as a Twenty20 side.”
The Titans believe they take positives from their recent win in the Sunfoil Series campaign into the shortest format.
“We took some of the momentum from our Sunfoil Series into the T20 last year and went on to win it,” coach Mark Boucher recalls. “We can always look back at that and take a lot of positives out of it. Hopefully things will follow a similar path this time.”
There are added incentives for fans to turn out in numbers. This year the new sponsors have posted a R2-million prize pool for those who can make a clean one-handed catch in a televised game. It is part of the popular Catch a Million competition.
Cape Cobras: Ferisco Adams, Qaasim Adams, Hashim Amla, Temba Bavuma, JP Duminy (capt), Richard Levi, George Linde, Michael Loubser, Aviwe Mgijima, Sammy Mofokeng, Tshepo Moreki, Mthiwekhaya Nabe, Wayne Parnell, Dane Paterson, Vernon Philander, Dane Piedt, Jason Smith, Kyle Verreynne.
Dolphins: Cody Chetty, Robbie Frylinck, Sibonelo Makhanya, Mthokozisi Shezi, Prenelan Subrayen, Keshav Maharaj, Morne van Wyk, Sarel Erwee, Khaya Zondo (capt), Eathan Bosch, Dane Vilas, Smangaliso Nhlebela, Andile Phehlukwayo, Athi Maposa.
Titans: Albie Morkel (capt), Farhaan Behardien, Junior Dala, Henry Davids, Quinton de Kock, AB de Villiers, Dean Elgar, Eldred Hawken, Heinrich Klaasen, Aiden Markram, Lungi Ngidi, Tabraiz Shamsi, Malusi Siboto, David Wiese
Lions: Rassie van der Dussen, Reeza Hendricks, Mangaliso Mosehle, Dwaine Pretorius, Nicholas van der Berg, Wiaan Mulder, Kagiso Rabada, Marques Ackerman, Omphile Ramela, Bjorn Fortuin, Beuran Hendricks, Aaron Phangiso (capt), Hardus Viljoen, Ryan Rickleton, Wihan Lubbe, Carmi le Roux, Janneman Malan.