Jon Jon Smuts (centre) celebrates a wicket with Colin Ingram during the 2016 T20 Challenge. Photo: Mike Sheehan/ BackpagePix
Jon Jon Smuts (centre) celebrates a wicket with Colin Ingram during the 2016 T20 Challenge. Photo: Mike Sheehan/ BackpagePix
Chris Morris of the Titans and Jon-Jon Smuts (right) of the Warriors speak during an interview at the 2017 Ram Slam T20 Challenge sponsorship announcement on Tuesday. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix
Chris Morris of the Titans and Jon-Jon Smuts (right) of the Warriors speak during an interview at the 2017 Ram Slam T20 Challenge sponsorship announcement on Tuesday. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

CAPE TOWN - The Warriors have snuck into a couple of domestic finals over the past couple of years, but are now ready to mix it with “the best in the world”, according to captain Jon Jon Smuts.

The Eastern Cape side are not blessed with Proteas superstars like the Titans or Cape Cobras and have to rely mostly on hard-working professionals and a couple of Kolpak defectors.

But they are a team that epitomises team spirit and graft – in the true tradition of previously successful Eastern Cape teams – which took them all the way to a runners-up place in last season’s T20 Challenge.

It is going to be tough act to follow up though this season, especially with all the Proteas available to their respective teams due to the postponement of the Global T20 League.

Smuts, who has since been awarded a couple of Proteas T20 internationals caps after spearheading the Warriors’ campaigns – is ready for this new challenge.

“Over the last couple of years we have built up our side up quite nicely. We’ve had a lot of success, but it’s a new season this year. All the teams are looking good and strong. We are all going to have to be on our ‘A’ game, but I am sure it is going to be exciting,” Smuts said at the tournament launch in Randburg.

“As players from the Eastern Cape, we pride ourselves on playing against the AB de Villiers’, Dale Steyns’, we really looking forward to that challenge and testing ourselves against the best in the world.”

The Warriors are billed to face the Knights in the tournament opener under the new St George’s Park floodlights on Friday evening and Smuts is expecting a carnival atmosphere to greet in the new competition.

“This time of the year is always exciting time of the year. T20 cricket is great fun and lots of excitement. It is always action-packed and we’re looking forward to it,” the skipper said.

“St George’s Park is an awesome place to play with the band, a good crowd, and with the new lights is just going to be amazing.”

IOL Sport

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