'Major rivals’ unto final breach once more

Dominic Hendricks is looking forward to a fiercely contested CSA 4-DAy Series final between the Lions and western Province. | BackpagePix

Dominic Hendricks is looking forward to a fiercely contested CSA 4-DAy Series final between the Lions and western Province. | BackpagePix

Published Feb 28, 2024

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Dominic Hendricks is looking forward to a fiercely contested CSA 4-DAy Series final between the Lions and western Province. | BackpagePix

Zaahier Adams

Clive Rice. Eddie Barlow. Graeme Pollock. Garth le Roux. And on the other side of the railway line there was Saait Magiet, Abdul-Haq “Jack” Manack and Vincent Barnes.

These were the names of yesteryear that had every cricket loving spectator around the country salivating at the prospect of a Western Province and Transvaal clash. During the days of isolation, it was the South African Cricket Union’s plum New Year fixture at Newlands. Rice’s “Mean Machine” up against “Prooovince”.

Equally, the Howa Bowl clash provided the opportunity for South African Cricket Board legends like Magiet, Manack and Barnes to show that their skills were deserving of a far greater platform.

But that was a different time ... Long before mobile phones, satellite TV, streaming services and T20 cricket.

It's the latter that has arguably had the greatest impact on the first-class game, which draws to a conclusion this 2023/24 season when traditional rivals, the Lions and WP, go head-to-head in the CSA 4-Day Series final at Wanderers starting today at 10am.

The Bullring will, unfortunately, not have thousands lining up in Corlett Drive this morning to watch Beuran Hendricks or possibly new Proteas cap Tshepo Moreki charging in to deliver the first ball.

But for the likes of Lions captain Dominic Hendricks, who is a traditionalist that specialises in the red-ball game, the prospect of facing Province in a grand final still holds all its allure - especially due to the competitive nature of the modern-day rivalry between the two teams.

“A lot of attention has shifted to SA20 because of the influence the IPL owners have had on our game,” Hendricks said, “and how T20 cricket has taken over the global game.

“(Facing Province) has been a really good game the past couple of seasons. They beat us quite comprehensively in the 1-Day Cup this season, whereas last season we beat them in the final.

“Equally, in the four-day competition, it was a hotly contested game this year, and last year the game went down to the last session of the last day. It has always been a highly competitive game. Both sides have internationals, so there will be a great display of talent over the next couple of days.”

Province captain Kyle Verreynne was even more animated, claiming that the rivalry between the south and north remains as strong as ever.

Said Verreynne: “We always speak about playing against the Lions and Titans (Northerns) as our major rivals.

“It's massive in the context of South African cricket. I know I am still youngish, but if you look at it over the last while, it's been these teams along with us that have produced the most Proteas.

“So, you know you are coming up against the best and you want to put on a good show. You feel like you have to up your game. That rivalry definitely still exists and it stems from your school days.”

Both teams have welcomed back their Proteas internationals for the final, with the most notable inclusion in the Lions squad being Test captain Temba Bavuma.

The Proteas Test skipper missed the last round of four-day fixtures, but played the preceding match after SA20. He will be a significant boost to the Lions batting order, should he take the field this morning.

Province, meanwhile, have their three players back from New Zealand in opener Eddie Moore, all-rounder Mihlali Mpongwana and seamer Dane Paterson. Unfortunately, star batter David Bedingham is unavailable for selection as he is currently in the UK.

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