IS this a false dawn or the return to the glory days for the Chevrolet Warriors? The Sunfoil Series match against the Sunfoil Dolphins at Buffalo Park in East London starting on Thursday might reveal if the hosts have rediscovered the ability to capture twenty wickets in a match and, therefore, become a realistic contender for silverware in South Africa’s premier domestic four-day competition.
The Warriors’s emphatic 161-run win against the champions, the Nashua Titans, in the second round of Sunfoil Series matches has given their supporters renewed hope.
There were so many positive signs, including the 7-95 by swing bowler Andrew Birch, the 5-61 captured by Gurshwin Rabie and Basheer Walters’ 5-57.
Davy Jacobs celebrated his return to the four-day competition after prolonged injury lay-off with a superb century and featured in a 201-run opening stand with his fellow-centurion, Michael Price.
Simon Harmer has already shown signs as a South African A bowler that he could mature into a bowler of international class.
In the past three seasons, the Warriors have been guilty of horrendous batting collapses at times, perhaps a by-product of a bowling attack struggling to dismiss opponents twice.
This batting line-up oozes class and depth. And the presence of a terrier of the class of Ashwell Prince and a left-handed strokemaker like Colin Ingram to replace him add to their versatility.
The Dolphins slumped to a 57-run defeat against the bizhub Highveld Lions in the second round of Sunfoil Series matches.
Chris Morris was the destroyer-in-chief with his 8-44 in the second innings and his magnificent bowling enabled the hosts to defend a mediocre target of 241 runs.
The result might have stunned most Dolphins fans, but Lance Klusener, their coach, is confident that his team can strike back after that defeat.
The Dolphins captured twenty wickets against the Lions. A highlight was Craig Alexander’s match figures of 7-135 and the application showed by bowlers like Kyle Abbott (4-43 in the first innings) and Dane Paterson (3-51 in the second innings).
The inconsistency of the top and middle order would be a source of concern.
Imraan Khan scored 87 in the first innings, while Jonathan Vandiar contributed two solid half-centuries.
Several of their top-players failed to get going, including international stars like David Miller and Vaughn van Jaarsveld.
Daryn Smit, the captain, and the all-rounder, Robert Frylinck, will be expected to play more significant roles with the bat, as the Dolphins imploded badly in the match against the bizhub Highveld Lions.
They lost their final four wickets for the addition of only 24 runs in the first innings, while the last four batsmen collapsed while contributing only nine runs in the second.
From a national perspective, the performance of both teams at the start of the new domestic four-day competition is encouraging.
Klusener, a former South African player and a real legend in One-Day Internationals, is a proud professional and will expect his team to play with the commitment and dedication that was a hallmark of his own career.
He hailed the advances made by the team, taking twenty wickets and putting themselves in a potential winning position against the Lions.
The fact that the bowlers gave the Dolphins a realistic chance of beating the Lions at the Wanderers, have fortified Zulu’s belief that they have the right mix of bowlers to compete against any championship team at domestic level.
Buffalo Park traditionally favours the batsmen, and might present the Dolphins with the opportunity to improve their batting performance.
Harmer is expected to come into his own on the Buffalo Park track, traditionally and historically a low-and-slow-pitch which would require seam bowlers to use their off-cutters or leg-cutters and their guile to defeat batsmen.
The teams are:
Chevrolet Warriors: Davy Jacobs (capt), Michael Price, JJ Smuts, Ashwell Prince, Colin Ingram, Kelly Smuts, Athenkosi Dyili, Simon Harmer, Andrew Birch, Basheer Walters, Gurshwin Rabie.
Sunfoil Dolphins: Daryn Smit (capt), Divan van Wyk, Imraan Khan, Jonathan Vandiar, Vaughn van Jaarsveld, David Miller, Cody Chetty, Robert Frylinck, Dane Paterson, Kyle Abbott, Craig Alexander.