Western Province, coached by former Proteas mentor Eric Simons, contains several quality cricketers to face KZN Inland in Bellville over the next four days starting today.
The SA Airways Provincial Challenge Pool B three-day match is followed by the 45-over clash on Sunday.
And at first glance, Inland won’t find the going easy. For one, Simons has considerable experience in the game and in Alistair Gray, Richard Levi, James Kuiper and Abongile Sodumo, to name a few, he also has quality cricketers who are pushing for Western Cape Cobras recognition at SuperSport Series level.
Nevertheless, in player/coach Doug Watson, the 14-man Inland squad also have a man with huge experience in domestic first-class cricket and the players have been training hard and putting in time on the field and in the nets for just such an occasion that the four days against WP in Bellville brings.
An interesting departure from the norm is probably the radical change in the WP side for the one-dayer. Out go five players from the three-day side and in come a quintet who are surely there for their prowess in the shorter version of the game.
Given the virtual three-month break between the two matches this month — next up, Inland host Free State at the Maritzburg Oval in three weeks’ time — and the following round in January, it will take a disciplined Inland squad to maintain their focus and keep working on their game during the dry run.
The side that maintains the edge over the 80-day Provincial Challenge fallow period will likely be the team that will go far, while those provincial outfits that slacken off will surely be the losers.
TEAMS: WP (three-day): Alistair Gray, Craig Williams, Richard Levi, Martin Walters, James Kuiper, Peter Laing, Abongile Sodumo, Mondhli Mahlombe, Abdul-Aziz Temoor, Francois Plaatjies, Lucian Simpson.
One-day: Romano Ramoo, Qasim Adams, Esmond van Wyk, Yaseem Vallie and Shadley van Schalkwyk come in for Williams, Walters, Laing, Temoor and Simpson.
KZN Inland: Tafazwa Chiota, Richard Mhlanzi, Doug Watson, Morné van Vuuren, André van Vuuren Tim Drummond, Ross McMillan (capt), Mbasa Gqadushe, Garry Hampson, Sashen Dorasamy, Jomo Mbili, Kevershan Padayachee, Olly Humphries, Clint Bowyer.
Other fixtures – Pool A: EP vs Gauteng, Easterns vs Griquas. Pool B: Free State vs Northerns.
PROVINCIAL CHALLENGE POOLS
Pool A: Boland, Easterns, EP; Gauteng; Griquas; KZN Coastal, South Western Districts. Pool B: Border, Free State, KZN Inland, Northerns, North West, WP, Namibia.
Other Inland fixtures: vs Free State (Pmb, from Oct 23); vs North West (Pmb, from January 15); vs Border (East London, from February 5) vs Northerns (Pretoria, from February 19); vs Namibia (Pmb, from March 5). Four-day final: (March 19-22); one-day semi-finals (March 28), final (April 4).