The Paarl Royals are hoping to make Boland Park “a fortress” as they get ready to host the Pretoria Capitals in the Winelands on Friday.
Royals star opening batsman Jos Buttler is certainly happy to be back at Boland Park, where the temperatures have been soaring into the mid-30s.
“I am really excited. I enjoyed the competition last year. It was a great tournament,” he said. “England is -1°C at the moment. I love being out here and we have settled in really well.
“We want to make our home ground a fortress,” he added. “It was great to see so many people in the ground [last season]. It should be a tough place to come for visiting teams. Hopefully we can get off the mark [with a win on Friday].”
The England white-ball captain has had to absorb plenty of pressure over the past few months, but he is hoping to release the valve during the SA20.
“My main aim is to come out here and enjoy myself,” he said. “We had a tough World Cup with England, which was a bit draining and really not that enjoyable, so I just want to enjoy my cricket and everything the country has to offer. South Africa is a fantastic country.
“We’ve had some good preparation with a couple of games against the Netherlands. There are some familiar faces from last year. We got to know each other really well and are looking forward to an exciting tournament.”
Buttler was the leading run-scorer in the inaugural SA20 with 391, but could face stiff opposition from England opening partner Phil Salt, who will line up for the Capitals.
“He is a positive player and obviously has been in some great form for England in the Caribbean,” said Buttler. “He and Will Jacks had a really strong partnership in the tournament last year.
“You have to find a way to contain these guys and take their wickets, and get them out before they cause too much damage.”
The Pretoria Capitals were the form team during the league phase of last season with Wayne Parnell’s team topping the table. Unfortunately for them, they fell short at the final hurdle against the Sunrisers Eastern Cape at the Wanderers.
The Capitals, therefore, feel they simply need to fine tune minor things in order to get their 2024 campaign up and running again.
“The vibe in the camp has been fantastic. We are building on something that was really good. There are lots of familiar faces,” said top-order batter Colin Ingram.
“The preparation has gone really well. We’ve spent a couple of days up in Pretoria and had a good practise game too.”
Ingram made a late appearance last season when he was called up to replace the in-form Jacks, who had to leave for England Test duty midway through tournament.
The veteran left-hander is certainly excited to be back playing cricket in South Africa after spending the best part of the last decade on the global T20 franchise circuit.
“I am looking forward to getting around to all the stadiums around the country again,” said Ingram. “It’s been a while since I’ve played a full season in South Africa. It will be great to see the fans again after the couple of games I played last season.”
Paarl Royals squad: David Miller (c), Ferisco Adams, Fabian Allen, Jos Buttler, Keith Dudgeon, Bjorn Fortuin, Evan Jones, Wihan Lubbe, Obed McCoy, Lungi Ngidi, Nqaba Peter, Andile Phehlukwayo, Jason Roy, Tabraiz Shamsi, Lorcan Tucker, John Turner, Mitchell van Buuren, Dane Vilas, Codi Yusuf.
Pretoria Capitals squad: Wayne Parnell (c), Matthew Boast, Corbin Bosch, Eathan Bosch, Shane Dadswell, Theunis de Bruyn, Daryn Dupavillon, Colin Ingram, Will Jacks, Senuran Muthusamy, Jimmy Neesham, Migael Pretorius, Adil Rashid, Rilee Rossouw, Phil Salt, Paul Stirling, Tiaan van Vuuren, Kyle Verreynne, Hardus Viljoen.