Border coach Mfuneko Ngam says he is extremely excited about the future of South African cricket after the opening round of the CSA Provincial T20 Cup was played last weekend.
The Eastern Cape union progressed to the play-offs that will take place on Monday and Tuesday (Heritage Day) in Benoni alongside hosts Easterns, Eastern Province and KwaZulu-Natal Inland.
However, it was the unions that did not make the semi-finals that gave Ngam cause for optimism. The likes of Limpopo really made their mark on the 2019 competition with some compelling performances, before narrowly missing out.
“We are so excited to be in the semis, it was not easy at all this year,” the former Standard Bank Proteas fast bowler said. “There were teams that really surprised us, teams like Limpopo and Mpumalanga.
“Those guys have quality players and I’m so excited for the future of Cricket South Africa when we see players like the ones they had coming through.”
Ngam’s team, who won Pool C by a single point from Limpopo, is set to take on host union Easterns in the second semi-final on Monday, while KZNI will take on EP in the earlier game on the same day.
“Easterns is a quality side,” he added. “When I looked at the players they’ve got, they are really strong. In our pool, as well, we had (Western) Province who had a very good side and we had North West. But what we did was focus on what we could do rather than the quality of the opposition.
“We just need to try and do the same here, do the basics properly and follow up by ensuring that our processes on the day are good enough to put us into the next round.”
Opposing coach Richard das Neves is also wary of the threat posed by Border. His side topped a Pool A that featured Gauteng, Northerns and KwaZulu-Natal by a single point.
“I’m very pleased with the way we went about our stuff in what was perceived to be the group of death,” Das Neves said. “Now we’re in the last four and we owe them (Border) a bit from last year. It’s the same semi-final showdown where we went down to East London at the time and they got the better of us.
“It will be nice to have them up at our ground this year and the boys will be firing and ready to go.”
In the earlier game, EP meets KZNI with the stand-in coach of the coastal side, Runeshan Moodley, bullish about their prospects.
EP won Pool B, while their opponents progressed as the best runners-up, and the coach, who is caretaker while Piet Botha is away with South Africa A in India, said: “We always knew from the outset that it was going to be a tough group.
“But the players did well to execute, we did well over the weekend making it through to the playoffs, we came unstuck in one game against Inland, but we have put that behind us now and look forward to face them again.
“They have won the tournament before and so have we, both teams have big match players, but we’re just hoping that a collective team effort on Monday will pull us through.”
KZNI coach Yusuf Abdullah, another former Proteas paceman, added: “I was looking throughout the country in all the groups the points were like 12 or 13 so it was a matter of fine margins and boiled down to bonus points and the net run rate. We had a bit of luck and we got through.
“We know EP because we played them in the group stages and Robbie (Frylinck) brought it home for us. We more or less know each other pretty well and it’s going to be a good contest.
“Let’s hope we are the team that plays better cricket on the day to get through. Our target obviously is to bring the cup home.”
The play-offs will also be the final chance for Mzansi Super League Wildcard hopefuls to impress. The six teams are set to name their final picks after the conclusion of the action on Tuesday, when a world star betting bonus code is around like other days.
Easterns: Grant Thomson, Sizwe Masondo, Wesley Marshall, Khwezi Gumede, Jurie Snyman, Matthew Arnold, Armand Erasmus, Imraan Manack, Dyllan Matthews, Yaseen Vallie, Aron Visser, Zwelo Ntsimbini, Ryan Cartwright, Neo Felane.
Border: Jason Niemand, Mncedisi Malika, Ayabulela Gqamane, Clayton Bosch, Bamanye Xenxe, Phaphama Fojela, Bhongolwethu Makeleni, Joshua Dodd, Gihahn Cloete, Lilitha Reed, Sisanda Magala, Sinethemba Qeshile, Mohammed Vallie.
KwaZulu-Natal Inland: Robert Frylinck, Grant Roelofsen, Kyle Nipper, Gareth Dukes, Cody Chetty, Lwandiswa Zuma, Nduduzo Mfoza, Sohail Mahmoud, Kerwin Mungroo, Mangaliso Mosehle, Luke Schlemmer, Joel Veeran, Michael Booth.
Eastern Province: Marco Marais, Jade de Klerk, Kelly Smuts, Onke Nyaku, Thomas Kaber, Mtabozuko Nqam, Matthew Christensen, Josh van Heerden, Kenan Smith, Basheeru-Deen Walters, Sithembile Langa, Tiaan van Vuuren, Nelson Setimane.
The CSA Provincial T20 Play-Off Fixtures:
Monday, September 23:
09:30 – 14:40 – Eastern Province v Hollywoodbets KwaZulu-Natal Inland – Willowmoore Park, Benoni
13:00 – 16:10 – Easterns v Border – Willowmoore Park, Benoni
Tuesday, September 24:
10:00 – 13:10 – Winner Semi 1 v Winner Semi 2 – Willowmoore Park, Benoni
Photo: Gallo Images