Warriors coach Rivash Gobind has praised the work that counterpart Ashwell Prince has done at the Cape Cobras ahead of their vital 4-Day Franchise Series encounter at St George’s Park in Port Elizabeth starting from Wednesday.
The first-class competition is back to take centre stage after the conclusion of the Mzansi Super League over the weekend, with the round six games comprising the final set before 2018 closes.
The Eastern Cape franchise are one of the best-placed teams to try and catch the runaway leaders, considering that they still have to play them twice in the final five matches of the campaign.
The Cobras are well ahead of the pack with their 102.86 points putting them more than 10 clear of the Highveld Lions (91.72). The Knights (71.56) are a distant third with the Warriors (61.40) fourth.
Despite the gap, Gobind believes the impressive Cobras can be caught.
‘You can see that Ashwell and his staff have done a fantastic job in the winter,’ he said. ‘They’re really well prepared, they’re hungry and they’ve got some young players that have sort of come to the fore and settled in well in the franchise game.
‘But we look forward to the challenge against the table-toppers. We’re at home as well and want to try and make sure we use the conditions to our advantage. It’s going to be a good challenge to see where we are.’
They may be trailing the leaders by over 40 points, but Gobind is optimistic about their prospects.
‘At the end of the five games before we broke for the T20 competition, and at that point the Cobras seemed like they were pretty far away, but now looking at the log with fresh eyes, you realise that they’re not that far ahead,’ he explained.
‘Especially for us, because we get to play them twice in the second half of the season, which is a great opportunity for us. We’re going to try and play as well as we can and hopefully get the results we need. We’re really looking forward to it.’
The Port Elizabeth representatives in the Mzansi Super League, the Nelson Mandela Bay Giants, had a strong Warriors representation and Gobind believes that will bode them well upon the return to the red ball game.
‘We were pretty fortunate to have quite a few of the guys who play four-day cricket for us playing in the Mzansi Super League, and they did reasonably well,’ the home coach added. ‘From a form point of view, we can certainly use that as a positive.
‘Our other guys have been playing provincial cricket as well. This is a different format, yes, but confidence is built on performances in the middle and I think we’ve done that.’
Prince will be aiming to consolidate their position at the summit ahead of another break – a two-week festive one – immediately after the game this week.
And despite the Warriors sitting in the bottom half of the table, Prince knows the game will not be easy.
He added: ‘There is no weak team in the 4-Day Franchise Series. We are preparing for all possibilities and will assess the conditions when we get to Port Elizabeth. We look forward to the game.’