Warriors out to end drought
Sport24 columnist Arthur Turner (File)
The Warriors need to develop a winning culture if they are to win the MTN40 Championship final in East London on Friday.
They are the only team that has never won a trophy since the inception of the franchise system in 2004. This will be their fourth franchise final and they need to deliver silverware.
Eastern Cape teams over the years have struggled to win trophies in spite of having fantastic teams and players. Border for example, never won a domestic trophy in South African cricket. This is surprising for a region that is steeped in cricket tradition and has produced so many gifted players like the legendary Graeme Pollock.
The only successful era for Eastern Province cricket was under the leadership of Kepler Wessels. He was an outstanding captain and they achieved success that they had never experienced before - or since. They won the Currie Cup for the first time in their history in 1989 and went on to tie the Currie Cup once more before it was replaced at unity. They also won the Castle Cup (replaced Currie Cup in 1992), Benson & Hedges series and the Nissan Shield twice each during the Wessels era. The only other success Eastern Province had before this was in the 1970s when they won the Gillette Cup on two occasions.
In the provincial era after unity between 1992 and 2004, both Eastern Province and Border - who make up the Warriors franchise today - only won one domestic trophy (when Eastern Province won the Castle Cup in 1992). During this period both Eastern Province and Border were on the losing side in eight domestic finals.
It remains unacceptable that a franchise with the quality and quantity of talent they have had at their disposal over the years has failed to deliver on the domestic front. There is no doubt that the time has arrived for the team to rectify the position and deliver for their fans, sponsors and hard working administration. They need to develop a culture of winning that has been missing for years and even decades.
There are signs that international players like Jacques Kallis and Mark Boucher have given them that self belief to win as we saw in Paarl on Friday night, but this needs to be sustained. If all their international stars are available they are the best team in South African domestic cricket as no less than eight of the Warriors players have played international cricket.
Their opponents in the MTN40 final, the Dolphins, are a surprise package and only won three matches in the round robin stage of the competition.
On paper they do not have the same quality of players as the Warriors, but as we know in sport anything can happen. Remember how Pakistan came back from the dead in Australia in 1992 to win the World Cup? The Dolphins showed at SuperSport Park that they are a team with character and can’t be written off.
Playing the final in East London is not ideal for the Warriors as St George's Park is their main ground. Also, St George's Park is an imposing ground for visiting teams and a difficult place to win. The administrators have certainly given up a percentage of home ground advantage by playing in East London. It is very similar to the Cobras not playing the semi-final at Newlands last Friday.
The time has arrived for the Warriors to shed their minnow status and take their rightful place in franchise and South African cricket. Once they get across the line and win a domestic trophy it will be the start of a whole new era for them. They simply need to learn how to be ruthless and win finals; they are more than good enough. Arthur is a former cricket administrator and current player
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