Proteas bolster domestic teams
Quinton de Kock (Gallo Images)
Johannesburg - The Highveld Lions and Cape Cobras will look to take advantage of the availability of a host of Proteas players when the Domestic T20 competition gets underway with a triple-header at Newlands on Sunday.
Sunday will see all six franchises playing back-to-back games, and all but five Proteas will be available for their respective teams.
"It's a benefit but there are different dynamics as well and we've got to make sure that everyone is in the right space for the whole tournament," Cobras coach Paul Adams said ahead of their meeting with the Knights at 6pm.
"It's very important that we work together as a unit."
The Cobras will have Graeme Smith, JP Duminy, Hashim Amla, Robin Peterson and Rory Kleinveldt at their disposal, while the Lions will enjoy the services of Alviro Petersen, Quinton de Kock, Aaron Phangiso and Imran Tahir.
Knights coach Sarel Cilliers has kept his players busy over the Christmas period, and has veteran left-arm spinner Nicky Boje back in his squad for the entire T20 campaign.
"We had two practice matches this week in Bloemfontein on a very good deck and there were some very good performances," Cilliers said.
"Rilee Rossouw got a 97 and a 50-odd so he's in good form, and there were some good performances from other guys -- Obus Pienaar came straight from his hundred for the amateur side and played quite nicely, Pite van Biljon carried his form from the Sunfoil Series, as did Johan van der Wath, who's bowling well at the moment."
The Lions will field the only overseas player in the opening round after Pakistan all-rounder Azhar Mahmood made himself available, and expect to have seamer Sohail Tanvir in their line-up for the second round of fixtures.
The Cobras, meanwhile, have signed Sunil Narine, but the spinner will only arrive in South Africa in the middle of the month once the West Indies' tour of New Zealand has been concluded.
Similarly, the Dolphins, who play the Titans in Sunday's first game at 10am, are unlikely to have West Indies batsman Chris Gayle available for the first three matches of the competition.
Their other overseas player, England seamer Graham Onions, will miss the opener after spending the festive season back home.
The Titans will be without AB de Villiers, Morne Morkel and Marchant de Lange, but have Henry Davids, Faf du Plessis, Albie Morkel and Farhaan Behardien in a strong batting line-up.
De Villiers will be the notable omission from the competition, after it was revealed earlier this week that he would have to undergo surgery to his hand, in order to repair a previous injury sustained in 2011.
The Warriors, who play the Lions at 2pm, are looking forward to having a host of key players back in their team after losing five key members to injury for their final domestic game of 2013.
"Davy Jacobs is back, Rusty Theron should be back and so should Christiaan Jonker," Warriors coach Piet Botha confirmed.
"I think the only one that's a bit doubtful is Colin Ingram, but he may yet be fit."