Cape Town - The second edition of the Africa T20 Cup begins at the City
Oval in Pietermaritzburg from Friday, signalling the start of the 2016/17 South
African cricket season.
The 16-team competition, which features all 12 provincial
unions as well as KZN Inland, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Kenya, kicks off with the
first set of fixtures to be played on Friday, Saturday and Sunday in the
KZN Inland, Western Province, North West and the Namibians
make up Pool A.
The host team, who were runners-up last year after losing to
Northerns in the final, play North West in the second match on day one, with
the competition opening with a match-up between WP and Namibia.
“I'm really looking forward to the weekend,” said stand-in
KZN Inland coach Grant Morgan. “We have some tough teams in our group, but it’s
a great opportunity for the guys to open up this season.”
The recently-appointed Dolphins franchise coach has returned
to take charge of his former team in the absence of Shane Burger, who is in
Australia with the South Africa A team.
He feels that they are in good shape for the tournament,
which has a winning prize of R300 000.
“Obviously we lost in the final last season, but they did
excellently to win the Provincial T20 competition, so that shows they have
great potential to do well in such a competition,” Morgan added. “We’ve had
some good preparation as well, so this is a great opportunity for everyone to
stake a claim in the team for the season ahead.”
The KZN Inland team won every game bar the final last season
and their squad this year includes the likes of Vaughn van Jaarsveld,
Mthokozisi Shezi and Tsepang Dithole.
Their opponents for the opening game are North West, coached
by Monty Jacobs. He said: “The squad’s more or less the same as 2015 with a
couple of players missing because they are in Australia.
“But we still have a good strong squad, who are more
experienced now than last year. But T20 is all about the day, how you perform
and how you execute your plans. We’ll be hoping our players can go out there,
enjoy themselves, relax and express themselves.”
The North West squad, who were in the same pool as KZN
Inland last year and managed just one win, boasts several stars of the recent
Cricket South Africa (CSA) Emerging Series, such as Bjorn Fortuin and Marques
Ackerman. Nicky van den Bergh, a player who went on to make his franchise mark
last year, also features.
There will be two matches each played on Friday, Saturday
and Sunday with the start times set at 09h45 and 13h15