Hashim Amla will play his first Sunfoil Series game for the Cape Cobras when they host the Knights in the competition’s opening round, and will be joined by three other Proteas in a strong home side. Amla did not turn out in the four-day competition last season due to his international commitments, but will use Thursday’s match at Newlands as a warm-up for the first Test against England at Kingsmead on Boxing Day. JP Duminy, Stiaan Van Zyl and Dane Piedt will also enjoy some red-ball action on home soil, giving the Cobras a necessary boost after their Ram Slam Twenty20 campaign ended in disappointment last week.
Coach Paul Adams says: ‘We spent some time away from the game, but now we’ve got to switch over to the four-day competition as quickly as we can. We set ourselves high standards. For us it’s important to start well, and luckily we’ve got some of our Proteas back. From there we can kick on into a normal squad that can settle into the competition.’ By contrast, the Knights have been shorn of their two best batsmen, with Rilee Rossouw and Reeza Hendricks involved in the South Africa A game against England in Pietermaritzburg that starts on Sunday.
That has necessitated a shuffle, with Letlotlo Sesele and Diego Rosier coming back into the squad, while left-arm seamer Mbulelo Budaza is in line for a franchise debut. Knights coach Nicky Boje says: ‘We’ve got a few young batters in the side, so it’s an opportunity for them to stand up and show what they’re made of.’ South Western Districts batsman, Luthando Mnyanda, has been signed on loan for the second round of games, while Quinton Friend is making his way back from injury and could also come into contention in round two.
In the meantime the Knights will rely on Duanne Olivier to lead the attack against a strong Cobras batting unit, with Corne Dry out injured. Boje says: ‘We did pick up a bit of momentum up in the last couple of Twenty20 games, and now with a different competition the guys are looking forward to it.’