The Herald (South Africa)

Ackermann to fill in as skipper for Warriors

- Alvin Reeves

THE Warriors will be without inspiratio­nal skipper Jon-Jon Smuts when they resume their push for a second piece of silverware at St George’s Park today.

The Warriors square off against the Dolphins in a repeat fixture that ended in them sharing the Momentum One-Day Cup trophy two weeks ago.

This time, however, they will do battle with the red ball as the Sunfoil Series heads down the final straight.

Smuts will be sorely missed in the lineup as he joins the Proteas squad for the T20 internatio­nal series against India.

Not only will his batting leave a gaping hole in the team but he has also been among the leading overall wicket-takers in this campaign.

The side’s leading run-scorer, Colin Ackermann, will captain the team in his absence.

Interim Warriors coach Rivash Gobind said yesterday Smuts’s place would be filled by highly-rated young batsman Matthew Breetzke, who has yet to make a meaningful impact in Warriors colours, albeit due to limited opportunit­ies because of his national U19 commitment­s.

Seamer Andrew Birch is the other addition to the squad.

The Warriors are sitting pretty in the unfamiliar position of second place on the Sunfoil Series log.

This is a competitio­n the Warriors have never won as a franchise. They are less than six points behind the log-leading Titans in a format where as many as 25 points are attainable per game for a convincing victory.

Victories have been rare in this competitio­n, with only two in all of 18 matches played between the franchises. The remaining games have been drawn.

With four rounds remaining, Gobind knows exactly how crucial a couple of victories will be, starting with one against their closest rivals this season.

“The Dolphins and us are two evenly-matched teams and play possibly in a similar way so that’s always exciting. All our contests this year have been pretty tight, as they always are,” he said.

“It’s a great challenge for us. Four-day cricket is the one format where the best team comes out on top all of the time.”

A bowler who will attract attention is Tladi Bokoka, who helped bowl the Warriors to victory in the Lions’ second innings in East London on Saturday.

The Warriors squad is: Gihahn Cloete, Eddie Moore, Colin Ackermann (capt), Yaseen Vallie, Lesiba Ngoepe, Matthew Breetzke, Clyde Fortuin, Simon Harmer, Aya Gqamane, Tladi Bokako, Anrich Nortje, Lutho Sipamla, Andrew Birch ý THIS week’s other fixtures are: Cape Cobras v Highveld Lions (Paarl); Knights v Titans (Kimberley)

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