The Northerns Bash involves four corporately-sponsored teams – the Nashua Phantoms, Global Gladiators, TMM Capital Investments Tornados and W.A.D. Holdings Pirates – in a round-robin competition that throws together the current Titans stars, provincial players from the Northerns team and the cream of club cricket in the province.
The attempts to include some of the biggest names in South African T20 cricket have soured slightly with the withdrawal of fast bowler Marchant de Lange and all-rounder Albie Morkel, but there is still the delightful prospect of Titans stars Roelof van der Merwe and Heino Kuhn, Shaun von Berg and Mangaliso Mosehle, and Ethy Mbhalati and David Wiese going head-to-head against each other.
The Phantoms, skippered by Van der Merwe, are the defending champions and the left-arm spinner said although losing De Lange and two other seamers in JP de Villiers and Wayne Scott was a disappointment, he was happy that he would still have an attack capable of winning the second edition of the Northerns Bash.
“Marchant has gone off to play in the Champions League for Kolkata, while JP is on honeymoon and Wayne is injured, but our strength is our three spinners – myself, Shaun von Berg and Eden Links. I think that could be a crucial factor because we know what the pitches are like this time of year,” Van der Merwe told The Pretoria News yesterday.
The experienced former international said the key to repeating their success would be how well they executed their skills both at the start of the innings and at the end.
“We want to repeat the way we started with the bat last time, with Blake Schraader up front just killing the bowling, which gave us good starts and then also be as good again with our death bowling. We want to be clinical in the last five overs when we’re bowling and in the first eight overs when we’re batting,” Van der Merwe said.
The left-handed Schraader, whose only representative cricket has been for the Mpumulanga U19s, is a prime example of a young talent that has a greater chance of reaching his potential thanks to the exposure he gains in the Northerns Bash.
Van der Merwe is not the sort of character to consume too much energy worrying about the opposition, but he did mention the Tornados as having an “unbelievable team on paper” and said even the Pirates, who will rely heavily on Wiese and Heinrich Klaasen in the absence of the injured Morkel, cannot be discounted.
Phantoms: Roelof van der Merwe, Shaun von Berg, Qaasim Adams, Aya Myoli, Eden Links, Rowan Richards, Jason Brooker, Henk Coetzee, Gerry Pike, Brandon le Roux, Niki Bouwer, Blake Schraader, Stefan Klopper, Danie Rossouw.
Gladiators: Lerato Kgoatle, Cobus Pienaar, Ethy Mbhalati, Bafana Mahlangu, Sean Dickson, Tertius Gouws, Murray Coetzee, Ryan Houbert, Farhaan Behardien, Sean Nowak, Ruan Sadler, Evan Jones, Ryk Eksteen, Sammy Mofokeng.
Tornados: Heino Kuhn, Mangaliso Mosehle, Graeme van Buuren, Henry Davids, Theunis de Bruyn, Junior Dala, Aiden Markram, Corbin Bosch, Thomas Kaber, Jacques Snyman, Gerhard Linde, Sean Phillips, David Mogotlane, Tyler Easton.
Pirates: Heinrich Klaasen, Ruan Olivier, David Wiese, Eldred Hawken, Shershan Naidoo, Tian Koekemoer, Dean Foxcroft, Tom Khoza, Wian van Heerden, Ruben Claassen, Tabraiz Shamsi, Jeandre Jumat, Willem Britz, Schalk van Heerden.
Today: 10am Gladiators v Phantoms; 1.30pm Pirates v Tornados.
Tomorrow: 10am Gladiators v Pirates; 1.30pm Tornados v Phantoms.
Saturday: 10am Phantoms v Pirates; 1.30pm Gladiators v Tornados.
Sunday: 10am 3rd v 4th; 1.30pm Final.