West Indies T20 skipper Darren Sammy will take over the captaincy from Henry Davids, with coach Rob Walter saying he hoped the change would lift the team and allow the opener to produce match-winning performances with the bat.
“It’s never an easy decision, especially since Henry is a quality guy who always puts the team first, but the reasons are two-fold. Firstly, I’d like Henry just to focus on winning games with the bat. As a coach, I want him to fulfil his potential as a stand-out cricketer, and he can be devastating against any attack.
“Secondly, it’s probably a good time for new energy and new insights, Darren will bring something different – the way West Indians play. Hopefully the change will bring some freshness to the team,” Walter told The Citizen yesterday.
Although some sideline critics have questioned certain quaint tactical decisions by Davids, Walter said this was not the reason for the change.
“There’ve always been plausible reasons for the decisions and a captain needs to back his gut-feelings. I may have done some things differently, but that doesn’t mean to say Henry wasn’t right. The game is very different on the field, under that immense pressure, than it is sitting on the side. It’s on a knife-edge,” the coach said.
A much bigger problem for the Titans has been their bowling at the start of the innings, with them only able to capture a single wicket in the six powerplay overs in each of their three matches thus far, while conceding 79 runs against the Cape Cobras, 59 versus the Knights at Centurion and 75 against the Dolphins.
David Wiese, who took three for 21 in Sydney last weekend in the only match he played against Australia, has returned to the Titans squad and will sharpen their attack, while Junior Dala has been added to the party but has only an outside chance of displacing the experienced Ethy Mbhalati.
“We have struggled in the first six overs, there’s no doubt, but it’s not only us. The pitches have been really good and the batsmen’s skills seem to have improved, but taking wickets is the key. Not being able to do that has been the stand-out reason we’ve been under pressure, trying to pull the game back every time. David can potentially help with that and he can stop the run-rate,” Walter said.
The Knights go into the game after an extraordinary tie with the Highveld Lions and a tied Super-Over still saw them return from Potchefstroom with zero points, and then a washed out match in Paarl.
“It’s hampered us a little bit, but we haven’t had much time to ponder about it and I still feel we have momentum. We’ve bowled very well, they’ve worked out great plans and executed well and our batsmen just need to set up the innings, make sure we go into the back end with wickets in hand and can use every ball to set up a winning total,” Knights coach Sarel Cilliers said.
One of the Knights’ best bowlers, veteran Dillon du Preez (bruised foot), will go into the match under an injury cloud, but the home side have plenty of pace bowling back-up in Quinton Friend, Duanne Olivier and Corne Dry.
Opening batsman Reeza Hendricks has returned from national duty for the Knights, who are second on the log.
Knights: Gerhardt Abrahams, Reeza Hendricks, Rudi Second, Tumelo Bodibe, Diego Rosier, Andre Russell, Obus Pienaar, Werner Coetsee, Dillon du Preez, Shadley van Schalkwyk, Malusi Siboto, Quinton Friend, Patrick Botha, Corne Dry, Duanne Olivier.
Titans: Henry Davids, Dean Elgar, Theunis de Bruyn, Darren Sammy, Qaasim Adams, Mangaliso Mosehle, David Wiese, Roelof van der Merwe, Corbin Bosch, Tabraiz Shamsi, Ethy Mbhalati, Junior Dala, Cobus Pienaar, JP de Villiers, Heino Kuhn.