It has been very rarely, if ever, in recent seasons that the Warriors have found themselves in the enviable position of being top of the SuperSport log in a home match at Buffalo Park.
But that is the exciting position for the Eastern Cape franchise as they prepare to face Pierre Joubert’s Titans over the next four days here starting at 10am Thursday.
Davy Jacobs’ Warriors are currently riding the crest of a wave after their emphatic 261-run win over defending champions, the Eagles last weekend. The Titans boast six international players, including explosive middle-order batsman AB de Villiers, the Morkel brothers, Albie and Morné, the in-form batsman Gulam Bodi, who scored a century against the Cobras last week, left-arm Test spinner Paul Harris and former test batsman Martin van Jaarsveld.
Add the wiles of Pakistan-born leg-spinner Imran Tahir, and there are sufficient ingredients to ensure an excellent cricket match, one to stir the blood the every cricket enthusiast on the Border.
The Titans have yet to win a match this season after two draws and will no doubt be anxious to get some valuable points on the log. They are currently lying fifth on the log with 13.54 points, some 11.90 points adrift of the Warriors.
However, one has to take into account that the Warriors have never beaten the Titans at Buffalo Park – perhaps it is time for history to be overturned.
Much attention will be focused on Warriors debutante Jacques Kallis, who struggled in the fourth and final test against England in August – his last first-class match – when he scored but 2 and 9. However, an experienced player like Kallis, who always maintains a strong mental attitude, should be able to shrug off any feelings of doubt and fans will be expecting him to score heavily in the match. His fast-medium bowling should also reap him some valuable wickets on the Buffalo Park pitch which has been kind to seamers so far this season.
With the seasoned Mark Boucher (picture) returning to the Warriors after a break of about two years the home batting lineup appears firm and resolute, with fast scorers capable of grabbing valuable batting bonus points.
The elegant stroke-maker Arno Jacobs, fluent Zander de Bruyn and solid Ashwell Prince should all charm the spectators. Boucher will keep with Davy Jacobs likely to open the batting with Johan Botha.
Pace bowlers Makhaya Ntini, the ever-improving Juan “Rusty” Theron — who grabbed his career-best of 7/46 against the Eagles — and left-armer Lonwabo Tsotsobe are all in fine form and the Warriors attack appears to be stronger than that of the visitors.
They also have left-arm spinner Robin Peterson to make use of a wearing pitch on the last two days. However, a huge worry over the next few days could well be the weather with light rain forecast for Thursday, but it is likely to be cloudy and clear by Friday, while Saturday and Sunday should be fine.
An exciting match is on the cards, and with so many international players participating bigger than usual crowds are expected to turn up to support the Warriors.
Teams: Warriors (from): Davy Jacobs (capt), Johan Botha, Mark Boucher, Zander de Bruyn, Arno Jacobs, Jacques Kallis, Makhaya Ntini, Robin Peterson, Ashwell Prince, Michael Smith, Juan Theron, Lonwabe Tsotsobe.
Titans (from): Pierre Joubert (capt), Farhaan Behardien, Gulam Bodi, AB de Villiers, Francois du Plessis, Paul Harris, Heino Kuhn, Ethy Mbhalati, Albie Morkel, Morné Morkel, Imran Tahir, Martin van Jaarsveld, Basheer Walters. Umpires: Ian Howell and Suresh Shastri (Indian exchange umpire). Third Umpire: Laurence Willemse. Match Referee: Cyril Mitchley.