Easterns buoyed by Benoni advantage

Having got through a very tough group, Easterns are primed for the semi-finals of the CSA Provincial T20 this week.

The playoffs are being hosted in Benoni, and the Easterns side feel like there has never been a better opportunity to secure silverware.

“It was a very tough group to get through. Northerns are a very strong side, and Gauteng won last year’s T20. So we were really happy to come out on top,” skipper Grant Thomson said after the group stage.

What has really pleased Thomson is that the key performances have been spread across the squad, making them a formidable unit to come up against.

“It has been different guys standing up, so if we can take that into the semis, we will be in a good place.

“Whenever we needed something, someone put up their hand. Whether it was a tight over at the death, a quick 20 off seven balls… someone has stood up.”

A measure of the standard, Thomson pointed out, was how hard selection has become.

“When a quality player like Ryan Cartwright is missing out, you know you are in a good place.”

The key has been starting well, and then maintaining the throttle with a varied bowling attack.

“Wesley Marshall has been great for us – really destructive upfront. If he can fire, and then our middle-order can keep the momentum, hopefully we can set big totals or chase whatever.”

A big challenge in the latter stages of the tournament are the cameras being present, and young players being aware that they are on screen.

“There are cameras in your face, commentators walking around. The guys were a bit nervous last year, playing on TV, but we have learnt from that. It is just another cricket game is the message that we have been reiterating, and the guys are excited,” Thomson said encouragingly.

What they can take heart from is home advantage, with local support sure to give them extra motivation.

“Playing at home is definitely a bit of an advantage. We have coastal sides coming up to quicker surfaces, so hopefully that plays into our hands. We would love to take a trophy home on our home ground,” Thomson added cheerfully.

In order to do that, they must get past Border in the semi-final, and then go forth.

“They have a lot of quality players, including a few guys who have played very we for the Warriors. We just have to be switched on from ball one,” the Easterns captain maintained.

Easterns squad (from): Grant Thomson (c), Sizwe Masondo, Wesley Marshall, Khwezi Gumede, Jurie Snyman, Matthew Arnold, Armand Erasmus, Imraan Manack, Dyllan Matthews, Yaseen Vallie, Aron Visser, Zwelo Ntsimbini, Ryan Cartwright, Neo Felane.