Fielding has been the primary focus at training for the Spartans
Eventually, the Tshwane Spartans had to surrender, pack up their equipment and head south for the coast.
The rain got the better of them and they headed to Port Elizabeth a day earlier than scheduled to start preparations for their Mzansi Super League playoff match against the Nelson Mandela Bay Giants, which takes place today.
“Our nets are under water,” Spartans captain Heinrich Klaasen, remarked, “there was no chance of us training there, so we got here on Wednesday morning and had a very good session – in the sun – here at St George’s Park in the afternoon.”
SuperSport Park like most of Centurion was flooded by the unseasonal rain of the last week, keeping the Spartans indoors some more. That is where they spent half of the Mzansi Super League as well, with Klaasen stating his team was lucky to qualify for the playoffs having only played five of their 10 round-robin matches.
“Having played so little, it’s been very difficult to build any rhythm. We are very fortunate to have gotten into the playoff having only played five games but it really shows the importance of getting that bonus point,” said Klaasen.
That vital extra point came in their eight-wicket win against the Paarl Rocks at the end of last month. The Rocks of course shook off that disappointment to finish atop the Mzansi Super League standings to qualify directly for the final which they will host at Boland Park on Monday.
To get to that match, the Spartans need to overcome a team that caused them lots of trouble in the two round-robin games. The first of those was rained out after seven overs, but the Giants picked up four wickets in that time. In the corresponding fixture at St George’s Park 10 days ago, the Giants won chasing 189, although they got a lot of help from the Spartans. “We bowled and batted really well, our fielding let us down,” said Klaasen. The main beneficiary of those mishaps was Australian Ben Dunk who scored an unbeaten 99, after he was dropped four times during that innings. “If you give a guy like Dunk that many chances he will win the game.”
So it was no surprise then that their fielding session was the primary focus at training on Wednesday and yesterday. “We’ve played well in the competition but the fielding has let us down too often,” said Klaasen.
He remains confident however that his team can pull off a win today. “The Giants are a dangerous team, they’ve played a lot of good cricket in the competition and we have to respect that. But I’m positive about our chances, we have experience and if we can get our fielding right I’m confident we can make it 1-1 against them this season and of course Friday is the most important one that you want to get,” Klaasen said.