Ingram focuses on shorter format
Veteran Warriors top order batsman Colin Ingram announced on the eve of the 2017 Ram Slam T20 competition that he was retiring from the longer format of the game with immediate effect. He told Sport Elizabeth ahead of the Warrior’s Ram Slam T20 opener against the Knights at St Georges Park this month that he would now focus on the limited overs formats both for the Warriors and overseas, where he’s currently on a three year contract with Glamorgan on the English County Circuit.
“There are good opportunities for me internationally in white ball cricket and after 12 years of playing first class cricket, its in the interests of my longevity in the game that I focus now solely on the shorter formats. I believe the Warriors four day side is in very good hands with Jon-Jon Smuts at the helm and some really fine young talent coming through. I am, however, totally committed to helping the Warriors in both the T20 and Momentum ODI competitions and hopefully we can go one better than last season in both tournaments.”
The Warriors lost to the Titans in the final of both the domestic ODI and T20 competitions last year and captain Jon-Jon Smuts sees no reason his team can’t go one better this season. “It was obviously disappointing to come so close last season and of course we’d like to the lift the trophy this time round. We can’t get carried away, though, and will be taking it one game at a time. I’m encouraged by the fact that I have so many batters who can bowl, and lower-end batsman who really can wield the willow. Especially in home conditions in East London and Port Elizabeth our bowlers are very effective and its obvious that we have to make our home games count. It also takes huge pressure off the team if you win your home games as it eliminates the scenario, for example, of having to win a bunch of games on the bounce on the road to try and make the final.”
Smuts and Warriors CEO Mark Williams are also hugely excited at the prospect of the Warriors, and the Proteas for that matter, playing under the new state of the art floodlighting system at St Georges Park. “They are more than just floodlights,” said Williams. “They are computer controlled and can display 4’s and 6’s and flash in a variety of patterns – but we’ll probably save that for between overs. It’s a sign to Cricket South Africa that St Georges Park is now a true world class facility because the lights have always been a weakness. It means that we can now approach the historic 4-day day/night test between South Africa and Zimbabwe over the Boxing Day period with utmost confidence. The new electronic scoreboard also marked a significant investment in our stadium”
Williams revealed that the old floodlights at St Georges gave off 800 lux of light, or illuminance, whereas the new floodlights give off a staggering 4000 lux of light. “You can now really see,” he laughed.
Jon-Jon Smuts agreed that the two inter-squad practice games they’d played at St Georges ahead of the Ram Slam T20 opener against the Knights had been a total revelation. “The lighting is really world class, we almost don’t have the advantage of playing under bad lights anymore. No-one can have an excuse about our facilities and we’re looking forward to entertaining the fans in front of this amazing new improvement to St Georges Park.”
In an exciting development for fans the prize money pool for the Catch a Million competition in the Ram Slam T20 has been doubled and will thus be a Catch Two Million competition. It will apply to all matches that are televised live by SuperSport and will require fans to make a clean one-handed catch.
“It is great news for our cricket to welcome Ram Hand to Hand Couriers back as one of our naming rights sponsors,” commented CSA Acting Chief Executive Thabang Moroe. “We are particularly grateful to them for coming aboard at unavoidably short notice. This season’s competition, which will feature all our Standard Bank Proteas, will probably be the most significant since we launched the franchise concept in this format back in 2004.”
Moroe said there will be many potential highlights, not the least of these being the long-awaited return of Dale Steyn from injury. “This is something that will be watched with anticipation not just here but around the world. The contest between our renowned big hitters and some of the world’s best fast and spin bowlers is going to be something to behold. Our players will also be sharpening their collective claws ahead of the tour by India in the new year which will feature international matches in all three formats.”
The RAM SLAM T20 Challenge will be played over a double round with one important change being the reversion to two semi-finals rather than the previous system where the log toppers got automatic entry to the final while there was an eliminator between the two teams finishing second and third.
Above: Colin Ingram (left) and Jon Jon Smuts in front of the new lights at St Georges Park. © Neil Bisseker