CIYMS captain Nigel Jones has identified spin as a potential weakness in the squad of NCU Premier League favourites Instonians.
CI travel to Shaw’s Bridge on Saturday for an appetising opening game that could put down an early marker in the title race.
Jones believes his squad has a good blend with a strong batting line-up supplemented by a balanced attack of spin and seam-bowling options that turn over the champions on their home ground.
Inst meanwhile wanted to add an extra spin option with professional Keegan Petersen, but Jones says the collapse of that move has left them short in the slow bowling department.
Jones said: “If (Shane) Getkate ends up at Instonians, as it looks like he will, no doubt his involvement will strength them, he is quality player, and I have thought that for a while. He has kicked on, and he will give them firepower with the bat, but in terms of their bowling, he will probably admit he is still a work in progress
“It makes them pace heavy and spin wise they have just Whitey and James Shannon is going to have to bowl more.
“If conditions do not suit spin bowling that is a bit of an Achilles heel. Having said that if you are a quality seam bowler you should be able to bowl in any conditions and Instonians have a very good seam attack. Inst are strong but they are beatable.”
Jones meanwhile feels that after yet another busy winter at Belmont, he now has a nucleus of players who could stay for a few years.
He added: “CI have a history of players coming in and out. I said to the club that I was really keen that if there was going to be change, that we should get guys who would want to stay for two, three, or four years, rather than just dipping in and out. I’m confident with the squad now there seems to be that commitment.”
The lack of batting depth has been addressed with the signings of Ryan Hunter and Jason van der Merwe, Jones says. In spin terms, Jacob Mulder and Trevor Britton look great additions.
“Before last season we lost a couple of players and while we were not a bad side, we did not have the depth to push consistently through a season. I thought the league would not be ours,” he added.
“I felt we were light on batting and relied heavily on a couple of us, I felt we needed to add to that, and in our part of the world if you have slow bowling options you are in business, most of the teams that tend to do well have good spinners in their side.
“I think pace wise, the way it has worked out, Aiden Markram (who CI signed originally as pro) is a quality cricketer, we are seeing that with his performances in South Africa, but we realise quite early on after signing him, he is a bit of a gun and it might go pear-shaped ahead of the new season.
“Aiden spoke very highly of Matt McGillivray and we thought we could do with a bit more pace which he will give us alongside AC (Allen Coulter). We have got a reasonably balanced team, we have that core of eight or nine blokes who should play every week. We have 13 or 14 who can play Premier League cricket, but after that realistically we are thin on the ground.”
Jones insists his team will not be fazed by travelling to the home of the champions on the opening day.
He added: “I guess you have got to play Instonians at some point, and there is no better way than to go straight in there. The challenge for us is to make sure we are mentally right and if we are switched on when we get there I am confident we can beat them. There is a lot of pressure on them, a lot of expectation playing at home. There will be a few butterflies in both teams.”
Jones says it could be several weeks before the injured Mulder is fit and available for selection.
“At this stage Jacob is not going to be with us for the weekend, He is due to have another scan next week, after that we could get a guideline of how long it is going to be. Hopefully in the next two or three weeks he will be out on the park for us.”