Cape Town - Cape Cobras coach Ashwell Prince says his players are relishing a return outdoors when they begin the new 4-Day Franchise Series season with a home match against the Knights at Newlands in Cape Town, starting from Monday.
As per what has become the norm in the Western Cape, the cold and wet winter months mean little outdoor cricket, forcing most players and teams to do their prep work under cover.
Prince's men were no different, but now they have the chance to get outside and everyone is looking forward to it.
"It's been a long winter, for us longer than most people because mostly indoors due to the weather patterns in the Cape," said the former Proteas opener.
"But now the boys are excited to get outdoors and start the season."
The Cobras ended the four-day season in third place last year, with the Knights coming in fourth. Both sides were amongst five teams contending for the title heading to the final round and Prince maintains the Knights will again be formidable opposition.
"The Knights have some good players in their ranks and they're always a competitive outfit, so that respect factor will be there for them," he said.
"But we approach every game the same way, which is to respect the opposition.
"We also know what we're capable of, though. We want to focus on executing our game more than theirs, so we look forward to that."
New Cobras signings Tladi Bokako and Janneman Malan have been named in a strong squad for the opening game, with Prince confirming that every single one of his players is available.
The Knights suffered a major blow in the winter when captain Theunis de Bruyn left for the Titans, with Pite van Biljon the new man in charge.
Their coach Nicky Boje is also optimistic about the season after an underwhelming past season, especially in the limited-overs formats.
"I think in four-day cricket we were okay," he said. "We were in the mix until the last game where we also made a game of it to try and see if we could win the competition. I was happy with the four-day stuff.
"But there's some new guys in, sort of a new younger more local squad, quite a lot of new things."
Looking ahead to the clash in the Mother City, Boje believes that side that settles quicker will enjoy the week better.
"I think the first game is always tough because you worked on a lot of things during the off-season," he concluded. "It's interesting to see how that pans out for both sides. I think whoever finds their feet quicker will enjoy the game more."
The Cape Cobras squad:
Dane Piedt (captain), David Bedingham, Tladi Bokako, Zubayr Hamza, Rory Kleinveldt, Janneman Malan, Pieter Malan, Aviwe Mgijima, Mthiwekhaya Nabe, Dane Paterson, Jason Smith, Kyle Verreynne, Lizaad Williams
The Knights squad:
Pite van Biljon (captain), Ottneil Baartman, Mbulelo Budaza, Corne Dry, Andries Gous, Patrick Kruger, Ryan McLaren, Luthando Mnyanda, Grant Mokoena, Tshepo Ntuli, Duanne Olivier, Keegan Petersen, Rudi Second