Parnell realises WP dream ahead of T20 Knock Out opener: 'We can put down a proper mark'

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Western Province all-rounder Wayne Parnell
Western Province all-rounder Wayne Parnell
  • Western Province captain Wayne Parnell is excited to lead his side in the opening CSA T20 Knock Out match against the Lions on Friday.
  • Parnell says it's a special feeling to don the WP jersey for the first time and hopes his experience can benefit the young squad.
  • As South African cricket shifts to the new domestic structure, Parnell warns that in T20 cricket, there are no underdogs.

Western Province captain Wayne Parnell says it's a special feeling to don the WP jersey as he leads the provincial outfit in this week's inaugural T20 Knock Out competition.

Western Province have been drawn in Pool A alongside the Lions, SWD, and Northern Cape, with all the pool matches taking place at the Diamond Oval this weekend.

The top two teams from the pool will qualify for the quarter-finals after all four pools have concluded their matches.

Parnell will lead a well-balanced Western Province outfit as he realises a boyhood dream in Friday's opening encounter against the Lions in Kimberley.

"I was 11-years-old when I watched my first Western Province game at Newlands against North West," Parnell told reporters on Wednesday.

"It was something special and it was something I wanted to do. So to be able to put on the Western Province jersey and to represent WP, it has a powerful brand and it got me back here and I think most of the guys probably feel the same way."

Parnell brings tons of experience to Western Province, having played six Tests, 65 ODIs and 40 T20Is for the Proteas between 2009-2017.

The former Proteas all-rounder has since gone to ply his trade in some of the biggest T20 leagues around the world, including the Indian Premier League, Caribbean Premier League, T20 Blast and Pakistan Super League.

Parnell stated that he'd be using his experience to assist the younger members in the squad as he imposes a more relaxed leadership style.

"I've always seen myself as a leader in the squad even though I never had the title. I don't want to tell people want to do, they need the freedom to grow and express themselves," said Parnell.

"Having played around the world, I'll be giving a bit of nuggets here and there and I want guys to take responsibility in their own games. My leadership style will be not to impose myself but to assist people. 

"My role as a player is to bring my bit to the party and from a leadership perspective, all the experience that I've picked up is to try and assist people and I've seen a great number of skill in our squad."

Western Province will kick-off the T20 Knock Out competition in Friday's opener against the Lions at the Diamond Oval (10:00).

Parnell admits there are nerves but is excited to see how his squad competes against a strong Lions outfit.

"The objective is always to win and it's also the first competition for the Western Province union again so that's exciting. We can put down a proper mark and take it forward," said the 32-year-old.

"Come Friday, I'll probably be nervous, it doesn't matter how many games I've played. The excitement of wanting to do well, competing and coming back in the South African system and leading the team.

"I've been practising and preparing well, I do take confidence from that and with nerves, you kind of take it."

As South African cricket heads in a new direction with the provincial set-up, Parnell insists that no one is a 

"I'm very excited, having come back from the UK and training with the guys, I'm very impressed," said Parnell.

"In T20 cricket, no one is an underdog even if it's with a smaller union. With the shorter format, it literally takes one guy to come off and he can win the game for his team, we not taking anyone lightly. 

"Looking at the squads, there are some decent names even in the second division with guys who have played franchise cricket before. Every game is going to be important and obviously, Friday's first game is perfect to set up the marker."

Meanwhile, Western Province acting head coach Faiek Davids is optimistic about his squad as WP look to wipe away the Cape trophy drought that has plagued the franchise since 2013.

"We've got fantastic balance and we got a lot of experience in the camp with a couple of newbies in the team. I feel happy and confident with the squad," said Davids, who is a former Western Province player.

"Yes, the cupboard has been empty in terms of trophies, but I'm positive. Yes, it comes with pressure, but that's part of the job and the players know that's what cricket is about.

"I'm excited and I feel we have the squad to obtain our goals."

Western Province suffered an early blow with former Proteas legends Vernon Philander and Hashim Amla withdrawing from the competition.

"To not have the experience of Vern and Hash, yes, it's not ideal, but there's more opportunity for the younger players to step up and make that position their own," added Davids.

Western Province squad:

Wayne Parnell (c), Kyle Verreynne, Aviwe Mgijima, Basheer Walters, Beuran Hendricks, Daniel Smith, Jonathan Bird, Jordan Woolf, Kyle Simmonds, Mihlali Mpongwana, Nandre Burger, Tony de Zorzi, Tshepo Moreki, Yves Kamanzi, Zubayr Hamza

WP CSA T20 Knockout Pool A fixtures:

Friday, 24 September: WP vs Lions - 10:00

Saturday, 25 September: SWD vs WP - 10:00

Sunday, 26 September: Northern Cape Heat vs WP - 14:30

*All matches will be broadcasted live on SuperSport Cricket (Channel 212).

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