Colin Ingram, of South African and Warriors fame, is turning out for Afghanistan's Boost Defenders, and the left-handed dynamo is expected to add considerable firepower to his latest franchise.
“It’s really exciting to come into a new tournament with Abu Dhabi Cricket putting this together; it has a Champions League feel about it, with domestic franchises playing at an international venue," an excited Ingram said ahead of the start of the tournament.
The Defenders skipper is no stranger to the Titans, having regularly collided with them in strong performances for the Warriors. His ability to dictate terms in the middle, with the bat, is renowned, and many still feel he could add value at a higher level.
For now, though, he will look at his countrymen as nothing but obstacles preventing him from doing the best job he can for the Defenders.
“The Titans have a really strong side, and a couple of guys that I played against for years. So it’s nice to see them," Ingram said of his latest assignment.
"Out on the field, I’ve gotten to know the Titans brand over the years and they are a highly competitive bunch. They’ll be heading into the competition as favourites."
Naturally, he also fancies the chances of his Afghanistan franchise, and anticipates a great opportunity for the squad to gain some great experience in a very competitive environment.
“It will be a good challenge for Boost Defenders and I’m looking forward to that. Fortunately, a couple of us have bumped heads in the past, so it feels quite familiar. It is obviously a challenge coming together at a late stage, but I think there are opportunities for guys to put their names in the hat for bigger teams and other tournaments," said Ingram.
He has some faces that are rather familiar to him in the Defenders' change-room, too, in the form of Durbanites Cameron Delport and Kyle Abbott.
Naturally, given his batting style and demeanour, Ingram retains a healthy dose of optimism for this inaugural tournament. The underdog tag is one that has always suited him, and the Boost Defenders fall into the same category.
"If one or two players put up their hand, we could really surprise a few people. The exciting part is, is that we’ve got a group of guys who are keen to prove themselves and do well in this tournament," he warned.
The Boost side is packed with Afghanistan internationals, and it is a measure of how far the nation has advanced, especially with increased exposure on the international stage.
“It’s definitely a hungry bunch and in terms of the Afghanistan side to things, we’ve all been following the phenomenal progress Afghanistan cricket has been making. It’s exciting for one of their teams to be in this competition as well.”
Casting his eye across the desert, and trying to forecast what conditions may be like over the weekend, Ingram is hopeful that there will be lots of runs to be had.
“Abu Dhabi wicket is normally unbelievable in terms of a good true
wicket. Over the years, it’s been great to bat here. The field is a little smaller than it used to be and I’m glad they’ve brought it in a bit," he quipped.
Like most things in cricket these days, Ingram admits that the conditions for the tournament are slanted in favour of the willow-wielders.
"It can be tough on the bowlers. Couple that with the heat, and they are really getting a sweat on. They are conditions I’m used to, and I have fond memories of playing here."
Over the next few days, Ingram will be looking to add a few more memories to the bank.
The Defenders get their campaign underway today, when they take on Auckland Aces, before facing the Multiply Titans on Friday night, from 19:00 (17:00 CAT).
Catch all the action live on SuperSport.