JOHANNESBURG - The six squads picked for the Mzansi Super League could still look very different when the tournament starts in just under a month’s time.
Yesterday's draw went off largely without drama - only twice were teams prevented from making picks after the players in question were chosen below the “reserve price” they had forwarded.
However, the absence in the T20 tournament initially of the Proteas, as well as many of the big-name overseas players, means teams will be allowed to sift through a list of players not drafted to fill spots until the star names return.
The likes of Faf du Plessis, Chris Morris, Quinton de Kock and Kagiso Rabada will be with the Proteas in Australia and will only be available from around November 19 - three days after the tournament starts.
Teams will have to approach the League Advisory Committee to draft a new player, meaning the likes of David Wiese, who was picked under his “reserve price” by the Paarl Rocks and thus wasn’t drafted, can be available to the team while the likes of Du Plessis, Tabraiz Shamsi and international marquee player Dwayne Bravo complete their commitments elsewhere.
The tournament has suffered from a loss of some really big names, with players who have signed for the Dubai T10s tournament - like Bravo, Chris Gayle, Eoin Morgan and Jason Roy - not available for the MSL until December 4.
Morris, as was the case last year when the T20 Global League draft took place, was picked first by the Nelson Mandela Bay Giants, who had the first pick, and was one of six players in the first round picked up for R1 million.
“I wasn’t expecting it this year, and to go first two years in a row is quite a special feeling. I was streaming it in the car on the way here and I was quite taken aback,” said the 31-year-old all-rounder.
“Everyone is excited. Cricket SA have needed a tournament like this for a while, for us its an opportunity to stamp our authority on world cricket. It’s a perfect platform for youngsters to show what they can do,” said Morris.
Many of the coaches and managers spent a stressful Tuesday night poring over their options. Durban Heat coach Grant Morgan admitted he and the new franchise’s management staff conducted 10 mock drafts ahead of the event, but it was worth it as he got close to what he wanted.
The NMB Giants got “90 to 95 percent” of the players they wanted, according to assistant coach Shafiek Abrahams, with the selection of English wicketkeeper-batsman Ben Duckett a major coup. The powerful left-hander who has a strike rate of 133.25 is one of the few international players available for the entire tournament. Duckett was picked up in the sixth round and at R350,000 is certainly a bargain.
Among the players for whom the draft will be a significant lift for their finances is Dyllan Matthews, a 21-year-old leg-spinner who went to Wynberg Boys High in Cape Town and now players for Easterns, who went in round 11 for R120,000 to the Giants.
Among some of the surprises was the Tshwane Spartans’ decision to allow Albie Morkel - the captain of the Titans and one of the most experienced T20 players in the world - to get away from them, with the Heat picking him up in round six.