JOHANNESBURG – Sadly for the Jozi Stars, Chris Gayle’s entertainment was all too brief at the Wanderers on Saturday.
The self-anointed ‘Universe Boss’ is on a flight to Dubai on Sunday, not to be seen around these parts for two weeks.
By the time he returns, the Stars will have their Proteas back and based on this display, they’ll need them after the Joburg side lost by five wickets to the Nelson Mandela Bay Giants in the second match of the Mzansi Super League on Saturday night.
Quite how many extra seats Gayle’s presence helped sell, we’ll never know.
Only 4 896 came through the turnstiles, a disappointing figure but understandable, given the lack of publicity around the Mzansi Super League and that there were a few other events going on around town this weekend – Bafana Bafana at FNB Stadium and a bike race on Sunday that likely meant many chose to sleep-in – didn’t help.
The atmosphere itself was loud, although not on account of the crowd.
For whatever reason, the marketing group behind the Jozi Stars chose to put a DJ they had hired to entertain the crowd up against a band with trumpets and drums.
T20 atmospheres are supposed to be loud, but this was ridiculous.
The band may have had a hand in Heino Kuhn’s dismissal too, striking up into some attempt at a tune just as Eddie Leie was in his gather, and Kuhn dragged the ball on to his stumps.
Nevermind, though, for by that stage, the visiting Nelson Mandela Bay Giants had this match well under control.
That was thanks firstly to an excellent effort with the ball, led by opening bowler Junior Dala, which was then backed up by superb slow bowling from Jon-Jon Smuts and Aaron Phangiso.
That spinning strategy was very reminiscent of the one employed by the domestic franchise team from the Eastern Cape, the Warriors, and it has proved mighty effective for them in recent seasons.
It helped that neither Phangiso nor Smuts had to bowl at Gayle.
He was gone just as he looked like he was about to set the place alight, hitting Ryan McLaren for a six, followed by two fours, before the veteran all-rounder got one right in the block-hole, trapping Gayle lbw for 23.
The big Jamaican struck four fours and a six.
Phangiso and Smuts bowled eight overs on the trot between them, conceding a combined 40 runs and picking up four wickets, while Dala finished with 1/19 from four overs in which he cleverly mixed up pace and length as the Stars scored just 124/7 in their 20 overs.
The most entertaining batting of the game was produced by Englishman Ben Duckett for the Giants.
More famous in recent times for pouring a pint of beer over Jimmy Anderson’s head in a Perth bar – a move that got him sent home from an England A tour – the stocky 24-year-old proved just why his drafting by the Giants was such a cunning move with an innovative and aggressive innings.
Clearly inspired by his national teammates’ efforts on Friday in the Test against Sri Lanka, where they liberally utilised the sweep, Duckett was getting down on bended knee and sweeping Dan Christian from a metre outside off-stump over backward square for four, and then reverse-sweeping Leie’s leg-spin for six.
He was dismissed with the Giants 16 runs short of victory, scoring 75 off only 45 balls, and hitting five fours and five sixes, and the Port Elizabeth team reached 127/5 at the end of the 18th over.@shockerhess