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Domestic One Day competition gets underway on Friday; but does anyone care?

Lungi Ngidi of the Titans celebrates after Heinrich Klaasen catches out Grant Mokoena of the Knights during their 2019 Momentum One Day Cup match at SuperSport Park in Centurion on 10 February 2019

Lungi Ngidi of the Titans celebrates after Heinrich Klaasen catches out Grant Mokoena of the Knights during their 2019 Momentum One Day Cup match at SuperSport Park in Centurion on 10 February 2019. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Published Mar 10, 2022

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Johannesburg — Sadly, as with the other domestic competitions the CSA One-Day Cup that starts Friday, is a competition only genuine aficionados of the local game will be interested in following.

Domestic cricket was struggling before the Covid pandemic and nowadays it barely garners any interest. Take for instance Monday’s final day of the domestic Four-Day competition — never mind the lack of spectators — rather the general lack of interest in what was an intriguing final day in what is supposedly the premier first class provincial competition in the country. Just three media companies had reporters on hand to cover it, with no TV, internet or radio at SuperSport Park, where the Titans were crowned champions.

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It’ll be the same with the One-Day Cup, which will take a back seat while Bangladesh tour here, the Women’s World Cup is on the go, there’s club football and local rugby. The biggest news in SA cricket lately is no longer what happens on the field, but instead is a disciplinary hearing and who may or may not appear there, and an arbitration process that has occurred this week involving Cricket SA’s Director of Cricket, Graeme Smith.

But the game — domestically — has to go on, because there does remain a bigger picture for those players with international aspirations or even the desire to attract interest in T20 Leagues, not based in India.

The CSA One-Day Cup, as with the other domestic competitions, takes place sans sponsorship, an indication of the continuing value the local game holds for corporates. Yet for all those problems it remains a foundation, and a critical step for players, targeting international recognition and for the first couple of matches at least, those who’ve already been recognised at the highest level, to build some momentum ahead of the series’ against Bangladesh in the coming weeks.

Therein lies one of the challenges for some teams in the competition. In the case of the Central Gauteng Lions, the availability of Temba Bavuma and Rassie van der Dussen this weekend, boosts a batting line-up that looked frail in the T20 Challenge last month. But what will the Lions do to replace them, once they head into camp for the Proteas on Monday?

The Titans will have a similar issues with Aiden Markram, Lungi Ngidi and Tabraiz Shamsi, although it’s not as big a problem as it is for the Lions, with the Titans showing in the T20 Challenge and even in the Four-Day series, that they have very good depth in their squad.

The Dolphins will lose David Miller to the national team and then the Indian Premier League, but they’ll get back Andile Phehlukwayo for the for the last few rounds of the competition, which could be crucial given that there’ll be no semifinals, just straight qualification for the final for the two teams that top the log.

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Again it will test the back up playing staff, and as was the case for the Four-Day series — that was dominated in the early stages by the Lions — drastic changes could occur in the final rounds of the competition, given how much the team personnel is likely to change.

The likes of Tristan Stubbs and Wihan Lubbe at the Warriors, Donovan Ferreira at the Titans, were lesser known players who earned some recognition at the T20 Challenge and it will be interesting to see how they transition to the longer limited overs format. There will be plenty at stake for them with the national selectors not closing the door entirely on ‘possibles’ for next year’s World Cup.

For the teams it is the final opportunity to claim some silverware from what has been a tricky season, still dominated by ‘bubble life’ but with a sense of normality returning in the latter stages. Cricket’s narrative may be dominated by matters off the field, but the players can still draw attention to what matters most by performing skillfully on it.

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Fixtures:

Friday

Division 1 (starts: 1pm) - North West vs Six Gun Grill WP, Potchefstroom; Imperial Lions vs Gbets Warriors, Imperial Wanderers (matched to be televised by SuperSport); Momentum Multiply Titans vs Gbets Rocks, SuperSport Park.

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Division 2 - Easterns vs Mpumalanga, Willowmoore Park; Limpopo vs KZN Inland, Polokwane

Sunday

Division 1 (starts 10am) - Gbets Rocks vs ITEC Knights, Paarl; Gbets Warriors vs North West, St George’s Park; (start 9.30am) - HollywoodBets Dolphins vs Momentum Multiply Titans, Kingsmead (match to be televised on SuperSport)

Division 2 (start 9.30am) - Mpumalanga vs Border (Eastern Cape), White River

@shockerhess

IOL Sport

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