DURBAN – The Mzansi Super League T20 tournament is a month away, and the Durban Heat franchise has the inside track in today’s player draft.
The Kingsmead-based outfit has been handed the opening pick for the overseas marquee player, to open the draft. The list of players consists of England’s Eoin Morgan, Dawid Malan and Jason Roy; Chris Gayle and Dwayne Bravo (West Indies); as well as Rashid Khan of Afghanistan.
Coach Grant Morgan, chief executive Heinrich Strydom and the rest of the Heat’s brains trust have had over a day to think about that initial choice, as well as to speculate how the rest of the draft may play out.
“We started on Monday night, and we have had a few mock drafts,” Strydom explained. “I think it is fair to say that you can only prepare so much, and we have done all we can. We have tried to look at all the possibilities that may come out, but you just never know.”
The nature of player drafts is volatile, and while the Heat may have their ideal team in the back of their mind, they are well aware that they have to be prepared to adapt to the vagaries of a frantic morning.
“It is very exciting, even though it is going into the unknown. It is great that the event is getting closer and closer, and we will look to get the most competitive squad that we can,” Strydom said.
The choice of international player is key, because the Heat at least have control of their destiny for that portion of proceedings.
The all-round potential of Dwayne Bravo cannot be overstated, and he is familiar to Durban.
Bravo remains a significant drawcard in T20 cricket, and he can finish a game with bat and ball. The likes of Gayle, Roy and Morgan are all explosive batsmen, while the intriguing Khan can run through a batting line-up in a spell.
The Heat have spent over a day weighing up their options, and they will get the ball rolling at Montecasino. Beyond that opening pick, however, the rest of the picks remain a proper lottery.
Over 200 players have registered their interest for the tournament, but teams will also have to remember that there are other commitments that will complicate the issue. South African players will miss a chunk while they are on their limited-overs tour of Australia, while some marquee players have commitments in Dubai, before the Mzansi Super League finishes.
All in all, it should be a fascinating morning in Johannesburg, as a massive piece of the jigsaw puzzle takes its rightful place.