PAARL – When Dawid Malan walks around Boland Park, he is still stopped at almost every corner by people working at the stadium who remember the golden-locked schoolboy that debuted here almost 12 years ago.
Malan, of course, grew up just a stone’s throw away from the picturesque Winelands venue, and was educated at the town’s prestigious Paarl Boys’ High School.
That was almost a lifetime ago, though, as Malan left shortly afterwards to pursue a career at Middlesex in the English County Championship, ultimately culminating in 15 Test caps and an Ashes century for the country of his birth.
On Tuesday, though, Malan was back in the Boland Park nets.
Only this time, he won’t play for the local team, but instead at Newlands for neighbours and fierce rivals Cape Town Blitz in the inaugural Mzansi Super League.
“It is really nice to get back to where it all started. It is fantastic to come here,” Malan told Independent Media in an exclusive interview on Tuesday.
“(Newlands) is one of my favourite stadiums in the world. I remember as a kid, sitting there in the Members Stand watching Western Province. It is a fantastic ground, fantastic atmosphere, the home crowd is always fantastic as well.”
Malan, along with two-times West Indies World T20 winner Samuel Badree and Pakistan wildcard Asif Ali, are expected to add a great deal of explosiveness and excitement to a youthful Blitz squad.
Their influence will be even greater in the opening round when the Blitz face off against the Tshwane Spartans at Newlands without their Proteas, which includes captain Farhaan Berhardien, Dale Steyn, Quinton de Kock and Andile Phehlukwayo.
In contrast, the Spartans will come at the Blitz with none other than global superstar AB de Villiers in the tournament opener on November 16.
“I am expecting a really good tournament. Hopefully the tournament comes off really well. From a personal point of view, I hope to score as many runs as possible and win as many games as possible for the Blitz,” Malan said about the MSL T20, before waxing lyrical about De Villiers.
WATCH: "I can still speak Afrikaans," says @CT_Blitz new "Big Dogg" Dawid Malan in an EXCLUSIVE chat with IOL Sport! @dmalan29 @MSL_T20 @IOLsport @mark_keohane @GoodHopeFM @fudgie11 @andileluck19 @dane_piedt63 pic.twitter.com/bLVeZul0vr— Zaahier Adams (@ZaahierAdams) November 6, 2018
“It is always good, though, to have someone like him (De Villiers) playing in the tournament. It lifts the profile of the tournament.
“He is a fantastic player and a legend of the game. For us playing against him, we have a couple of young guys in our team, and it will be a fantastic experience for them.
“Hopefully we can work out some plans and get the better of him on the night.”@ZaahierAdams