Independent Media cricket writer Zaahier Adams takes a look at five key components that drove the Jozi Stars to the inaugural Mzansi Super League title at Newlands on Sunday...
1 High risk, high reward
The Jozi Stars have played an attacking brand of cricket throughout the competition. Even when they were under pressure, they never retreated.
Instead of going on the defensive, they stuck to their attacking mindset and came out swinging – often literally.
The round-robin match against the Blitz was a particular case in point, when despite being restrained in the first 10 overs, they counter-attacked by blasting over 130 runs in the second half of the innings.
“From the start, here at the Jozi Stars, we wanted to create that environment where the guys could be themselves and could easily express themselves. And I am just proud of the way the guys responded in terms of the brand of cricket the guys played,” said coach Enoch Nkwe.
2 Top-order runs
Regardless of the format, any successful team requires their top-order to score the bulk of the team’s runs. Even with a misfiring Chris Gayle, the Stars still boasted the two leading run-scorers in the tournament.
Reeza Hendricks returned from Australia in the form of his life, striking successive centuries midway through the competition.
Equally, Rassie van der Dussen just grew in stature the longer the tournament progressed, while youngster Ryan Rickelton impressed all the way through.
The top-order’s habitual positive starts allowed the middle-order to play with a great deal of freedom and expression.
3 Trusting the spinners
Although Jozi Stars had a pace attack consisting of Kagiso Rabada, Beuran Hendricks and Duanne Olivier, it was the intelligent use of their spin contingent that caught the opposition off guard.
Initially Eddie Leie was a revelation, bowling with all the confidence and pizzazz that saw him earn Proteas’ selection a few seasons ago. And after Leie was benched, the Stars utilised Simon Harmer intelligently.
The off-spinner was often used with the new ball, and the way he bowled in the final with the new ball was particularly impressive.
4 Wild card Pongolo
It is almost inconceivable to think that Nono Pongolo was meant to be behind the microphone for the Mzansi Super League. But a freak accident to Alfred Mothoa opened the door for Pongolo’s participation.
The Bishops old boy certainly took his chance with both hands, winning matches with both bat and ball in spectacular fashion.
His 6/20 against the Tshwane Spartans was the tournament’s best figures, while few will forget his two sixes off the final two deliveries against the Durban Heat at Kingsmead.
And just to cap off a great tournament, Pongolo took a brilliant catch on the boundary to dismiss Blitz skipper Farhaan Behardien in the final.
5 Dan the Man
Everyone expected Chris Gayle to be the main overseas drawcard for the Jozi Stars, but it was the Australian Dan Christian that entertained.
He was equally adept with bat and ball, often making telling contributions when his team needed it most.