Johannesburg - That short first burst of the Four-Day Series is over, three matches for most teams and now the premier first class competition will not to be seen again until February, by which time the landscape of domestic cricket would have irrevocably changed.
The first part of the already brief Four-Day competition, saw four teams play three matches, while the Lions and the Dolphins played two. The Warriors, oft-forgotten, but laden with young talent, top the log having won all three of their matches. They’re followed in second place by Western Province, who appear to be in the midst of a revival thanks to an experienced top order and four-pronged pace attack, led by veterans and also charged with the left-arm pace of Nandre Burger.
Not far behind are the grizzled Titans, the defending champions for whom Dean Elgar, Theunis de Bruyn and Heinrich Klaasen have starred with the bat, while Simon Harmer continues to deliver ridiculous returns with his off-spin.
By the time the tournament resumes on February 12, a lot would have happened in South African cricket and the three-match Test series in Australia would not have been the most noteworthy bit.
Instead the SA20 League will hoover up attention - and players - with what is likely to be a loud and colourful start. In fact that has already been the case, what with David Miller dancing along with Sho Madjozi, to Pharrell Williams’ ‘Happy,’ in one promo ad while former Springbok captain Jean de Villiers features in another, skipping down the stairs of the Unity Stand at the Wanderers in a yellow party hat and a poncho.
Tony de Zorzi’s triple hundred would have been long forgotten at the resumption, as would Harmer’s 14-wicket haul for the Titans in their win against the DP World Lions at the Wanderers.
The first few rounds of the Four-Day series would have eased some of the Proteas’ interim coach, Malibongwe Maketa’s concerns about the team’s batting ahead of the series against Australia.
As Elgar said on Sunday, the gap between domestic and Test cricket means comparing the two is impossible, but what he, Kyle Verreynne, Klaasen, De Bruyn, Sarel Erwee and Rassie van der Dussen needed, was time at the crease to build confidence.
Although Van der Dussen didn’t make big runs in his two outings, the opportunity to bat after fracturing his finger in England was invaluable.
Little was seen of the seam bowlers; Lungi Ngidi struggled at the Wanderers, but Marco Jansen picked up six wickets for the Warriors in their win against the North West Dragons. Kagiso Rabada was given time off to manage his workload, while Anrich Nortje has been playing in the Abu Dhabi T10 League.
Aside from the Proteas, the opening rounds of matches shone a spotlight on a couple of young batters; Josh Richards who scored an excellent century for the Lions against the Titans and even more impressively Jordan Hermann at the Warriors, who has the second highest aggregate of 432 runs, behind De Zorzi’s 467.
The big problem for younger batters - in fact all the country’s professional players - is the limited number of opportunities to play first class cricket.
Neither Richards nor Hermann were picked up in the auction for the SA20, although the latter may feature as one of the wild card picks given his good performances in the CSA T20 Challenge in Potchefstroom recently.
TOP RUN SCORERS (Division 1)
T. De Zorzi (WP) - 467 runs. Highest Score: 304*. Average: 233.50. 2x100
J. Hermann (War) - 432 runs. Highest Score: 187. Average: 86.40. 1x100, 2x50
H. Klaasen (Ttn) - 361 runs. Highest Score: 292. Average: 118.50. 1x100, 1x50
M. Breetzke (War) - 329 runs. Highest Score: 112*. Average: 65.80. 1x100, 2x50
K Verreynne (WP) - 292 runs. Highest Score: 201*. Average: 146.00. 1x100, 1x50
TOP WICKET-TAKERS (Division 1)
S. Harmer (Ttn) - 20 wickets. Best (inns): 7/68. Average: 18.40. 2x5-fer, 1x10-fer
B. Swanepoel (War) - 13 wickets. Best (inns): 4/19. Average: 14.46
D. Paterson (WP) - 11 wickets. Best (inns): 3/20. Average: 11.54
B Hendricks (WP) - 11 wickets. Best (inns): 4/16. Average: 12.54
R. Meyer (NW) - 10 wickets. Best (inns): 5/90. Average: 23.30. 1x5fer.