JOHANNESBURG – One intriguing aspect of the Mzansi Super League will be the rivalry between local players contracted to the same domestic franchise but now spread across the country for the MSL.
Players from the Titans, who’ve dominated white-ball cricket in South Africa in recent years, were sought-after commodities at the MSL draft last month with franchises looking for experience and players who know what it takes to win titles.
There are Titans dotted in every squad in the MSL, the most noteworthy being Albie Morkel, the captain at the Durban Heat; Farhaan Behardien, captain of the Cape Town Blitz, and Henry Davids, who will skipper the Paarl Rocks until Faf du Plessis - another Titans player - returns from Down Under with the Proteas.
Throw in AB de Villiers at the Tshwane Spartans and that’s four of the six MSL captains all being on the books at the Titans.
It will, of course, be awkward when they all go up against each other. Titans coach Mark Boucher, wearing his Spartans hat, knows that.
“We have to be very careful, we have to understand that this is not franchise cricket, it’s a completely different competition,” said Boucher ahead of his side’s opening match against the Blitz at Newlands today.
“There are a lot of players that are in different parts of South Africa now, that we will come up against; they are very good players, but that’s the excitement around this League.”
Boucher made an interesting point about a topic that was thrown around local cricket circles last season when there were complaints about the Titans' dominance being bad for South African cricket and that some of the players not being picked should be allowed to get picked up by other sides.
“When we play as the Titans, guys say they want our players spread around the country; now they get spread around the country, I’m asked how I feel about playing against these guys. You can’t win. Personally I hope that a lot of our (Titans) guys have good tournaments, but hopefully not against us.”
The Spartans are missing a host of players for the opening weekend of the tournament, in which they play both of the Western Cape teams. Lungi Ngidi is still with the Proteas, overseas marquee player Eoin Morgan won’t get to Tshwane until the first week of December owing to commitments to a T10 competition in Dubai, and Zimbabwean pair Sikandar Raza and Sean Williams have to travel from Bangladesh after touring there with the national team.
“We’re not even sure if they’ve got their visas sorted yet,” Boucher said.
Still there are some experienced players available. De Villiers is the undoubted star of the competition and scored 93 off 31 balls in a warm-up match this week, while Rilee Rossouw will be available for both games this weekend.
Dean Elgar, Tony de Zorzi and Theunis de Bruyn form a solid top order and Rob Frylinck and Rory Kleinveldt are experienced bowlers.@shockerhess
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