As much as Cape Town desperately needs the rain, it has been a bit miserable of late. Cold and grey like August is down in these parts.
But on Monday at Newlands, the sun was shining out on the splendid old ground like it was the heart of December. There were fresh bright colours – purple, pink and gold – being masqueraded alongside the flash new owners from India’s very own Tinseltown.
Under the watch of Table Mountain looking down in all its glorious might, the Cape Town Knight Riders were being unveiled. It was a time for new beginnings.
It was not all out with the old and in with the new, though. Among the novel introductions were a few familiar faces, most notably two of Newlands’ favourite sons Jacques Kallis and JP Duminy, who will occupy the roles of head coach and captain respectively.
Coincidentally, it is the start of a new chapter in the careers of Kallis and Duminy too. For “JK” it will be the first time he sits in the coaching box at a ground where he virtually holds all the national Test records, while Duminy will finally get to be his own man and lead his own team.
Duminy has captained sides before – the Delhi Daredevils in the IPL and even the Proteas – but this will be more than just getting a group of players from all around the world playing together cohesively, but also about getting the sport-loving public of Cape Town to adopt the Knight Riders as their own, starting with the much-anticipated T20 Global League opener against the Pretoria Mavericks on November 3.
“When you get an opportunity to lead, you lead from a point of serving. That’s my mantra when it comes to leading. It is a privilege to lead a group of people,” Duminy said.
“Cape Town is a community that buys very quickly into good performances, and then they’re very loyal. I have always enjoyed playing in front of the Cape Town faithful. The people always come out and support. Putting in performances will be our biggest drawcard.”
The timing could not be better as well. For all of Duminy’s struggles in the longest format of the game, the 33-year-old remains one of the world’s premier T20 players.
He is the leading T20 run-scorer for the Proteas with 1 683 at an average of 38.25, and has nine years of IPL experience playing for the Mumbai Indians, Deccan Chargers, Sunrisers Hyderabad and Delhi Daredevils.
Leading the Knight Riders also has the potential to bring out all the left-hander’s wonderful qualities, who at his best dines at the same table with the world’s greatest batsmen.
“I’m certainly excited about it. I don’t want to harp on too much about the past. We all go through ups and downs in our career. I am quite excited about the opportunity to lead the team,” Duminy said.
“For some reason, I always feel it brings the best out of me when I’m handed extra responsibility. It works for me. It takes the focus off of me as a player. I enjoy focusing on getting the team to perform to the best of its ability.”
Duminy will certainly bring the highest work ethic and selflessness to the team ethos of the Knight Riders culture.
Over the 10 years of being an international cricketer, Duminy was always the one Proteas batsman prepared to bat anywhere in the line-up and bowl in the powerplay when others refused.
There is a reason why he is known as the “ultimate team man” in the Proteas environment.
It is this attitude that will hopefully rub off on the young players in the Knight Riders, specifically the precociously talented Cape Town rookie Jason Smith, who was picked up in the player draft on Sunday.
“I believe he’s got the talent to be a really good cricketer. He’s made his SA A debut. He hasn’t done really well yet, but he’s still very young kid.
“But this is a real opportunity for him to showcase his talent. There is no better platform for him,” said Duminy, who batted with Smith on his Cape Cobras debut when the youngster smashed a half-century.
“He’s not quite there yet, but he definitely has the capabilities. If he makes sure he puts in the hard work and does the right things, anything can happen for him. I already said after that game he is going to play for South Africa.”