Jozi Stars stick with a trusted core for Mzansi Super League
JOHANNESBURG – For the Jozi Stars, holding onto eight members of last year’s victorious Mzansi Super League squad was a “no brainer”.
With the team’s new coach, Donovan Miller, dialing in from England, where is still working with the home team in the Ashes series as part of the back-room staff, it was left to assistant coach Wandile Gwavu to fill in six names on the Stars’ squad sheet at yesterday’s draft, held at the Walter Sisulu Square in Soweto.
“We won the competition, and the bulk of those players were vital in us building a very good change-room environment. It was a no-brainer,” said Gwavu about the reason the Stars retained eight players from last season, the most retentions among the six teams for this year’s MSL, which starts on November 8.
It’s hard to argue. Rassie van der Dussen and Reeza Hendricks were among the leading run-scorers in the inaugural competition, while Kagiso Rabada and Duanne Olivier formed a potent new ball attack. Chris Gayle returns as the overseas marquee player keen to make up for not fulfilling his full contract last year when he had to leave early following the death of his mother.
Australian all-rounder Dan Christian is an experienced player, who certainly underscored his value last year, while the young duo Ryan Rickelton, who played superbly at the top of the order and Sinethemba Qeshile were too valuable to let go.
In Qeshile’s case, the lessons he learned while a non-playing member of the squad last year, were applied so well later in the season when he returned to the Warriors franchise in the Eastern Cape, that he earned himself a call up to the South African T20 side at the back end of last season.
It also meant the Stars could let go their captain from last season Dane Vilas, who was picked up by the Durban Heat.
“Sine’s one of the best keepers in the country I believe,” said Gwavu.
“Rickelton bats in the top 3 and can keep and while Dane captained the team very well, and we were very thankful for the job he did, change is never a bad thing.
“We’ve got that wicket-keeping spot covered and it’s a great opportunity to give the leadership role to someone else this season.”
Yesterday’s draft was notable for the number of big names, both local and international who weren’t picked.
While Hashim Amla had withdrawn his name from the draft list a few days ago, the likes of Dane Piedt, Senuran Muthusamy, Dane Paterson and Kyle Verrynne all went undrafted.
Liam Plunkett, Mohammed Amir and Imad Wasim were also ignored.@shockerhess