And that’s not even mentioning royals such as the ‘Prince of Paarl' Justin Ontong and ‘King Henry’ Davids. So, when Davids was drafted by the Paarl Rocks for the new Mzansi Super League, there were smiles all the way from Pniel to Pretoria.
“It is great to be back home. Obviously I am living in Pretoria now, so when I fly home, the first thing I always look out for is the Simonsberg mountains. That’s where I come from and it just gives you that warm feeling," Davids, who has been playing out of the Titans at Centurion the past few years, told Independent Media this week.
“Last week when we trained in Stellenbosch, the driver drove through my home town, Pniel, and I showed the guys my primary school and club field where I used to play. To be back here in Boland is very humbling. Many of the same people when I was still playing here at Boland Park are still working here. To see all those warm smiles and genuine happiness to see me again after all these years really makes you feel like you want to do something special for the new franchise."
Davids, 38, is of course back in the Boland to lead the union into an entirely modern era. Although Proteas captain Faf du Plessis is the official captain and face of the Paarl Rocks, the success of the new-born franchise will be largely dependent on home-grown heroes like Davids.
Besides the obvious on-field success the team needs to attain, starting tomorrow against AB de Villiers’s Tshwane Spartans, they need the Boland Park community to form a bond with their newly-imported heroes.
“The fans here have always been very passionate about their cricket. The criticism can sometimes be very harsh when you don’t play well (smiles). But that keeps the guys on their toes. They keep you honest," Davids chirped.
In Du Plessis, Australian Michael Klinger, Proteas duo Dane Paterson and Aiden Markram there is certainly enough street-smartness within the Rocks line-up to be competitive. And coupled with the youthful energy of Bjorn Fortuin, Ethan Bosch and Kerwin Mungaroo, the Rocks are ready to make Davids’s homecoming a special time.
Independent on Saturday