DURBAN – It was a world away from the previous year’s Draft,which happened at the plush Westin Hotel in central Cape Town. And, there may even have been fewer bright lights, fewer cameras and even less star power.
In every way, it was a world away from the T20 Global League disaster of 2017. The Mzansi Super League Draft, held at Montecasino in Gauteng, saw the six franchises pluck the rest of their 16-man squads, adding to the marquee player that each had announced last week.
The Durban Heat started things off, and they made their intentions crystal clear. Rashid Khan was the first overseas player snapped up, and the Durbanites were glad to have him and his extensive web of tricks.
Across the way, the Tshwane Spartans took English ODI captain Eoin Morgan, the Rocks of Paarl will have Dwayne Bravo as resident DJ, Chris Gayle will enjoy the bright lights of Sandton and surrounds, Dawid Malan is heading to Newlands and its mountain, while Jason Roy will take his kamikaze batting to the windy city, for the Nelson Mandela Bay Giants.
As has become custom at player auctions in South Africa, Chris Morris became the million (rand) man, as he was the first player out of the hat. Morris will play in Port Elizabeth, alongside Imran Tahir and Roy.
Up country, the Spartans have a liberal spread of Titans in their ranks, led by the rested AB de Villiers and revved up by the relentless Morgan.
Across the Jukskei, Kagiso Rabada and the Jozi Stars will be the epitome of cool. The King of Cool himself, Gayle, will surely be good for at least a few crazy knocks.
Cape Town Blitz have plenty of star power in the tank, with Quinton de Kock and Dawid Malan upfront, Samuel Badree flying in, Dale Steyn fit and firing, and smart cricketers like Farhaan Behardien, Malusi Siboto and Asif Ali in tow.
Faf du Plessis is the man in Paarl, and he has a potent middle-order to take advantage of the feather-bed pitches that are the staple in wine country. Bravo, Vaughn van Jaarsveld, Aiden Markram, Mangaliso Mosehle and the hired gun, Cameron Delport, provide plenty of striking intent. Add the wiles of Tabraz Shamsi, and some young pacemen to assist the overseas pro, and Paarl will be entraining.
The dark horses of the contest, however, may well be the Durban Heat. A hearty dollop of local flavour - David Miller, Keshav Maharaj, Khaya Zondo, Morne van Wyk, Sarel Erwee, Kyle Abbott (remember him) and, of course, Hashim Amla - will show Rashid around town, and then Big Vernon Philander, Temba Bavuma, Albie Morkel, Marchant de Lange and Heinrich Klaasen bring plenty of international pedigree.