The Mzansi Super League is set to enthrall South African cricket fans from Friday, when the Cape Town Blitz take on the Tshwane Spartans at Newlands.
We’ve heard a lot about all the star players that will grace Mzansi’s fields, from AB de Villiers to Chris Gayle, but who the men who will put the plans in place to win the games?
Here are the six coaches of the MSL teams…
Cape Town Blitz: Ashwell Prince
The former Proteas middle-order batsman has seen and done it all on the field, having played for Eastern Province and then later moving to Cape Town. Now head coach of the Cape Cobras, Prince will hope for better luck in the MSL T20 after last year’s RamSlam T20 semi-final against the Dolphins was washed out.
Paarl Rocks: Adrian Birrell
Birrell was the long-standing right-hand man of Russell Domingo at the Warriors and the Proteas, but now he’s the man in charge.
Renowned as a batting coach, Birrell will be keen to get the most out of Proteas captain Faf du Plessis, and a number of other top-quality batsmen such as Cameron Delport, Henry Davids and Vaughn van Jaarsveld.
Head Coach, Adrian Birrell is happy with the team's progress after 2 wins in 2 over the @CT_Blitz last night and the night before but says there's still some work to be done. #PaarlRocks #MSLT20 pic.twitter.com/SwdY6rZOh0— Paarl Rocks (@Paarl_Rocks) November 14, 2018
Nelson Mandela Bay Giants: Eric Simons
Simons is a vastly experienced coach, and even though he hasn’t been involved in a major capacity in South Africa in recent years, he has kept abreast of developments in T20 cricket at the IPL – most recently as a bowling consultant for champions Chennai Super Kings.
A former Proteas head coach and India assistant coach, Simons has a strong bowling line-up headed by Imran Tahir and Chris Morris at the Giants, but will hope to get enough runs out of the likes of Jon-Jon Smuts, Christiaan Jonker and Jason Roy.
Durban Heat: Grant Morgan
Morgan would’ve wished he had such a well-rounded squad in his day job as the Dolphins coach.
Not only is Hashim Amla the Proteas marquee player, but he has had a Titans injection in the shape of captain Albie Morkel, Heinrich Klaasen and former Titan Marchant de Lange.
Other big names include David Miller, Kyle Abbott, Keshav Maharaj, Vernon Philander and the world’s best T20 bowler, Afghanistan spinner Rashid Khan.
The biggest challenge for Morgan, perhaps, will be to get the starting XI just right. And having lost to the Titans in last season’s RamSlam, Morgan will want to go one step further and take the inaugural MSL title.
Jozi Stars: Enoch Nkwe
Nkwe only took over from Geoffrey Toyana at the start of the season at the Lions, so is brand-new to this level of cricket as a head coach.
He has, though, been an assistant coach with the Netherlands national team and the Proteas Women side.
Nkwe has the batting arsenal, but who will take the wickets or keep the runs down in the field?
Chris Gayle, Reeza Hendricks, Dane Vilas, Rassie van der Dussen and Pite van Biljon make up a powerful line-up, but Kagiso Rabada is the only exceptional bowler. Nkwe will hope that the support crew of Duanne Olivier, Beuran Hendricks, Dwaine Pretorius and Simon Harmer will come to the party alongside Rabada.
Tshwane Spartans: Mark Boucher
Long-serving Proteas wicket-keeper Boucher started coaching as a consultant for the Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL, and was appointed Titans coach in 2016.
The trophies have flowed in at Centurion, but considering the riches that the Titans have in playing personnel, the playing fields are more level in the Mzansi Super League.
Boucher will rely on AB de Villiers to call the shots on the field, but apart from Proteas paceman Lungi Ngidi, there might be a bit of star quality lacking.
But there is a lot of experience in the shape of Dean Elgar, Rory Kleinveldt, Robbie Frylinck, Theunis de Bruyn and Rilee Rossouw, so Boucher’s Spartans are sure to fight hard for playoff spots.@ashfakmohamed