The RamSlam T20 Challenge starts this weekend, and after the collapse of the T20 Global League, it can’t come at a better time for cricket-starved fans.
Stuart Hess, Zaahier Adams and Lungani Zama pick two key men to watch in each team.
Highveld Lions (Stuart Hess)
Rassie van der Dussen – He has refined his game in the last few seasons and tightened his defence. Getting the balance between his natural attacking flair and anchoring the innings will be vital for the Lions to achieve big totals.
Dwaine Pretorius – One of the most consistent performers on the domestic scene, he’s rightly been recognised at international level. Now an experienced campaigner and his all-round skills are crucial in providing the team with balance.
Titans (Stuart Hess)
Quinton de Kock – A special player who in the blink of an eye can rip a game away from the opposition. Still plays with a delightful, carefree spirit. He puts bums on seats.
Tabraiz Shamsi – Hasn’t played enough this season owing to injuries, but is always a threat in this format, with his variety – in terms of spin and pace. A great counter-balance to all that pace in the Titans attack.
Cape Cobras (Zaahier Adams)
Dane Paterson – The 28-year-old seamer will want – and possibly need – to show what he has learnt during the last year playing international cricket.
The Cobras will rely on him to strike with the new ball before returning to showcase his renowned death-bowling skills. There were times last season when he “over-thought”, but Paterson will look to deliver those famed yorkers of his once more.
Temba Bavuma – Although a stalwart of the Proteas Test side, Bavuma has not quite worked out a consistently successful game plan for white-ball cricket yet, particularly the shortest format.
This T20 Challenge provides the perfect platform for the little man from Langa to prove that he should not be boxed in as a “one-format” player.
He will also add a great deal of athleticism to the Cobras fielding unit, so be sure to look for some electrifying stops and run-outs.
Warriors (Zaahier Adams)
Jon-Jon Smuts – The leading run-scorer in last season’s competition with 371 runs at 41.22, at a blistering strike-rate of 144.34, clearly indicates that Smuts is the Warriors’ “gun” player.
His runs will be crucial to the Warriors having any chance of replicating last season’s success that not only propelled the team to the final, but also earned the 29-year-old six T20I caps over the last year. A useful left-arm spinner too, as he claimed nine wickets in last season’s campaign.
Sisanda Magala – Blessed with a strapping physique for a fast-medium bowler, Magala delivers a heavy ball. This helps particularly during the death overs, where he routinely operates. Armed with a good yorker too and a deceptive slower ball, the 26-year-old does have all the skills to keep batsmen at bay at the crucial end of an innings.
Having played a few seasons of franchise cricket now too, and a couple of South Africa ‘A’ matches, he does have the experience for the big occasion.
Knights (Lungani Zama)
David Miller – The Proteas’ sledgehammer is coming in hot, having made a blitzkrieg century against Bangladesh recently, demonstrating the power that is so feared in his game.
If Miller can get going, the Knights know that no game is truly out of reach, because he can clear any boundary. He has settled in well at his adopted home, and wants nothing more than another trophy in the cabinet.
Ryan McLaren – With experience, dependability and perhaps with a point to prove, McLaren is a very handy man for the Knights to have in the sheds. The former Proteas all-rounder made a name for himself bowling at the death on the county scene, and that skill will be vital to the cause in Bloemfontein. He can certainly bat, too.
Dolphins (Lungani Zama)
Cody Chetty – The rubber-wristed right-hander scores in unusual areas, and seems to have gathered his thoughts and focused on having a big season this term.
He has made a great start to the season, and has been a regular contributor for the Dolphins in white-ball cricket. This may be his season to take centre stage.
Robbie Frylinck – His recent cap for the Proteas was fully deserved, and the Dolphins will look to Frylinck to be the talisman, especially with his bag of tricks in the ‘death overs’. Never shirks the pressure points, and his cavalier batting remains a threat down the order, alongside the likes of Maharaj and Phehlukwayo.