IOL Sport writer, Lungani Zama.
It turns out the rock in Paarl Rocks stood for their party side, and not just the mountains that surrounded their Pearl Valley base.

Deep into a most frustrating Friday for the men led by Faf du Plessis, they were dancing to DJ Dwayne Bravo’s time, “Champion”.

There, in the heart of their disappointment at not even being able to play for the chance of making the Mzansi Super League final, they still found the sense of occasion to enjoy their last assignment together.

Even team manager Jeremy ‘The Rhino’ Fredericks got in on the act, gyrating as if he was in a Prince music video. It was hilarious, and it was telling that the Rocks themselves were laughing loudest.

In sport, it is often the teams that don’t take themselves too seriously that thrive. That ability is even more pertinent in a new franchise, which has been the case for this new competition on our shores.

The sooner a new squad develops what Afrikaners refer to as ‘gees’, the better their chances of going a long way, even in new events.

A lot may have to do with Paarl’s choice of leader, because there was a noticeable shift in fortunes once the national captain had the reins.

As Du Plessis himself stated, his team were playing their very best cricket at the business end of the tournament, and that is generally what is required to win these things.

We will never know if the final would have been a Cape derby, with the fast starting Blitz meeting the momentum-building Rocks.

More’s the pity that there was no reserve day, but these are the teething problems that all these tournaments initially go through.

Early summer in South Africa is prone to afternoon showers, and the non-negotiable stance on overs being immediately lost hurts the consumer.

And the players. No one wins, so those kinds of things have to be addressed.

And that must be the main point of the tournament, for people to feel compelled to head down to the ground. It has become a lost culture in South Africa, and one that must surely be reinvigorated.

I chanced upon Wanderers and Centurion in midweek, and the atmosphere was partisan. Perhaps it is a combination of the start of holidays as well as the last of the league matches - a final glimpse of a decent cast list. Whatever it was, the signs are promising for 2019 and beyond.

The reputation of early November has been replaced by relief and then a higher resetting of the bar.

There are enquiries from overseas about being involved, and corporates who were twitchy are now looking at going to the negotiating table in the new year.

It is just a pity that Friday night, with over 10000 holiday-mood fanatics marching towards the Bullring, was a damp squib.

Everything was in place, and the collective groan when the heavens opened was genuine.

Credit to Paarl for taking it on the chin. The foundation has been laid for future editions, but those glitches might not be accepted with a song and change-room dance in future.

There is a lot at stake in these tournaments, even beyond the prize money.

Just think, there are a few names which the wider public of South Africa had no idea about a month ago, and they are now being discussed as outside chances for the World Cup squad.

Who would have thought ...


Sunday Tribune

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