CENTURION – AB de Villiers feels the early days of the Mzansi Super League stands up favourably when compared to the first few years of what is now cricket’s biggest competition, the Indian Premier League.
“The key is comparing it to the start of the other competitions; the IPL didn’t impress me a hell of a lot in the first couple of years – it was okay, but it was also all over the place,” De Villiers said at SuperSport Park on Friday.
The MSL reaches the halfway stage of its inaugural edition this weekend, and the first two weeks have been a mixed start for Cricket South Africa’s attempt to get its foot in the T20 door.
“The IPL we know now is an incredible system, the top (T20) tournament in the world. But it took them 11 years to get there. We’ve got to give (the MSL) a bit of time, the potential is definitely there,” said De Villiers.
“There’s also been some mistakes which CSA will sort out. I see it going from strength to strength.”
Crowd figures at stadiums have and the best largely been poor – the Wanderers has attracted a total of 8 000 people for the first two games played by the Jozi Stars, while the biggest single crowd was for the Paarl Rocks match against the Cape Town Blitz at Boland Park, when just over 7 000 turned up.
Television figures were more encouraging, with over three million tuning into the broadcasts on the opening weekend.
“The people love coming here, the quality of cricket’s been great, and that can get better with more overseas influence in the next few years,” De Villiers remarked.
Most importantly for De Villiers, who’s played 141 matches in the IPL over the last 10 years, has been the exposure the MSL has given to South Africa’s young cricketers.
Our skipper addressing the media ahead of tomorrow’s crucial #MSLT20 encounter against @CT_Blitz. #TSvCTB— Tshwane Spartans (@SpartansMSLT20) November 30, 2018
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“People are talking about guys getting opportunities with the Proteas; Janneman Malan, Tony de Zorzi, Lutho Sipamla, that’s the upside of it – guys get exposure on a global stage, and straight away, you’re talking about getting them to play international cricket, and that’s what the tournament is all about for me.”@shockerhess