Davids: To be back here in Boland is very humbling. Photo: Chris Ricco/BackpagePix

CAPE TOWN – The Bolanders tend to treat legendary former sons with a reverence accorded to gods. Anyone from Marais Erasmus, Louis Koen, Claude Henderson, Henry Williams and the two Charls – Langeveldt and Willoughby – will forever be part of the Boland family. 

And that's not even mentioning royals such as the 'Prince of Paarl ' Justin Ontong and 'King Henry' Davids. So, when Davids was the drafted by the Paarl Rocks for the new Mzansi Super League, there were smiles all the way from Pniel to Pretoria.

'It is great to be back home. Obviously I am living in Pretoria now, so when I fly home, the first thing I always look out for is the Simonsberg mountains. That’s where I come from and it just gives you that warm feeling,' Davids, who has been playing out of the Titans at Centurion the past few years, told Independent Media this week.

'Last week when we trained in Stellenbosch, the driver drove through my home town, Pniel, and I showed the guys my primary school and club field where I used to play. To be back here in Boland is very humbling. Many of the same people when I was still playing here at Boland Park are still working here. To see all those warm smiles and genuine happiness to see me again after all these years really makes you feel like you want to do something special for the new franchise.'

Davids, 38, is of course back in the Boland to lead the union into an entirely modern era. Although Proteas captain Faf du Plessis is the official captain and face of the Paarl Rocks, the success of the new-born franchise will be largely dependent on home-grown heroes like Davids.

Besides the obvious on-field success the team needs to attain, starting tomorrow against AB de Villiers’s Tshwane Spartans, they need the Boland Park community to form a bond with their newly-imported heroes.

'The fans here have always been very passionate about their cricket. The criticism can sometimes be very harsh when you don’t play well (smiles). But that keeps the guys on their toes. They keep you honest,' Davids chirped.

'But what I have learnt over the years is that they enjoy humble cricketers. And our side has plenty of those and they will blend into this environment very quickly. I know for a fact the people will fall in love with the guys very quickly and they will be fully behind us. The support is going to be massive and the 12th man will push us to achieve great things here.'

But having become accustomed to success at the all-conquering Titans over the past few years, does Davids believe the Rocks has the personnel to take the MSL T20 by storm?

'We have a lot of exciting players. There is a lot of youthful talent. Initially we thought there wasn’t enough finishers, but looking at how the training and warm-up games have gone there is enough firepower at the back-end,' the dashing opener said.

'We also have a lot of clever cricketers, and that is important a ground like Boland Park. Often the big-hitters come short because it is big field. It is more a place for clever cricketers, in terms of hitting different areas.'

In Du Plessis, Australian Michael Klinger, Proteas duo Dane Paterson and Aiden Markram there is certainly enough street-smartness within the Rocks line-up. And coupled with the youthful energy of Bjorn Fortuin, Ethan Bosch and Kerwin Mungaroo, the Rocks are ready to make Davids’s homecoming a special time.  

@ZaahierAdams


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