Albie Morkel's Durban Heat was Blitzed by the Cape Town side, losing by three wickets. Photo: @Durban_Heat on twitter

DURBAN – The Durban Heat will regroup after their three-wicket defeat to the Cape Town Blitz in the Mzansi Super League on Sunday. That was the message from skipper Albie Morkel, after his team had recovered from losing three wickets in one Anrich Nortje over, before being blown away by a crazy knock from Asif Ali.

“He did take us by surprise. We didn’t really know who he was, but that is what happens in these competitions. Players put their hands up and get noticed,” Morkel explained.

They had already dealt with a local star coming into full bloom, as Nortje tore into them.

“I knew about Anrich, having played against him in the franchise system for the last two years. He was impressive, and the Cape Town Blitz have made a good start to the tournament,” Morkel said.

Even so, the men from Durban felt that they did let things slip, after they had regained their composure. Morkel led the recovery, with a 45 that picked up where he left off in the warm-up matches at Kingsmead.

He clouted Dale Steyn down the ground with disdain, and looked to be on his way to a significant total, in cahoots with a tidy Khaya Zondo (49 not out).

“After the initial start we had with the bat, we recovered well, and probably had enough runs on the board,” Morkel lamented.

An increasingly wet ball and the sheer power of Ali unnerved them somewhat, and the Heat were left to rue what could have been.

That said, Morkel said he and the rest of his side were thrilled to finally get onto the field as a unit.

“We were probably ready to play on the Friday. That is how keen the guys were to go out there and get going. There is a really good vibe in the team, so we won’t be too down about this defeat,” Morkel said. “It is obviously disappointing to lose, but it is still a long way to go in the competition. We have a few guys coming in to really strengthen us, and we look forward to the Spartans on Wednesday.”

That Tshwane Spartans match will see Morkel come up against several of his regular teammates from the Titans, including the likes of Dean Elgar and AB de Villiers. That has been one of the early stand-outs of the competition so far; the extra needle provided by close buddies coming up against each other on the field.

Morkel, who has played in several T20 tournaments around the world, explained that the importance of the Mzansi Super League cannot be overstated, even at these early stages.

“Just look at what the IPL has done for India. There have been so many youngsters coming through for them, and they could probably pick five international sides now,” he pointed out.

The IPL truly has changed to landscape of cricket, not just in India. It has opened up a market for a new type of cricketer, with hired guns all around the world. Players like Chris Gayle, Dwayne Bravo and Rashid Khan have made a career out of being the star attraction at each tournament they go to, and their presence will also add weight to the Mzansi Super League.

But, before that, the Proteas will be involved from tomorrow. Dale Steyn made his tournament bow against the Heat, and the rest of his teammates landed from Australia yesterday afternoon.

The Heat will get a lift from David Miller and Heinrich Klaasen, while the visiting Spartans welcome Lungi Ngidi into their ranks.

The landscape will change somewhat, because the opening weekend has been characterised by newcomers taking their chance to announce themselves to opponents and to their new audience.

Now, with each team having played at least once, and squads almost at full strength, the rhythm of the competition will take hold, and some teams will start pulling away. The Heat, considered one of the best teams on paper, will want to take that potential onto the park, and inflict a second defeat in three games on the Spartans.

The Heat host the Spartans tomorrow with play starting at 2pm.


The Mercury

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