Cape Town — The Rocks have painted the South African cricket landscape pink and purple again after their T20 Challenge triumph in Gqeberha, but captain Pieter Malan believes the best is yet to come.
The Rocks are a new addition to the South African first-class system after the six-team franchise system was disbanded at the end of last season when the domestic structure was reverted to provincial unions.
The six major provinces were included in Division 1 along with the Rocks (Boland) and North West in the expanded eight team league.
The (Paarl) Rocks were formerly only a T20 franchise that competed in the Mzansi Super League, while Boland was a semi-professional union.
But due to the success the Paarl Rocks achieved by winning the last MSL title in 2019, the brand was carried through to the new system.
It has not been an easy transition though in the first year with the Rocks having to formulate a new squad from scratch while losing batting coach Saliegh Nackerdien to neighbours Western Province just before the start of the season.
But the Rocks have perserved through some shrewd signings of their own in the Malan brothers Janneman and captain Pieter. They have also not been afraid to mix the experience of veterans such as Ferisco Adams, Shaun von Berg and Hardus Viljoen alongside SA u19 rookies Michael Copeland and Valentine Kitime.
The importantance of therefore winning the T20 Challenge goes beyond simply the R1million prize money, but is rather fundamental to the people of the Boland region who are relishing the fact they once again have a team to be proud of.
"It's a fantastic feeling to have won this tournament. The support that we have got throughout and before the final was just immense. The amount of people who wanted us to pull through and win it for them was fantastic. It was a proper team effort," Pieter Malan said.
"Our bowling unit stepped up and there were batters who did in certain situations. I am extremely proud of all the guys."
The Rocks captain was the tournament's leading run-scorer with 368 runs at an average of 46, which was puntuated by a brilliant 71 in the 15-run victory over the Titans in the final.
The team's achievements were more important for Malan as he believes his charges are capable of achieving a lot more in South African cricket.
"All of that (personal achievements) doesn't mean nothing if the team doesn't do well. For the team to rally around and just follow in pressure situations has been so satisfying," he said.
"I am pretty new in the captaincy role in Paarl so to achieve early on is fantastic. I do think though that there is still a lot of work to be done. I think throughout the tournament we did not play our best cricket which is why I think there is still a lot more in the tank."