My 5 New Year cricket wishes ...
1: SA to secure a sponsor and TV rights deal for the Mzansi Super League
Okay, I know Father Christmas has handed out all his gifts already, but I really do hope that the Mzansi Super League secures a lucrative TV and sponsorship deal.
The MSL is a fantastic product. Yes, it needs a few thousand more to come through the gates to be a true spectacle, and with extra funding for marketing and promotion this can hopefully be achieved.
The standard of cricket is of the highest quality, and compares favourably with the best T20 Leagues around the world.
There is also a greater global awareness after MSL 2.0 which will help attract bigger names to the tournament. Such high-profile players demand top dollar, though, and a TV deal is fundamental to securing such signatures.
Equally, CSA can ill-afford to fund the MSL out of their own back pockets as its currently bleeding money.
For all the benefits of having all the matches televised on the national broadcaster in terms of spreading the game and making it accessible to all, it may possibly be time that CSA put their pride in their pockets and begin negotiation with pay channel SuperSport. There is already a concern that SuperSport may offer much less when the new broadcast deal is put on the table due to CSA no longer scheduling a franchise T20 competition outside of the MSL.
2: The Proteas men’s and women’s teams to win their respective T20 World Cups in Australia
Wow! What did this guy have for breakfast have this morning to drift so far away into a fantasy world? It would be great though, wouldn’t it? Everyone felt the “gees” when the Springboks won the Rugby World Cup after 12 years in Japan, and it was just the shot in the arm the nation required.
Now, it is the turn of the Proteas. The women will have first bite at the cherry Down Under in February before the men head south in November.
Dane van Niekerk’s team flattered to deceive at the last T20 World Cup in the Caribbean, but that was heavily influenced by the slower surfaces where pace off the ball and spin were major factors.
The Proteas Women’s team will much prefer the hard and true Australian pitches where the much-feared pace attack will come heavily into the equation along with their hard-hitting batters such as Lizelle Lee, Van Niekerk and Chloe Tryon. Their experience in the Big Bash will also count in their favour. Equally, the men will be desperate to avenge their horrible 50-overs World Cup experience of 2019 and will too be much more at home in Australian conditions.
3: Send the English packing
The world champions are in the country at the moment and are cock-a-hoop too about maintaining their excellent Test record in South Africa that dates back to a last series defeat in Africa back in 1999.
It is a record to be proud of - much like the Proteas’ in Australia over the last decade - and they are armed with a unit that is capable of stretching it further. The recent chaos that has engulfed Cricket SA has been further exploited by their vociferous media contingent.
However, CSA have acted through the appointment of Graeme Smith as Director of Cricket along with Mark Boucher as coach.
The support staff is also filled with international experience with Jacques Kallis (batting), Charl Langeveldt (bowling), Justin Ontong (fielding), and Paul Harris (spin bowling).
They will collectively instill the pride back into the Proteas as Boucher, particularly, hates losing to the English more than most.
4: Zubayr Hamza fulfills his potential
The gradual decline and eventual retirement of Hashim Amla has left a massive void in the Proteas Test batting line-up particularly.
Hamsa has already shown that he has the talent and ability to be successful in two innings of high quality, but he will also know that flashy 40s and 60s is not the recipe to be a successful Test batman.
Hamza already has two high-quality mentors in Amla and Ashwell Prince and now he will also have the opportunity to work with Kallis.
The opportunity is there for the taking, it is now up to Hamza to seize the initiative.
5: The Cobras to win a trophy
Ashwell Prince has done an amazing job in turning around the fortunes of the Newlands-based franchise since taking over two-and-half seasons ago.
The Cape Cobras fell desperately short last season in the Four-Day Franchise Series when the Highveld Lions pipped them with just nine balls remaining in the competition. Due to the success of the Cobras, many of the youngsters have graduated to the Proteas and are seeking to establish themselves at a higher level.This has disrupted the momentum and focus back at the Cobras, and it will be hard task for Prince, who too has graduated to the SA A team, to keep it altogether. However, for what this young group has done together for the past two years they do deserve some form of championship to rubber stamp their quality.