Five things the Mzansi Super League needs this week
With the tournament nearing the halfway stage, it needs crowds, crowd-pleasers and a spot of sun
It is the third week of the Mzansi Super League and if the tournament does not grab the attention of fans now that a large number of schools have completed exams‚ it probably never will.
The Nelson Mandela Bay Giants and Cape Town Blitz, who clashed at St George’s Park on Wednesday, have set the pace with playoff spots firmly in their sights.
Here are five things the tournament, which is nearing the halfway stage, needs this week:
1. Overseas stars must amp up their already sparkling performances.
The sight of Australia’s Ben Dunk (Nelson Mandela Bay Giants) happy slapping Jozi Stars’ Duanne Olivier at the Wanderers on Saturday is exactly the reason overseas players take part in such tournaments — to add impact.
The Giants also have Jason Roy in their ranks and he has shown glimpses of what he is capable of. When he does come off‚ there will be fireworks‚ but the Cape Town Blitz have Liam Livingstone (England) and the Pakistani duo of Asif Ali and Wahab Riaz.
James Vince was delightful in his shot-making for the Tshwane Spartans‚ who also have Tom Curran in their ranks.
While Chris Gayle needs to take stock of being humbled by Junior Dala‚ the overseas pros are starting to show their worth. We want more, though.
2. No more rain for Durban Heat.
Rain is forecast for Thursday’s SuperSport Park encounter between the Tshwane Spartans and Durban Heat.
This fixture in Durban was washed out‚ as was another Heat home game. The Heat have played three games‚ lost one, and the weather has intervened in the other two.
The Spartans have also been affected by the weather‚ even though it came to their rescue against the Giants.
Clement weather is needed for this game before anything else can be put forward.
3. Jozi Stars who actually shine.
Four games‚ four defeats and the question is: are these your defending champions?
Donovan Miller and Temba Bavuma have to answer this question on Friday when they play the rising Paarl Rocks.
The game is in Paarl, which has a slow surface, so it’s not going to be easy — and as they showed against the Cape Town Blitz‚ the Rocks have a simple spin formula they stick to.
The Stars’ batting‚ the backbone of 2018’s barnstorming success‚ needs to find its spine in this game or it is curtains for their title defence.
4. More butts on seats
The Saturday game in Port Elizabeth (Nelson Mandela Bay vs Durban Heat at 12.30pm) and Sunday’s provincial derbies at Newlands (Cape Town Blitz vs Paarl Rocks at 10am) and the Wanderers (Jozi Stars vs Tshwane Spartans at 2.30pm)‚ have the potential of being crowd pullers.
If these games do not bring in the crowds‚ then this tournament has a problem.
With log standings as they are‚ there is a lot at stake for these matches. Not even wet weather should be an excuse for staying away.
5. Dala dishing up the goods
SA’s bubbling-under pacemen are asking all the right questions so far. Sisanda Magala’s intelligence at the death is something to behold while Nandre Burger’s changes of pace have been impressive.
Junior Dala, though, is a capped Protea who is bowling with the 2020 T20 World Cup in mind. With that event starting on October 8‚ this could be the last domestic platform for South Africans to show their wares. With explosive pace‚ hostility and intelligence to match‚ Dala is making it count.
There is still a fair way to go in the tournament‚ but there are plenty of places up for grabs, and regardless of who will be the Proteas director of cricket and team director‚ Dala is intent on leaving an unforgettable imprint.