We pick five South Africans to keep an eye on during the 2015 IPL season which starts on Wednesday.
1. Albie Morkel
Morkel became a household name in the Indian Premier League on the back of several successful seasons with the Chennai Super Kings. A move to the Royal Challengers Bangalore didn’t last nearly as long, and he has since been picked up by the Delhi Daredevils, whose contingent of South African coaching staff and players at the tournament is unrivaled in number. He will struggle to crack the nod for a first-choice XI blessed with the services of Sri Lankan all-rounder Angelo Mathews, though. ‘I cannot see how I will be in the plans as part of the starting team,’ he conceded recently. ‘I will have to wait for them to offer me an opportunity and, if selected, utilise that properly.’
2. David Wiese
Signed by Bangalore for a whopping R5.4 million, Wiese will need to justify the big spend – and quickly. The company of fellow South Africans AB de Villiers and Rilee Rossouw, who are reasonably well acquainted with the Royal Challengers franchise, will help Wiese settle in soon enough. Australians Sean Abbott and West Indian Darren Sammy will probably be his main competition for a regular berth. Titans coach Rob Walters, in particular, is looking forward to big things from a man who has ‘freed up mentally’ this season. ‘I had been available in previous IPL auctions, but I was never picked up. This IPL contract is the culmination of a lot of hard work,’ Wiese said in February.
3. Kyle Abbott
A Chennai Super Kings seam attack lined with homegrown talent in Asish Nehra, Irfan Pathan, Mohit Sharma and Ishwar Pandey required some international tempering and influence, which Abbott will certainly bring. Afforded the chance to leave the heartache of the World Cup behind and follow in the footsteps of fellow South African Chris Morris, who shot to IPL fame for the Super Kings in 2013 at a significantly larger price, Abbott will relish the opportunity to packet some quick cash – and show the national selectors what they missed during last month’s semi-final in Auckland.
4. Johan Botha
A late pick for the Kolkata Knight Riders, alongside Pakistan’s Azhar Mahmood, in the wake of injury to New Zealander Jimmy Neesham and Australian Chris Lynn, Botha will bring plenty of experience to a squad dotted with youth. The insights and wisdom gained from his time with the Adelaide Strikers in the Big Bash League, too, will help in India. The spinner’s prowess with the bat should not be under-estimated either. He put in plenty of important cameos for the Rajasthan Royals yesteryear. ‘Whenever Shakib Al Hasan is unavailable, Botha will fit in with similar skills,’ revealed KKR chief executive Venky Mysore.
5. JP Duminy
South Africans don’t boast a good track record, if any, in captaining IPL teams. Shaun Pollock’s leadership of the Mumbai Indians several seasons ago was probably the most successful of the lot. Coach Gary Kirsten, however, has seen something in Duminy – and preferred him as skipper ahead of, say, Yuvraj Singh. ‘JP is the right choice to lead the team for the upcoming season. He has the necessary experience and demeanour to take the team forward. I have seen him progress and mature as a player and leader through the years with the South African national team,’ said Kirsten. The Daredevils were captained by Kevin Pietersen in 2014 – and finished stone last, so anything Duminy does will probably be better.