Aside from the obvious 30 nationals dotted across the Cobras and Dolphins franchises, the Champions League Twenty20 will see the participation of four other former or current South African stars.
Erstwhile Test opener Neil McKenzie failed to contribute significantly with the bat during the Barbados Tridents’ Caribbean Premier League campaign earlier this year. He, in fact, managed a mere 18 runs in five matches. The 38-year-old brought a wealth of insight to an otherwise inexperienced squad, though. This intangible value will serve the men in blue and yellow well through a daunting Group B gauntlet. McKenzie, too, will likely face plenty of former team-mates when the Tridents clash with the Cape Cobras in Punjab on 26 September.
Perennial centurion Faf du Plessis will rejoin the Chennai Super Kings amid a remarkable stretch of form. The recent tri-series against Zimbabwe and Australia was very good to Du Plessis, who reached three figures on no less than three occasions in five attempts. The milestone would’ve enjoyed a fourth, had he not perished for an unfulfilled 96 in the final fixture. The hard-hitting right-hander will likely open the batting alongside West Indian Dwayne Smith or New Zealander Brendon McCullum during the CLT20.
The Dolphins’ loss is the Kings XI Punjab’s gain, as batsman David Miller brings considerable beef to a dynamic middle order. Miller boasts the coveted advantage of being a left-hander, often capitalising against seam and spin bowlers unable to compensate the angle or line of attack in low, slow conditions. The 25-year-old is somewhat of a superstar among Indian cricket fans, arguably more popular in Chandigarh and surrounds than Durban and beyond. The Dolphins will be moderately consoled by the 150,000 US dollars reimbursed by the Punjab outfit for Miller’s services.
The stalwart Jacques Kallis epitomised the adage of ‘taking one for the team’ by sitting out the bulk of the Kolkata Knight Riders’ Indian Premier League campaign. This generosity afforded Kolkata the opportunity to experiment for the eventuality of his retirement from all professional cricket. While Kallis has since quit international competition entirely, that selfless decision during the IPL in May will all but expand the Knight Riders’ options this month. Kolkata, meanwhile, must quickly rework the composition of the bowling attack in the wake of South African fast bowler Morne Morkel’s withdrawal due to injury.
The lanky Marchant de Lange would have played in the tournament proper – had the Mumbai Indians not lost two of three important qualifying fixtures in Raipur recently. Instead, the Lahore Lions and Northern Knights – sans any South Africans – graduated.
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