Cape Town Blitz coach Ashwell Prince believes the Mzansi Super League is a great opportunity for South African players to launch themselves on the global stage.
The inaugural edition of the exciting T20 competition was unveiled earlier this month and will take place from November 16 to December 16 across six cities. The Blitz are of the six teams alongside the Durban Heat, Jozi Stars, Nelson Mandela Bay Giants, Paarl Rocks and Tshwane Spartans, whom they meet in the opening fixture.
‘I think it’s a massive opportunity for young players,’ said Prince. ‘You know a lot of our young players, they’re not drafted into other leagues around the world, so maybe they’re a little bit unknown. This now gives them a real opportunity to say to the world “look at me, see what I can do”.’
All the matches of the MSL T20 will be broadcast exclusively live by the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) on its television and radio platforms, with global coverage to come via the Global Sports Commerce (GSC), who Cricket South Africa (CSA) brought in as an international commercial and broadcast partner from 2018 to 2022.
The Player Draft was held on October 17 with Prince and his coaching team signing up foreign stars in Dawid Malan of England, Samuel Badree from West Indies and Pakistan’s Asif Ali.
Their local marquee player is Quinton de Kock, while other Standard Bank Proteas on their roster are Andile Phehlukwayo, Dale Steyn, Dane Piedt and Farhaan Behardien.
‘We’re really happy with the players we got,’ Prince explained. ‘I think it’s exciting and we’ve got some interesting picks in there…there’s pace, there’s guys that can clear the boundary, so really happy.’
One key miss for them will be JP Duminy, who was initially assigned to the franchise, before injury ruled him out of the competition. De Kock was then allocated to them as their South African marquee name.
‘Different positions obviously, but largely similar players with Quinton being left-handed,’ was Prince’s assessment of the change. ‘Quinny bats at the top of the order and can also take the gloves. For JP, it’s tough that he has to miss the competition, but I think Quinton de Kock is a very good replacement.’
There was also a concerted effort by not just the Blitz, but all the franchises to sign players that play for them in the domestic seasons. It was the same for Prince and co, with six World Sports Betting Cape Cobras in their group.
‘Most of the time when you look at the foreign players and what they’ve done, their numbers are very impressive, but you don’t know their personalities,’ added Prince added. ‘I think it’s important to know certain personalities and know what you’re going to get from them.
‘I think with the Cobras players we know exactly what we’re getting and we know their quality in terms of the skill as well.’
One of their star bowlers in the competition is a veteran, though. Steyn was their third pick at the draft and for good reason.
‘In T20 tournaments, there’s not a lot of time between games and never sufficient time to recover,’ Prince concluded. ‘So, you look for tone setters in your side. I think that’s what we got in Dale Steyn. He takes the new ball. He hits his areas with good pace, he leads by example and can be a game changer.
‘Of course, there’s going to be games where he goes for a few runs, but you look for people who can set the tone with bat and ball. He can do that,’ said Prince.