• Six of the Best: Ram Slam stars

    While international recruits Chris Gayle and cohorts will bring flair and additional marketability to the Ram Slam T20 Challenge, this homegrown sextet will ensure genuine substance prevails.
    Hard-hitting opening batsman Cameron Delport, like the rest of the Dolphins, endured a torrid time in the Champions League Twenty20 in India. The international tournament proved a bridge too far for the left-hander, who was one duck short of starting a pond. A return to South Africa, though, has regenerated confidence, epitomised by a record, unbroken 367-run Momentum One-Day Cup stand alongside captain Morne van Wyk against the Knights in Bloemfontein.

    The absence of the retired Johann Louw and Charl Langeveldt left a definitive gap in the Cape Cobras’ seam attack and, while the recruitment of Mthokozisi Shezi from the Dolphins should reap eventual reward, right-armer Shaheen Khan is the immediate fix. With all-rounder Vernon Philander consistently away on international duty, too, Khan has more than enough ability to weigh in with some key runs down the order.

    Pace off the ball is often instrumental in the shortest format of the domestic game, as off-spinner Simon Harmer has shown for the Warriors. The South African A graduate remains on the fringes of an international call-up – and this tournament will be another opportunity to nudge Proteas head selector Andrew Hudson and company. England wicketkeeper Craig Kieswetter, who has been signed by the Port Elizabeth-based franchise, will literally have to get to grips with Harmer’s numerous variations quickly.

    The old adage insists an old dog can’t be taught new tricks, but Titans stalwart Roelof van der Merwe will promptly beg to differ. Several seasons and a rather weathered complexion suggest van der Merwe has been around for a veritable age, but the spinning all-rounder is yet to welcome a 30th birthday. His days in the green and gold have come and gone, while Twenty20 franchises in Australia and India no longer seek his services, but the steely Titan still has plenty of bite.

    The tall, bulky, intimidating Hardus Viljoen has been hitting the deck hard for the Lions since a promising start at Easterns destined him for franchise cricket. Similar in size, frame and bowling action to the lanky Marchant de Lange, Viljoen will surely be next in line when the Proteas look to freshen the seam bowling department’s bench strength. He and Windies star and Lions recruit Gayle are sure to enjoy a few edgy dual in the nets.

    The product of a fine cricketing school in Wynberg Boys’ High School, fast bowler Malusi Siboto‘s search for challenging tertiary pastures eventually took him to North West – and now the Knights. Often underrated by hotshot batsmen, Siboto isn’t averse to performing well under pressure. The talent promised at South African under-19 level is gradually coming to the fore for the calculated right-armer.

    By Jonhenry Wilson

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