Rashid Khan and George Linde. (Photo by SA20/Sportzpics/Gallo Images)
He acknowledges he could’ve scalped a few more victims or lashed some late runs, but Afghanistan superstar and MI Cape Town skipper Rashid Khan believes the SA20 is well on its way towards becoming the second-biggest franchise T20 tournament after the Indian Premier League (IPL).
Cricket South Africa (CSA) had expressed this lofty, but eminently possible longer-term objective, from the outset and the success of the inaugural edition has merely emboldened that view.
Despite his team’s campaign crashing and burning following a promising start, Khan – with a wide smile – crudely held up his thumb and forefinger close to each other to indicate the gap in class of the two tournaments.
“It’s really not too far, to be honest,” he said after a messy 76-run loss to Joburg Super Kings at the Wanderers on Monday night.
“It’s just the first year and I already believe it’s a big achievement for CSA. It’s going to become a massive tournament as the years go by.”
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The world-class leg-spinner particularly highlights that the SA20’s great strength already is unearthing and moulding local cricket’s foremost young players.
“Lots of young talent is going to come through and I think it’s going to inspire them to change the complexion of the domestic game here,” said Khan.
“South African cricket will look completely different over the next few years. The tournament itself is going to grow massively.”
Meanwhile, Khan is not going to admonish his teammates for a campaign that fizzled out badly despite a roster boasting the likes of Dewald Brevis, Rassie van der Dussen, Sam Curran and Jofra Archer.
He specifically pointed out the congested schedule and a lack of time to truly gel as a unit as mitigating factors, while also revealing that he never expected any player to deviate too much from his natural game, even when results started turning sour.
“I made it clear from the start. It doesn’t really matter what happens in the end, never change your skills and mindset. That was an important point for me to drive home,” said Khan.
“It’s not easy to come into a new franchise and find your way immediately. It takes time. We never put undue pressure on anyone to score runs or take wickets. It was just about honing skills and sticking to them.
“As senior players, we tried to take most of the responsibility, while giving everyone else the freedom just to play and express themselves.”