- The SA20 has been an excellent tournament from the start and has been well-received by fans.
- Stadiums have been packed.
- The tournament hasn’t had many lows, but Aaron Phangiso’s suspension for an illegal bowling action is one of them.
The SA20, just from a crowd perspective, has been a roaring success. The six grounds, in their various team colours, have brought the fans in and have looked splendid.
Critically, the rain that dogged the first half of South Africa’s summer has stayed away, with only one game being remotely challenged by the weather.
The undisrupted cricket has allowed the cricketers who made the cut to display their wares in varying forms.
The tournament will return next week Thursday, with the struggling Durban’s Super Giants hosting fellow basement dwellers MI Cape Town.
This has to be the most important part of the tournament, for the reception of the SA20 was going to gauge its short-term success.
It started during the coastal school holidays and the crowds at Newlands, St George’s Park, and Boland Park responded in kind with exceptional attendance.
If organisers had their hearts in their mouths from a crowd perspective, it would have been at Kingsmead. For once, the Durban ground didn’t disappoint and with two games left, fans still have an opportunity to get their fill.
The vibrant Orange Army of St George’s Park will be missed – Sunrisers Eastern Cape have completed their home games – but they do leave Joburg’s Yellow Whistle gang and Pretoria’s Blue Sea to pick up the baton from them.
England and Paarl Royals captain Jos Buttler may be the top run-maker, but Faf du Plessis’s ton is living long the memories of those who watched it.
It was a well-paced and well-managed innings that belied the Joburg Super Kings’ stuttering tournament.
The tournament needed a South African hero from a batting perspective to give it the full authenticity it deserved from a batting perspective.
The bowlers had already stamped their authority on the tournament, even though it was the slower kind who had caused all the trouble.
While Aaron Phangiso twice knocked on the five-wicket haul door with two four-fors, it was Roelof van der Merwe who kicked the door down with a magnificent 6/20 against the hapless Super Giants.
And it wasn’t a haul that tied up the tail. He took down the Super Giants’ top and middle order, subjecting them to their second consecutive sub-100 total.
Again, the capacity St George’s Park crowd roared with Roelof in approval as they took in their hero’s performance.
Foreign flavour seasons tournament delightfully
The choice of overseas players was always going to be under the spotlight, as with any tournament.
With the SA20 competing with the Big Bash League, the England-overseas roster is the one they’re going to fight over.
Will Jacks and Phil Salt (Pretoria Capitals) have been worth their money while the likes of Adam Rossington, Buttler, Adil Rashid, Rashid Khan and Jofra Archer have shown their value.
The same has applied to the West Indian contingent through Romario Shepherd, Alzarri Joseph, Jason Holder, and Kyle Mayers, who have contributed at different times for their franchises.
Some of the England and West Indian internationals won’t return for the sharp end of the tournament, but they’ve done their bit.
They’ve validated the tournament.
SA’s youngsters stepping up
They haven’t done so with the expected consistency, but they have pushed through well when asked of them.
Dewald Brevis, despite having not played first-class cricket, has started to show the value of his globe-trotting T20 cricket trips.
Ryan Rickelton and Grant Roelofsen have also had their moments in the sun with the bat, which bodes well for SA and their batting struggles.
- Wayne Parnell’s smart captaincy at the Pretoria Capitals
- Marco Jansen’s 27-ball 66 for the Sunrisers against MI Cape Town
- Leus du Plooy’s masterful 75* for the Super Kings against the Capitals
- Donavon Ferreira’s 40-ball 82* for Super Kings against the Super Giants
- The arrival of Jordan Hermann with his 50 against the Super Giants
- The crowd catches
And now for the not-so-many misses
The not-so-Super Giants
They have a lovely kit and a chock full of wonderful all-rounders, but using them in a match-day 11 has been difficult for Lance Klusener.
When the batting has worked out, the bowling has failed, but when the bowling has come off, nothing else has worked out for them.
That they have been dismissed for successive totals of under 100 is indicative of the muddled thinking about the batting.
They still have two home games left and they need to make those count before their highveld sojourn.
Phangiso’s bent-arm issues
Phangiso has become the consummate professional in his late career bloom and having recovered from being pinged for an illegal action in 2016, it was unfortunate that he was picked out again.
He was a central figure in the Super Kings’ revival, and it was a good thing that the Super Kings won their first game without him.
In a tournament where senior SA’s spinners have come alive, it was heartening to see him perform and disappointing for him to be suspended from bowling.