- The SA20, for all intents and purposes, was never short of batting and bowling entertainment.
- It didn’t come as a surprise that England’s limited overs captain Jos Buttler topped the run-scoring charts while Leus du Plooy’s form was an unexpected bonus
- Tristan Stubbs disappointed on the batting front, but so did Tabraiz Shamsi with the ball.
The SA20 had plenty of batting and bowling movers and shakers. With the round-robin stage now completed, here’s the performance roll of honour:
Top run-maker: Jos Buttler – Paarl Royals (378 runs at 42, strike-rate: 131.70, 50×4)
Not a lot has gone right for the Royals away from their Paarl pummeling post, but in Buttler, they’ve had a blacksmith of a batter who singlehandedly kept them in the tournament.
That the Royals’ next-best batter in David Miller is 14th on the list speaks volumes of how Buttler has, on his broad shoulders, carried the Royals into Wednesday’s semi-final against the Pretoria Capitals at the Wanderers.
Buttler also didn’t lack for runs when he led England during the ODI series they lost 2-1 against South Africa, but the Royals are indebted to him for bringing them into the play-offs.
Top wicket-taker: Gerald Coetzee – Joburg Super Kings (17 wickets at 11.11, economy rate: 7.71, Best bowling 4/24)
Coetzee is generally used in short bursts and hardly completes his four-over allotment, but what he’s done, especially in Johannesburg, was disrupt batting momentum.
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Where the Super Kings batters have made the runs, Coetzee has bowled the hostile, constricting spells at pace and with a degree of passion.
Where the spinners in the now-suspended Aaron Phangiso and his replacement Kyle Simmonds put the brakes on the scoring, he’s been blasting through batting orders.
That Coetzee was part of the Proteas Test group in Australia spoke of his development as a cricketer, but he’s taken it up a step in the SA20.
The Knights, who are struggling at domestic level, will be hard-pressed to retain his services.
Batter that surprised – Leus du Plooy – Joburg Super Kings (249 runs at 83, strike-rate: 142,50×2)
The Super Kings’ road to the semi-finals have featured a bit of a one-man batting show through their captain Faf du Plessis, but there has been an equally important contribution from Leus du Plooy.
Without Du Plooy’s runs, the Super Kings wouldn’t have sniffed a play-off spot. His match-winning 81* against Mumbai Indians Cape Town was constructed from a base of 12/2 after he came in when skipper Du Plessis was out off the first ball of the game.
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His 47* against the Sunrisers Eastern Cape, their opponents for Thursday’s semi-final, guided the Super Kings home in what was a low-scoring dogfight.
There also was the 75* against the Pretoria Capitals on a temperamental Wanderers surface that proved to be the difference between the teams.
Simply put, he’s a banker of excellence for Stephen Fleming and Du Plessis.
Bowler that surprised: Roelof van der Merwe – Sunrisers Eastern Cape (14 wickets at 9.8, economy rate: 5.26, Best bowling: 6/20)
The St George’s Park pitch will almost always suit teams that carry an army of spinners. The Sunrisers had a one-man battalion in Roelof van der Merwe.
After Phangiso’s mesmeric 4/20 display for the Joburg Super Kings, Van der Merwe retaliated with 2/16 in the same game in Gqeberha. Then he absolutely barrelled Durban’s Super Giants, also at St George’s Park, finishing with career-best figures of 6/20 in a magical and magnificent spell of slow bowling.
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He’d taken two wickets each in the matches against the Paarl Royals and MI Cape Town, and he followed up his spell with tidy showings against the Royals (2/11) and the Super Kings (0/28).
Batter that shocked: Tristan Stubbs – Sunrisers Eastern Cape (165 runs at 23.57, strike-rate: 138.65)
The saying ‘heavy is the head that wears the crown’ was never more applicable than to Tristan Stubbs.
At R9.2 million, Stubbs came in at a deserved high price after his exploits for the Warriors in last year’s domestic T20 tournament.
He also did reasonably well for the men’s national team, especially during the tour of England last year, but he found the going to be more than tough in the SA20.
Extreme pace proved to be a weakness, while his game which generally targets the straight and leg-side boundaries was closely monitored and constricted.
He could and should be better from this chastening experience, but it’s been a rough tournament for him.
Bowler that shocked: Tabraiz Shamsi – Paarl Royals (Six wickets at 30.33, economy rate: 7.58, best bowling: 2/27)
Shamsi, as SA’s best exponent of slow bowling in limited-overs cricket, should have better figures than this.
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What’s made Shamsi’s outings so disappointing was that he featured in every home game in Paarl and his impact was negligible.
Even in Gqeberha, he wasn’t as potent and his lack of form subsequently seeped into his performance for the national team in the two games he played against England, when he conceded 1/116 in his 13.2 overs.
He didn’t bowl out in both games and didn’t feature in Tuesday’s run-fest against the Capitals.
He needs to find his bowling form, and fast.