The second edition of the Mzansi Super League commences on November 8 at Johannesburg with Jozi Stars taking on Cape Town Blitz at the Wanderers Stadium.
After a disastrous international season that included a dismal showing in the World Cup, the South African team will be looking to unearth new talent from the MSL. The Proteas batting approach has been inconsistent and ruffled, and with some names having called it quits already, the pressure has only increased on the likes of Faf du Plessis and Quinton de Kock. The two senior players have lacked direction with the willow of late, and desperately need a young gun to rise and enter the international scene to reduce their burden.
Here are some batsmen who would be eager to make a mark in the MSL, and thus, remain players to watch out for.
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A naturally attacking batsman, Rassie van der Dussen of Jozi Stars has been impressive in his short international career, scoring at an average of 31.75 with a strike rate of 132.29 in the shortest format. He has also had a good run in ODIs, averaging over 73 with the help of seven fifties in just 14 innings.
The 30-year-old has played cricket all over the globe – in South Africa, England, Netherlands, Ireland, Caribbean and Canada and the effect of his experience has meant that he has emerged into an adaptable and dynamic player in the batting unit.
Van der Dussen was an integral part in Jozi Stars’ successful MSL campaign last season, as he topped the batting charts with 469 runs at a strike rate of 138.75. He has transitioned easily into international cricket but will hope to continue his form forward by pitching in consistently in every series.
Accompanying van der Dussen in Jozi Stars will be Sinethemba Qeshile, an up and coming batsman who made his T20I debut for South Africa earlier this year against Sri Lanka. However, he did not get a chance to bat in either game and will be looking ahead at the MSL to leave his mark.
He is one of the most promising youngsters with an FC average of 38.53 after 31 innings, and the 20-year old will be hoping to better his numbers in T20s as the tournament progresses. The more cerebral batsmen than a power hitter, he relies on a sharp mind on a variety of strokes to make an impact in white-ball cricket.
Having made his T20 debut for South Africa on the recent tour of India, Fortuin is someone who seems to thrive in the T20 format. With excellent control of his left-arm orthodox, the spinner can open the bowling and keep his economy under six.
He made his T20I debut earlier this year following his impressive run in the MSL 2018 but was unable to translate it into the international circuit, scoring just 35 runs in two games. He did not get a chance in the series against India, and Malan will be looking at the MSL to earn his spot back in the side. Malan is ruthless square of the wicket but needs to improve his game against spin.
An exceptionally talented batter, Verreynne was the second-highest run-scorer in the Momentum One Day Cup with 453 runs in nine innings with a high score of 114. Batting at an average of 64.71 and a strike rate of 88.82, the Cape Cobras player was left disappointed as he found no bidders in the first round of MSL drafts.
He was left unsold in the Final Draft as well but was brought on board by the Paarl Rocks at the last minute as an injury replacement to Aiden Markram. One of the most technically sound players, Verreynne can hold an end up and flourish as the innings progresses, and with a point to prove as well, he remains a player to watch out for. He is someone Ashwell Prince has tipped for higher honours.
An aggressive, clean-hitting opening batsman, JJ Smuts has made his name as one of the most entertaining batters in the shorter formats of the game. Playing for the Nelson Mandela Bay Giants team, Smuts rode his way to 219 runs last season with two fifties to his name. He has represented South Africa in 8 T20Is thus far but has managed just 126 runs at a poor average of 15.75.
Nonetheless, on the back of some impressive domestic numbers, he earned his call-up for the tour of India but was withdrawn at the last moment due to fitness issues. He can chip in with the ball too when needed and remains one of the most effective white ball cricketers from South Africa.