The inaugural SA20 competition gets underway in six days, with 33 matches to be played as six teams battle for R70 million. It’s an exciting competition for South African cricket with a number of talented young local players and stars from around the world taking part. We look at the players to watch from each of the six sides.
The tournament begins with a Western Cape derby as MI Cape Town square off against Paarl Royals at Newlands on the 10th of January.
Durban Super Giants: Reece Topley
Reece Topley missed last year’s T20 World Cup due to an ankle injury and will be looking forward to this tournament. The Englishman was recently signed by the Royal Challengers Bangalore in the recent IPL auction which goes to show the talent that he possesses.
He is your modern-day T20 bowler, who is tall and has decent pace. His variations and the fact that he’s a left-arm seamer are an added bonus and I expect him to play a crucial role for the Durban Super Giants. He was fantastic for England last year before his injury, taking 17 wickets in 16 matches with a brilliant economy rate of 7.80.
He has the ability to take wickets upfront and at the death, which could see him being amongst the tournament’s leading wicket-takers.
Joburg Super Kings: Donovan Ferreira
The talented South African grabbed headlines when he was purchased by Joburg Super Kings for R 5.5 million. He was also picked up by the Rajasthan Royals for this year’s IPL campaign. The 24-year-old has an impressive T20 strike rate of 153.6 in 26 matches.
He is one of a number of young talented batsmen coming from South Africa and will be looking to announce himself to the rest of the world in this competition. He’s yet to make his Proteas debut but you have to feel that it should come sometime this year. The Super Kings have a talented squad with the likes of Faf Du Plessis, Reeza Hendricks and Nandre Burger in their ranks but I’ve gone with Ferreira as the player to watch.
MI Cape Town: Dewald Brevis
MI Cape Town arguably have the most talented squad in the competition with the likes of Kagiso Rabada, Jofra Archer, Liam Livingstone and more in their ranks. But all eyes will be on the highly rated 19-year-old Dewald Brevis as he looks to shine once again after impressing in the CSA T20 Challenge last year. He scored 327 runs at a strike rate of 176.76 and also broke multiple records including the highest score by a South African batter in men’s T20s (167 off 57).
Brevis has not played for the senior Proteas team yet but played for the youth side at the U19 World Cup last year where he broke Shikar Dhawan’s record for most runs at the tournament.
Paarl Royals: Jos Buttler
When it comes to T20 competitions, Jos Buttler will always be one of the players to watch. England’s T20I captain led his side to World Cup glory last year and had a brilliant tournament in the process, scoring 225 runs. His strike rate in T20Is is 144.2 while his IPL strike rate is just as impressive at 149.7.
Buttler is one of the most destructive T20 batsmen in the world and will play alongside fellow big hitters, David Miller, Jason Roy and Eoin Morgan for Paarl Royals. I’d put my money on him ending the tournament as the leading runscorer.
Pretoria Capitals: Josh Little
Another player who recently earned himself an IPL contract Josh Little will form part of a star-studded Pretoria Capital’s bowling attack. He was bought by defending IPL champions Gujarat Titans, making him the first current Ireland international to earn an IPL contract. In November, Little recorded a memorable hat-trick at the T20 World Cup against New Zealand.
He is a player that has always impressed me and it’s good to see him finally getting some recognition. He’s taken 62 T20I wickets in 53 matches for Ireland at a fantastic economy rate of 7.65. He’ll be bowling alongside Adil Rashid, Anrich Nortje and Wayne Parnell, which is a more than decent bowling attack.
Sunrisers Eastern Cape: Aiden Markram
T20 cricket is arguably Aiden Markram’s best format as he’s shown over the last couple of years. He’s been brilliant for the Proteas and the Sunrisers Hyderabad in the IPL. Markram averages 38.2 and 40.5 for the Proteas and SRH respectively.
He’ll have added responsibility after he was named Sunrisers Eastern Cape captain for the inaugural season of the SA20 and I expect him to thrive under the pressure. It’s still unclear where he will bat but I feel the number three position will suit him and his team, especially considering that they don’t have as many star names as the other teams. Coming in at three means he’ll face a lot of balls to make an impact for his team.
I expect him to continue from where he left off in the One Day Cup and be among the tournament’s leading runscorers.