Sport Staff
3 minute read
17 Dec 2018
3:30 pm

We dish out Mzansi Super League awards!

Sport Staff

From Nono Pongolo to AB de Villiers, here are the things and players that made the first edition of South Africa's T20 tournament notable.

Chris Morris of the Nelson Mandela Bay Giants fails to stop the ball during the Mzansi Super League match between Paarl Rocks and Nelson Mandela Bay Giants at Eurolux Boland Park on December 12, 2018 in Paarl, South Africa. (Photo by Shaun Roy/Gallo Images)

It certainly wasn’t the spectacle of an Indian Premier League or Big Bash, but then again, the Mzansi Super League (MSL) never claimed it was going to be like that.

Yet Cricket South Africa can certainly reflect reasonably proudly on an inaugural tournament where the standard of play was surprisingly and pleasantly high.

We dish out a few awards.

Team of the tournament

The winners, the Jozi Stars.

And it’s not particularly difficult to understand why the were so good.

They had the top scorer in Rassie van der Dussen (496 runs) and the leading wicket-taker in Duanne Olivier (20), but importantly, there was brilliant backup too.

Reeza Hendricks and Ryan Rickelton scored 412 and 251 runs respectively, while in the middle-order captain Dane Vilas (183) and Aussie Dan Christian (196) invariably contributed vital scores.

It extends to the bowling attack, where Kagiso Rabada (13), Beuran Hendricks (12), Nono Pongolo (10) and Simon Harmer all chipped in with wickets.

Player of the tournament

He failed in the final, probably because he had such a heavy weight to carry, but Quinton de Kock was simply outstanding.

412 runs came off his willow in just eight innings, mostly in situations where the only real support he had was from his promising young opening partner Janneman Malan.

The Proteas keeper was familiarly dominant against pace, yet it was eye-catching how well he adapted to the spinners.

Hopefully he carries that improvement into the international season.

Rookie of the tournament

While observers bemoan that South Africa still can’t seem to churn out classy black batsmen, it’s not the case with the bowlers.

In 20-year-old Lutho Sipamla, the Tshwane Spartans possessed a raw recruit whose biggest asset was his ability to take responsibility in an attack hamstrung by the injury to Lungi Ngidi.

The Spartans made no secret of the fact that much of their hopes depended on their Proteas quick, who’s laid low by a knee injury.

Sipamla was merely earmarked to gain valuable experience.

Instead, he had to pretty much lead … and ended with 16 wickets – the second most in the tournament.

International player of the tournament

The marquees were pretty disappointing, which was probably understandable given that their participation was very sporadic.

Dwayne Bravo had brief moments with the Paarl Rocks though the rest pretty much did nothing of note.

In terms of the other foreigners, Englishman Ben Duckett looked a decent signing for the Giants before tailing off while the Blitz’s two Pakistanis – Asif Ali and Mohammad Nawaz – both delivered match-winning performances once and then remained largely anonymous.

But there was one shining light – Dan Christian.

He added gloss to the Stars’ batting efforts – spectacularly smashing the fastest fifty of the tournament off 18 ball – and contributed eight wickets despite only averaging two overs per game.

A brilliant buy.

Disappointment of the tournament

Some might say average attendance of 3 000 was underwhelming, but those numbers were actually expected given South Africa’s unfamiliarity to the new tournament.

It would’ve been cool if one of the international marquees could’ve delivered a big performance or two, but that didn’t happen.

Yet, even though he ended with 282 runs, AB de Villiers didn’t actually scale the heights that the expectant public were eager to witness.

At various stages of the tournament, he just seemed to be trying too hard.

Surprise package of the tournament

Gihahn Cloete is known as a stylish stroke-maker, not a big-hitter though.

That said, the left-hander enhanced his reputation by holding the Spartans batting together well.

He was a good foil to build an innings around and at times delivered some sjambokking of his own.

Moment of the tournament

12 runs to win off two balls.

No problem for Nono Pongolo…

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