Proteas Trump England; SA20 Returns
The Betway SA20 resumed on Thursday following the ODI series between South Africa and England.
Having officially taken up the post of Proteas head coach on February 1, Shukri Conrad has got his tenure off to a decent start after overseeing his charges earn a much-needed series win.
Last month, Cricket South Africa (CSA) announced Conrad as the new coach of the Proteas Test team while Rob Walter has been appointed to lead the side for white-ball cricket.
Conrad, 55, took charge of the one-day team on a caretaker basis for the first two ODI matches as the men in green and gold sealed a convincing 2-1 win over England, boosting the Proteas' hopes of qualifying for the ICC Cricket World Cup (CWC) later this year.
South Africa currently occupy 9th place in the CWC Super League standings, with the top eight teams automatically entering the tournament in India. Those outside the top eight will contest qualifiers for the showpiece which is scheduled to get underway in October.
SA trail 8th-placed West Indies by 9 points, however when the men from the Caribbean touch down on South African shores for a three-match ODI series next month, those results will have no bearing on the Super League standings.
Following on from the inbound tour of West Indies, South Africa then host the Netherlands for a two-match ODI series beginning 31 March, representing the Proteas' last chance to seal direct qualification for the World Cup.
There are just a handful of games remaining in the league stage of SA20, before we reach the semi-finals next week.
Pretoria Capitals lead the way with 23 points, having taken five victories (and three bonus points) from their seven games up until this point. Sunrisers Eastern Cape and Paarl Royals both trail PC by 6 points, with JSK a further point behind.
Durban's Super Giants and MI Cape Town, the two teams involved in Thursday's encounter at Kingsmead, still have ground to make up on the chasing pack with just a couple of games to play.
DSG narrowly beat MICT to stay in contention for the semi-finals though Quinton de Kock's charges need to win both of their remaining matches if they are to sneak into the last-four.
On top of the pre-existing overseas talent at the SA20, there are some new names joining the league for the second leg of the competition.
Australian wicketkeeper-batsman Matthew Wade has joined the Joburg Super Kings and will inject some extra firepower to the team in yellow. Just last week Wade was playing for the Hobart Hurricanes in the Big Bash League, but now the aim of the 35-year-old will be to steer the Wanderers-based franchise into the SA20 semi-finals.
Wade replaces Alzarri Joseph who has been selected to represent West Indies in their forthcoming outbound tour of southern Africa. The Windies play two Test matches in Zimbabwe, beginning Saturday, before they prepare for two Tests in the highveld of South Africa, from 28 February.
Temba Bavuma has been snapped up by the Sunrisers Eastern Cape after he had been snubbed at the SA20 auction in September last year.
Bavuma hit 180 runs in the recent ODI series versus England, the most of any South African, including a Century at the Mangaung Oval on Sunday, and the Proteas white-ball skipper has now been rewarded with a gig at the Eastern Cape outfit. The 32-year-old may feature as Sunrisers take on DSG on Friday.
Former Proteas batsman Colin Ingram joins the league-leading Pretoria Capitals, while Australian all-rounder Tim David and England pace bowler Henry Brookes add to a talented line-up at MI Cape Town.
Another Australian, Ben McDermott graces the South African domestic league together with England all-rounder David Willey after both players were chosen by Durban's Super Giants to replace the West Indies duo of Kyle Mayers and Jason Holder.
These new faces join a flurry of international stars who have been on display at the tip of the African continent since January 10.
For one such player, Jofra Archer, the SA20 served as a first taste of competitive cricket since July 2021 and the 27-year-old recently made his return to the England set-up following a lengthy spell on the sidelines.
Archer claimed a maiden five-wicket haul in ODI cricket, taking six dismissals as England won the third and final ODI in Kimberley.
The Barbados-born seam bowler picked up eight wickets in five games at SA20 prior to the interval for the international series, however he did not feature in the latest instalment as MICT lost to DSG on Thursday.
SA20 action rolls into Friday with a double-header in Johannesburg and Durban. Faf du Plessis and his Joburg Super Kings face Jos Buttler's Paarl Royals, weather permitting, before Sunrisers Eastern Cape make the trip to Durban.