SA20 League: New year, new names, new faces

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Photo Credit: SA20 League

A new year has dawned, leaving the start of Betway SA20 Season 2, and a mouthwatering clash at St George’s Park between defending champions Sunrisers Eastern Cape and Joburg Super Kings, just 10 days away. By the time the action gets underway, all six teams will have welcomed their new players and looked to settle them in for what is sure to be another incredible month of white ball cricket.

Joburg Super Kings will have to bring as many as eight new players up-to-speed if they are to assert their title credentials during the season opener. That said, with the breadth of experience and expertise of Moeen Ali, David Wiese and Imran Tahir as well as the local knowledge of their big money signing Dayyaan Galiem there’s no reason why JSK won’t be in good shape come 10 January.

On the flipside, their neighbours and Season 1 finalists Pretoria Capitals head into 2024 with the most settled squad as only big money signing Matthew Boast and their rookie, Steve Stolk (who is also part of the SA U19 World Cup squad), weren’t part of the League last time around.

The hosts for the opener, Sunrisers Eastern Cape, have six newbies to initiate. One of those is Dawid Malan (the all-time highest-ranked T20 international batsman), another is Liam Dawson off the back of a fantastic year for Hampshire (coached by Adi Birrell too) and Beyers Swanepoel who could turn into one of the finds of the League if his domestic form is anything to go by.

Durban’s Super Giants have seven SA20 first-timers in their 2024 squad – following their end-of-year recruitment of Tony de Zorzi.

The Kingsmead-based team have gone international-heavy with their new recruits – with West Indies Wildcard Nicholas Pooran being the standout alongside Bhanuka Rajapaksa (Sri Lanka), Naveen-ul-Haq and Noor Ahmad (both Afghanistan). Jason Smith, Bryce Parsons and De Zorzi, meanwhile, will be expected to add their local knowledge to the mix.

MI Cape Town, intriguingly, have gone for a local is lekker feel (with a twist) to their six additions and that includes the legendary Kieron Pollard, for he is a previous Newlands darling thanks to his 2015 title-winning exploits with the Cape Cobras. Tom Banton is English, but has a Cape Town-born father. Chris Benjamin arrives on an English passport, but is Johannesburg born and Grahamstown educated. Meanwhile, Connor Esterhuizen, Thomas Kaber and Nealan van Heerden all have varying degrees of experience and success on the domestic scene. Robin Peterson will hope their shrewd recruiting bears dividends come the business end of the season…

Paarl Royals, too, were shrewd when signing high schooler Kwena Maphaka pre-auction and then drafting his St Stithians schoolmate Lhuan-dre Pretorius as their rookie, but both will spend most of the campaign with the SA U19 World Cup squad also being played in South Africa. Internationals, Wildcard Fabian Allen (West Indies), Lorcan Tucker (Ireland) and John Turner (England) should, though, add depth and jostling for places as the men from Boland Park – now under the stewardship of Shane Bond – look to go one step further than their 2023 semi-final finish.

THE SEASON 2 NEWBIES

Durban’s Super Giants: Noor Ahmad (Afghanistan), Naveen-ul-Haq Murid (Afghanistan), Nicholas Pooran (West Indies – Wildcard), Bryce Parsons (rookie), Bhanuka Rajapaksa (Sri Lanka), Jason Smith, Tony de Zorzi.

Joburg Super Kings: Moeen Ali (England), Sam Cook (England), Dayyaan Galiem, Ronan Herrmann (rookie), Zahir Khan (Afghanistan), Wayne Madsen (Italy), Imran Tahir (Wildcard), David Wiese (Namibia).

MI Cape Town: Tom Banton (England), Chris Benjamin (England), Connor Esterhuizen (rookie), Thomas Kaber, Kieron Pollard (West Indies), Nealan van Heerden.

Paarl Royals: Fabian Allen (West Indies – Wildcard), Kwena Maphaka, Lhuan-dre Pretorius (rookie), Lorcan Tucker (Ireland), John Turner (England).

Pretoria Capitals: Matthew Boast, Steve Stolk (rookie).

Sunrisers Eastern Cape: Liam Dawson (England), Dawid Malan (England), Caleb Seleka, Andile Simelane (rookie), Beyers Swanepoel, Daniel Worrall (Australia/England).

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