SA20 League: Race to Playoffs is ‘about finding momentum at the right time’ – Ab de Villiers

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Photo Credit: SA20 League

Former Proteas star, AB de Villiers, believes the race to the Betway SA20 finish line will be determined by the team which peaks at the right time. As the League enters into the crucial second half, all six teams have it all to play for to cement their places in the Playoffs taking place at Newlands in Cape Town (6 February) and Wanderers in Johannesburg (7&8 February).

Paarl Royals currently top the log with 22 points, followed by Durban’s Super Giants in second on 18 points and defending Champions, Sunrisers Eastern Cape in third on 15 points. Meanwhile, MI Cape TownJoburg Super Kings and Pretoria Capitals are in a scramble at the bottom half of the table.

“Halfway through, Pretoria Capitals and Joburg Super Kings are sitting at the bottom of the log. I have seen it across so many competitions with teams making comebacks, and once they find a bit of rhythm at the right time of the competition, they are very hard to stop,” De Villiers said.

“”I think of Australia in the ICC Men’s World Cup recently, Sunrisers Eastern Cape won this competition last season by sneaking in and finding a little momentum at the right time of the competition. That’s what JSK and Pretoria Capitals will be hoping for. ”

The standard of cricket in Season 2 has been raised to another level this year. Both the batters and bowlers have delivered record-breaking individual performances almost on a daily basis.

This has also created plenty of competition for the Batter of the Season, Bowler of the Season, and Rising Star of the Season awards.

There is, however, none more prestigious than the overall Betway Player of the Season.

Sunrisers Eastern Cape captain, Aiden Markram, who was also the first to raise the Betway SA20 trophy aloft, was the inaugural winner last season.

For Season 2, the League has partnered with cricket’s leading analytics specialists, CricViz, to use their unique data science model to help choose the end-of-season individual awards.

The CricViz model is a performance evaluation measure that is used to assess the performance of players across a match and competition.

It allows the League to compare the performance of players across different roles (batting, bowling and fielding) and phases of the game. Additionally players are rewarded for winning the match, with the captain of the winning team receiving an additional bonus.

MI Cape Town opener, Ryan Rickelton, is leading the race to succeed Markram after setting the competition ablaze at the start with four consecutive half-centuries. He also formed part of a record 200-run opening stand with Rassie van der Dussen against Joburg Super Kings at the Wanderers.

Rickelton has shot to the top of the standings with 139.11 points, accumulated through 132.11 for batting and 4.0 for fielding.

“I am very excited about the youngsters coming through,” De Villiers said. “Rickelton is right up there. He has been knocking on the door for some time. I am happy that he is getting to a level now where people are starting to talk about him.”

Durban’s Super Giants’ Heinrich Klaasen is in second place at the moment with 87.54 (batting) and 12 (fielding) points to raise his tally to 105.54.

Klaasen was spectacular in DSG’s opening home game at Kingsmead when he stroked 85 off only 35 balls.

Centurion’s favourite son, Will Jacks, occupies third place with 103.72 points. The Pretoria Capitals star has struck a brilliant 101 already, but also been an all-round performer with his points tally gained by virtue of 55.67 (batting), 36.05 (bowling) and 10.00 (fielding).

Last season’s Batter of the Season, Jos Buttler, is once again in the running with 93.82 points. It certainly helps that Buttler is also a wicket-keeper with 16 fielding points added to his 70.82 batting points.

Joburg Super Kings’ Leus du Plooy has moved into fifth place with 80.86 points.

The leading bowler on the Betway Player of the Season list is the tournament’s top-wicket taker Lungi Ngidi in seventh spot with 71.40 points, while DSG captain Keshav Maharaj is placed ninth on 67.14.

The legend of more than 400 T20 matches has been impressed with the high-quality cricket and overall stadium experience that has lit up Season 2 of the League at all six venues around the country.

“It’s absolutely Incredible!,” he said.”

“I think it’s been absolutely incredible. The atmosphere is amazing. People talk about it in the streets,” De Villiers said.

“My friends are asking me for tickets. I haven’t been asked for tickets in ages!

“You see the children playing on the grass banks and having a fun time, they are falling in love with the game all over again.”

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