Mzansi Super League sets good platform after opening weekend

The inaugural Mzansi Super League (MSL) kicked off this past weekend and there was good cricket, modest crowds and genuine interest from the cricket loving public. EWN Sport looks at some talking points after the opening weekend of fixtures.

The Durban Heat in action against Cape Town Blitz during their Mzansi Super League match on 18 November 2018. Picture: @MSL_T20/Twitter

CAPE TOWN - The inaugural Mzansi Super League (MSL) kicked off this past weekend and there was good cricket, modest crowds and genuine interest from the cricket loving public.

To kick off the weekends' action, the Cape Town Blitz hosted the Tshwane Spartans at Newlands.

In the second match of the weekend, it was a low-scoring affair as the Nelson Mandela Bay Giants beat the Jozi Stars by five wickets.

On Sunday, the Blitz picked up their second win of the competition over the Durban Heat and then Paarl fans were treated to a 400-run humdinger as the Spartans beat the Paarl Rocks by one run.

Here are some talking points from the weekend:

MODEST CROWDS

It’s a new tournament and the South African public don’t know these six new franchises. So, one can understand the apprehension to spend money on a product that is so fresh. There were encouraging crowds at Newlands (6,953), Boland Park (4,643) and the Wanderers (4,896). However, Durban was a touch disappointing but with their star-studded team, one hopes that the city will react and support the side. The league's stakeholders will hope that the returning Proteas will generate the interest to get the crowd numbers up. Still, early days so no need to panic.

AN AMAZING OPPORTUNITY FOR YOUNGSTERS

With the Proteas on national duty, there was an opportunity for some of the rookies to make themselves known to the South African public, and some of the youngsters did just that.

Social media was buzzing after seeing Blitz bowlers Anrich Nortje bowl close to 150km/h. Nortje ripped through the Durban Heat top order (which included Hashim Amla and Temba Bavuma) with raw pace and accuracy.

On Friday night, Kyle Verreyne, a young wicketkeeper from Cape Town played a gritty knock which set up an opening day win for the Blitz against the Tshwane Spartans.

INTERNATIONAL STARS LIGHT UP MSL

Pakistani’s Mohammed Nawaz and Asif Ali are two of the Blitz's overseas players and they proved their worth straight away. Nawaz won the man of the match award in their first match for his excellent all-around performance against the Spartans. His countryman, Asif Ali, blasted the Blitz to a win in Durban on Sunday to get the tongues wagging about their ability.

Dwayne Bravo also showcased his class with ball in hand for the Paarl Rocks, picking up three wickets. With the likes of Rashid Khan and Eoin Morgan still to join the league, the South African public can look forward to the internationals entertaining throughout the competition. Also, their impact on the dressing room cannot be underestimated and we hope the South African youngsters absorb as much as they can.

PROTEAS WILL LIFT COMPETITION

The MSL will move into its next phase as the Proteas arrive back from national duty. There is no doubt that this will have a significant impact on the competition. The interest will hopefully manifest into bums on seats. On Tuesday night, Faf du Plessis will be available to lead his new franchise the Paarl Rocks. Players such as Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi and David Miller are crowd pullers on their own. The hope is that they raise the standards of the tournament, which has already got off to a good start in terms of cricket.

(Edited by Mihlali Ntsabo)