Cape Town Blitz 213/3
Jozi Stars 198/5
Blitz won by 15 runs.
The Bullring was a noisy place on Friday night, although little of that noise had anything to do with a large crowd attending the opening match of the 2019 Mzansi Super League.
It was in fact a tiny crowd, for this vast venue – just 4840 – that passed through the gates. The noise came from fireworks, music pumped through speakers operating on full blast and a pair of stadium announcers, one of whom most likely talked Janneman Malan out of a century, by giving a ball-by-ball countdown of every run from his 92nd to his 99th.
At one point the man with the mic enquired – after four balls of the sixth over in the Cape Town Blitz innings – “Hey Jozi fans why are you so quiet?” Possibly because the opposing team was 68/0 and it was the middle of the over.
The T20 format is supposed to be loud, the cricket can seem at times seem secondary to all the flames, fireworks, dancing and whatever set the DJ has brought along, but when it becomes overbearing – and at times downright brainless – as was the case at the Wanderers, then the competition is in danger of attracting less people to the stadium.
Barely 100 people were in their seats by the time the teams completed their warm-ups, about 20 of them applauding when asked to “MAKE SOME NOISE FOR CHRIS GAYLE IN THE BUILDING.”
Only one lonely soul clapped when Cape Town Blitz fans were asked to identify themselves.
Cricket SA have found marketing this event tough – for one they don’t have a lot of money – and for another many South Africans have other distractions – winding down the year at work or exams. The fact that many spare rands have been spent recently on celebrating the Springboks, in bars, shebeens and clubs around the country, also didn’t leave many with spare change to turn up here.
The match was a good advertisement for the T20 format. Over 400 runs were scored, with a total of 41 fours and 16 sixes hit.
Malan’s unbeaten 99 came off 57 balls, and was another indication of his white-ball talents that in the post Hashim Amla era, will make the 23 year old a leading candidate as a replacement. Liam Livingstone, a broad-shouldered Lancastrian, picked in the first round of the draft, gave a brief illustration of his power, depositing one of his three sixes onto the 10th fairway of the adjacent golf course.
Reeza Hendricks top scored for the Stars with 80 (53b, 7×4, 1×6), but his wicket in the 18th over proved decisive. He was Dale Steyn’s third victim, in what was a spell of high quality fast bowling that suggests, if fit, he should be part of the South African squad for next year’s T20 World Cup.