The Cape Town Blitz unveiled two of the most legendary beards in world cricket as part of their squad for MSL 2.0 on Monday.
Hashim Amla, who retired from international duty after the World Cup, has answered national captain Faf du Plessis’ call for more former Proteas’ to assist in helping making the national team great again by joining the Blitz as the batting consultant at no charge.
"There’s been a lot of comments about the lack of our former national players involved in the game, and we have a good relationship with Hashim down here in the Cape, so I approached him and he was very open to the idea," Blitz coach Ashwell Prince said. "He is a unique guy. I don’t think he is charging us a penny for his services which is very rare these days.
"The Blitz have quite a few exciting young players in the batting department and to have him share some of his knowledge and ideas with them will be invaluable to have him around. He is also very calm. Faiek (Davids, assistant coach) and myself will bring the other side. Hashim brings that calmness to the environment as well."
It is not only the younger players that will be keen to learn from Amla, with England’s World Cup-winning all-rounder Moeen Ali also excited about joining up with his good friend at Newlands over the next week. Moeen has been whisked to Cape Town for just two games – Jozi Stars on Friday and Paarl Rocks on Sunday – in the absence of Pakistan international Wahab Riaz.
"I think it’s great that we have him. I have spent time with him in the past. He is a good friend," Moeen said.
"As a young player, when someone like Hashim comes and puts his arm around you, even for just to have a little five minute chat, that’s enough, to give you inspiration and confidence."
The Blitz will certainly have an Anglo feel to their side the first week with Moeen joined by fellow England international Liam Livingstone.
However, Moeen is the real drawcard despite him only being available for just the first two games. The 32-year-old has a love affair with Cape Town going back to when he played club cricket in the city for St Augustines CC in Heathfield prior to the start of his international career.
Having proven to be a popular figure among the locals, Moeen is keen to do well in his adopted home town after taking a self-imposed break from the England team.
"Cape Town is an amazing place to come and play. It is one of the best places in the world. Really happy to be back and excited to play for the Blitz," Moeen said.
"I have spoken to some of the guys and they’ve all promised to come out to Paarl and bring their families along for the derby. It is a pity that I won’t be playing a game at Newlands, but maybe that’s a good thing because I don’t actually have a great record there (laughs).
"I am here to get some form and play some good cricket. I’ve had a nice little break which I felt like I needed. I just want to enjoy my cricket and play the fearless type of cricket that I’ve always have."