Chris Morris, Lungi Ngidi, Andile Phehlukwayo, Tabraiz Shamsi, Dane Vilas and David Miller have secured million-rand contracts in the player draft for the upcoming Mzansi Super League, South Africa's new city-based T20 league. They were all picked in the first round, the six teams having already been allocated headlining Protea players last week and then picking their marquee international players in a mini-draft before the main event.
Chris Gayle, Dwayne Bravo, Eoin Morgan, Dawid Malan, Jason Roy and Rashid Khan formed the marquee international picks. All will be away for some portion of the tournament, however, having also signed on for the Abu Dhabi T10 League that runs from November 23 to December 2 - right in the middle of the month-long MSL, which starts on November 16 and ends on December 16.
With the MSL tournament regulations stipulating that every team must include a minimum of three overseas players (including the marquee internationals), three nationally contracted players (inclusive of the allocated Proteas) and a minimum of one domestic rookie, most of the teams opted to build their squads along similar lines to those seen in the domestic franchises - with a few exceptions.
There were some surprises among those who went unsold, including Dwayne Smith, Lendl Simmons, Brendan Taylor, Rilee Rossouw, Sam Billings, Shoaib Malik, Marlon Samuels and Mohammad Irfan. Wayne Parnell and David Wiese might have gone to Durban Heat and Paarl Rocks respectively, but the draft had passed their reserve prices before those teams put in unsuccessful bids.
Jozi Stars: Kagiso Rabada, Chris Gayle, Dane Vilas, Rassie van der Dussen, Dan Christian, Beuran Hendricks, Reeza Hendricks, Dwaine Pretorius, Eddie Leie, Pite van Biljon, Duanne Olivier, Ryan Rickelton, Sinethemba Qeshile, Simon Harmer, Calvin Savage, Alfred Mothoa
Based at the Wanderers, Jozi Stars' bowling line-up will be headed by Kagiso Rabada. The Stars have also secured the services of Chris Gayle as their international marquee player. While Gayle may be at the tail end of his career, his six-hitting ability will come in very handy in Highveld conditions at home.
Durban Heat: Hashim Amla, Rashid Khan, David Miller, Heinrich Klaasen, Kyle Abbott, Keshav Maharaj, Khaya Zondo, Albie Morkel, Marchant de Lange, Vernon Philander, Brandon Mavuta, Temba Bavuma, Morne van Wyk, Okuhle Cele, Sarel Erwee, Tladi Bokako
There's a local flavour to Durban Heat's line-up. They have Hashim Amla and David Miller, both of whom play their franchise cricket for Dolphins and are proven performers at Kingsmead. The Heat already have their spin options sorted, having chosen Rashid Khan and Keshav Maharaj in the draft. Indeed, Rashid was the very first pick of the day, and came at a cost of R 1,000,000 (USD 70,000 approx).
Cape Town Blitz: Quinton de Kock, Dawid Malan, Andile Phehlukwayo, Dale Steyn, Samuel Badree, Asif Ali, Farhaan Behardien, Anrich Nortje, Janneman Malan, Malusi Siboto, George Linde, Ferisco Adams, Jason Smith, Sibonelo Makhanya, Kyle Verreynne, Dane Piedt.
Cape Town Blitz will be based at Newlands, and the core of their bowling attack will be formed by Dale Steyn, Andile Phehlukwayo and Samuel Badree. Coach Ashwell Prince suggested that the Blitz would be making their picks with player availability in mind, and as such they opted for England's Dawid Malan as their international marquee player.
Nelson Mandela Bay Giants: Imran Tahir, Jason Roy, Chris Morris, Jon-Jon Smuts, Junior Dala, Christiaan Jonker, Aaron Phangiso, Ben Duckett, Sisanda Magala, Ryan McLaren, Heino Kuhn, Marco Marais, Dyllan Matthews (rookie), Lizaad Williams, Rudi Second, Carmi le Roux.
St. George's Park is one of the smaller grounds that will host a team at the MSL, with a capacity of 19,000, but they will have one of T20 cricket's most experienced campaigners in their team: Imran Tahir, the Giants' marquee South Africa player. They have also secured Jason Roy's services. JJ Smuts, who is local to the Eastern Cape and plays his domestic cricket for Warriors, has been picked to captain.
Paarl Rocks: Faf du Plessis, Dwayne Bravo, Tabraiz Shamsi, Dane Paterson, Aiden Markram, Mangaliso Mosehle, Bjorn Fortuin, Vaughn van Jaarsveld, Grant Thomson, Paul Stirling, Tshepo Moreki, Henry Davids, Cameron Delport, Eathan Bosch, Patrick Kruger, Kerwin Mungroo.
Boland Park, the ground that will host Paarl Rocks, is even smaller than St George's Park, with a capacity of 10,000. But the universities in the area mean that day-night limited-overs cricket is generally very well attended, and the ground is truly picturesque. The students will no doubt be treated to some wicket-taking celebratory dance moves from Dwayne Bravo and Tabraiz Shamsi, who will both play for the Rocks, as will Faf du Plessis.
Tshwane Spartans: AB de Villiers, Eoin Morgan, Lungi Ngidi, Robbie Frylinck, Jeevan Mendis, Theunis de Bruyn, Rory Kleinveldt, Sean Williams, Gihahn Cloete, Lutho Sipamla, Tony de Zorzi, Dean Elgar, Andrew Birch, Sikandar Raza, Shaun von Berg, Eldred Hawken.
Tshwane Spartans crucially secured AB de Villiers as their marquee South African player before the draft began, and the runs could flow at SuperSport Park as their middle order is shaping up to be one of the most fearsome in the competition. Eoin Morgan is their international marquee player, while Jeevan Mendis rounds out the lower middle order. Lungi Ngidi and Robbie Frylinck will lead with the ball.