Cape Town - The ever-expanding Twenty20 league scene globally is characterised by the presence of big-reputation power hitters and yorker or wrong ‘un aces, plus the army of veteran hired guns who provide the crucial international flavour in each country’s competition.
But balancing provision also has to be made, in longer-term interests, for wunderkinds to get exposure, potentially flourish and thus rocket a little ahead of schedule to stardom and non rand-based riches … South Africa’s looming T20 Global League will be no different.
Eight privately-owned teams will slug it out over some six weeks between November and mid-December in the maiden competition, for which the player draft will be staged at a leading hotel here on Sunday.
Amidst the fanfare and tension over which glamour players will be snapped up by which city-based franchises - some 400 overseas players from 10 countries have expressed participation interest in filling the international quotas (five maximum) at each team - space is also made for two rookie berths in the now 18-strong squads.
It is understood these players have to be aged 23 or under, and at least one of them will always be picked on match-days.
In that respect, greenhorns like Kyle Simmonds of Boland/Cape Cobras and North West’s Janneman Malan chose an ideal opportunity to wriggle into the draft, courtesy of their exploits during the course of this month for the Emerging SA side in their away series against Zimbabwe ‘A’.
The tourists won the two-match four-day series 1-0, with one draw, and clean swept the unofficial ODIs 3-0.
Durban-born all-rounder Simmonds, 23, was very seldom out of the headline action during the tour.
He scored exactly 100 in the first innings and earned second-innings bowling figures of 5/74 with his left-arm spin in the first four-dayer at Bulawayo, and followed up with a knock of 64 and a further total of four wickets in the stalemate at Kwekwe.
But then his big-striking potential at limited-overs level came hugely to the fore in one of the ‘ODIs’, as he took guard at No 8 - and the visitors in some trouble at 103 for six - to lash a pivotal, 81-ball 100 not out as the total transformed entirely to a swollen 290.
Nelspruit-born Malan, meanwhile, finds himself on the cusp of a possible fast-tracking to action in the company of some of the world’s biggest names in the Global League through similar consistent weight of delivery.
The 21-year-old right-hander registered 66 in one of the four-day encounters, and then in his respective innings in the one-dayers, bludgeoned 108 and 56.
It is important for the broad SA cricket cause, at a time when both the senior team and ‘A’ side have been struggling in the results column in recent months, that a few wunderkinds come to the fore even if it is naturally so much more easily said than done.
That is because even the SA ‘A’ side has been relying a little too heavily, both in selection and performance, on a few slightly older hands: 34-year-old Stephen Cook is a prime example.
Dropped from the Test party for the tour of England, where the Proteas lost 2-1, specialist opener Cook has bounced back to contention with successive scores of 120, 32, 98 and 70 not out for the second-stringers in the two-match unofficial Test series against visiting India ‘A’.
Aiden Markram apart at times, younger batsmen in the SA ‘A’ mix have not really been covering themselves in regular statistical glory.
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