Cape Town - The Tshwane Spartans squad of 16 players for the inaugural Mzansi Super League (MSLT20) has been confirmed, and there is an intriguing mix of brute power, experience and youthful exuberance.
Headlined by international stars AB de Villiers and England's Eoin Morgan, the Spartans also boast some very canny picks from the more than 200 registered players for the tournament draft.
De Villiers was named as the marquee player, while Morgan was the opening pick of the draft, as the overseas marquee player. Once those two stalwarts were installed, the draft proper unravelled, and towering fast bowler - and darling of SuperSport Park Centurion - Lungi Ngidi joined the Spartan ranks.
Ngidi became the second of seven Titans squad members who will play for the Tshwane-based franchise, which should be a boost for coach Mark Boucher's plans. Along with De Villiers and Ngidi, Tony de Zorzi, Theunis de Bruyn, Dean Elgar, Shaun von Berg and Eldred Hawken will also have a familiarity with their base for the tournament.
The cunning of Sri Lanka's Jeewan Mendis has also been added to the mix, with the leg-spinning all-rounder providing experience and the ability to turn a match on its head. There is also a nod to know-how, with the tenacious Robbie Frylinck,
Andrew Birch, Gihahn Cloete and Rory Kleinveldt all bringing a wealth of domestic experience, and calm to the change-room.
The Spartans also have some help from neighbouring Zimbabwe, with Sean Williams and Sikandar Raza taking their places in the well-balanced squad. Young Lutho Sipamla is the rookie in the squad, and his fast bowling can only develop in leaps and bounds, considering the company he will keep for over a month.
The technical team for the Spartans has also been revealed, and it has a very familiar feel to it, with strong links to the Titans. The head coach for the Spartans is Mark Boucher, and he will be ably assisted by Mandla Mashimbyi.
Working alongside the successful double act will be team manager and England Women’s World Cup winning captain Karen Smithies, physiotherapist Sizwe Hadebe and strength and conditioning specialist Tumi Masekela.
That team has already won plenty of trophies and accolades in unison at the Titans, and they will now be looking to add yet more silverware to the Centurion coffers, albeit under a new name.
TSHWANE SPARTANS SQUAD: AB de Villiers, Eoin Morgan*, Lungi Ngidi, Robbie Frylinck, Jeewan Mendis*, Theunis de Bruyn, Rory Kleinveldt, Sean Williams*, Gihahn Cloete, Lutho Sipamla, Tony de Zorzi, Dean Elgar, Andrew Birch, Sikander Raza, Shaun von Berg, Eldred Hawken.
* Overseas player