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There’s more to the Africa T20 Cup than meets the eye

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Africa_T20_Cup_logoThe ambassador for the Africa T20 Cup Makhaya Ntini said, “The development of the game on the continent is something that is close to my heart”.

The Africa T20 Cup may not be first choice when it comes to finances, but alongside sponsorships, there is a whole lot more to look forward to in the competition. Especially when it can aid in the development and growth of cricket throughout Africa, even though only Zimbabwe, Namibia and Kenya will be up against 13 South African provincial sides.

Supporters will get the chance to see legends like André Nel and Makhaya Ntini, while players such as Lonwabo Tsotsobe and Quinton de Kock will be looking to bowl and bat their way back into the national side. For some players, the Africa T20 Cup is more than just a curtain raiser for the South African domestic season. Younger players will get a chance to showcase their talents and prove that they are worthy of franchise selection. In addition, the proposed Rules and Playing Conditions will make it an interesting tournament.

During the past weekend, supporters were treated to the coaching side of former South African fast bowler André Nel, who took charge of the Easterns he played for about 10 years ago. Unfortunately for his team, they were dumped out during the weekend and will not play a further part in the tournament.

Another old face we know, but don’t see on the telly, coaching the provincial side of KwaZulu Natal Coastal, is another former South African fast bowler Roger Telemachus.

 

Once a cricketer has played for the South African national team and been dropped, he uses all that is available to get back to the national side. Quinton de Kock, Lonwabo Tsotsobe and Albie Morkel are just some of those players, and the Africa T20 Cup is that platform used to knock on the selectors’ door.

De Kock has recently received the boot into the South Africa A side to find his form, and did it perfectly by scoring 3 consecutive centuries in the longer format of the game. Regrettably, the Easterns didn’t get that side of him.

Since his surgery earlier last year, Tsotsobe has been out of the national side and the only thing on his mind is to find his way back. Similar to de Kock, he also had a successful tour in the subcontinent with the South Africa A squad. While there is no questioning Tsotsobe’s capabilities, especially in the shorter format, he has to fight tooth and nail for his spot with Kagiso Rabada in the side, even though the Proteas could use a left handed fast bowler. Although he’s been knocking on the selectors’ door for a while, he will continue to knock when he plays for the Gauteng side in the tournament. Hopefully, this time, they will answer.

On a bittersweet note, it seems that Albie Morkel’s international career is over, though his overall cricket career is far from over. He has taken the franchise arena by storm and will continue to wear the captain’s armband when he leads the Northerns in their quest for the Africa T20 Cup title and the 300,000 Rand prize money.

Although Kagiso Rabada will not play in the tournament, his story of going from youth to senior international squad will inspire younger players. Other youngsters like Andile Phehlukwayo and Sibonelo Makhanya have already proven themselves in franchise level, and perhaps may be considered for higher squads.

Western Province off-spinner Emmanuel Sebareme feels that without cricket, he doesn’t know where he would be. The 19 year old left war-torn Rwanda to seek a better living in South Africa and learned how to play cricket in the streets of Steenberg on the Cape Flats.

His cricket journey began with playing on the Flats and later moved to club cricket, where he played for Peninsula CC and changed from bowling medium-fast to bowling spin. It was this change that drew the attention of the Western Province U19 team that played in the Coca-Cola Khaya Majola Week last year. From there, he was selected to the SA Schools XI and life only got better for Sebareme. Again, he caught the eye of more selectors, this time at Newlands, and earned a few caps for the Western Province semi-professional team. And now, it’s the Africa T20 Cup - “It is the biggest tournament of my career,” said Sebareme.

Along with other coaches, Roger Telemachus feels that the Africa T20 Cup is the best platform for younger players to make their mark and establish their careers, and it is these coaches who see the talent coming through the amateur ranks and the pool of talent that is available for selection.

 


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Thobeka ‘Beks’ Ngema. A cricket and football blogger who fell in love with both sports but event...

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