Cricket South Africa’s premier T20 competition will get underway on January 10 next year and six teams — MI Cape Town, Durban Super Giants, Johannesburg Super Kings, Paarl Royals, Pretoria Capitals and SunRisers Eastern Cape will be participating in the tournament. All six franchises have owners who have teams in the Indian Premier League (IPL) and the competition is being touted as the next big thing in terms of T20 cricket. As there are only 90 odd days to go for the competition, former South Africa spinner Robin Peterson, who is also the general manager of MI Cape Town, spoke to NDTV on what to expect from the tournament.
“I think there is a lot of excitement around the new league. That is on everyone’s lips, I definitely sense guys are trying to improve their skill level. That is why this league is going to be so amazing for South Africa. I think domestic players, have to raise their level of performance and there is a good reward when they do that. I think everybody is excited, not just from the players’ point of view. Even people are excited about when the party comes to town. I think people have been starved of cricket,” Peterson told NDTV.
“I think this is the first year fans have been allowed to come into stadiums. It pretty much looks like the timing is perfect. Expecting it to be a good tournament. Cricket South Africa needed something to give cricket an injection in this country so it definitely is something we are looking forward to,” he added.
MI Cape Town have built a strong squad for the upcoming competition as they have the likes of Kagiso Rabada, Dewald Brevis, Rashid Khan, Liam Livingstone, Sam Curran, Rassie van der Dussen and Olly Stone in their squad. The side will be coached by Simon Katich while former Proteas batter Hashim Amla will be the batting coach.
“I think firstly we have to talk about the success of Mumbai Indians, they are probably one of the biggest franchises in the world in terms of cricket. Their relationship with Cape Town is a good one. I think the city of Cape Town has a massive fan following in terms of the sport. I expect people to get behind the team. Mumbai Indians definitely have an interest in helping the cricket community in Cape Town. I think being involved with MI Cape Town, I have played with them as a player. I always had my links with them even when I was not playing. I think it is a great relationship,” said Peterson.
“MI have a history of playing attacking cricket and that speaks a lot to cricket in Cape Town. Hopefully, that relationship can grow and we can do something special. I think everybody is competitive. Every team has match-winners and that is the beauty of this tournament. I don’t think you can pick a favourite. On paper, everybody has match-winners. I wouldn’t say that on paper we are necessarily the best team. We have selected a balanced team and the side that speaks to the style of play MI have adopted,” he added.
Further talking about SA20 as a competition, Peterson said: “I think if you look at our player base, it is second to none. It is a no-brainer that we have the cricket culture to produce talent. We have the facilities, we know how to run events in this country. We are definitely in a great position to be the second-best T20 competition in the world. Time is perfect, I really feel South Africa are in a great position to make the second-best league after the IPL.”
“You only have to look at the people involved in this competition, every single big IPL franchise is involved here. That speaks volumes, it orders well for the future of the tournament. Give it 1-2 years, I think it is a no-brainer that this will be the second-best competition in the world. I think what will make this league standout is the talent,” he added.
Adding more to his argument, Peterson said: “I think from the local players’ point of view, the product is already good. If you add the international flavour, it can just take it to another level. We are in a magnificent time zone to broadcast the game in different time zones. I think everything lends to having a successful tournament. From year 3, you will start seeing a lot more big international players wanting to be part of this tournament.”
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