The news on Tuesday that RAM Hand-to-Hand Couriers were back on board to sponsor the RAM SLAM T20 Challenge would have allowed the powers that be at Cricket South Africa (CSA) to breathe a huge sigh of relief.
It has been a worrying time for the organisation after the sudden departure of CEO Haroon Lorgat was immediately followed by the shocking announcement that plans for the first ever T20 Global League had been scrapped.
Those two killer blows left the local cricketing authority with its tail between its legs, and even more important was the fact that there was a massive gap in the domestic cricket calendar over November and December.
With India’s tour to South Africa also pushed back to the start of 2018 due to that country’s own scheduling conflict, CSA was looking at a quiet festive season.
But now, with the RAM SLAM T20 Challenge set to run from November 10 – December 16 and with most Proteas available for their franchises, there is at least something to look forward to for local cricket lovers.
The likes of AB de Villiers, Dale Steyn, JP Duminy, Quinton de Kock, Hashim Amla and Kagiso Rabada will headline the tournament while Proteas skipper Faf du Plessis is out of action with an injured back until the Boxing Day Test against Zimbabwe.
At the launch of the tournament in Johannesburg on Wednesday, a number of players expressed their satisfaction at having the Proteas available for the tournament.
“All the teams are looking good and strong,” said Warriors allrounder JJ Smuts.
“As players from the Eastern Cape we want to play against the AB de Villiers’ and Dale Steyns … we’re really looking forward to that challenge and testing ourselves against the best in the world.”
Knights and Proteas Test seamer Duanne Olivier agreed.
“It’s exciting for the fans to see how they perform at domestic level,” said Olivier of the Proteas’ impact.
“A guy like AB, Dave (Miller) … all the big names coming back and almost giving back to where they come from and played. I think it’s very exciting.”
For Dolphins captain Khaya Zondo, the tournament would provide South Africa’s younger players with a unique opportunity to feed off the more experienced Proteas.
“Having the Proteas back helps the team a lot. It brings a lot of excitement to the younger guys rubbing shoulders with them for the month,” he said.
“The guys are definitely up for it … we’re keen.”
The first match takes place this Friday when the Warriors host the Knights in Port Elizabeth. DM
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