Sport

HEAVEN'S ELEVEN

As explosive SA20 final looms, explore our elite South African XI of the tournament

As explosive SA20 final looms, explore our elite South African XI of the tournament
Heinrich Klaasen is the second-highest run scorer in the SA20 behind Ryan Rickelton. (Photo: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images)

The final of the SA20 takes place tomorrow between the Sunrisers Eastern Cape and Durban’s Super Giants. Here, Daily Maverick looked at a South African XI of the tournament.

The SA20 has developed into the perfect platform for South Africa’s best short-format players to express their talents on a global stage and this season they have grabbed their chance with both hands.

Currently, the Proteas only have three formalised T20I fixtures before the start of the T20 World Cup in June. For this reason, head coach Rob Walter has said that performances in T20 leagues will be integral in his selection for the International Cricket Council tournament.

Below is an XI of the South African players that have stood out in this season’s SA20:

Ryan Rickelton (MI Cape Town)

Season two of the SA20 has been a breakout for Ryan Rickelton in the 20-over format. The left-handed strokemaker has represented South Africa in One Day International cricket and in Test cricket but with his 530 runs in 10 innings in the SA20, he has raised his hand highest for a place in at the top of the order in the T20 format.

Rickelton is the leading run-scorer in the competition, having clubbed five half-centuries at a strike rate of 173.77.

Rassie van der Dussen (MI Cape Town)

Rickelton and his opening partner at MI Cape Town, Rassie van der Dussen, have been one of the few shining lights in another gloomy SA20 season for the Cape Town side.

Van der Dussen ended his campaign with 328 runs at an average of 32.80 and a strike rate of 147.74.

He struck a scintillating century against Joburg Super Kings at the start of the tournament as well as a half-century against Pretoria Capitals in his side’s final match. Outside of those two fine innings’, the 35-year-old failed to kick on to get any other big scores but more often than not ensured his side had a solid foundation.

Matthew Breetzke, SA20

Matthew Breetzke.(Photo: Richard Huggard/Gallo Images)

Matthew Breetzke (Durban’s Super Giants)

Matthew Breetzke had his breakout season in the previous edition of the SA20, consequently being noticed by national selectors and making his debut for the Proteas in the format shortly after.

But the stylish batter has taken his form to another level this season. The opener’s consistency has been his trademark, registering only two single-digit scores.

Breetzke has struck 398 runs in 12 digs at a strike rate of 142.14 and a high score of 78.

Jon-Jon Smuts (Durban’s Super Giants)

Durban’s Super Giants’ all-star batting lineup has been a big contributor to their foray into the final of the SA20 and Jon-Jon Smuts has become an integral part of it.

Smuts is the surprise package of the tournament. After minimal game-time at Sunrisers Eastern Cape last season, he made a switch to Durban where the 35-year-old’s game has taken off.

Smuts has struck 297 runs in 11 outings to the crease, knocking three half-centuries.

His tidy left-arm spin has also picked up four wickets at a respectable economy of 7.62.

Heinrich Klaasen (Durban’s Super Giants)

There is arguably no batter in world cricket currently more destructive than Heinrich Klaasen. The sound that the ball makes when it leaves Klaasen’s ferocious blade is akin to a gunshot. Even when he mistimes it the ball often still whistles to the boundary.

Incredibly, after 12 innings this season, and smashing 447, Klaasen is striking at 208.87. For every ball Klaasen faces, he scores at least two runs.

Those are incredible stats for a finisher who only faces around 10 balls an innings. Klaasen, however, scores big too. He is the second-highest run scorer behind Rickelton.

Tristan Stubbs (Sunrisers Eastern Cape)

After being the most expensive player at the inaugural SA20 auction, Tristan Stubbs failed to live up to the expectations attached to his price tag.

This season, however, the long-levered punishing finisher has found his groove. In eight innings, Stubbs has struck 245 runs at an outstanding average of 49. He has passed 50 twice in the tournament and is batting at a strike rate of 164.42.

Marco Jansen (Sunrisers Eastern Cape)

At 23, Marco Jansen remains the premier all-rounder in the country and he has proved that once again this SA20 season. The left-arm quick has picked up 15 wickets with an outstanding best of four for 16 runs against Durban’s Super Giants.

He has only batted six times this tournament but is striking at it at 177.96 with a top score of 71 unbeaten off 31 deliveries against Paarl Royals.

Keshav Maharaj (Durban’s Super Giants)

For a long time Keshav Maharaj was primarily seen as a red-ball bowler before, encouraged by former Proteas coach Mark Boucher, he took his 20-over bowling more seriously.

The 34-year-old has been an excellent leader for SA20 finalists Durban’s Super Giants but his bowling, as usual, has been tidy. He is the leading wicket taker among spinners with 13 scalps while his economy is at a lowly 7.21.

Ottniel Baartman (Sunrisers Eastern Cape)

Ottniel Baartman is one of those players who have grabbed their opportunity in the sun at the SA20 with both hands. The 30-year-old seamer has been brilliant with new ball and old ball, picking up wickets in the powerplay as well as at the death.

In only seven bowling opportunities, Baartman is the leading wicket-taker with 16 scalps and an outstanding average of 12.18. His economy rate is scarcely believable at 7.09 for someone who bowls at the most difficult periods of the game.

Lizaad Williams, SA20

Lizaad Williams. (Photo: Grant Pitcher/Gallo Images)

Lizaad Williams (Joburg Super Kings)

With the absence of Gerald Coetzee through injury this season, Lizaad Williams has led the Joburg Super Kings bowling attack with aplomb. His economy rate of 9.92 has been high but his extra pace, as one of the fastest bowlers in the competition, has proven useful, collecting 15 wickets.

Williams has only bowled in eight matches, missing Joburg Super Kings’ last few matches with a side strain, nonetheless, he is the second-highest wicket-taker in the tournament.

Nandre Burger (Joburg Super Kings)

Having made his debut in all three formats for the Proteas across December, Nandre Burger started the SA20 tournament slowly.

But the left-arm express quick showed his raw pace and accuracy in the latter stages of the tournament, finishing with 11 wickets in 10 outings. His economy rate of 7.94 is decent as well. DM

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Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Johannes Stanfield says:

    Good luck

  • Hannelie Carstens says:

    To my mind there is one glaring omission from the list of outstanding players. Surely Aiden Markram deserves a place in the top XI for his outstanding captaincy, and superlative fielding skills (the one-handed catch he took in the qualifier against the Durban Super Giants serves as a prime example).

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