Country: South Africa
Teams: Cape Cobras (Winners)
Finally, we reach the country most everyone (opposition) in the CL T20 2011 is waiting for. Not to downgrade them before they play their first game, but hey, they’re South African. Kidding (I think). The winners and runners up of the Standard Bank T20 series gain direct entry into the Champion’s league every year- and they are arguably the most compact T20 teams to walk the turf apart from the two giant from Australia.
As we may have seen so far, players in most of these top teams from all countries tend to overlap- you wonder how you choose the teams they will eventually play for in this competition. But the BCCI has obviously made things uncomplicated for the players in question- ‘show me the money’ has acquired an all-new meaning. Otherwise, how else would you explain that someone like Jacques Kallis or Davy Jacobs picking an IPL team over their very own home teams? Atleast, that’s what the word is so far- and knowing how much of a mainstay most South African players are for each team, this will make a HUGE difference. The Lions last year were a disappointment, and the Cobras will want to make amends for their absence.
The two teams to be gleefully analyzed, for your satisfaction today, are:
The Warriors (Chevrolet Warriors):
In their second consecutive appearance in the CL T20, originally a combined team of the Eastern Province and Border first class teams in South Africa, the Warriors are a specialized T20 outfit created solely for the purpose of beating the best in the business. Much like the entire IPL is. The Warriors, captained by the less-than-diminutive Davey Jacobs (who has almost managed to make a mark for the Mumbai Indians) is a powerful outfit that awakes on the World Stage. The finalists of CL 2010 are one of the mightiest underdogs in the competition- clearly proving their mastery over competitions by quietly reaching the final last year against all odds. Dhoni’s trickery may have proved a bit too much for them in the final, but hey, they’re South African. When was the last time their national team reached a final of a major competition? Hence, the Warriors have outperformed their more illustrious neighbours in CL so far, but things may just change this year.
Rusty no More!
The bad news: They are without their captain. Jacobs may have chosen power over loyalty- and he may be needed much more in the Mumbai team now that Tendulkar and Sharma are injured. Mark Boucher may take over duties for the Warriors, which may not entirely be a bad thing. Rusty Theron, Johan Botha (thanks to Rajasthan’s incompetent nature this season) and Nicky Boje may form the core of the Warriors charge. And of course, there is the small matter of some smaller players like Wayne Parnell, Ntini and Tsosobe. One can safely say that this squad combined with the Cobras squad makes up atleast 85% of the main South African squad- and yes, they are all South African. Much like the England squad.
Cape Cobras (Nashua mobile Cape Cobras):
Skilfully concocted from a delicious pool of talent combined from the Western Province and Boland first class cricket teams, the Cobras have been the most successful South African T20 outfit ever since the start of the competition back in 2005. They have reached four finals, and won two of them- and have extended their dominance over the Warriors in the last three seasons (2-1). Filled to the brim with gigantic bowls of talent, this team resembles the Chennai SuperKings, if you only decide to go star-gazing. No guesses for the fact that their home grounds are Newlands in Cape Town and Boland cricket park in…well, Boland. When the unassuming left-arm journeyman Claude Henderson became the unlikely hero that prevented a strong Warriors batting line-up from chasing down a par total of 166 in this year’s Standard Bank Final, the Cobras may have woken up to the fact that- much like their illustrious Indian counterparts, your regular giants in the squad aren’t going to win you T20 games single-handedly.
C for Champions, C for…
Needless to say, the Cobras have underperformed in the two editions of the CL T20 so far- but two seasons on the world stage may have just been enough for them to come to terms with the fact that they do, indeed, belong. All they need to hope for is the Deccan Chargers (Dale Steyn, Duminy) to continue crash-n-burning in the IPL. All is well, then.
The good news is that most of their players are available. That may come as a heart-attack-inducing shock to Indian fans because they aren’t used to hearing that simple statement anymore. Justin Kemp will resume captaincy duties- armed with a battle squad that includes Gibbs (the former Herschelle Gibbs), Langeveldt, Ontong, the new South African spin hope Peterson, the former English (Indian) all-rounder Owais Shah and the Steyn Gun himself.
What may encourage most other teams in the CL this year is the fact that the Cobras and the Warriors did not, by far, top the league stages of their tiny domestic season- but only peaked in the knockouts- simply because they were facing fellow South Africans.
And as we all know, the entire world is not South African (even though half of England is)- and a blooming miracle apart, one does not see any of these teams win the final this year. Unless, of course, they face each other….which is not a bad strategy.
Next up- we move onto the single teams from West Indies and Sri Lanka, both in the early qualifying competition, and both with a massive chance of crashing out before the main competition. You will soon know why.