Home Sport Cricket Dark clouds loom over SA cricket landscape

Dark clouds loom over SA cricket landscape

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The early forecasts about her mood for this evening aren’t good; clouds initially and then rain later with temperatures more akin to winter than summer

As South Africa’s administrators drag the sport they’re supposed to be running through the mud, the players themselves will try to play on – for now.

The Mzansi Super League returns to Gauteng for the first time since Cricket SA tried to hurl a hand grenade into the sport last weekend, but whether today’s derby at SuperSport Park between the Tshwane Spartans and Jozi Stars will even take place is something Mother Nature may determine.

Early forecasts

The early forecasts about her mood for this evening aren’t good; clouds initially and then rain later with temperatures more akin to winter than summer.

And then, whether any play is possible or not, there is the now genuine concern about whether the tournament will be finished at all in light of yesterday afternoon’s news that the players union, the SA Cricketers Association, had called a meeting for tomorrow when the “possibility of the players taking some form of industrial, or protest, action”, will be discussed.

That could make for a strange atmosphere at SuperSport Park, but these are strange and deeply worrying times for South African cricket.

Ignoring everything that is happening around the sport at the moment is impossible. But for today, at least the players will try to do that.

Looked at in isolation – impossible as that is to do at the moment – the MSL is heading for an exciting conclusion. Only the Jozi Stars, still in search of a first win in the tournament, are out of contention for a play-off spot.

The Spartans have had their play-off hopes hampered by back-to-back defeats at Newlands against the Cape Town Blitz and at St George’s Park against the Nelson Mandela Bay Giants.

From being in a position where they controlled their own destiny, now it’s very much out of their hands, and even more so should the weather intervene today.

The Spartans have been inconsistent in all departments. Top order batsmen Dean Elgar and Theunis de Bruyn have lost form and both were dropped for the Port Elizabeth game, while the bowling, which has struggled at times in the PowerPlay period but then recovered later, did well in the power play in Port Elizabeth and then struggled later.

The fielding was horrible too, and while there is no time to work on that aspect of their play given the short turnaround and travel between matches, it will certainly be at the top of the list of topics that need urgent discussion before play today

“There’s still all to play for,” said young Wiaan Mulder, who made a half-century at the top of the order on Tuesday night.

“It doesn’t help if we sulk about it. We need to keep working and make sure the next time we get the opportunity to win then we take it.”

Today’s match is scheduled start at 5.30pm.

Meanwhile, Blitz fast bowler and leading MSL wicket-taker Dale Steyn has urged the “BlitzBrigade” to come out in their numbers for the team’s final home fixture of the league phase.

Approximately 6 800 people – the biggest crowd in this year’s competition – went through the turnstiles on Sunday to watch the Cape Town side defeat the Spartans by 15 runs.

“It’s awesome to play in Cape Town. It is honestly my favourite ground in the world,” Steyn said.

“Our last game is on Friday and I don’t know what is going to happen, if we are going to make the play-offs, but it doesn’t matter. Friday night is our last game here (at Newlands) and I am hoping for a similar crowd. Cape Town is the bomb.”

The Blitz host the Giants at Newlands tomorrow with the start scheduled for 5.30pm.