The question is will misfiring Gayle be axed?
Jozi Stars captain Temba Bavuma knows it’s win or bust for the defending champions in Paarl this evening.
The Stars have been dismal in the defence of the Mzansi Super League crown, losing all four of their encounters thus far.
And more worrying has been the fact that besides the opening defeat to Cape Town Blitz, the Stars have played poor cricket, with particularly their batting unit not firing collectively.
Bavuma and Reeza Hendricks are among the top individual batsmen in the series, but they have not been offered enough support from the likes of Chris Gayle, Rassie van der Dussen, Ryan Rickelton and Sinethemba Qeshile.
“We’re rock bottom at the moment, so every game now becomes key for us just in terms of turning things around and trying to get some momentum going,” Bavuma said.
“Guys are aware that as a team we are looking for individuals to stand up and put in match-winning performances so that’s what the focus will be on. We have had opportunities to win games so far, but we just haven’t been able to do that.”
The Stars’ management face some tough selection issues. Gayle has been nothing close to the force everyone knows he can be, and new coach Donovan Miller may have to axe the Caribbean superstar.
This would allow captain Bavuma to move up the order to open the batting with Hendricks, and Van der Dussen to settle back into his No 3 position.
Van der Dussen was central to the Stars’ title run last year, coming in at No 3, and ultimately finishing as the tournament’s leading run-scorer.
He has often seemed unsure at No 4 this season in regards to how he should pace his innings, often falling to an attacking shot early on due to the overs running out.
The Stars had a winning formula last season and they seem to have tinkered with it too much, and will quickly need to find it again if they are not to become MSL 2.0’s early casualties.
The Rocks, meanwhile, are hoping to return to winning ways in front of their boisterous home crowd before embarking on a three-game away stretch.
The Paarl side certainly have the advantage of a “12th man” whenever they turn out at Boland Park and they are hoping to make it count against the Stars.
In order to capitalise on this, they will have to produce a better fielding effort under the Boland Park lights than last Sunday when they went down to the Tshwane Spartans.
There were numerous misfields and a couple of dropped catches, and fielding coach Justin Ontong would certainly have worked his charges hard this week.
Paarl Rocks: Isuru Udana, Tabraiz Shamsi, Hardus Viljoen, Faf du Plessis (capt), Kyle Verreynne, Bjorn Fortuin, James Vince, Dwaine Pretorius, Cameron Delport, Sibonelo Makhanya, Henry Davids, Mangaliso Mosehle, Ferisco Adams, Kerwin Mungroo, Thando Ntini.
Jozi Stars: Kagiso Rabada, Chris Gayle, Rassie van der Dussen, Reeza Hendricks, Daniel Christian, Temba Bavuma (capt), Duanne Olivier, Simon Harmer, Ryan Rickelton, Aaron Phangiso, Lizaad Williams, Sinethemba Qeshile, Nono Pongolo, Gerald Coetzee, Delano Potgieter, Dane Paterson.
Start: 5:30pm TV: Sabc3