Contest of contrasting captains will add spice to MSL's candyfloss

Heinrich Klaasen of the Tshwane Spartans during the 2019 Mzansi Super League Tshwane Spartans media day at Supersport Park, Centurion, on 5 November 2019.
Heinrich Klaasen of the Tshwane Spartans during the 2019 Mzansi Super League Tshwane Spartans media day at Supersport Park, Centurion, on 5 November 2019.
Image: ©Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Temba Bavuma and Quinton de Kock will star in a real story behind the bumf of the Mzansi Super League (MSL) opener between the Jozi Stars and the Cape Town Blitz at the Wanderers on Friday.

As one of only six black African players among the total of 37 who have appeared‚ regardless of format‚ in South Africa colours this year‚ Bavuma is a marked man.

With his supporters ever ready to praise him‚ sometimes to a less than deserved degree‚ and his detractors every ready to criticise him‚ often undeservedly‚ he is damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t.

This being South Africa‚ the division is almost invariably drawn on racial lines.

De Kock is the golden teenager of the game in this country‚ even though he is just more than a month away from his 27th birthday.

Like an arch predator at the top of the food chain‚ De Kock faces few threats from the critics.

So it should be for a player who has taken the art and craft of keeping wicket to new levels along with conquering all formats with the bat.

These figures of starkly contrasting contexts will be thrust under‚ for them‚ an unusual spotlight on Friday — when they will captain their teams.

Thoughtful‚ careful Bavuma would seem more suited to the role than instinctive‚ explosive De Kock.

And thereby hangs the intrigue.

Of course‚ there’s not a lot a captain can do when cricket’s wild horse format bolts off on some unchartered tangent.

But the secrets of hanging onto its mane successfully are beginning to show themselves‚ and how well Bavuma and De Kock are able to do so — and the differences they bring to that job — should make for compelling examination.

Bavuma has led teams in 32 matches all told‚ including 10 T20s at the helm of the Lions‚ and won 17 of them.

He cracked 104 off 63 balls in the most recent of those games: against the Warriors in the franchise final at the Wanderers in May‚ when he led his team to victory by 11 runs.

De Kock has captained in 14 games — nine of them under-19 one-day internationals in January 2012 — and won half.

He took over from the injured Faf du Plessis for the last two games of an ODI series South Africa had already won in Sri Lanka in August last year‚ and was named as captain for the T20 rubber in India in September — which ended 1-1 — although he has made plain that he was merely keeping Du Plessis’ seat warm.

The bigger picture is that both Bavuma and De Kock are being considered for the leadership of South Africa’s teams.

Bavuma was South Africa’s vice-captain in their Test series in India last month‚ a fact he might not want on his CV considering India’s 3-0 triumph‚ and TMG Digital has been told he is being groomed to succeed Du Plessis at that level.

De Kock‚ it is understood‚ is the leading candidate to take over the T20 reins.

How they fare at the Wanderers on Friday will add spice to the candyfloss.

X