Five things the Mzansi Super League needs this week
It's the third week of the Mzansi Super League and if the tournament doesn't grab the attention of fans now that a large number of schools have completed exams‚ it probably never will.
Wednesday's return to action sees the top of the table clash between the impressive Nelson Mandela Bay Giants and the consistent Cape Town Blitz at St George's Park.
These well-coached and well-drilled teams have put together some good performances‚ but the tournament now is reaching the halfway stage and the play-off positions are starting to take shape.
Here's the five things the tournament needs this week:
1) Overseas stars must amp up their already sparkling performances
The sight of Australia's Ben Dunk (Nelson Mandela Bay Giants) happy slapping Jozi Stars' Duanne Olivier at the Wanderers on Saturday is exactly the reason why overseas players take part in such tournaments - to add impact.
The Giants also have Jason Roy in their ranks and he's shown glimpses of what he's capable of.
When he does come off‚ there'll be fireworks‚ but the Cape Town Blitz have Liam Livingstone (England) and the Pakistani duo of Asif Ali and Wahab Riaz.
James Vince was delightful in his shot making for the Tshwane Spartans‚ who also have Tom Curran in their ranks.
While Chris Gayle needs to take stock of being humbled by Junior Dala‚ the overseas pros are starting to show their worth. We want more though.
2) Will the rain follow the Durban Heat around?
Rain is forecast for Thursday's SuperSport Park encounter between the Tshwane Spartans and the Durban Heat.
This fixture in Durban was washed out‚ so was another Heat home game. The Heat have played three games‚ lost one and the weather has intervened in the other two.
The Spartans have also been affected by the weather‚ even though it came to the rescue against the Giants.
Clement weather is needed for this game before anything else can be put forward.
3) Can the real Jozi Stars please stand up?
Four games‚ four losses and the question arises: Are these your defending champions?
Donovan Miller and Temba Bavuma have to answer this question on Friday when they played the rising Paarl Rocks.
The game is in Paarl with a slow surface and the best crowd of the tournament so far.
It's not going to be easy and as they showed against the Cape Town Blitz‚ the Rocks have a simple spin formula they stick to.
The Stars' batting‚ the backbone of last year's barnstorming success‚ needs to find its spine in this very game or its curtains for their title defence.
4) Exams are done‚ so no excuses for crowds to stay away
The Saturday game in Port Elizabeth (Nelson Mandela Bay v Durban Heat. 12.30)and Sunday's provincial derbies at Newlands (Cape Town Blitz v Paarl Rocks‚ 10am) and the Wanderers (Jozi Stars v Tshwane Spartans 2.30pm)‚ have the potential of being crowd pullers.
If these games don't bring in the crowds‚ then I'm afraid‚ this tournament has a problem.
With log standings as they are‚ there's a lot at stake for these matches. Not even the wet weather should be an excuse for staying away.
5) Can Junior Dala keep up his form?
SA's bubbling under pacemen are asking all the right questions so far. Sisanda Magala's intelligence at the death is something to behold while Nandre Burger's changes of pace have been impressive.
Dala though is a capped Protea who's clearly bowling with next year's T20 World Cup in mind. With that said event starting on October 8‚ this could be last domestic platform for South Africans to show their wares.
With explosive pace‚ hostility and intelligence to match‚ Dala is making count.
There's still a fair way to go in the tournament‚ but there's plenty of places up for grabs and regardless of who'll be the Proteas director of cricket and team director‚ Dala's intent on leaving an unforgettable imprint.