SA20 Season 2 is just day away and the excitement is reaching fever pitch as all six franchise captains and League Commissioner, Graeme Smith, addressed the media here at iconic Camps Bay, overlooking the picturesque Atlantic Ocean. The second edition of SA20 starts on January 10 with Sunrisers Eastern facing Joburg Super Kings at St George’s Park in Gqeberha. League Commissioner, Smith, was overjoyed to welcome in Season 2 and expects to stage an even bigger and better ''Sportainment'' experience for the South African public. BBL 2023–24: Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne and Alex Carey Available for Remainder of Tournament.

"In my opinion, the teams look much stronger than in Season 1. There is incredible local talent and some superstars from around the world that have joined us. We know the competitive nature of the six franchises and we expect the cricketing stories to be fantastic again", Smith said.

"And then the fans … an event like this can’t be at this level without people coming into the grounds and supporting their teams and having a fantastic time with us over the next few weeks. A lot of hard work has gone into getting this platform ready. We want people to come out and have a wonderful time with us. If it is a Tuesday night at 5:30pm, then anyone in the country can have a great time. It’s catered for everyone," he said.

Durban’s Super Giants captain, Keshav Maharaj, echoed Smith’s sentiments, especially in terms of the crowds flocking back to Kingsmead.

"To be able to see the crowds back, especially from a Durban point of view, it’s been a while since we experienced that. The atmosphere was electric. There was a lot of fun and buzz at the ground. Fans really came in their numbers. Hopefully they build on that again this year and come back in their numbers," Maharaj said.

The experienced Joburg Super Kings captain, Faf du Plessis, believes the League will become the cradle of South African cricket.

"We have seen over the years at the IPL what a difference it makes to young guys. It is a big stepping stone for the future of South African cricket. Some of the guys weren’t even born yet when I started playing. So for me, the superstars we can get here are very important for the tournament. Guys that many of the young players would only have seen on TV,” Du Plessis said.

MI Cape Town captain, Kieron Pollard, meanwhile, was ecstatic to be back in the Mother City and is hoping to turn around his team’s fortunes after a disappointing maiden season.

"I’ve been here before. I’ve enjoyed the city. I’ve enjoyed Newlands and I’ve enjoyed the fans. So, I’ve come and tried to make a difference. Obviously, from a team perspective, we didn’t do as well as we thought we should have,” Pollard said.

"So, now we just want to give the fans something to cheer about. For me, I’m in the twilight of my career, so it’s about enjoyment and hopefully passing on the experience to the younger guys."

Paarl Royals skipper, David Miller, cannot wait for the derbies against local Western Cape rivals MI Cape Town and also his hometown side, Durban’s Super Giants.

“It's always going to be a big game against Polly’s team (MI Cape Town) and that’s always going to be a biggie between the two of us. Personally, coming from Durban and not being with them last season and this season, it is always nice to do well against them. Really excited about what lies ahead for this big competition,” Miller said.

It is not just the action on the field that has everyone waiting in anticipation, with Pretoria Capitals captain, Wayne Parnell, eager to get a taste of the unique atmosphere at Centurion.

"Centurion is a ground I’ve really enjoyed playing at, especially for the Proteas. And obviously being there last season with the Capitals was really special. We were lucky enough to have a great fan base last year and it's really nice to see the engagement for Season 2. I’m looking forward to seeing everyone braaing on the grass banks again,"Parnell said.

Meanwhile, last but definitely not least, defending champions Sunrisers Eastern Cape captain, Aiden Markram, is hoping for a repeat of the magic they produced last season. Afghanistan Cricket Board Lifts Sanctions Imposed on Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Fazal Haq Farooqi, Naveen Ul Haq After They Accept Central Contracts.

"It was a fantastic competition last season. We got into the knockouts by hook or crook, and at least played two games of good cricket after that. It was quite special. It’s a great memory for us and we will give it our best crack again this year," Markram said.

(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Jan 09, 2024 03:08 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website