There is a buzz in South Africa

I landed in Cape Town on Monday and can’t wait to join the team for the SA20.

You can sense in South Africa that there’s a beautiful buzz about this competition. We just hope the cricket lives up to expectation.

The product should be spectacular. The stadiums are fantastic and the weather looks good. The calibre of players signed up only adds to that.

South Africa really want to make this competition a success to achieve their stated aim for it to become the second-most popular T20 competition in the world.

There’s no doubt that the country needs a pick-me-up, in cricketing terms.

The national team lost to the Netherlands in the T20 World Cup, falling short in a major event again, and the Test team have been a total shambles over in Australia.

This is the chance for them not to be also-rans and to actually produce some world-class cricket.

The population here are desperate for the chance to fall in love with cricket, so we’re all hoping it’s a great tournament.

IPL link proves where cricket is heading

England may have put Test cricket back on the map in 2022, but the reality is that this competition is a continuation of cricket moving away from the longer form and towards a franchise-based T20 club model.

The money is in the shortest form of the game – that’s proved by the fact that IPL owners have invested in the six teams in this competition. There’s a continuation there now.

The players are happy to sign up for franchises for multiple competitions. It sets them up for life.

Sportspeople are businesspeople. Forget loyalty or anything else that we try to brand them as. Everybody sees an opportunity to make a lot of money – and win as much silverware as they can while they’re at it.

Jofra Archer is back

There is some terrific talent involved in this competition, lots of which is from England because of the way that the international calendar has fallen.

Jos Buttler is the best batter in the world in this format and we’ve got the T20 World Cup player of the tournament in Sam Curran. Afghanistan’s Rashid Khan is here, too.

For me, the biggest story is the return of Jofra Archer after nearly two years out with injury. I don’t think I was alone in wondering whether he had a future at the top of the game after so many injury blows, but I desperately hope that this is the start of the second phase of his career.

He’s a star of the game, he proved that with his incredible first year in international cricket in 2019.

He’s also one of the nicest guys you’ll meet – except when he has the ball in hand, because you don’t want to be on the receiving end of one of his rockets.

Hopefully he lights up this tournament. It will be huge for England if he does, with the Ashes and the World Cup coming up this year.

Young SA stars can fly

I’ve spoken so often about how the IPL is the greatest cricket academy on the planet, and this competition is a great chance for young South African talent to benefit in the same way.

Yes, all the biggest stars will be involved here. Quinton de Kock, David Miller, Kagiso Rabada and all the other top guys can help give this competition lift-off.

But the development of young players into global stars could really be where this tournament pays off. Dewald Brevis, Marco Jansen, Tristan Stubbs – these are the guys who could make themselves household names and drive the standard of the Proteas team upwards.

I loved watching Jansen, particularly, in the English summer. I’ll be keeping a close eye on how he goes.

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