The highly anticipated Mzansi Super League (MSL 2.0) officially kicks off this Friday and the Nelson Mandela Bay Giants are geared to hit the ground running.
The NMB Giants’ campaign starts with a home fixture against reigning champs, Jozi Stars, on Sunday, November 10 at St George’s Park Cricket Stadium from 2pm.
Speaking at the opening press conference hosted in Port Elizabeth on Tuesday, Head Coach Eric Simons said much success came from the first instalment of the T20 Competition, but this year would be a whole new beginning.
“We have good balance in our squad and coming out of the draft we are happy with the selections we made.
“We are certainly looking forward to the challenge, in what should be an exciting tournament.
“It is important for us to start well to build momentum through the competition. The key factor that will drive us is our belief from game one,” Simons said.
Most of the team have assembled in Nelson Mandela Bay with some due to arrive within this week.
England player Jason Roy will be joining the squad later in the week and will be available for all Giants matches this year.
Captain Jon-Jon Smuts said St George’s Park’s faithful could expect a show from their team as the Giants were “an aggressively styled T20 team”.
“It comes down to the brand of cricket you play, and it is very important to stay consistent.”
When asked of his thoughts about captaining the side of 16 individuals that were brought together in such a short time, Smuts said: “It is very important to allow individuals to be individuals, as long as we work together for a common purpose, our differences are what in turn makes us a strong team.
“It can be tough to shoulder the role of captaincy with such a skilled group of cricketers, but it offers me the opportunity to learn from each of the players in the squad, and in turn makes me a better cricketer and captain.”
Most of the players within the six MSL squads come off from more than a month of 4-day cricket and while the transition into T20 cricket is not always easy, all forms of cricket are built on the basics. It is important to the Giants that the entire team is match fit and ready to rise to the occasion, Smuts added.
Assistant coach Robin Peterson expressed his delight in being back home in the Bay as part of the Giants coaching staff.
Peterson said he was particularly looking forward to working and learning from head coach Simons, who has vast experience, having coached around the world.
“T20 cricket has changed how we view the game over the years, but it is in fact still cricket. If we prepare well, play our roles well, we will give ourselves a fair chance in the tournament.”
As a coach it is difficult turning 16 individuals who play cricket for different Franchises into one team, and both Eric and Robin have different ways of overcoming these difficulties, but both coaches agree that the best way is to give yourself enough time to get to know the players, how they view the game and work as individuals and they in turn would grow as coaches in this process.
The MSL is an opportunity for South African Cricket to grow and expand for a sustainable future.
Young cricketers will have the opportunity to grow and build their personal brand of cricket and possibly get further international opportunities through the MSL.