TELFORD VICE, Cape Town
YOU’RE a South African who couldn’t care less who wins the 2016 Indian Premier League, which starts on Saturday. But you’re casting about for a team to support anyway.
Which to choose? Delhi Daredevils or Kings XI Punjab. Which to shun? Sunrisers Hyderabad.
Quinton de Kock, JP Duminy, Imran Tahir and Chris Morris will play for Delhi, who will be coached by the SA team’s former “performance director”, Paddy Upton. Which makes the Daredevils the most Saffer-soaked side in the tournament.
The addition of hero hitter Carlos Brathwaite to their equation means Delhi will also be among the most supported sides.
Kings XI Punjab count David Miller, Kyle Abbott and Farhaan Behardien among their members. That Miller will captain them may swing your vote.
“He has displayed outstanding batting abilities and a cool temperament in many high-pressure situations,” Kings XI coach Sanjay Bangar said when Miller was appointed.
Miller’s reputation is for playing do-now, think-later cricket. What kind of captain will he make?
Since he became an under-13 provincial player, Miller has stepped across a boundary 448 times in all formats. But he has done so as the captain just four times – three of them at the helm of KwaZulu-Natal in the Africa Cup in September.
His team won two of those matches, but he suffered two first-ball dismissals and scored five in his other innings.
Of course, you might be more interested in the fact that AB de Villiers is back in the colours of Royal Challengers Bangalore, that Kolkata Knight Riders have Morne Morkel in their attack, that Faf du Plessis will take guard for Rising Pune Supergiants, or that Dale Steyn will turn out for Gujarat Lions.
Who? The last two of those teams have been created because Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals have been suspended in the fallout from a corruption and match-fixing scandal. Hey, it’s the IPL – they can do what they like.
KKR’s dressingroom promises to be quieter than most, what with the famously taciturn Jacques Kallis as their head coach.
Kallis, a former Kolkata star himself, said: “KKR is my family in India and the association since 2011 has been one of the most enjoyable experiences for me.”
How Kallis will fare in the wake of his stellar playing career will be keenly watched. But he won’t have too many excuses if KKR fall off their horses considering his assistant is Simon Katich and his bowling coach Wasim Akram.
Jonty Rhodes is Mumbai Indians’ fielding coach, while Allan Donald will corral the bowlers at RCB.
Pune are odds on to be the smartest team in town: MS Dhoni, Stephen Fleming and Eric Simons – their captain, head coach and bowling coach – and Du Plessis are among cricket’s sharpest thinkers.
But that advantage could be negated by the effort that will go into massaging the monstrous egos of two of their other players, Ravichandran Ashwin and Kevin Pietersen.
SA’s contingent of players stands at 14, making the country the second-biggest supplier of foreigners after Australia’s 24.
Nine come from West Indies, another nine from New Zealand, four from England, and two apiece from Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. There are no Pakistanis, unless we take Imran Tahir out of SA’s ranks.
In all, 64 players from other countries will be in action – exactly half as many as the 128 Indians. SA have supplied just more than a fifth of the foreigners.
The Sunrisers are alone among the eight competing franchises in that they have no South Africans on their books.