TELFORD VICE in Cape Town
TWO centuries. Eighteen half-centuries. One total of more than 200. Two century partnerships. One team dismissed.
One four-wicket haul. No-one with double figures in the wicket column. No economy rates of less than a run-a-ball.
One side so dominant it would seem to make sense to award all their remaining points now and tell them to take a break with a cheery, “See you in the semi-finals.”
Another team who could well owe their second position in the standings not to winning but, thanks to multiple washouts, to not losing.
And a heap of dropped catches, not to mention an epidemic of shoddy ground fielding.
Those are the bare bones of the story halfway through the league stage of the franchise T20 competition — which was proffered as a consolation for the aborted inaugural edition of the T20 Global League.
So, how’s the replacement faring? That depends on who you ask.
For players who have not reached international level, having the likes of AB de Villiers and Kagiso Rabada around can only lead to a leap in the standards of their own game.
At least that’s the theory. In practice the internationals are streets ahead.
But, importantly, the tournament provides an objective measure of the skills gap between franchise and international cricket.
Plainly it is, as many have argued, big. But at least that has been established as a fact, which in the absence of hard truths can be difficult to achieve without the noise of agendas of all shades cluttering the issue.
There are, of course, plenty of views being aired on social media.
“People here in the UK think [the competition] is a joke,” one commenter wrote. “The quality is poor compared to the … T20 blast where the South Africans who play are those who are wanted by the counties for their talent.”
That South Africa’s best players are involved in their home tournament is the event’s only way to set itself apart from the rest of the lacklustre, unloved, irrelevant domestic game.
But the honeymoon is over, and the thought of having to endure 30 more matches before the semis does not sit well.
David will slay Goliath on occasion. At least we hope so, and that it will happen more often than has been the case.
But we are confident the unbeaten Titans, with their slew of internationals, will keep winning.
And we fear that rain will never leave Durban alone on match days — and so the Dolphins will keep earning unearned points.
Will we see more centuries than those scored by the Lions’ Reeza Hendricks and the Dolphins’ Sarel Erwee?
Will we see another bowling performance as good as Lungi Ngidi’s 4/14?
Will we see a side get through their 20 overs in the field without botching a catch?
The action continues on Wednesday in the shape of games between the Cobras and the Warriors in Paarl, and between the Lions and the Titans at the Wanderers.*
The semi-finals are on December 13 and 14 with the final scheduled for the 16th.
Hang in there, sportslovers.
* Published before Wednesday’s games. The Cobras beat the Warriors by 10 runs and the Wanderers’ match was washed out.