It’s time to take a look at one of the less well known T20 competitions on the cricket circuit. Here is a guide to the Mzansi Super League.
History of Mzansi Super League
The Mzansi Super League was a short lived T20 competition which ran for two seasons in 2018 and 2019. It was brought in to replace the Global T20 league and it featured six teams from around South Africa.
The 2020 edition was originally cancelled due to the rise in the Covid pandemic. Since then, the Mzansi Super League has been abandoned and replaced with the new SA20 tournament.
Both editions of the Mzansi Super League featured six teams. In the initial league phase, the sides then played each other twice to establish places in the table. Four points were awarded for wins, two points for no result matches and there was also a possibility of earning bonus points through bigger margins of victory.
After each team had played ten games, the side at the top of the table progressed straight through to the final. The teams in second and third place then competed in a single playoff game. The winner of that match completed the final line up.
Mzansi Super League Teams
Cape Town Blitz
Cape Town Blitz were runners up in the first edition of the Mzansi Super League. Although the team didn’t put up too much of a fight in the 2018 final, they had enjoyed a productive campaign.
In a side skippered by Farhaan Berhardien, their wicket keeper Quinton de Kock was player of the series in 2018, while other notable squad members included Dawid Malan, Andile Phehlukwayo, Anrich Nortje and Dale Steyn.
The Durban Heat were the worst performing team in the history of the Mzansi Super League. They finished bottom of the league in 2018, before a marginal improvement took them to fourth a year later.
The first squad was captained by Albie Morkel who had been replaced by Dane Vilas a year later. Despite their poor performances, they had strong squads that included the likes of Rashid Khan, Hashim Amla, Alex Hales, David Miller and Vernon Philander.
Jozi Stars were the first ever winners of the Mzansi Super League, but they didn’t make a very successful defence the following year. In fact, after winning in 2018, they finished at the bottom of the league table a year later.
In 2018, wickets from Beuran Hendricks and runs from Rassie van der Dussen helped the team to beat Durban by eight wickets in the final. Other top players to feature for Jozi Stars included Chris Gayle, Kagiso Rabada, Simon Harmer and Dan Christian.
Nelson Mandela Bay Giants
Nelson Mandela Bay Giants finished second in the 2019 league table, but were denied a place in the final by Tshwane Spartans who beat them in the semis. The Bay Giants were skippered in both seasons by J.J. Smuts and they fielded experienced squads that included Imran Tahir, Jason Roy, Ben Duckett and Ryan ten Doeschate.
In the 2018 edition of the Mzansi Super League, Nelson Mandela Bay Giants finished in a respectable fourth place.
Paarl Rocks won the second and final edition of the Mzansi Super League in 2019. Captain Faf du Plessis led them to that triumph, while Henry Davids’ brilliant 77 helped the team to overcome Tshwane in the final.
A year earlier, Faf had led Paarl to third place in the league table, but an abandoned semi meant that runners up Jozi Stars progressed to the final. Other notable Paarl Rocks players included Dwayne Bravo, Tabraiz Shamsi and David Wiese.
Tshwane Spartans lost out in the 2019 final, going down to Paarl Rocks by eight wickets, but it had been a productive campaign. AB De Villers led the team strongly and he was backed by key players including Eoin Morgan, Rory Kleinveldt, Dean Elgar and Rilee Rossouw.
In the 2018 edition of the Mzansi Super League, Tshwane finished in fifth place.
It seems strange that Cricket South Africa had previously failed to establish a regular T20 competition. The current SA 20 tournament should change all that, but the Mzansi Super League was certainly a worthy experiment.
While the pandemic saw the tournament grind to a halt in 2020, the truth is that it never really attracted a wide audience. With the advent of the IPL backed SA20, that has all changed and the country now has a world class T20 event, while the Mzansi Super League is consigned to history.