The 18 players the Stellenbosch Monarchs hope will bring T20 Global League glory to the Winelands this season have been unveiled after the player draft for the inaugural 2017 campaign was conducted in Cape Town on Sunday.
South Africa Twenty20 International captain Faf du Plessis had already been confirmed as the Protea Marquee player, and Sri Lankan seamer Lasith Malinga joined as the International Marquee player, with the remainder of the squad selected through the exciting draft system that saw players from 13 cricketing nations involved in the picks.
Malinga was named as the International Marquee player for the Monarchs at a gala dinner held on Saturday night.
The seamer, famous for his slinging action and devastating yorkers, has vast experience in the 20-over game, having played in 306 matches in the format, 67 of them internationals for Sri Lanka. In that time he has taken 411 wickets at a fine economy rate of 6.94 to the over.
Among the star names for Monarchs supporters to look forward to in their maiden season is explosive England opening batsman Alex Hales, the only player to score a Twenty20 International century when he smashed 116 not out off 64 balls against Sri Lanka in 2014.He is in some excellent form too after bludgeoning 95 from just 30 balls for English County Nottinghamshire earlier this month, having also clobbered 101 against Yorkshire in late July.
Hales has played 47 Twenty20 Internationals for England with a strike-rate of 133.33, and has been capped by his country in tests and One-Day Internationals as well.
Pakistan spin-bowling all-rounder Imad Wasim, currently ranked top of the ICC’s Twenty20 rankings for bowlers, has also been selected and along with his more than useful middle order batting, can be a potent weapon with bat and ball.
Providing a perfect foil will be South African international spin-wizard Tabraiz Shamsi, who will bring his left-arm unorthodox style to the side. He is an attacking bowler who played against England in two Twenty20 Internationals in June.
There are also locally-born players who started their careers at Boland Park in batting all-rounder Justin Ontong and swashbuckling batsman Henry Davids. Both have represented South Africa in Twenty20 Internationals.
Each team in the competition must select at least two rookie players and the Monarchs have managed to bag former South Africa Under-19 captain Wiaan Mulder.The teenager recently played for South Africa A against touring India and Afghanistan and is viewed as a hugely exciting talent.
The same goes for the team’s second rookie, seamer Lizaad Williams, who also started his career at Boland Park, and Durban-born all-rounder Kyle Simmonds.
“It’s a really exciting mix of styles and experience, and I can’t wait to get going with the side,” says du Plessis. “I believe we have a squad that can compete in a variety of conditions and there are plenty of exciting performers for the fans to be excited about. These are exciting times for myself, the Monarchs and cricket in South Africa.”
The remainder of the squad features South Africa international all-rounders Wayne Parnell and Ryan McLaren, Proteas wicketkeeper-batsman Mangaliso Mosehle, local players in seamers Rowan Richards and Craig Alexander, and batsman Grant Mokoena, ex-Zimbabwe captain and batsman Brendan Taylor and Sri Lanka national team all-rounder Jeewan Mendis.
The Monarchs will be led by head coach Stephen Fleming, an elegant former left-handed batsman who spent 15 years playing international cricket for New Zealand before his retirement in 2008.
Du Plessis and Fleming are reunited after the pair successfully worked together in the Indian Premier League at the Chennai Super Kings between 2011 and 2015.
“Faf is a fantastic leader and a very fine cricketer who will expect a lot from the players, but will demand just as much from himself,” Fleming says. “He has proven over the years to be a match-winner in his own right, but we have a number of players in our squad who can play that role as well.”
“I am excited by the potential that we have, but we know that a lot of hard work lies ahead. It is one thing to have a group of talented cricketers and another to make them successful and to build a team culture.”
“It’s something that assistant coach Eric Simons and I will work extremely hard on before and during the T20 Global League.”
Aside from Simons, Flemings’ management team will also include Enoch Nkwe (second assistant coach), Volvo Masubelele (Team Manager), Craig Govender (Physiotherapist), Drikus Saaiman (Strength and Conditioning), Michele Schmidt (Logistics and Liaison Officer), Sipokasi Sokanyile (Team Media Officer) and Prassana Agoram (Video Analyst).
The inaugural T20 Global League will start in November, with the final set for Reconciliation Day on December 16, when the Stellenbosch Monarchs will hope to be crowned champions.
The other seven teams in the competition, also containing some of the top names in world cricket, will be based in Benoni, Bloemfontein, Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg, Pretoria and Port Elizabeth.
The T20 Global League has been launched in 2017 by Cricket South Africa in order to bring world-class players to local stadiums, and provide a highly competitive environment in which to develop young cricketers in the shortest format of the game.