10 Jan Sunrisers Eastern Cape begin title defence against amped Joburg Super Kings
Opening match of Betway SA20 Season 2 set up to be a thriller
Tuesday, 9 January 2024: All roads lead to St George’s Park on Wednesday for the much-anticipated Betway SA20 Season 2 opener.
Defending champions Sunrisers Eastern Cape will get an early test of their credentials when they face Joburg Super Kings.
The men in yellow from up north will be hoping to exact revenge for their semi-final defeat to Sunrisers at Centurion last season.
JSK have tasted success at the iconic stadium before, having won in Gqeberha last season. Faf du Plessis’ team were victorious in both group matches after also trumping the Sunrisers at the Wanderers.
The tournament opener promises to be an exhilarating encounter, with both teams possessing an abundance of stars that have set some exciting match-ups.
Both teams are armed with talented young fast bowlers, with Marco Jansen leading the Sunrisers Eastern Cape attack, while Gerald Coetzee and Nandre Burger will be the JSK spearheads.
Burger is keen on forming a fearsome new-ball partnership with Coetzee, pending his Proteas teammate having recovered from a pelvic inflammation that ruled him out of the recent second Test against India at Newlands.
“We have a pretty good relationship. It’s cool every time we get to bowl together. It’s a cool little partnership. I think we gel quite nicely, and I think we complement each other very well,” said the left-arm fast bowler.
Burger is equally excited about charging in at St George’s Park, with the famous brass band in full voice, even though he is on the opposition’s side.
“The band is incredible in terms of the atmosphere it creates. In fact, just the atmosphere this entire stadium creates. It is so cool every time you experience it. It’s unreal. I am so excited. The crowd is always buzzing.
“I find it so cool when a crowd gets involved in a game. It’s the coolest thing when you’re running in and the crowd is cheering,” he said
The Sunrisers, meanwhile, will be without the talismanic Roelof van der Merwe in Season 2, but coach Adrian Birrell has strategically filled the breach in bringing Simon Harmer back to the Eastern Cape.
The wily off-spinner is an equally fierce competitor on the field and will provide a hard edge to the Sunrisers. Harmer was part of the first trade of the League, with Jon Jon Smuts moving in the opposite direction to Durban’s Super Giants.
“This is where my cricketing journey started as a 19-year-old moving down to Port Elizabeth from Pretoria. Gqeberha will always have a special place in my heart, playing in front of the band here, the stadium, the people, the friendly city, very easy going. It’s somewhere that I’ve always enjoyed playing and that I love,” Harmer said.
“Seeing the star above the badge, I want to be a contributor to that… It’s very exciting being the defending champions but the biggest thing for us is looking to win the trophy this year and not looking to defend our title.
“Looking from the outside last year and being involved this year, that’s one thing that the Sunrisers have in their corner is that it’s a bunch of good people, obviously with exceptional skills.
“I’m a very competitive person. I’m going to look to be true to myself and bring that competitive edge, but I definitely think it was a factor in me being in this seat today,” he added.
The Sunrisers have, however, been hit by two late withdrawals with seamer Sisanda Magala and fast bowler Craig Overton ruled out through injury. Magala has been replaced by hard-hitting all-rounder Patrick Kruger.
St George’s Park boasted one of the most festive atmospheres during Betway SA20 Season 1 and fans will no doubt be rocking in the stands again.
Grammy Award-winning Zakes Bantwini headlines the festivities, supported by a merger of electronic dance music and violin courtesy of Veranda Panda.
The pre-match entertainment starts at 4:20pm before the match gets underway at 5:30pm. Gates open at 14h30 to allow fans early access prior to the opening ceremony.
Editorial video and audio from the pre-match press conference can be located below
Images for editorial use can be located below
FULL SQUADS FOR ST GEORGE’S PARK
Sunrisers Eastern Cape
Aiden Markram, Ottniel Bartman, Dawid Malan, Liam Dawson, Marco Jansen, Patrick Kruger, Tristan Stubbs, Brydon Carse, Temba Bavuma, Sarel Erwee, Jordan Hermann, Aya Gqamane, Adam Rossington, Tom Abell, Caleb Seleka, Beyers Swanepoel, Andile Simelane, Simon Harmer.
Joburg Super Kings
Faf du Plessis, Gerald Coetzee, Moeen Ali, David Wiese, Sam Cook, Zahir Khan, Leus du Plooy, Reeza Hendricks, Lizaad Williams, Nandre Burger, Donovan Ferreira, Aaron Phangiso, Sibonelo Makhanya, Kyle Simmonds, Wayne Madsen, Romario Shepherd, Dayyaan Galiem, Ronan Herrmann, Imran Tahir.
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