Cape Town – New Durban Heat coach Gary Kirsten is determined to make a winning start to his Mzansi Super League (MSL) tenure when last year’s wooden spoonists launch their 2019 campaign against the Tshwane Spartans in Durban on Saturday.
The KwaZulu-Natal franchise endured a miserable inaugural campaign, winning only three out of 10 matches to end last in the process.
But all that is now in the past as Proteas legend and India’s 2011 World Cup-winning coach has been brought in to turn the tables at Kingsmead.
“Like any coach I want to win, I want to win the tournament and that’s what I’m here for,” Kirsten said ahead of the game against last year’s second-from-bottom side.
“What happened last year is history. We’ve put our squad together; the process was a lot of fun and you hope that you’ve now put a team together that will go out there that will win the right amount of games that will get you into the playoffs.”
Kirsten is not the only new face at the Heat, with the Durbanites freshening up with new personnel all around. They have a new captain in last year’s champion skipper, Dane Vilas, who joined from the Jozi Stars, a new South Africa marquee man in Andile Phehlukwayo and a new foreign marquee player courtesy of England’s Alex Hales.
“You can never predict this game, but we hope the experience that has been added will help us,” Kirsten explained. “Well that’s the thinking at least and if the right guys hit form for us and get us to win big moment games it will help.
“Because that’s what it always comes down to… one over that makes a big difference or one great batting effort that can make a difference… so every team’s a good team and that’s why there was a draft. And we’ve assembled a good squad and hopefully it’s the right one that helps deliver success.”
The Heat coach also believes that making a good start to the competition against the Spartans is important and revealed that establishing the right game plan and strategy is also something they are placing emphasis on.
“Our main focus is understanding our blueprint and the way we want to play,” he added. “That’s what our focus has been in the build-up and it will also be an area that we spend a lot of time on early in the competition.
“We’ll try and plan as well as we can to try and give ourselves the best chance of winning the game. Most importantly we need to get our ducks in a row and build our formula for success.
“Then if we can execute on that with the squad we have, which I’m very excited about, we’ll have a chance of winning.”
Kirsten’s opposite number on Saturday, Mark Boucher, is a man who rarely allows a competition to go past without challenging.
That is what happened last year, but their fans can be assured that they will be right up there come the business end of the MSL in the first week of December.
Their draft business saw them bring in the likes of Morne Morkel and Roelof van der Merwe, veterans of SuperSport Park, and Boucher is hopeful they have the right recipe for success.
“Sometimes you can’t control what happens and that was the case last year,” Boucher said. “This time we’ve brought in some familiar and experienced faces, we have a few good fast bowling additions, more death hitters in the squad and we’re well covered in the areas we may have fallen short in. We’re looking forward to it.”
Last year a slow start contributed to the Spartans’ final position and Boucher highlighted the importance of not repeating that this time.
He added: “We want to make a better start this time and ultimately get into that strong position that will allow us to compete for the trophy. In these competitions, momentum makes a huge difference, we saw that last year, and the start for us is one of the most important things.”
All matches in MSL 2.0 will be broadcast exclusively live on SABC.
Durban Heat squad: Andile Phehlukwayo, Alex Hales, David Miller, Dane Vilas, Ravi Bopara, Keshav Maharaj, Kyle Abbott, Khaya Zondo, Marco Jansen, Daryn Dupavillon, Sarel Erwee, Malusi Siboto, Prenelan Subrayen, Wihan Lubbe, Shaun von Berg, Wesley Marshall.
Tshwane Spartans squad: AB de Villiers, Tom Curran, Morne Morkel, Lungi Ngidi, Heinrich Klassen, Theunis de Bruyn, Roelof van der Merwe, Lutho Sipamla, Pite van Biljon, Tony de Zorzi, Waqar Salamkheil, Dean Elgar, Wiaan Mulder, Vaughn van Jaarsveld, Corbin Bosch, Donovan Ferreira
– Cricket SA