Geoffrey Toyana, the fans will be our 12th man again

Faf du Plessis
Faf du Plessis
©ction Images via Reuters/Andrew Boyers
 

Paarl Rocks assistant coach Geoffrey Toyana expects Mzansi Super League (MSL) 2.0 to be bigger and better in 2019.

The competition launched to huge fervour and excitement last season with the Cape side reaching the play-offs in the inaugural season.

This time around, things will be even better, says Toyana, who will be working as understudy to Adrian Birrell, adding that there was now an identity that had been embedded into the competition.

“I think it will be bigger and better this time because the team has an identity that goes with it,” the assistant coach said. “The fans know some of the players, but they will miss a guy like (Dwayne) Bravo I'm sure. They had good fun with him, but the people of Paarl will find someone else to entertain them this time.

“They love their sport, whether it’s cricket or rugby, they always come out in numbers to support their teams.

“They play the 12th man role well and it was our fans that pushed us last year to finish in that play-off spot. So, we’re excited to come back this year.”

Paarl landed a few major coups at the draft held last week, signing the likes of former Standard Bank Proteas JP Duminy and Hardus Viljoen as well as current international Dwaine Pretorius.

“No one ever expects the draft to go as planned, but I think we managed to get 95 per cent of the players we were eying, which is a good number for us,” Toyana explained. “So, yes, we’re happy with the squad, we’re excited to have a guy like JP joining us, we’re excited by Dwaine and Hardus coming to us this year.

“There’s also James Vince in the mix, all exciting players and we look forward to another good season this year.”

Englishman Vince recently won the World Cup with England and is a massive coup for the Rocks, according to Toyana. He joins Sri Lanka’s Isuru Udana – the marquee player at Eurolux Boland Park – as one of two foreign players. 

“James Vince was one of our first picks, so we were delighted that no one beat us to him,” the coach elaborated. “He’s a really dangerous cricketer, he can score both sides of the wicket and he can keep.

“Don’t forget he’s a good fielder as well, so he brings all the elements that we want as Paarl Rocks.”

Overall, Toyana feels that the Paarl side is well-rounded and ready to mount a strong challenge again this year. He added: “I think all our bases are covered. We have two excellent spinners in (Tabraiz) Shamsi and Bjorn Fortuin, who is now on the brink of playing for the Proteas.

“The other element of the bowling department is covered by Hardus and Udana, they give us the firepower that we lacked last year.

“Then having JP and Vince join the likes of Aiden (Markram) and Faf (du Plessis), it means we have a strong line-up all round. There’s good balance and general satisfaction overall.”

PAARL ROCKS: Faf du Plessis, Isuru Udana (Sri Lanka), JP Duminy, Tabraiz Shamsi (retained player), Hardus Viljoen, Aiden Markram (retained player), Bjorn Fortuin (retained player), James Vince (England), Dwaine Pretorius, Cameron Delport (kolpak, retained player), Sibonelo Makhanya, Henry Davids (retained player), Mangaliso Mosehle (retained player), Ferisco Adams, Kerwin Mungroo.