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International pace attack excites Spartans coach Boucher

Mark Boucher
Mark Boucher

Tshwane Spartans coach Mark Boucher is licking his lips over the potential threat of his international attack that has been assembled for Mzansi Super League (MSL) 2.0.

Standard Bank Proteas pair of Lungi Ngidi and Lutho Sipamla, together with marquee signing Tom Curran of England, as well as South African legend Morne Morkel complete a tantalising pace attack that is set to terrify batsmen at SuperSport Park.

The 2019 MSL season will be played over a five-week period starting on November 8 and running through until December 16.

The big Player Draft was held earlier this month, with Morkel, who played nearly 200 games for his country across all formats, the first name snapped up on the day.

“We knew what we wanted especially at SuperSport Park where the bounce and pace is going to be very effective, so before the actual draft we retained Lutho and Lungi,” Boucher explained. “We’ve also got Tom Curran and we had first pick, so we got Morne Morkel.

“That gives us an international attack. We’re very happy with it, whether they can all play together at the same time, we’re not too sure because of injury and all of that, which is why I am biting my tongue over their fitness.

“But this is certainly an attack that on their night, they can roll through any team.”

Ngidi and Sipamla were amongst four players retained from last year – the others being Theunis de Bruyn and Tony de Zorzi – while local marquee AB de Villiers was always set to stay in the city where he has spent his entire domestic career.

And, apart from their fierce front-line pace quartet, the Spartans have also brought in another rising Protea star in Wiaan Mulder as well as Corbin Bosch.

In terms of spin, their main man is likely to be Roelof van der Merwe, with unknown Afghan Waqar Salamkheil the alternative.

“I was happy with the draft last year as well, but back then things just didn’t go according to plan,” Boucher reflected. “The big thing about last year as well was that our first pick (Ngidi), we lost him through injury, so that set us back quite a bit.

“We had to change the plans and strategies, so we have learnt from last year the way we selected and that’s why you would have probably seen with the squad that we selected this year that it’s a team where we have got cover for everything.

“I think what we missed last season was maybe finishers and middle order batsmen, this time we made sure we got a couple of guys that can do that job. It’s a more balanced squad and we’re happy with what we’ve got.”

Boucher also elaborated on his choice of 17-year-old spinner Salamkheil, a teenage slow left-arm chinaman bowler that has played one Test for Afghanistan and whose named prompted a Google search for most of those following the Player Draft.

“It was a bit of a brave selection after going through a few videos of his,” the Tshwane coach added. “I think in this sort of competition you need a bit of a surprise package.

“Whether he is going to make the starting line-up or not I'm not too sure, but certainly if we get to conditions where the ball is turning a bit then he might be able to bamboozle a few batters.

“Nobody has seen him, maybe a few coaches here and there through videos, but he’s certainly a wicket-taker and a person that can win you a game. I didn’t mind making a brave call, I’ve had a few as well and this is another one in my career.”

 TSHWANE SPARTANS: AB de Villiers, Tom Curran (England), Morne Morkel, Lungi Ngidi (retained player), Heinrich Klaasen, Theunis de Bruyn (retained player), Roelof van der Merwe, Lutho Sipamla (retained player), Pite van Biljon, Tony de Zorzi (retained player), Waqar Salamkheil (Afghanistan), Dean Elgar, Wiaan Mulder, Vaughn van Jaarsveld, Corbin Bosch.