Wisden’s SA20 2023 Team of the Tournament
The first-ever season of the SA20 has come to a close, with an action packed month of competition reaching its conclusion on Sunday.
The South African franchise league has proved a resounding success, with Sunrisers Eastern Cape lifting the trophy. After six teams competed in the group stages, Joburg Super Kings and Paarl Royals were knocked out in the semi-finals, the former despite a 96 off 54 balls from Reeza Hendricks.
After 33 matches including a final delayed for a day by poor weather, here is the Team of the Tournament for the 2023 SA20.
Faf du Plessis (Joburg Super Kings)
10 innings, 369 runs at 41.00, SR: 147.60, HS: 113*
After a slow start for the Super Kings, Faf du Plessis energised their campaign with a brilliant century against the Super Giants. In a chase of 179, Du Plessis reached three figures off 54 balls and hit eight sixes in his innings. He almost scored another century in the next innings he batted in the competition when he reached 92 off 61 balls against Sunrisers, an innings where only he and opening partner Reeza Hendricks made it into double figures for the Super Kings. Du Plessis’ manage to propel his side into the semi-finals, but it wasn’t quite to be. He recorded back-to-back ducks in his final two innings of the competition, with Super Kings losing out to Sunrisers in their semi-final. Without du Plessis’ efforts, however, it’s doubtful the Super Kings would’ve made the knockout stages.
Will Jacks (Pretoria Capitals)
7 innings, 270 runs at 38.57, SR: 201.49, HS: 92
In his seven matches in the competition Will Jacks made a huge impact. Striking over 200, miles out ahead of the rest, he made three fifties for the Pretoria Capitals. The highlight of his purple patch was a brutal 92 against Sunrisers in which he bludgeoned consecutive sixes off Brydon Carse and helped Capitals post 216-6. Jacks is also a contender for both shot and catch of the tournament. The Virat Kohli-esque drive he played with minimal foot movement, carving Jofra Archer down the ground and into the stands was only beaten by his nonchalant one handed running catch on the boundary to dismiss Gerald Coetzee.
Jos Buttler (Paarl Royals)
11 innings, 391 runs at 39.10, SR: 132.54, HS: 70
Jos Buttler wasn’t quite at his explosive best in the SA20, though a tricky home surface went some way towards that. What he was was consistent – no one made more runs in the competition.
Quinton de Kock (Durban’s Super Giants)
9 innings, 271 runs at 38.57, SR: 151.39, HS: 78
Quinton de Kock just edges out Leus du Plooy. He hit two half-centuries for the Super Giants before breaking for South Africa’s ODIs against England, and then hit his competition high score of 63 off 41 balls against MI Cape Town. De Kock’s higher strike rate gives him the edge over du Plooy in this XI, with du Plooy’s average also being boosted by several not out scores. De Kock finished off the competition with a quick-fire 42 off 20 balls, in which he blasted Josh Little for 18 runs exclusively from boundaries in one over.
Aiden Markram (Sunrisers Eastern Cape)
12 innings, 366 runs at 33.27, SR: 127.97, HS: 100; 11 wickets at 14.93, ER: 6.19, BBI: 2-7
A sparkling hundred in the semi final from Aiden Markram saw Sunrisers into the final. After falling to 10-2, Markram scored exactly 100 from 58 balls. Timing the innings to perfection, he was 24 off 20 balls before accelerating towards the back end of the innings. Between the 15th and 19th over, Markram scored 41 runs off 14 balls to bring up his maiden T20 ton. He’s also been more than handy with the ball in the tournament too, including in the final, where his dismissal of Colin Ingram, with a gorgeous off-break, set in motion a decisive collapse.
Heinrich Klaasen (Durban’s Super Giants)
9 innings, 363 runs at 60.50, SR: 164.25, HS: 104*
An average of 60.50 for Heinrich Klassen is the highest on this list, and illustrates the superb tournament he’s had. Third in the run scoring standings, his 104* off 44 balls against the Pretoria Capitals saw them record a monumental 151-run victory. He hit 16 boundaries in his innings with Super Giants reaching 254-4. Having already passed fifty three times in the tournament, he signed off with the century after Super Giants just missed out on a spot in the semi-finals on NRR.
James Neesham (Pretoria Capitals)
11 innings, 176 runs at 25.14, SR: 132.33, HS: 37; 14 wickets at 17.92, ER: 8.27, BBI: 3-7
James Neesham was exactly what you want from an all-rounder in T20 cricket – impactful with the bat in a tough role, chipping in with the ball and rarely expensive, and displaying plenty of added value with some spectacular work in the field.
Gerald Coetzee (Joburg Super Kings)
9 innings, 16 wickets at 13.52, ER: 8.07, BBI: 4-24
Just missing out on the top spot in the wicket taking standings, the inaugural edition of the SA20 was a breakthrough tournament for Gerald Coetzee. At 22-years-old, he’s another product of South Africa’s never-ending pace factory and only one innings in the tournament did he fail to take a wicket. His best performance of 4-24 came against Sunrisers, where he successfully mopped up the tail, before he claimed the prized wickets of De Kock and Klaasen in his following match.
Bjorn Fortuin (Paarl Royals)
10 innings, 14 wickets at 18.21, ER: 6.45, BBI: 3-14
One half of a pair of left-arm spinners in this XI, Bjorn Fortuin put in an impressive display for Paarl Royals. Fortuin often bowled early in the innings, managing to keep things tight while still taking wickets. His economy rate was less than seven for the tournament and his best performance came against the Super Giants where he dismissed Dewald Brevis in the powerplay and took the wickets of De Kock and Dwayne Pretorius with consecutive balls in his next over.
Roelof van der Merwe (Sunrisers Eastern Cape)
9 innings, 20 wickets at 9.55, ER: 5.61, BBI: 6-20
A dream tournament for Roelof van der Merwe. His 6-20 was the undoubted highlight and the best figures of any bowler in the competition. He blew through the Super Giants batting lineup to bowl them out for 86, Sunrisers recording a 124-run victory. He also took the vital wicket of Donovan Ferreira in the semi-final. Ferreira was on 20 off 9 balls and looking dangerous, the wicket effectively ended the Super Kings’ chance of chasing down the total. Four more wickets in the final capped off a superb campaign.
Anrich Nortje (Pretoria Capitals)
11 innings, 20 wickets at 13.25, ER: 6.18, BBI: 3-12
Inevitably, Anrich Nortje rounds off the XI. Leading wicket-taker, even breaking for the South Africa ODI series couldn’t stop him from racing to the top of the standings. His performances led the Capitals all the way to the final and continued his unstoppable form.