The first two days of action is dedicated to the Franchise Challenge, to be followed by the Africa Challenge on Saturday and Sunday.
Given that the boundaries have been brought in by at least 25% at SuperSport Park, the five-over games are going to be all about sixes and batsmen should have plenty of fun watching the ball soar out of the playing arena – even a well-timed defensive stroke is likely to clear the fence.
For the poor bowlers, there is the very real possibility of being hit for the dreaded six sixes in an over.
“We were joking that if you get hit for six fours in an over, you’re probably winning!” Unlimited Titans captain Henry Davids told The Pretoria News yesterday. “Batsmen are going to be trying to hit practically every ball for six, so it’s going to be exciting. But it’s big pressure for the bowlers and it’s very different to even T20 because that’s played on a normal ground.”
If one over can change the course of a match in T20 cricket, then it stands to reason that one delivery – a wicket or a dot-ball – will do the same in Sixes. So a premium is once again being placed on skills, especially those of the bowlers, because mis-hits are also going to carry for six at the new-look SuperSport Park this week.
“Whoever hits the most sixes is probably going to win and one good over will make all the difference. So if a bowler can bowl a good over in Sixes then he knows he can do a great over in T20 or one-day cricket, so he can look forward to those competitions with confidence,” Davids said.
The six franchises will play each other, with three games each today and two tomorrow, before handing over to the national teams of South Africa, Kenya, Namibia, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe on Saturday and Sunday.
Some fine international cricketers have come over the border to compete in the inaugural Global Softech Sixes Africa Challenge, including Namibians Sarel Burger, Gerrie Snyman and Christi Viljoen, Zimbabwe’s Malcolm Waller and Timycen Maruma, and Kenyans Nehemiah Odhiambo and Collins Obuya. Two well-known figures in South African domestic cricket, Kenyan legend Steve Tikolo and former KZN Dolphins opener Doug Watson, who is coaching Namibia, will be returning to SuperSport Park, where both have scored centuries over the years.
While it will all be huge fun for batsmen and spectators, bowlers might be contemplating turning to religion as they are thrown into the lions’ den.
Titans: Farhaan Behardien, Albie Morkel, Dean Elgar, Roelof van der Merwe, Mangaliso Mosehle, Henry Davids, David Wiese.
Cape Cobras: Justin Ontong, Justin Kemp, Rory Kleinveldt, Richard Levi, Aviwe Mgijima, Stiaan van Zyl, Dane Vilas.
Highveld Lions: Temba Bavuma, Dwaine Pretorius, Chris Morris, Hardus Viljoen, Jean Symes, Shaylen Pillay, Pumelela Matshikwe.
Warriors: Colin Ingram, Ryan Bailey, Lundi Mbane, Basheer Walters, Jon-Jon Smuts, Rusty Theron, Christiaan Jonker.
Knights: Shadley van Schalkwyk, Reeza Hendricks, Tumelo Bodibe, Pite van Biljon, Dillon du Preez, Malusi Siboto, Quinton Friend, Werner Coetsee.
Dolphins: Cameron Delport, Keshav Maharaj, Khaya Zondo, Morné van Wyk, Robbie Frylinck, Sibonela Makhanya, Thandi Tshabalala.
*South Africa’s squad for the Africa Challenge will only be chosen after the Franchise Challenge.
Kenya: Rakep Patel, Shem Ngoche, Nehemiah Odhiambo, Collins Obuya, Nelson Odhiambo, Narendra Patel, Alex Obanda.
Namibia: Nicolaas Scholtz, Sarel Burger, Raymond van Schoor, Gerrie Snyman, JP Kotze, JJ Smit, Christi Viljoen.
Tanzania: Abhik Patwa, Hamisi Abdallah, Khalil Rehemtulla, Nasibu Mapunda, Kassim Mussa, Goodluck Tandika, Benson Nyaikini.
Uganda: Frank Nsubuga, Deusdedit Muhumuza, Roger Mukasa, Daniel Ruyange, Brian Masaba, Arnold Otwan, Jonathan Sebanja.
Zimbabwe: Forster Mutizwa, Malcolm Waller, Timycen Maruma, Kevin Kasuza, Stephen Trenchard, Roy Kaia, Carl Mumba.
Today: 10h00 Cobras v Knights; 10h50 Titans v Warriors; 11h40 Dolphins v Lions; 12h30 Warriors v Cobras; 13h20 Lions v Titans; 14h10 Knights v Dolphins; 15h00 Cobras v Lions; 15h50 Titans v Dolphins.
Tomorrow: 10h00 Warriors v Knights; 10h50 Dolphins v Cobras; 11h40 Knights v Titans; 12h30 Warriors v Lions; 13h20 Titans v Cobras; 14h10 Warriors v Dolphins; 15h00 Knights v Lions; 16h10 Franchise Sixes final.
Saturday: 10h00 Kenya v Namibia; 10h50 Uganda v Tanzania; 11h40 South Africa v Zimbabwe; 12h30 Tanzania v Kenya; 13h20 Zimbabwe v Uganda; 14h10 Namibia v South Africa; 15h00 Kenya v Zimbabwe; 15h50 Uganda v South Africa.
Sunday: 10h00 Tanzania v Namibia; 10h50 South Africa v Kenya;11h40 Namibia v Uganda; 12h30 Tanzania v Zimbabwe; 13h20 Uganda v Kenya; 14h10 Tanzania v South Africa; 15h00 Namibia v Zimbabwe; 16h10 Africa Sixes final.