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Great to see Lions and Titans start well

Many a Johannesburg and Pretoria based cricket lover was probably unsure whether they would go and watch the Champions League T20 as they might still be smarting from the disappointment of the Proteas’ performance in Sri Lanka at the World Twenty20.

After the weekend though many will want to sample some of the same electric atmosphere that was present at SuperSport Park and the Wanderers as the home sides won their opening matches.

I could not help but spare a thought for the late Elise Lombard, a long time servant of the Northerns franchise, as the Titans put out a fantastic performance in their first ever Champions League T20 appearance. She sure would have been proud as their captain Martin Van Jaarsveld said after the win. It was a nice touch too to wear black arm bands in her memory.

The Lions would have many people happy by repeating their upset of the Mumbai Indians as they did a few years ago. Despite being the unfancied underdogs, they absolutely trounced the star-studded Mumbai Indians team and shocked the very players themselves and their supporters.

Watching the South African players that did well in either Highveld team was interesting and had me asking myself how far away those guys were from national selection and then realising how hard it really is to arrive at the best twenty20 players in the country.

Could it be that test and one-day international stars and stalwarts cloud the issue? With the ‘big’ players having to rest so as to be fresh for internationals, they are seldom really compared to the domestic players and win every time in a discussion on who is better because they are and have become fantastic cricketers over their time in the game.

In looking at the twenty20 statistics every year, one may see names that when put up against those who have served the game for a lengthy period of time and are fabulous players with immaculate reputations, pale into relative insignificance and so the tendency is to leave them out.

Comparisons, difficult as this is to do, need to be made solely on the basis of the pertaining format of the game. That way, there is no confusion and undue expectation of certain players. I believe selectors need to get past the thinking that “a good player can adjust to any format of the game” as there are tangible results to work from in terms of assessment.

As the tournament goes on, the likes of Jacques Rudolph, Quinton de Kock, Neil McKenzie and Henry Davids may well not be in the runs but their fantastic displays on the first day of the tournament will invoke thinking all round.

Knowledge of conditions, certainly when playing at the Wanderers and SuperSport Park, will be a great advantage at the first stage of the tournament and it is something that the Lions and the Titans need to make full use of. After that it is the knockout stages and anything can happen there.

It is early days but there are encouraging signs that Lions and Titans fans will enjoy winning celebrations with their teams in the Champions League T20. Just how far they will go, time will tell. Who else will pop their head up to be noticed through good performance? That is what I shall be watching out for.

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