There's no T20 Global League to sparkle up the South African summer. However, its poorer cousin, the franchise T20, will be spiced up by the availability of all national players. While the likes of Kagiso Rabada bowling to AB de Villiers or Hashim Amla facing Imran Tahir are sure to grab the headlines, there are several supporting acts that could take centre stage, not least because players have been told the net is being cast wide and South Africa are on a talent search of sorts ahead of the 2019 World Cup.
Specifically, the spotlight will be on those players who have been given some opportunity in the recent past and are now expected to show what they have learnt at international level on the domestic scene. Significant contributions from these six men could lead to a more regular spot in the South African side later this summer.
Cobras: Dane Paterson
After showing he had the nerve to finish off T20 games last summer, Paterson played a handful of T20 Internationals earlier and showed some promise. He struggled in his first ODI against Bangladesh but got better as the series went on and seemed to be finding form in T20s before he was rested. The shortest format, and death bowling, are said to be Paterson's forte and though he will have to work on his control, this tournament presents the ideal platform for him.
Dolphins: Robbie Frylinck
Ottis Gibson was told Frylinck is "one of the best white ball cricketers in the country," by several sources which led to a national call-up at the age of 33. Age counted for nothing as some nerves showed in Frylinck's two appearances but he has all the makings of a limited-overs handful. Frylinck does not look like an athlete but bowls a heavy ball and can hit one a long way. Though he does not have much time to become an international regular, Gibson has indicated his experience could come in handy as South Africa experiment with, and widen, the player pool.
Knights: Theunis de Bruyn
The Knights captain has been forgotten amongst the glut of allrounders currently available but with impressive numbers and many years ahead of him, he is one to keep a close eye on. While de Bruyn has made his name in longer formats, he is an aggressive batsman who can find the boundary and has healthy List A and T20 averages. Knowing that it's the shorter formats South Africa are tinkering with, he may get a look in.
"I saw him, I liked him," Ottis Gibson said of the 19-year old allrounder, who made his ODI debut against Bangladesh. Mulder was also included in South Africa's Test squad as cover for Wayne Parnell, and had a heart-to-heart with convener of selectors Linda Zondi, who told Mulder he is expected to return to the franchise system and dominate. Mulder's response was a maiden first-class hundred and a place in the ODI squad. While he considers himself a batting allrounder, South Africa will want someone who can contribute in both disciplines and there's expectation pressure on him to become a match-winner.
Titans: Lungi Ngidi
After a four-month sideline with a stress fracture of the back, Ngidi made a stirring comeback with a nine-for in his first franchise first-class game. His coach Mark Boucher has cautioned against over bowling him and rushing him back into the international set-up, so Ngidi will look for consistency as he aims to prove his longevity. Keep an eye out for speeds over 140kph from Ngidi, who will complement an attack that will include Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and, towards the latter stage of the tournament, Chris Morris.
Warriors: Jon-Jon Smuts
He made his T20 debut earlier in the year but was not called up for the Bangladesh series and can consider himself unlucky. Smuts has had a good start to the summer with a century and two fifties in the first-class competition and is joint-seventh on the wicket-takers' list. Smuts is a crafty cricketer, with leadership skills, and could try to work his way back into the national frame through this tournament.