• Monica Steyn

AB de Villiers back to lead Tshwane Spartans

AB de Villiers believes the Tshwane Spartans will add richly to the sporting tapestry of a city where, much like the Greek legends from which the new franchise draws its name, fans have grown accustomed to the taste of victory.

De Villiers has been named the Tshwane Spartans franchise’s marquee player for the new ‘Mzansi Super League’ and there is no mistaking where ‘Mr 360’ wants to ply his trade.

"I grew up here, I love playing cricket here, and this is where it all started for me. I could not have asked for a better base to play my cricket at," De Villiers said at the Spartans’ home-ground SuperSport Park.

Despite retiring from the international game earlier this year De Villiers remains one of the biggest drawcards in the sport and is delighted that Cricket South Africa has launched the ‘Mzansi Super League’.

It is a huge step in the right direction for Cricket South Africa, and South African cricket. As a unit, we’ll be looking to not just pull this tournament off, but make it a great spectacle for fans around the world to enjoy."

The Spartans squad is littered with star quality including England One-Day captain Eoin Morgan, young Standard Bank Proteas fast bowler Lungi Ngidi and Sri Lankan all-rounder Jeewan Mendis. De Villiers is looking forward to working alongside all of them and simply getting back on the field after a few months off.

I am extremely excited. I haven't played cricket for a while, but I am getting back into swing of things. I have had these kinds of breaks before and it is always a challenge to get fit and hit balls again. I am really looking forward to that, and what will be a really good challenge in the Mzansi Super League."

As much as De Villiers sees the new league having international appeal, it’s at the home ground in Centurion where he expects the most fan-friendly cricket venue in the country to deliver an unmatched experience. The Spartans will see Mark Boucher take charge as Head Coach, with the assistance of Mandla Mashimbyi.

Tshwane has just got a fantastic atmosphere,” said De Villiers. “It’s the braai capital of South Africa, the people are friendly and they really get behind their team and I’m sure they will get behind the Tshwane Spartans.”

The Spartans will play the opening game of the Mzansi Super League against the Cape Town Blitz at PPC Newlands on November 16. De Villiers will play his first home game for his new team against the Nelson Mandela Bay Giants on November 25. The tournament ends on 16 December.

TSHWANE SPARTANS SQUAD: AB de Villiers (SA), Eoin Morgan (England), Lungi Ngidi (SA), Robbie Frylinck (SA), Jeewan Mendis (Sri Lanka), Theunis de Bruyn (SA), Rory Kleinveldt (SA), Sean Williams (Zimbabwe), Gihahn Cloete (SA), Lutho Sipamla (SA), Tony de Zorzi (SA), Dean Elgar (SA), Andrew Birch (SA), Sikandar Raza (Zimbabwe), Shaun von Berg (SA), Eldred Hawken (SA).

TSHWANE SPARTANS FIXTURES: 16 November – Cape Town Blitz vs Tshwane Spartans 18 November – Paarl Rocks vs Tshwane Spartans 21 November – Durban Heat vs Tshwane Spartans 25 November – Tshwane Spartans vs Nelson Mandela Giants 28 November – Tshwane Spartans vs Jozi Stars 1 December – Tshwane Spartans vs Cape Town Blizt 5 December – Tshwane Spartans vs Paarl Rocks 11 December – Jozi Stars vs Tshwane Spartans 12 December – Tshwane Spartans vs Durban Rocks

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