The Spartans can still get into the play-offs, if they dramatically up the ante in the net run-rate stakes – and results go their way in Wednesday’s other match between the Paarl Rocks and Nelson Mandela Bay Giants. A lot of ‘ifs’, indeed. At the same time, the Heat will remain at the bottom regardless as the round-robin stage of the Mzansi Super League ends with predictable cliches about consolation.
It’s a telling case of what could have been for the Spartans, who evidenced their potential in four victories, but faltered through five defeats. Billed as a strong batting unit throughout, they never quite delivered this – and a first-ball duck for AB de Villiers against the Jozi Stars earlier this week typified his stop-start campaign.
Here’s a last chance, though, to put one over a Heat outfit equally as motivated to step into the future on the right note. Attention is gradually turning to the next MSL, if it happens at all, and there is work for old hands such as Rory Kleinveldt and youngsters such as Lutho Sipamla alike to do. With the player auction and recruitment scouts on the look out too, this is another opportunity for all and sundry to put their hands up for an Indian Premier League contract.
The Heat are smarting – that much is evident. They looked really good on paper before the tournament started. This has not come to fruition – and they were definitely disappointed by a Protea-packed batting order.
David Miller, Hashim Amla, Heinrich Klaasen and company need to show, in this final hurrah, that they can combine individualism with collective success. Khaya Zondo, at least, hasn’t really harmed his approval rating with the national selectors.
Coach Grant Morgan and his chances have so much more to give. And although this is the end of their poor 2018 campaign, one suspects they will be entirely stronger next year.
The Heat beat the Spartans earlier in the tournament, when wet weather also had a say. Hopefully, they will be afforded a full contest on Wednesday. The Spartans should take it this time around.
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