Golden oldies, fearsome fast bowlers, and South Africa's next white-ball captain will all be part of the second edition of the Mzansi Super League (MSL). Here are five reasons to watch South Africa's flagship T20 competition:
Because you can
Domestic cricket had been extinct on the free-to-air broadcaster SABC for more than a decade until last summer. When CSA and their regular broadcast partner, SuperSport, had a fallout over the MSL last year, the board handed the rights to SABC for the inaugural edition. While it cost them millions - CSA reported a loss last year of Rand 200 million (US$ 13.5 million approx.), with MSL accounting for a significant chunk - it meant a majority of cricket fans in the country had a local cricket competition on their TV screens.
This season, while CSA confirmed having charged SABC for the rights, insiders believe it was just a token amount, which means more expenses for the board. Yet again, cricket fans on free-to-air TV have the chance to watch some of their favourite players, and CSA will hope long-term benefits will be reaped in years to come.
It will be like watching South Africa, in the good old days
AB de Villiers, Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel, Imran Tahir, JP Duminy, Kyle Abbott, Duanne Olivier, Hardus Viljoen, Simon Harmer, Dane Vilas, Heino Kuhn - there's an entire XI of retired and Kolpak players to watch at this tournament.
This may not be the best time to look at the ones that got away, even as the depth of the domestic structure is being questioned, but it's still a reminder of the homegrown talent South Africa possesses. Steyn and Tahir remain available in some formats and will look to remind local fans of what they can do - especially Steyn, who was left out of the India T20Is for fitness reasons - while Morkel and Duminy have both identified this event as being their opportunity to give back to the system that provided the foundations for their success.
The Blitz and Spartans attacks
Success in these T20 tournaments has a lot to do with the composition of the squads. Though big-hitters are the most sought after, the make-up of the attack is just as important. Cape Town Blitz and Tshwane Spartans appear to have put together the best combination of fast-bowlers and on pitches that will be starting to show their best characteristics as the summer heats up, they could be the outfits to watch.
In Cape Town, the experience of Steyn, the raw pace of Anrich Nortje and Sisanda Magala, and the death-bowling skills of Wahab Riaz come together, while in Pretoria, Morne Morkel is the wise old man, leading an attack that consists of Lungi Ngidi, Lutho Sipamla and Wiaan Mulder. Not far behind are Jozi Stars, where Kagiso Rabada teams up with Olivier and Dane Paterson in a three-pronged pace pack that could set the Wanderers alight.
The captaincy crunch
It's an open secret that South Africa are seeking Faf du Plessis' successor in all formats, most pressingly the shortest. They opted to leave du Plessis out of the tour to India and appointed Quinton de Kock in his place, suggesting du Plessis may not get his planned swansong at the T20 World Cup this year. This tournament could give us a pointer one way or other.
De Kock has been put in charge of Cape Town Blitz, where his streetwise, simple approach to captaincy has gotten a stamp of approval from coach Ashwell Prince, and would seem to be tightening his grip on national leadership. And, up country, Temba Bavuma, the Test vice-captain, will lead Jozi Stars.
After a successful season in charge of the Lions last year, in which Bavuma scored a memorable century in the domestic T20 final in Lions' win, he is being considered a serious candidate for the national side and this may be his trial run. At Spartans, Heinrich Klaasen takes over the leadership from de Villiers, which could throw a wild card into the works.
English players battling it out
England will tour South Africa this summer, immediately after the conclusion of the MSL, so there's no better place for some of them to audition for a spot in the national team. While Jason Roy is fairly sure of his spot despite being rested for the New Zealand series, Alex Hales, Ravi Bopara and Moeen Ali are all trying to find a way back in.
Hales has the most ground to make after losing his World Cup place but has been given some hope by new coach Chris Silverwood that if he can get the runs, he may be reconsidered. Bopara's move to Sussex was designed to open up more T20 opportunities so he could put himself in contention for the T20 World Cup and though Moeen will only play two games in the tournament, he will hope that's enough to earn a return trip to South Africa later in the summer.