Five top bowlers to watch in Proteas packed CSA T20 Challenge

The Lions’ Bjorn Fortuin is a gun bowlers in the power play. Picture: Sajjad Hussain / AFP

The Lions’ Bjorn Fortuin is a gun bowlers in the power play. Picture: Sajjad Hussain / AFP

Published Mar 7, 2024


By Obakeng Meletse

The Cricket South Africa T20 Challenge kicks off at the Wanderers tomorrow (6pm start), with the Lions taking on Boland.

The Titans are the defending champions and have also named a strong team to defend their title.

IOL Sport look at the potential impact bowlers to look out for – a few bowlers raised their hands during the SA20, while some seasoned campaigners showed the quality and consistency needed to have an impact at the highest level.

Bjorn Fortuin (Lions) SA20 statistics – Matches 11; Wickets 6; Average 48.83; Economy 7.15

Known for keeping things simple, as you see with his bowling action, it hasn’t been an easy road for Fortuin as he has fallen behind Keshav Maharaj and Tabraiz Shamsi in recent times.

The latter duo are the favourites to make the trip to the West Indies and the T20 World Cup in a few months.

Fortuin will be looking to turn his fortunes around, as his numbers didn’t quite add up during the SA20 with the Paarl Royals. Boland are up first for the Lions tomorrow, and the slow left-arm spinner will get his chance to throw his name into the hat to be one of the standout bowlers in the competition.

Tabraiz Shamsi (Titans) SA20 statistics – Matches 10; Wickets 10; Average 28.50; Economy 7.70

By his high standards, Shamsi had a quiet SA20, with 10 wickets to his name with an average he will want to tone down a bit. Arguably one of the best spinners around the world, Shamsi will come into the tournament as the highest-ranked T20 bowler (eighth). There will be a push to be a lead spinner, with strong competition from Maharaj.

Lizaad Williams (Titans) SA20 statistics – Matches 9; Wickets 15; Average 16.53; Economy 9.92

Williams was one of the few Joburg Super Kings players who showed some consistency in a difficult season in the SA20.

They showed glimpses of the team they were in the 2022/2023 season, but hardly ever built up momentum in their campaign, even though they ended up making the play-offs.

Williams was the pick of the bowlers, with his trademark celebration showing up more than his team did for their contests, especially away from home. He will be switching the yellow of the JSK for the blue of the Titans as they aim to defend their title.

Keshav Maharaj (Dolphins) SA20 statistics – Matches 13; Wickets 15; Average 20.47; Economy 7.31

Maharaj will get another opportunity to lead a Durban side, and this time it will be the Dolphins in the T20 Challenge. Maharaj and the Durban Super Giants have made a habit of losing in finals in recent times.

They lost to the Titans in the 2022/2023 season final by four wickets. Recently, DSG lost to the Sunrisers Eastern Cape by 89 runs in the SA20 final.

Maharaj’s leadership on the field as the captain, as well as the lead spinner, will be in the spotlight once again. And although he had a decent outing in the SA20, he will look to go one better and lead his side to the title this time around.

Ottniel Baartman (Dolphins) SA20 statistics – Matches 8; Wickets 18; Average 11.78; Economy 6.95

“The Baartman” will be one of the bowlers to look out for in the T20 Challenge after winning the SA20 best bowler of the tournament accolade with the Sunrisers Eastern Cape, as they defended their title.

Baartman was particularly effectively at the death, and nailed his yorkers for fun, ending the tournament with 18 wickets at an average of 11.78. More impressive was his willingness to take on the responsibility to close out matches and doing so outstandingly.

IOL Sport