The Ram Slam, surely the best name of all the T20 franchise leagues around the world, is underway. South Africa’s version of the thrash and bash lacks the glitz and glamour of their rival leagues – and it has not been too competitive in recent seasons – but that doesn’t mean we should consider it a decent betting heat on the outright.
It has even been unfashionable in South Africa. The Cricket South Africa powerbrokers tried to put it firmly in the shade this summer by launching a global T20 league. Players like Brendon McCullum and other world leaders in terms of this format had signed up. But then they couldn’t find a sponsor, so it was canned until next year.
So the Ram Slam fights on as the No 1 for at least a year. And that’s fine by us as it is a competition that we have wrestled with for some time and, hopefully, just about come to terms with.
It actually challenges most of the betting rules and regulations which so often hold true elsewhere in the world. Chiefly that on a match by match basis, once the formbook settles, that it is the favourites who dominate. Had you taken on the jolly on every game last campaign you would have been down a hefty few quid.
The Titans, the team from Centurion and Benoni, are the ones to beat. They are the holders having beaten the Warriors on their own ground last term. The previous year they stuffed the Dolphins by seven wickets in the showpiece. They have four titles to their name and one other final appearance. That is sensational for a tournament which has been running only 13 years.
Not surprisingly some green-listed bookmakers make them 2.7 for another win. You don’t get many sides shorter than that in T20 leagues. Unless your name is Stan James or BetVictor who go even skinnier at a barely believable +150.
Sure, the Titans live up to their name collectively. And individually, too. Their batting, for example, is terrifying if you are a bowler. In fact, it’s basically much of South Africa’s batting line-up. Quinton De Kock, AB De Villiers, Farhaan Behardien, Chris Morris, Albie Morkel and David Wiese ensure they bat long and deep.
But only two of those folks can be in at any one time as we always say. And they are prohibitively priced. Surely, you expect more of this column than to tip up such a short price?
Of course. The Knights then are our pick. We have been sweet on them for some time and although, mercifully, we missed out on their bottom-placed finish last term they have a good collection of players in all departments.
These include the excellent Theunis De Bruyn and David Miller in the middle-order engine room, wily all-rounder Ryan McLaren and a bowling attack consisting of the underrated Marchant de Lange, Sydney can Schalkwyk and Eddie Leie.
They have one win already under their belt so another four should see them qualify. They are 7.5 with Stan James to seem them rediscover the form that won them make the final in 2014-15.