Match Report

SA20 2024: Sunrisers Eastern Cape vs Durban Super Giants

Jon Jon Smuts returned to St George’s Park in Gqeberha for an SA20 League match, scoring 75 off 38 balls and taking 2/35 with the ball to lead the Durban Super Giants to victory. The Sunrisers struggled, despite standout performances from Matthew Breetzke and Tristan Stubbs.

John Goliath
John Goliath

Last Updated: 2024-01-16

Dillip Mohanty

Jon Jon was born and bred in the Eastern Cape and a man who knows St George’s Park in Gqeberha like the back of his hand.

So when Smuts arrived back at his old stomping ground for an SA20 League match, after being traded to the Durban Super Giants from the Sunrisers Eastern Cape, he had a lot to prove.

And Smuts duly showed his former employers and their supporters what they are going to miss this season after he produced a superb all-round performance that boosted the Super Giants to a second consecutive victory in the 2024 SA 20 League.

Smuts scored a superb 75 off just 38 balls (4x4, 7x6) in typical boorish style to propel the Super Giants to a masive 225/3, before breaking the back of the Sunrisers’ chase with a spell of 2/35 with the ball.

“Playing at St George’s Park is pretty special, the Orange Army (Sunrisers’ home crowd) put up a big display again today,” said Smuts.

“It was nice to get some runs and get the team another win. It’s just nice to contribute.”

Another “homeboy” takes the power play by storm

Another Gqeberha starlet Matthew Breetzke (43 off just 29) opened the batting with Proteas stalwart Quinton de Kock (23 off 16), and went about putting the pressure on the home team in the power play.

Breetzke wasn’t afraid to go the aerial route and his knock set up the game for Smuts to hit the Sunrisers bowlers to all parts of this famous old cricket stadium.

Smuts put Harmer to the sword after trading places

Smuts was especially severe on Simon Harmer - the man who he swapped places with at the Durban Super Giants. The former Proteas spinner saw one Smuts maximum fly straight out of the stadium, as Harmer went for 53 runs off his three overs.
But, after Smuts was dismissed by Daniel Worral, West Indies superstar Nicholas Pooran and Heinrich Klaasen found their way to the crease and inflicted even more pain on the home side.
Klaasen (13 of six balls) hit the first ball he faced for four off the middle of the bat, but it was Pooran’s 31-ball 60, which included five fours and four sixes, that knocked the stuffing out of the Sunrisers.
“For me it was easy, I just had to play, because I have Nicholas Pooran and Heinrich Klaasen to come after me,” said Smuts.

“We have a long batting order which obviously helped. I just had to keep playing. That’s where T20 cricket has evolved over the last few years, you just gotta keep going.”

St George’s Park pitch has become a belter

The St George’s pitch wasn’t always conducive to the type of stroke play we witness on Saturday night. It was always on the slow side, with the spinners coming into the game.

But now it seems to be made for batting, after some big scores were posted in the first edition of the SA20 League in 2023 as well.

Smuts seems to think it’s something to do with the new LED lights that the stadium is using.

“To be fair, we didn’t think the wicket was going to be that good. We probably thought 170, 180. As luck would have it we managed to get to 225 and at one stage they looked on course to chase it because we know it kinda skids on under the lights,” said Smuts.

“When I started here the wicket was a lot lower and slower. But in the last six or seven years, I feel the wicket is playing better since the new lights were installed. It’s become a bit of a batting paradise if I’m honest.”

Sunrisers poor either side of the innings break

The Sunrisers were put to the sword in the last five overs, conceding 89 runs in their last five overs after some ordinary bowling.

Their start with the bat was just as poor, as they lost the wickets of Adam Rossington and Jordan Hermann with only 29 runs on the board.

“The way we started with the ball was pretty awesome, which put pressure on them and then we closed out the game perfectly,” said Smuts.

Tom is Abell with the bat, but Smuts has the golden arm

Tom Abell produced a brilliant innings, with a mix of majestic touch and power shot to give the home side and their loud fans some hope after a rather disappointing power play.

Abell (65 off 36 balls) combined well with captain Aiden Markram, as the two built a quick-fire partnership. However it was Smuts who provided the magic yet again, bowling Markram for 28 and also getting rid of the dangerous Marco Jansen.

“While there is Stubbs, there is hope”

The Sunrisers’ R9 million man (385,897 pounds) Tristan Stubbs tried to fight back with a few powerful blows, but he ran out of partners in the end as wickets kept tumbling around him.

His 55 off 26 balls, however, will give him a lot of confidence for the rest of the tournament after that big price tag seemed to weigh heavy on his soldiers.

For now though, the night belonged to Jon Jon Smuts, although he may not be expecting any complimentary drinks from the Gqeberha faithful for the next while.

John Goliath
John GoliathSenior Sports Writer and Editor

John Goliath is a copywriter and editor with 20 years' experience in the sports media industry. John, a Tottenham Hotspur tragic, studied journalism in the Cape Peninsula University of Technology and has worked for two of the biggest media houses in South Africa.