South Africans have Unusual Reasons to be Happy Thanks to SA20.

On Tuesday, it was audible at Newlands, on Wednesday at Kingsmead, on Thursday at St. George’s Park, and on Friday at Boland Park. It was the sound of the SA20 finally breathing after a long wait, as well as the generators keeping the lights on amidst the wreckage of South Africa’s damaged infrastructure.

After the first match, tournament organizers at Newlands asked everyone within earshot, What did you think?  They appeared eager to hear the response and appeared to be expecting a list of things they could have done better. There was a small, good list. At least much of it.

A match including Jos Buttler, Jason Roy, David Miller, Eoin Morgan, Tabraiz Shamsi, Dewald Brevis, Sam Curran, Rashid Khan, and Jofra Archer was seen by a sold-out crowd. They had seen Brevis smash an unbeaten 70 off 41, Buttler scores 51 off 42, and Archer, who had missed 17 months due to injuries, bowl with the proper fire to take 3/27.

The one-sidedness of the fixture was the only thing to criticize. With 27 balls remaining, Mumbai Indians Cape Town defeated Paarl Royals by an impressive eight wickets without breaking much sweat. Not that the planners could have anticipated that.

In addition, the situation was resolved the next day in Durban, as the Joburg Super Kings rallied from 27/4 to 190/6, thanks in large part to Donovan Ferreira’s unbeaten 82 off 40. Super Giants of Durban couldn’t make it home despite Quinton de Kock’s 52-ball 78; JSK won a game that was extremely enjoyable by 16 runs.

Steven Bloy, a health, risk, and safety manager in the sugar sector and the brother of Centurion curator Bryan Bloy, collected a six Ferreira that Senuran Muthusamy had thrown down the field while standing up and away in the stands at the southern end of the field. If no other competitors follow suit throughout the competition, Bloy will keep the entire R1 million (US$57,700) first-place reward.

When two of the stadium’s floodlight pylons went dark in between innings, some spectators might have felt they were going to wake up and smell the fuel of tragedy. The lights, cameras, and action resumed as scheduled after that brief hiccup, which was brought on by the need to top off the gasoline in the generators in between innings.

Shaun Pollock, who is typically unflappable, became confused with overs and wickets while providing commentary, saying, It’s 28 for two after naught. He later rectified himself, but the original echoed the joy that South African cricket had recently experienced. The biggest crowd Kingsmead has seen in decades went home happy despite the home side ending up on the wrong side of the result.

On Thursday, the lightning stopped play in Gqeberha, which is unusual for games in the Eastern Cape. However, Phil Salt still managed to record an unblemished 77 off 47 to start and end Pretoria Capitals’ innings of 193/6. Salt and Wayne Parnell shared an uninterrupted 36 off 13 runs, with Parnell scoring all but three of his nine-ball 29 not out with fours and sixes. Due in large part to Anrich Nortje’s 2/18 being in blistering form, Sunrisers Eastern Cape was marooned with a run deficit of 23.

On Friday, the weather in Paarl couldn’t have been more different. The payoff for those who arrived at the stadium before the 1.30 pm start time was a prized spot in the shade under the trees on the grass banks. Temperatures reached 30 degrees Celsius before noon. That and a break from the power outage that Paarl was supposed to experience from 10 am until 2.30 pm, due to those generators.

After being humiliated on Tuesday, the Royals bounced back by dismissing JSK for 81 runs and achieving their goal in 11 overs. Six wickets were split between Bjorn Fortuin and Evan Jones, while Lungi Ngidi, who was playing in his first game since returning from the Test series in Australia, produced his best performance in weeks. With only six scoring strokes from his bowling, half of which came in his final over, Ngidi claimed 1/13. After Faf du Plessis’ top edge soared to deep third, his raucous celebration was a thing of raw and potent beauty. Perhaps playing without wearing a South African jersey is beneficial.

The outcome was a shocking turnabout for both teams, and although the game was even more one-sided than the first one, it did bring back the element of surprise that is the format’s key selling point and which the competition needs to maintain the early interest it has attracted. The story won’t suffer if the Paarl Royals continue to be competitive because they are the only team from a small South African town.

But everything is not good. The competition is an exception to the CSA’s transformation aims, and this is obvious. In the first four games, only 20 of the 88 playing opportunities went to South African players of color. They did occupy all 32 of the seats designated for foreigners. This indicates that about two-thirds of South Africans are white.

The first four matches were placed on unfavorable T20 competition surfaces that were too slow and tacky to allow for an unrestricted flow of runs. Many enjoy situations where the bowlers’ advantage is tipped back in their favor, but the suits prefer to watch sixes going into the distance rather than scoring droughts and large numbers of wickets.

However, those who are curious about what everyone else thinks of their event should know that most of us believe it to be a success. Reciting the potted highlights is meant to emphasize how exciting, occasionally explosive cricket was played by high-caliber players. That could be said for any T20 league in the world that is well-run. But in South Africa, where numerous difficulties have cast a depressing fog over the country, it is a success.

Given that it started at noon on a workday, it is not unexpected that Friday’s match in Paarl was the only one of the first four that wasn’t sold out before game time. Boland Park’s turn will come, though; just one of the final three matches there begin at 1.30 p.m. on a weekday, and the other two are on consecutive weekends. The venue has a 10,000 capacity, making it the smallest one being utilized in the competition, but Paarl’s crowd is unlike any other in the nation in terms of energy.

In terms of atmosphere, Kingsmead has now hosted the SA20’s best crowd. This venue deserves better times after years of low attendance and unfavorable weather. When the competition goes to the Highveld this weekend, that might change—and for the better. Few venues worldwide are as endowed with personality and personalities as the Wanderers and Centurion.

SA20 suits can unwind knowing that the audience is intrigued, the lights are still on, and the players are performing. Even better, you’re providing South Africans who are interested in cricket causes to be happy about the game, which hasn’t been the case for far too long. You’re performing admirably. Exhale at your leisure.