Former South Africa captain and SA20 league commissioner Graeme Smith recalled meeting MS Dhoni at the airport recently, where the topic of conversation was the upcoming inaugural edition of South Africa's premier T20 franchise tournament.
The former India skipper has had his fair share of moments in South Africa. He led the Men in Blue to the T20 World Cup in 2007 and also won the 2010 Champions League T20 with the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) in the country.
CSK, who have Dhoni at the helm, made the highest bid to acquire the Johannesburg-based franchise in the SA20. The management wasted no time in roping in the likes of Faf du Plessis, Romario Shepherd, Maheesh Theeksana, and Gerald Coetzee ahead of the auction.
Noting that Dhoni was highly interested in the proceedings ahead of the first edition of the SA20, which takes place in little over a month's time, Smith said at an event with Viacom18 Sports in Mumbai:
"I ran into MS at the airport yesterday and the entire conversation was around SA20, so that excited me. He was extremely interested in what was going on and it was great to see that the league is taking the right direction."
"Hopefully, people glue to their TVs and really start to see a number of superstars, not just the 14 or 15 that they know represent South Africa consistently."
The Johannesburg Super Kings have assembled a robust squad with Stephen Fleming as their head coach. The franchise has also added Eric Simons and former South African and CSK all-rounder Albie Morkel to the coaching staff.
"I think this is only the starting point" - Anil Kumble on franchises roping in players to represent their sister franchises like in SA20
All six franchises in SA20, that have Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise owners, have roped in players from their sister franchise in the subcontinent.
The likes of Quinton de Kock, Anrich Nortje, David Miller, Aiden Markram, and Dewald Brevis are all prime examples of this fact.
Noting that the trend of management keeping the core intact of all their sister franchises alike by unearthing talent will only grow from here on, former India bowler Anil Kumble said during the same event:
"There's a lot more investment going in, not just from a financial point of view but also unearthing talent and using that talent to another franchise in another league."
"I think this is only the starting point, it will go around the world where franchises will look to bring in certain players and make sure that they are part of their particular teams and that is something that will happen more."
The inaugural edition of SA20 will take place on January 10 with a contest between MI Cape Town and the Paarl Royals in Newlands.
Who will win the first edition of the highly-anticipated tournament? Let us know what you think.