Pienaar: SA will come to the party

Legendary Springbok captain Francois Pienaar is confident that the South African public will embrace the IPL and ensure the competition will be a success.

While this year’s instalment of the IPL has got off to a great start, with tickets for this weekend’s grand opening selling out with in a matter of hours of going on sale, there have been concerns about whether South Africans will support the competition once the initial hype has worn off.

Pienaar, the man behind the IPL’s new slogan ‘The Heat Is On’, has been involved in the marketing of the IPL in South Africa and the World Cup winner is confident the South African public will get behind the teams.

‘There is already a good understanding of T20 cricket amongst South Africans because of the success of our local competition,’ said Pienaar. ‘The big challenge for us has been to make the South African public aware of the teams and their players in a very short space of time.’

Despite this challenge Pienaar believes that the sub-plots of friends becoming enemies and enemies becoming friends adds to the excitement of the IPL and will help keep the local public captivated.

‘Once the first ball has been bowled, I think that people will be surprised by how much the South African public will embrace the IPL,’ added Pienaar. ‘They [South Africans] will adopt the teams and find new heroes.

‘While this tournament will be a reflection of modern India, it will also be a reflection of what South Africa has to offer.’

Former Indian cricket captain Ravi Shastri backed up Pienaar’s statements.

‘The IPL is an international property and made extremely big because of the players,’ added Shastri. ‘Not often will you get 100 top players under one roof competing against each other. When Kevin Pietersen arrives here he is no longer English, he is South African and there will be a lot of support.’

By Andrew Worling