The officials responsible for organising the international cricket calendar are often criticised. However, one way or another, someone has got something right, because cricket fans around the world have got so much to excite them over the next eight months.
I am looking forward to being in the thick of the action. It is just under six months since I announced my retirement from international cricket, and I have enjoyed spending precious time with my wife and two young sons, but now, rested and ready to go, I can’t wait to play again.
Some people think I retired from all cricket. That was never the plan. I have been working hard in the gym and nets, and it’s all systems go. This exhilarating barrage of top-class cricket starts with the launch of the inaugural Mzansi Super League in South Africa later this week.
Cricket South Africa encountered some problems in launching their showcase tournament last year, but everything is now in place, the draft has been held, and the six new-look franchise squads appear evenly balanced.
The essence of an exciting T20 competition is that anybody can beat anybody else, but as captain of the Tshwane Spartans team, based at Supersport Park in Pretoria, I believe we have the right mix to be successful.
No sooner than the Mzansi Super League final is won, the focus will switch to the Middle East, where the new Emirates T20 league will be launched.
Leading players from around the world, including Steve Smith, the former Australia captain, making a welcome return to the game, will be starring at venues across the United Arab Emirates. I have agreed to be a global ambassador for the new tournament, and the planning has been exciting.
It feels as though every organisation committee is trying to do something different, trying to introduce that daring innovation or intriguing variation that excites the global TV audience, that sets their tournament apart from the rest. This healthy competition between events is healthy for the game and a spur for progress.
The Emirates T20 straddles Christmas and the New Year holiday, and then, at the start of January, the Bangladesh Premier League gets underway in Dhaka.
“Everybody knows RCB have the potential to win the IPL, and nobody knows quite why we have tended to perform so far below that potential, but we’re not far away, and I fully expect us to be extremely competitive in 2019”
The BPL has grown year upon year, and it has been exciting to watch the matches on television from wherever I have been in the world. Now, finally, I will have the chance to participate, having been selected by Rangpur Riders.
Tom Moody is admired as one of the leading T20 coaches on the circuit, and I am looking forward to playing alongside Chris Gayle, Alex Hales and others, and providing some high-energy entertainment for the Rangpur supporters.
Who made this schedule? It’s starting to feel like Formula One!
Just days after the BPL final is won and lost, the Pakistan Super League will start in Dubai, before moving to Pakistan for the knockout stages.
The PSL is another T20 tournament coming of age; it gets bigger and better with each passing season, and having only watched from afar to date, I am excited at the prospect of participating for the very first time.
I only expect to learn which team I will be representing after the draft is held on November 20, but I will definitely be playing in the 2019 PSL.
Mercifully, there will be a few weeks of rest between the final of the PSL and the start of the Indian Premier League in April.
The IPL remains the biggest T20 tournament in the world, and I can’t wait to rejoin Virat Kohli and the rest of my team-mates at Royal Challengers Bangalore, where we will all be working hard to erase the disappointments of 2018.
Everybody knows RCB have the potential to win the IPL, and nobody knows quite why we have tended to perform so far below that potential, but we’re not far away, and I fully expect us to be extremely competitive in 2019.
There is speculation within the game about whether it will be possible for the IPL to take place in India next year, amid uncertainty about the timing of elections and all the associated implications for security arrangements. In an ideal world, the IPL will always take place in India, entertaining those amazing crowds in packed stadiums, but there are wider concerns and I’m sure the correct decision will be taken.
South Africa stepped in as hosts of the IPL in 2009, and there are rumours that if it’s not possible to stage the tournament in India next year, the matches could be played either in South Africa or the UAE. If the UAE is chosen as a venue, the groundsmen will be doing well to maintain pitches after the PSL.
We will see what happens.
What is beyond doubt is that, wherever the games are staged, the IPL will provide seven weeks of fantastic cricket and exceptional entertainment.
Then, when it’s all over, the leading cricketers in the world will immediately travel to England, host country of the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup, in time for the opening match of the prestigious showpiece event on Friday, 30 May, 2019.
The World Cup final will take place at Lord’s in London on Sunday, 14 July, bringing to a close eight months of non-stop, top class white-ball cricket, in what must be one of the most sustained bursts of intense action in cricket history.
And, aside from all this action, there are the usual international series being played, offering more Test matches, one-day internationals and T20 internationals.
Has the game ever been in a healthier state? I doubt it.