The Proteas may have gone down 2-1 to India in the T20I series but the mood in the camp is likely to be a whole lot better than it was after the ODI loss.
And there is good reason for fans of Proteas cricket to be happy with what went down in a format that has been a weak spot for the national team in recent years.
Throughout the series there were key performances from players who would have been unfamiliar to those not closely acquainted with domestic cricket in South Africa.
From Reeza Hendricks taking the first game deep with a brilliant knock, to the demolition of Yuzvendra Chahal by Heinrich Klaasen, Junior Dala’s golden arm and Christiaan Jonker’s 49 off 24 balls that got the Proteas back into the third match these men displayed that their is quality on offer in our domestic competitions.
Hendricks has maintained solid form despite playing in a struggling Highveld Lions team and has gone a long way towards cementing himself as the T20I opener of choice for the Proteas.
Klaasen announced his arrival on the international scene in the pink ODI but he really impressed with his match winning 69 at Supersport Park, this is a man that was never quite guaranteed a place in the Titans lineup and got his shot because of injury to Quinton de Kock.
The tall keeper’s ODI displays and impressive domestic T20 career allowed him to leapfrog Mangaliso Mosehle, who had taken the gloves when De Kock had missed T20Is before.
Klaasen’s Titans teammate Zambian born fast bowler Junior Dala was perhaps the find of the series and this will come as no surprise to anyone at the franchise.
Dala settled in to international cricket with assurance immediately looking like a quality bowler, showing the mental strength required to execute the same skills as he does in domestic cricket on the big stage.
The 28-year-old seamer took wickets in each match at crucial stages and his run out of Shikhar Dhawan with a direct hit from the boundary was a memorable moment he may cherish for years to come.
Jonker too showed he had big match temperament, when on debut he did what he has done for the Warriors time and again in T20 cricket.
The scenario will have been familiar to Jonker, a two paced pitch, the rate spiraling out of control.
He had the look of a man focused on his task even as he struggled to run the twos that partner Farhaan Behardien was calling him through for, not of someone overawed by the occasion.
Jonker took on Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, two of the best T20 bowlers in the world, and while he couldn’t get the Proteas over the line he made a great fist of it.
This series could be seen as an endorsement of the quality of the T20 cricket played by franchise cricketers in South Africa. The Ram Slam often maligned as a second-rate tournament but clearly it is capable of producing players able to compete at the highest level.
We look forward to Cricket South Africa using future T20I series to reward the top domestic performers and to continue the growth of players who emerged in this series.
Building towards the World T20 should now become a priority and in that light top domestic performers like the Dolphins opener Sarel Erwee and crafty seamer of Malusi Siboto of the Titans should be the next players given a chance to show their ability on the big stage.
Erwee would bring the top-order power-hitting the Proteas hoped David Miller might give them at Newlands while Siboto is a man capable of taking wickets and strangling the scoring rate with his variations.
The future of T20I cricket for the Proteas lies is backing the form performers from domestic cricket to come good even if they aren’t global superstars with million dollar IPL deals.