As the Proteas gear up for white-ball action against England, the franchises have followed suit by commencing the One-day Cup, allowing the selectors to keep fringe players match-fit and in one-day mode.
Various national team members made their respective marks in the first round, but the biggest highlight was yet another Ntini bursting onto the scene.
Here’s what we learned.
Like father, like son
Given Makhaya Ntini’s pedigree in South African cricket – he was the first black African to play Tests and finished with a magnificent 390 scalps in the pinnacle form of the game – the weight of expectations on his 19-year-old son, Thando, is huge.
Yet the compact seamer has hardly looked out of place since making his franchise debut with the Cape Cobras after starring for the national Under-19 side previously.
His maiden outing against the Warriors in Oudtshoorn was special for the fact that he showed the priceless gift of being a wicket-taker … and by extension a man who makes things happen.
Ntini junior’s haul of 4/36 in 9.1 overs was perhaps a tad misleading given that he was the beneficiary of at least two poor Warriors strokes, but he kept his head well at the death to claim his fourth, castling Onke Nyaku.
His performance overshadowed an outstanding innings from new Proteas Test opener Pieter Malan, but no-one will mind.
Cape Cobras 274/6 (Pieter Malan 106 , Jason Smith 76 , Dylan Matthews 2/55) beat the Warriors 245 (Rudi Second 66 , Onke Nyaku 30 , Thando Ntini 4/36, George Linde 2/58) by 32 runs.
Highveld Lions’ depth will now be tested
The problem with having a celebrity-packed squad is that a team is inadvertently set up for disruption throughout the season.
Wandile Gwavu’s Lions delivered an impressive performance to tame an equally formidable neighbour in the Titans, but the fact that two Proteas contributed mightily will not escape the coaching staff.
Rassie van der Dussen stabilised the innings with a typically nudgy 65, while Beuran Hendricks recovered from an indifferent start to bowl his left-arm seamers well, grabbing 4/43 in the process.
Both those men are now in the Proteas’ camp, together with captain Temba Bavuma, Bjorn Fortuin and Reeza Hendricks.
That’s a huge void to fill.
Encouragingly though, youth in Ryan Rickelton, who crafted a brilliant 92, and experience in the canny spin of Aaron Phangiso illustrated that those left behind can step up.
Highveld Lions 305 (Ryan Rickelton 92 , Rassie van der Dussen 65 , Wihan Lubbe 37 , Lungi Ngidi 3/40, Dayaan Galiem 2/42) beat the Titans 232 (Henry Davids 49 , Theunis de Bruyn 48 , Heinrich Klaasen 41 , Beuran Hendricks 4/43, Aaron Phangiso 3/39) by 73 runs
Don’t forget about me, guys
The 40-year-old Imran Tahir spun a web around the Knights on a awkward Kingsmead surface, merely confirmed his enduring superstar status.
He’s still eligible for the national T20 squad and wants a ticket to the ICC World T20 in Oz later this year.
However, from a bigger picture perspective, Keshav Maharaj provided a timely reminder that he doesn’t want to be pigeonholed as the Proteas Test spinner.
His exploits against the English clearly rubbed off on him a level lower as he rescued his team with a gritty 43, before chipping in with 2/19 as the rest of his teammates stole the show.
That’s who Maharaj is … supremely reliable and, actually, very good.
Dolphins 209/9 (Prenelan Subrayen 46* , Keshav Maharaj 43 , Marques Ackerman 40 , Shaun von Berg 2/32, Shadley van Schalkwyk 2/42, Corne Dry 2/49) beat the Knights 115 (Wandile Makwetu 29 , Imran Tahir 4/33, Kerwin Mungroo 3/28, Keshav Maharaj 2/19) by 94 runs