Faf du Plessis is set to lead Johannesburg Super Kings in the CSA's T20 league, starting next year. Du Plessis, the former South Africa captain, has been picked by the franchise as one of its five direct signings, for US$375,000. The franchise, owned by Chennai Super Kings Cricket Limited (CSKCL) who also own Chennai Super Kings in the IPL, has also acquired the services of Moeen Ali, for $400,000.
Du Plessis has played a total of 100 matches for Chennai Super Kings in two stints, from 2011 to 2015, and then from 2018 to 2021. Moeen, too, became a Chennai Super Kings player in 2021.
"Faf has been a backbone of Chennai Super Kings in the IPL for the last 10 years," CSKCL CEO Kasi Viswanathan said in a statement issued on August 21. "He has been one of the most consistent players for our team. We were not fortunate to pick him during the last auction in the IPL. We were looking for an opportunity and that came up in the CSA T20 League.
"As far as Moeen is concerned, everybody is aware of his potential as an all-rounder and his skills in white-ball cricket. We are very happy to have retained Moeen."
The Johannesburg franchise has picked up another of Chennai's 2022 players, Maheesh Theekshana ($200,000), the Sri Lankan offspinner. West Indies allrounder Romario Shepherd ($175,000) and South African quick bowler Gerald Coetzee ($50,000) have also been signed on by the team.
"In South African conditions, a spinner of his [Theekshana's] caliber will be of great advantage and I'm sure that he will be able to do well there," Viswanathan said. "We are also allowed to take one development player from South Africa. We have decided on Gerald Coetzee, as recommended by Faf.
"Coetzee is one of the most consistent upcoming all-rounders from South Africa. We heard that he's on the verge of making it to the next level. We're hoping that the allrounder from South Africa will be a good addition to the team there."
Apart from the three players - du Plessis, Moeen and Theekshana - some members of the coaching staff are also old Chennai Super Kings men. Stephen Fleming will be the head coach at Johannesburg too, while Eric Simons will be his assistant. ESPNcricinfo has learnt that the franchise is also on the verge of signing Albie Morkel, the former South Africa allrounder, as part of the coaching staff. Morkel was part of Chennai Super Kings from 2008 to 2013 as a player, including when they won back-to-back IPL titles in 2010 and 2011.
The six franchises are allowed direct signings from a pool of 30 marquee names, which were finalised by CSA recently.
As reported by ESPNcricinfo, the English contingent dominated the marquee list, with the pair of Jos Buttler and Liam Livingstone standing to earn up to half a million dollars each.
Moeen was the third most expensive on the list, although there remains no clarity yet on how he will feature in the CSA-run league and in the UAE's ILT20, where he has signed up with Sharjah Warriors (owned by Capri Global). The two leagues will run more or less concurrently in January-February 2023.
The six franchises are allowed a squad strength of 17 players. While franchises have started individually announcing their direct signings, they will pick the remaining 12 players at an auction scheduled for September 20 this year.
They have been given an auction purse of $2 million, but the maximum salary deducted as per the rules will be $250,000. Players getting more than that prescribed salary will still get paid in full, with the amount exceeding $250,000 counted as marketing cost.