James Fortuin vows Paarl will rock even more next year, Newsline

CAPE TOWN – Paarl Rocks chief executive James Fortuin has admitted the postponement of this year’s Mzansi Super League is a “massive blow” but is looking forward to it coming back “even bigger and better.”

Scheduled to be held in November and December Cricket SA acting CEO Kugandrie Govender confirmed this week that the third edition of the tournament has been moved to 2021 due to various national and international logistical reasons caused by Covid-19.

The Rocks has been the undoubted success story of the first two MSL editions. The Boland Park stadium has been transformed into a colourful extravaganza on match days with the supporters streaming into to create a cacophony of noise. It really has been a unique experience at the winelands venue with the surrounding communities being fully embraced.

No successful brand can, however, be built on a losing team and the Rocks have excelled on the field too by qualifying for the playoffs in the first season before going all the way to clinch the title last year.

“It is a massive blow. We obviously would have wanted to build on the success of last year and maintain the momentum created. Anyone that was present at Boland Park for the final would have felt that goose bump atmosphere and definitely wanted more of it.

“But these are the cards that we have been dealt with and we need to play them. That’s our philosophy at the Rocks. We don’t sulk. We get on with the job. We pride ourselves on bringing a valued product to the market that is high-quality entertainment built on a really strong cricket team.”

Fortuin and his team are not resting on the laurels either. They have done extensive research during the COVID-19 lockdown to try and connect even better with their growing fan base.

Unlike the other five competing teams in the MSL, the Rocks do not have its own franchise team competing in the other South African domestic competitions. Instead they form part of the Cape Cobras, whose traditional base is at Newlands.

While this is a double-edged sword, it does allow the Boland Park team to focus the majority of its energies on the Rocks.

“We have sampled our fan base through surveys relating to which areas we can improve on, whether that’s parking facilities, food vendors, music and even the DJ!

Thus far the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. It has basically been ‘keep doing what you doing and more of the same,” Fortuin added.

While Fortuin drives the majority of the off-field projects, the captain on the field is Faf du Plessis.

The former Proteas skipper has fully embraced the culture of the Rocks and has moulded his motley crew sans of superstars into a championship winning outfit.

There has been speculation that with the re-arrangement of marquee players that Du Plessis may potentially be transferred to another team, but Fortuin is confident the skipper will be back leading the purple and yellow.

“Faf loves it in Paarl,” Fortuin enthused. “Here is by choice.

“He enjoys himself with the guys and the people here. We have had many private chats on what we’re trying to build here and he buys into it wholeheartedly. He is also playing great cricket at the moment so we definitely want him back here in the Boland.”