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Johannesburg – Acting Cricket SA (CSA) chief executive Jacques Faul believes South African companies’ willingness to invest in cricket in the country was a good indication that there was trust in the CSA brand and its management again.
Faul was speaking at the announcement of Blue Label Telecoms as the official sponsor of the Proteas T20 cricket team in Johannesburg on Thursday.
The company’s sponsorship applied for all of the team's international matches, from the start of the T20 International series against England this month, until the end of the Pakistan tour in March next year.
“The indication is that corporate South Africa is looking more favourably at CSA as a partner going forward,” Faul said.
“These are fantastic brands in South Africa, worldwide and in Africa so we want to move on, and we've showed a commitment to restructure our governing structure and to do things better.
“Maybe this is part of the award and also part of the motivation to keep on doing it.”
The SA team will play eight T20 International matches during this period – three against England this month, three against New Zealand over December and two against Pakistan in the first week of March.
This sponsorship does not include the rights to the Proteas for the ICC World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka later this month, as it clashes with one of the ICC's business associates.
While it was a short-term sponsorship, Faul said he was hopeful that this arrangement would pave the way for a longer-term relationship.
“They have indicated that they see this as a long-term investment in cricket and are looking to extend the partnership over a substantial period of time,” he said.
“The Blue Label Telecoms Proteas currently hold the number one ICC ranking in T20 International cricket and will be looking to add further value to the Blue Label sponsorship in the months and years ahead.
“Once there is a fit, there might be willingness to take the whole space that is still available and it is a very good property in cricket.”
Blue Label Telecoms will also have the rights to roll out CSA's customer engagement programme which is as a new initiative and one that will benefit all cricket fans.
“I think we can change the spectator experience going forward in cricket and that makes for a good partnership,” Faul said.
“We are very proud of the Proteas, we think it is a strong brand, number one in the world.
“We hope to win an ICC tournament but we are due for it.”
Faul said the team also showed signs of moving in the right direction under the leadership of Proteas coach Gary Kirsten and captain AB de Villiers.
He added that the emergence of talented players such as Marchant de Lange and Richard Levi reflected positively on South African cricket’s ‘operations pipeline’.
While the sponsorship rights relating to the Proteas and it’s competitions have been taken, Faul said there still existed space for sponsorship of the South African domestic T20 cricket competition.
Blue Label Telecoms CEO Brett Levy said they viewed this partnership as the ideal opportunity to get a foot in the door of South African cricket.
“For us it is to get involved in cricket which is the right step forward, the next six months is really to put everything together and look at a long term relationship,” Levy said. – Sapa