Corrie van Zyl, Cricket SA general manager and Mzansi Super League playing affairs director, says the tournament will aid development and not impede it. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

JOHANNESBURG - Cricket South Africa does not believe the limited playing spots available in its new T20 competition will hamper the development initiatives which have created a number of opportunities and grown the number of players in the country, particularly from previously disadvantaged areas in the last few years.

There will be 341 players in Wednesday’s draft for the Mzansi Super League, and only 96 spots available across the six squads. Of those, at least 24 will be taken up by foreign players – including South Africans who have signed Kolpak contracts – leaving potentially just 72 spots available for locals.That is a significantly smaller than the 144 positions available in the defunct eight-team T20 Global League, with some of the extra positions in that competition, being designated to young players who had come through Cricket SA’s broad development initiatives.

However Corrie van Zyl, who in his position as Cricket SA’s general manager has overseen a more structured and cohesive development programme that has provided many more opportunities for players doesn’t believe the fewer opportunities available in the MSL will hamper CSA’s development programmes. Cricket SA needs the big name players to sell its new product to the South African public, which will hopefully result in big corporates throwing their financial weight behind the competition, but that could mean fewer chances for unknown young players to make an impression.

“Every player in South African cricket wants to be in the league. Only 96 of the players can make it into the league, which in itself is motivational and inspirational,” said Van Zyl, who will be the tournament’s playing affairs director. 

“There are a lot of good opportunities within Cricket SA structures to give every player in senior provincial cricket who wants to play, a chance to showcase their talent and be seen and be in contention for this league. The coaches are South African, (they) will know the players in the draft, and if a player puts their hands up in domestic competitions there is every chance for them to be in this League. I don’t think it is working against what we are doing (regarding development), its enhancing what we are doing.”

The tournament has been beset by controversy from the time the T20 GL was postponed last year, which cost Cricket SA over R180-million following the failure to secure a TV broadcast deal and to negotiate a headline sponsor.  That event had private ownership, and some of those owners are still threatening to drag Cricket SA to court because they believe their rights as owners have been infringed through a new competition being established while they were not probably reimbursed for money they pored into the event in its previous guise.

A subsequent deal with satellite broadcaster SuperSport also fell through following which CSA penned a deal with the SABC to broadcast the tournament on its TV channels and radio stations. While neither the public broadcaster nor the federation admitted if money changed hands, CSA’s CEO Thabang Moroe admitted that the organisation’s board had planned a R40-million “loss budget” to run the event.

Cricket SA on Monday unveiled the name of the six teams, their logos, the marquee players – both local and foreign – for the competition which starts on November 16. For the most part players have been put with teams from cities they’re most associated with – with the exception of Imran Tahir in Port Elizabeth and Faf du Plessis in Paarl.

At least two black African players must be included in the starting team, which is one less than the requirement for domestic franchise sides. The six foreign marquee players, which includes the exuberant and excellent Afghanistan leg-spinner Rashid Khan – will be unavailable for most of the tournament owing to commitments in the Dubai T10 competition which runs from November 23 to December 2.

IOL Sport

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