JOHANNESBURG – Friday’s launch summed up the differences between what was going to be the Giants – who were to be owned by the same shareholders as the IPL side the Delhi Daredevils – and what is now the Jozi Stars, wholly owned by Cricket South Africa.
The T20 Global League has been replaced by the Mzansi Super League (MSL), there are two fewer teams, squads are smaller and the money paid to the players less than what would have been the case last year.
However, now just as then, everyone backed the importance of holding the event and ensuring that this time it actually gets off the ground.
The possibility of CSA facing a lawsuit still hangs over the competition, even if the federation’s chief executive Thabang Moroe would rather the public simply ignore the previous owners of T20GL franchises who are threatening to sue.
The tournament will go ahead with a start date of November 16, with the Stars set to begin their campaign at the Wanderers the following day, coincidentally against the team that now carries the moniker Giants, but this year in the new competition is based in Port Elizabeth.
“You will have international stars, and that will bring crowds back to stadiums, and with the SABC aboard, it puts cricket in the homes of the whole country and not just a privileged few,” said fast bowler Beuran Hendricks, who was drafted by the Stars in the fourth round and will earn R650 000 as a result.
The broadcast deal with the SABC is one of the other significant factors this year.
It is understood the public broadcaster paid no fees, but the fact that the competition is on a platform with the biggest ‘reach’ is crucial in selling the tournament to as large an audience as possible, and as a result attract sponsors.
Cricket SA hope to announce a big name commercial supporter in the coming days.
Meanwhile, for the players, who endured the disappointment of the T20GL being postponed last year, are just desperate for the event to get off the ground.
“We really want this tournament to be a success, to go on for the next 20 years, not just be a flash in the pan,” said all-rounder Dwaine Pretorius, who like Hendricks is based at the Wanderers with Highveld Lions.
Hendricks, who spent a season playing in the IPL for the Kings XI Punjab, said the event had a long way to go to match the enormity of that tournament.
“It’s going to be a challenge at the start (for the MSL), but Cricket SA are on the right path,” he said.
All involved with the Stars are happy with the draft which took place this week and the players they were able to pick up.
Chris Gayle returns as the international marquee player, while Kagiso Rabada is the local superstar.
Veteran Australian all-rounder Dan Christian adds further foreign flavour, while the acquisition of Dane Vilas – now a Kolpak-contracted player – adds experience in the batting and leadership departments, as does Simon Harmer in the bowling.
The team will be coached by Lions mentor Enoch Nkwe, who said he would assess the squad closer to the start of the competition before deciding if he needs to invest in another draft due to the absence of Pretorius, Reeza Hendricks and Rabada with the Proteas, and Gayle, who is playing in the Dubai T10 tournament that starts on November 23.
Fixtures for the upcoming @MSL_T20 looking forward to all games let's rock it boys💪👊 @KagisoRabada25 @henrygayle @DaneVilas @Beuran_H13 @reezahendricks @calvin_savage1 @danchristian54 @SimonHarmerRSA @eddieleie pic.twitter.com/4z3NtVGVZx
Jozi Stars Squad
Kagiso Rabada, Chris Gayle (West Indies), Dane Vilas (Kolpak), Rassie van der Dussen, Dan Christian (Australia), Beuran Hendricks, Reeza Hendricks, Dwaine Pretorius, Eddie Leie, Pite van Biljon, Duanne Olivier, Ryan Rickelton, Sinethemba Qeshile (rookie), Simon Harmer (Kolpak), Calvin Savage, Alfred Mothoa.