Mzansi Super League set to stay but format might change
Cricket SA's embattled showpiece tournament the Mzansi Super League looks set to continue for at least another season, but could also be shortened in line with the rest of the domestic franchise tournaments for 2020/21 which was released today.
There was huge speculation that the MSL, which was the only domestic competition to the concluded in 2019/20 due to the Coronavirus, was set to be culled due to the T20 competition being unable to secure a headline sponsor and sell off its television rights for the two seasons it's been running.
Cricket SA have incurred the majority of the tournament's running costs, which has amounted to millions of rands.
With the organisation looking to drastically reduce costs going forward, the MSL was potentially on its last legs.
However, CSA primarily maintained the franchise status quo on Wednesday by opting to continue with the current six franchise system for the first-class and 50-overs competitions.
The initial plan was to switch over to a 12-team provincial union structure, but after consultation with the South African Cricket Players Association - who legally challenged this proposed motion - there will no drastic changes with no other T20 domestic franchise tournament scheduled either.
Instead, Cricket SA have only implemented formulaic changes with teams in both the first-class and 50-over competitions being grouped in sets of three each. They will then play home and away matches against each of the teams in their own group, for a total of four matches, and only one match against the three teams in the other group, amounting to seven matches for the season.
Previously each of the six franchises played each both home and away in the league phase (10 matches) before a potential semi-final and final.
“It is important that we announce the new structures timeously,” said CSA acting chief executive Dr. Jacques Faul, “so that all franchises and provinces have a clear picture of the road ahead to advise the contracting of their players.
“I would like to thank all our stakeholders for buying into the new structures.
The new structure is expected to reduce Cricket SA's expenses exponentially, particularly in regards to accommodation and travel costs for the six franchises.
Currently only the 50-overs competition is sponsored by Momentum, while the four-day first class tournament has not had a sponsor since Sunfoil's association run its course two years ago.
The much-debated second tier structure will also remain in place, although major structural changes will be implemented. The provincial teams remain divided into two groups of eight and seven teams and will play a single round of fixtures.
However, they will feature in a new 40-over knockout competition which will include the 15 provinces and the South African under-19 side that replaces the previous CSA One-Day competition.
The inclusion of the SA U-19 team is a vital shift after the dismal performance of the Junior Proteas at the ICC U-19 World Cup held on home soil earlier this year.
Part of the problems identified was that the SA-U19 team, unlike many of its contemporaries at these global tournaments had precious little "senior cricket" experience with the majority of the team made up of young cricketers that had only just finished playing schoolboy cricket.
CSA will also introduce a Super Club T20 competition to be contested by the top six university teams and three club sides from the community cup.@ZaahierAdams