Cricket SA president Chris Nenzani and CEO Haroon Lorgat. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu, BackpagePix

CAPE TOWN – The inaugural T20 Global League will kick off in Cape Town on November 3, when the Cape Town Knight Riders host the Pretoria Mavericks in the opening match.

That will be the first of 57 matches in all, as South Africa’s foray into the T20 market continues to take shape.

Cricket South Africa’s chief executive Haroon Lorgat explained that the opposition of choice wasn’t influenced by Pretoria’s star-studded line-up, which includes the likes of AB de Villiers and Morné Morkel.

“To be honest, we could have put any of the teams up,” Lorgat explained of the eight-team tournament.

The Cape Town Knight Riders, with the likes JP Duminy and Chris Gayle in tow, will be hoping for a fast start, with an eye on the final on December 16, which will be hosted by The Wanderers in Johannesburg.

“The final will be on the 16th of December every year,” Lorgat explained. “We did consider taking the final to Cape Town, and we had as many votes for Cape Town as we did for Johannesburg.

“But, we know that Cape Town has some logistical issues around that time. There are the Cape Town Sevens and there is huge tourism around that time,” the cricket chief explained.

“So, we will have the final in Johannesburg. The Wanderers has a bigger capacity, and there are many more international flights coming into the city. We anticipate that there will be huge international interest in the final.”

That final will be contested after a full round of fixtures and, interestingly, there will be no semi-finals before the showpiece in Johannesburg.

“We feel that it is a much of a muchness. We considered having semi-finals, but you can then have a scenario where the third-placed team is qualifying for the final, and teams that have been consistent the whole season will miss out,” Lorgat explained.

Lorgat also clarified the fact that the opening match of each season following the inaugural season will be hosted by the defending champions.

More pertinently, he said that they are very close to concluding an ownership deal for the Stellenbosch Monarachs.

“There has been significant interest since the player draft, and we anticipate a deal very soon. There is a local interest, and we hope to make an announcement in the next few weeks,” Lorgat added.

With the significance of the players now put out in the public, Lorgat said the next piece of the puzzle was confirming the broadcast partner.

“There are people out there who think there is a problem, but the reality is we could have signed a deal a week ago. We could have signed a month ago. We could have signed a deal a year ago, but we decided to wait,” Lorgat added.

That is the biggest agenda on the plate for the tournament organisers, and with the T20 Global League starting in just over two months, it will now take centre stage.

But, with significant pieces of the puzzles installed over the past weekend, there is much optimism that it will materialise sooner than later.

Opening Weekend Fixtures

Friday, November 3

Newlands: Cape Town Knight Riders v Pretoria Mavericks (6.30pm)

Saturday, November 4

Paarl: Stellenbosch Monarchs v Jo’burg Giants (2.30pm)

Durban: Durban Qalandars v Nelson Mandela Bay Stars (6.30pm)

Sunday, November 5

Centurion: Pretoria Mavericks v Benoni Zalmi (2.30pm)

Bloemfontein: Bloem City Blazers v Cape Town Knight Riders (6.30pm)

 

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